Cheating: A Rant

by Richard

Remember way back when Dennis Miller used to be funny? Yeah, I know. Hard to reach back that far. Still, he was at his funniest when he was at his angriest, when he was on a rant.

I’m not that funny, but I’m about to go on a rant. And I do mean to go off on it.

Back on Valentine’s Day, we got a comment entered in an post that was so old we had to blow the spiderwebs off it so we could actually read what we wrote. Which means, usually, we got spammed by some kind of robot. And not the fun kind. This robot-installed spam was hawking academic papers that you could buy.

Yeah, that’s right. The place, which I will not dignify with a link, is a cheating factory.

There’s an argument that buying papers off the internet isn’t cheating. That those papers only serve as a guideline to the — ha! — students who buy them. A way for them to help focus their thoughts.

Yeah, right. And I’m the Queen of Iceland. Admittedly, I do look good in a nice mauve prom dress and a tiara, but Iceland doesn’t actually have a queen. I think you get my point.

The purpose of an essay is not to punish the students. Well, most of the time. Seriously, it’s so that the professor can make sure the students have actually grasped the point of a section of knowledge and are able to synthesize ideas, resolve contradictions and form coherent opinions about that knowledge. These are all important skills. And buying papers off the internet doesn’t help achieve that goal.

I know I’m speaking as a very old person here. There’s no student who likes writing an essay. I know I didn’t when I was that age. But, now that I’m old, I can appreciate what it’s trying to accomplish. It’s a worthwhile goal. That and it’s fun to watch little dudes suffer like that.

I still remember the two all-nighters in a row I pulled in trying to write a coherent paper about Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird. That thing, like most of Vonnegut’s books, is a mass of twisting narrative that can confound the most agile mind. Of which mine was not. Still, I managed to get the paper done on time and turn it in. I got a “B” and counted myself lucky. I later found out I got that high a grade because the professor felt sorry for me when he saw how I looked when I turned it in. I know, how could he tell the difference? Har, har.

Still, even though it’s hard, people need to learn how to write coherent bits of narrative. You will be judged on how well you write. No one’s going to demand that anyone write as well as Christopher Moore or anything, but you have to be able to get your ideas across in print, or pixel as the case may be.

I just do not like these kinds of services. I think they cheat the professor and the student. And that’s not good.

Okay. I’m done. End of rant. Go about your business.

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