Custom Online Papers: More Expensive Than Plagiarized, But Likely To Suck Just As Much

from the no-surprise-there dept

A year and a half ago, we pointed to a (not even remotely scientific) study suggesting that the sorts of pre-written papers students buy online were pretty much likely to suck and not get you a very good grade. With professors being a bit more wise to online plagiarism these days, it seems like a different type of homework site is getting more attention: these sites will hire people to write custom papers for you on a topic of your choice. Not surprisingly, it's a lot more expensive than the pre-written ones, but a (once again, not even remotely scientific) NY Times experiment suggests that they're likely to suck just as badly. It's true that the papers do seem pretty weak, but the quotes from professors asked to look at them might not carry much weight, since they knew they were looking at writer-for-hire papers. Still, it probably isn't all that surprising that papers you buy online aren't going to be very good -- so perhaps the best course of action is just to let the students get screwed over twice: first in how much they pay and again in the bad grade they'll get.


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  1.  
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    garfalk, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 9:43pm

    wonder what my college prof would say?

     

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  2.  
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    Dash, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 10:00pm

    Useless

    The study means nothing if not conducted scientifically, especially with blind controls.

     

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  3.  
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    anonymous, Sep 11th, 2006 @ 10:46pm

    some suck, some don't

    I'm a novelist and broke most of the time..I write essays for hire, because i'm a writer...and not to be redundant, but I need the money...and that's what I do. My work doesn't suck. Actually I have to dumb it down generally.
    I'm not naive, but at least for appearance sake, the site that pays me sends each paper out with a disclaimer that the paper is not to be submitted, but is only a sample essay to be used by the student as a guide to writing his own.
    Unethical? I don't know that the word has any real meaning anymore..Look at our congress...look at the man who occupies the oval office. it's all smoke and mirrors and lies and deceits...many great writers have been reduced to churning out eroticism and pulp pap to keep the lights on.
    Aqui estoy parada, como una piedra...

     

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  4.  
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    Who knew?, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 12:10am

    Worth my 2 cents

    I've used a few in my time, but never turned them in as my own. They are a blessing when your brain dead and just can't get started or stuck on a paper you just can't finish.
    Got "A's" in all my classes I've used them in. Never seen one correctly formatted with references. There's allot of work to do on them if your stupid enough to turn them in as your own. Great resource! Worth my 2 cents from time to time.

     

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  5.  
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    Rabid Wolverine, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 3:31am

    Dumbing down of America

    This is just another example of the 'dumbing down' of America. In their every increasingly important quest for funding, school systems have to meet certain 'standards' are far as grades are concerned to get 'federal' matching dollars.

    Pretty good reason to make the curriculum easier so that the 'test scores' fall into 'federal guidelines.'

    When I was a kid we took US Government in the 8th grade. Along with State History, Geography, Science, Introductory Algebra, English among other things.

    We weren't any 'smarter' than the current generation but the system let the 'dumb ones' fail, you know, the football jocks, losers and future criminals of America types.

    The problem with today's society is that we don't want anyone to fail, even though there is a certain percentage of society that will ALWAYS FAIL for whatever reason, bad parents, bad attitude or just plain stupidity.

    When we dumb down the system we take away the opportunities for learning from the mid to upper level brightness kids in order to accommodate the dumber ones.

    Why can't we segregate the dumb ones from the smart ones? Some people are just cut out to be carpenters, automotive mechanics, or janitors and there is nothing wrong with that. Why can't this society recognize and embrace this truth and help our under achievers find a career path that best suits them? Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor, lawyer , MBA or rocket scientist.

     

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  6.  
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    Br0, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 4:07am

    Re: Dumbing down of America

    Fucking Signed.

     

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  7.  
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    AC, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 5:17am

    Re: Dumbing down of America

    If this were slashdot I'd give you +1 Insightful

     

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  8.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Sep 12th, 2006 @ 7:17am

    Overall, students are dumb!

    Have you ever had to do peer reviews of papers? It makes me almost want to cry because of the poor, no, atrocious spelling and grammer that some senior college students have. The Rabid Wolverine has a point. How do people get that far? These people are too dumb to use spell/grammar check! So as for the paper-for-hire content not being that great of quality, the students will probably still get the same, if not better, grade without wasting their time to produce a paper. They should have asked the professors if they received papers of the same caliber from their real students.

     

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  9.  
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    The Original JustMe, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 7:54am

    If this were Slashdot

    This would be the third time we've seen this article!

     

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  10.  
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    Zombie Juice, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 8:29am

    RE: Dumbing down of America

    > Why can't we segregate the dumb ones from the smart ones? Some people are just cut out to be carpenters, automotive mechanics, or janitors and there is nothing wrong with that. Why can't this society recognize and embrace this truth and help our under achievers find a career path that best suits them? Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor, lawyer , MBA or rocket scientist.

    Although I agree with everything you said, I must point out that today it's financially better to be a carpenter or auto mechanic than it is to be a scientist or software engineer. Those carpentry jobs can't be outsourced and they pay as well as software development and much better than science.

    The real dumbing down of America is being caused by the outsourcing of high tech, high education jobs. This is causing a brain drain that will last for generations. This, above all else, is the greatest threat to economic and national security. How long can America remain a superpower without its intellectual base.

     

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  11.  
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    Lay Person, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 9:23am

    It's quite simple...

    It's simple people.

    There is nothing wrong with a dumb population. In fact the dumber the better, and the more people that are dumb... even better.

    Large populations are easier to control when they don't think for themselves. The government wants us to depend on them that way the government becomes indispensable. In essence, we surrender our power as a people and we empower the government. This way the government controls us and they no longer even require our support or opinion in matters of state. They can operate with impunity (i.e. wage ware, torture, deceipt, deception, etc.).

    Divide and conquer. They keep minorities in the inner city and native Americans on reservations. All rounded up so that they are easier to contro and monitorl without interference from the populace. You see it's all very legitimate and calculated. It doesn't even matter who you vote for because its that well orchestrated.

     

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  12.  
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    DittoBox, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 9:23am

    Re: some suck, some don't

    Who's more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?

    Don't use another man as your scape goat...your fall guy...you excuse. Then you become like him, or you are worse than him.

     

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  13.  
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    Thomason, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 11:03am

    Written for, plus grade inflation

    Yes, the low quality of these papers, as literary criticism, is offset by its value to me as entertainment. People never tire of watching other people act stupidly.
    On top of the depressed state of original thought by many in college, is the clear indications that now, profs are softies when they give out grades. No way better to keep the kids and their folks off your back than to give everyone who makes any effort a B and maybe an A. Time and again I hear about college classes, for upper classmen, that have no tests and no papers - only class participation! If you show up, and say something, then you're guaranteed an B. Of course, that's not happening in the Eng'g Schools, and so, is it a wonder that the # of students there is in major decline?

     

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  14.  
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    Tyshaun, Sep 12th, 2006 @ 11:55am

    Re: It's quite simple...

    Large populations are easier to control when they don't think for themselves. The government wants us to depend on them that way the government becomes indispensable. In essence, we surrender our power as a people and we empower the government. This way the government controls us and they no longer even require our support or opinion in matters of state. They can operate with impunity (i.e. wage ware, torture, deceipt, deception, etc.).


    While I do agree with most of your statement, my only question becomes, if everyone is dumbing down, who is "the government"? Wouldn't the government be pulled from the same pool of not-so-brights? I love conspiracy theories like this but part of the conspiracy is the continuation of the conspirators. The system, as you are describing it, is inherently getting rid of its perpetuators and victims.

    As per the original article about custom papers, all I can say is that we need to seriously re-examine the ethical framework taught and reinforced in the young. Sure the papers may have disclaimers saying that it is for research purposes only, but we all know what's really being done with them. I say it's time to emphasize that good ole fashion hard work (and studying) are the best ways to get good grades.

    Then again, I guess the ethical framework that says soliciting custom made papers in lieu of your own work is OK is the same framework that makes it OK to download music without paying. Welcome to the slippery-slope folks.

     

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  15.  
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    lil'bit, Sep 21st, 2006 @ 11:56am

    re:grade inflation/it's quite simple

    My sister teaches 4 sections of Freshman Comp at UC (Ohio). In many cases, if she attempts to assign a low grade to a paper, she is threatened with a lawsuit by a parent (or her job is threatened, etc.) Administration never backs the professor. She has described incidents of plagiarism in which the only punitive action was an incomplete, for the same reasons.

    " . . .if everyone is dumbing down, who is "the government"? . . ." The ones that are not dumbing down - the Harvard legacy admit, the Eastern Seaboard prep-school establishment, the 1or 2 % that bubble up from public education. Look at today's congress and add up how many of the current legistators are from "public service" dynasties or the first generation of what is becoming a dynasty. Our current President and family are an excellent example of the American elite class - and have worked to make that elite group even more exclusive, as well as richer.

     

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  16.  
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    SailorAlphaCentauri, Oct 16th, 2006 @ 10:43am

    If these papers are for assistance only...

    then why don't the companies who produce them make it impossible for the student to turn it in as their own; meaning, only give them parts of the paper. If nothing else, it would force the student to have to come up with part of it on their own. It would still be plagerism [I can't spell; there's no spell-check on Techdirt and I should be working instead of doing this], but at least it would force students to do something instead of just turning in what someone else wrote for them.

    I feel for the professors who aren't supported by their administrations and, as a former victim tortured by reading other people's poorly-written papers, I can really feel for those who have had to read those as well. But until there is a better solution presented to all involved, and getting at least one school to back their professors who give low grades, what can we do? I'm not asking that question as a cop-out; I really want to know what we should do about this.

    Also, I fear that it will be even more difficult for professors and teachers to get support for their decisions when we live in a social climate where someone's fate can be decided by one person's complaint. Example: the teacher who took her students to an art museum where they saw nuditiy and was fired because one parent complained. Another example: a school librarian recently wrote into a listserv because a parent wants the middle school library to no longer carry Teen People magazine, and she was concerned as to how to deal with the situation.

    For me, the situations that have resulted in these challenges aren't what concern me (I grew up within walking distance of the Cleveland Museum of Art & I have no idea what is published in a Teen People magazine, so I unfortuantely have a bias that I'm trying to remove from my decision); it's the fact that one person can have that kind of effect is what's disturbing.

    But, back on topic: if schools are forcing the educators to give more-favorable-than-deserved grades because of fear of parental retribution, then maybe we should be just as vocal in complaining about the student getting a good grade for a poorly written and/or plagerized work.

     

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  17.  
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    Mechanic, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Dumbing down of America

    Nothing wrong with being an auto mechanic.

     

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