When did it become the responsibility of the internet and its denizens to vet students? If a student demeans themself by cheating then that is between them and their conscience. If an institution gives a degree to a student without effectively ensuring that the student has attained the level required of them then that is the fault of the institution - the buck starts and stops with them when it comes to the quality of their education and the quality of their graduates.
I think it is a serious slur to accuse sites of "contract cheating" - especially due to the oxymoronic nature of the term. The only way you can cheat a contract is by breaching a term of the contract. If you are contracted to write some code or provide a solution and you fulfil that remit then you are not participating in contract cheating. If you take some money to do something, and you don't do it, then you are contract cheating.
These people need a reality check. And "widely distributed" is not defined as "passed around some students on campus". The whole thing is a complete waste of time and if I was the site admin here I would be demanding that the site be removed from the list.
Alternatively we could compile a list of the most pointless and uninformative lists - this "Contract Cheating" list being #1.
I think that it was rather unfortunate that jim mcnamara posted a version of that list that explained nothing about what inclusion meant. Poking around Robert Clarke's faculty's student resource website, I found a page on a Contract Cheating Workshop. At the bottom of that page is a link to an updated version of the said list.Quote:
Originally Posted by BuzzBuzz
This updated list includes a disclaimer:
Consequently, it is clear that there is nothing negative in itself about being on this list. It really is just a list of websites for instructors to check in order to detect contract cheating, and presumably cheating in general. The only good that we will do by informing Clarke of his mistake is that it will make this list more accurate for academic purposes... but if a user of this list really wants accuracy, he/she should be doing his/her own investigation of the facts anyway.Quote:
Many sites have rules and policies that are designed to
control their use by students.
Inclusion of a site on this list does not imply that the site
condones "contract cheating".
I followed the link and find the "disclaimer" is worthless, the link title is:
"List of sites associated with Contract Cheating (updated 7 May 09)(Lancaster & Clarke)"
The document location and filename is:
And the document title is:
"Sites associated with Contract Cheating"
The implication is that every site on the list is associated with Contract Cheating:
"Inclusion of a site on this list does not imply that the site condones "contract cheating" ."
There is a distinct difference between being associated with, and condoning something.
Realistically, the title should be "Association of Contract Cheating: Anything that has anything to do with programming"
I emailed Robert Clarke and Thomas Lancaster about this.
My email to them:
I received a long, and what appears to be mostly copy and paste, reply:Quote:
Dear Robert Clarke and Thomas Lancaster
I note with interest that a site that I frequent is listed in your
as being "associated with contract cheating".
The site I refer to is cboard.cprogramming.com.
I am interested to know what evidence you have to back up these
allegations of "association" other than the fact that cprogramming.com
is a programming and discussion site. As a user of the site who has
helped in the guidance of posters you are accusing me and every other
member of the site of contract cheating by association. This is a
libellous slur against my character and something that I do not take
lightly. Any post that looks like homework is responded to as such
using the board homework policy. All posters to the boards are directed
to post their existing code with any help given being based from that.
There is no financial incentive in providing help to other programmers
on the site.
Your list is libellous to the sites listed and users of those sites that
do not engage in so called "Contract Cheating". I seriously recommend
that you rework your document to include ONLY resources that actively
engage in so called "Contract Cheating" activities and not what amounts
to any site associated with programming.
I shall give you opportunity to reply to this communication before
deciding whether to take this matter further.
[My name here]
If you bothered to get all the way through the reply you will see that although they are sorry for my concerns, they have failed to address any of the points - specifically how they deemed this site to be associated with Contract Cheating other than the fact it is a forum. I noticed on their list that answers.google.com is associated with Contract Cheating as well, but not Yahoo Answers?Quote:
I am sorry to hear of your concerns in this matter.
The document to which your refer is meant to be read in the context of
other publications which detail the way in which students have been
found to use forums and discussion site in order to get their work done
We have noted that most of these sites act in an ethical and
professional manner by publishing and policing a "no-homework" policy
and have shown examples of where moderators and contributors have
berated students who have tried to breach these rules.
Unfortunately we have also recorded examples of where an assignment is
first posted on a forum by a student and is later identified on an
auction site - posted there by a "contractor" who specialises in doing
assignments for students.
Likewise, students who are refused help through a (free) forum site have
been seen to post the work themselves onto a different (fee-bearing)
Students have also been known to attempt to get their work done in a
piece-meal fashion (we call this "stone soup" programming after a folk
tale of the same name). Posting onto multiple forums can be attempts to
In the past few years of researching this subject we have identified
over 6,000 cases in which students have attempted to cheat, and traced
around 2,000 back to the source institution.
Frequently the details of assignments found on auction sites is also
matched by entries on forum sites.
The information on the forum site can provide valuable evidence that
enables us to attribute the work on the auction site, which enables us
to warn the lecturer involved.
You will appreciate that students attempting to buy solutions in this
way tend to try to hide their tracks.
Trying to control this problem requires using every available source of
As academics, we are concerned about the threat to the value of
qualifications posed by all forms of cheating, particularly those that
are not detectable by the use of standard "non-originality" software.
Students are becoming increasing adapt at using the Internet to help
them in these dishonest activities.
Some postings on legitimate sites appear to be genuine requests for help
to solve personal and commercial problems, but in reality are attempts
by students to cheat.
This must pose a problem to owners and moderators of legitimate web
Our published research aimed to show the range of categories of sites
that are used in this way.
The text that accompanies the list of categories explains the way in
which forum sites can become unwittingly involved.
I apologise if the published list appeared to you to traduce the
reputation of cboard.cprogramming.com.
That was never our intention.
Anyway, that is the situation as it stands.
Yay BuzzBuzz! If there is a law suit please include me, I could use a new boat ;)
I've replied to the non-reply. I'll save posting it here for if/when I get a reply.
Ouch! I would prefer if you left speaking for all of us in the hands of webmaster or kermi.
Why do the universities care so much? The cheaters are only harming themselves. They can't graduate properly without learning these things anyway.
But seriously the issue with Birmingham Universities list is that legislation is created on the back of "research" like that. It doesn't take a major leap of the imagination to see this "research" being used as "evidence" in some sort of legislation to limit access to certain things on the internet.
If you don't speak out then you can't complain when bad things happen.
Do nothing, or do something - it's an individual choice.
But it wouldn't be too far to go for them to find a means of using this to scare kids away by defining any demonstrated association as guilt -- eg "there will be no use of forums period, and you will be punished if caught". Which is why a pro-active stance is a good one, because that helps to provide other (potentially opposed) professors with something coherent to clue into "before it is too late". Like, I won't stand for this hogwash.
I didn't do my degree in CS, but I guarantee if this issue involved English or Comparative Literature, I could quickly find some heads of institutes who would remember me, take me seriously, and quite probably weigh in publicly.