Thursday, September 20, 2007

Attention, All Plagiarists: I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING

You know what really bugs me?

You know what really, really bugs me?

You know what makes me so freaking furiously and utterly irrationally angry that I am tempted to cast everything aside, find a lance, and ride around the countryside tilting at particularly offensive-looking windmills?

You do. Yes, you. Yes, I am talking to you, Evil Person Who Has Been Attempting to Plagiarise an Essay and Has Somehow Stumbled Across This Blog. I know exactly what you're up to, and I am not bloody amused.

I have a statcounter. It counts stats. It also tells me where all my readers are coming from, as well as--get this--listing the search terms they have used on Google to find the blog. Some of these search terms are quite enlightening. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

explain frodo and his friends relationship

Gosh. Hello, little student. You wouldn't possibly be plugging an essay topic into Google, would you? I'm sure that your interest in this topic is completely innocent and that when you have glanced studiously over my blog and noted the information about friendship in The Fellowship of the Rings, you will cite me in your bibliography!

thesis statement and example in body paragraph about bilbo hobbit

Even better. You, my friend, are clearly so determined to write an exemplary essay that you are combing the Internet for documents that involve not only your topic but its very structure. You are an inspiration to us all, sir.

essay on fear

...'cause I'm sure you're just looking for stuff to cite.

write a three to four-page essay that explains what writing and/or reading can mean in a person's life

What an enterprising little grasshopper you are. Look at that: another entire topic inserted into Google! I am terribly, terribly sorry that I cannot provide you with the essay for which you are searching, and I do hope you eventually find something to steal. Er, cite.

essay in support of colloquialism

Dude, ur sooo awesome! I hope ur like able to like find some info to like hand in and stuff!

descriptive essay about dinner

I feel your pain. How difficult it would be to write a descriptive essay about dinner all by yourself! Who can describe dinner? Dinner is rare and mysterious and cannot, in fact, be described by a mere undergraduate or high-school student. No wonder you are looking for inspiration online.

descriptive writing ants*

Ants! Those elusive, elusive creatures! The people who expect you to describe them are cruel and unreasonable. Steal away, little student; steal away.

There have been other such entries, but alas, they have fallen off the bottom of my stats list. I do remember a lot of Lord of the Rings material and at least one query regarding Edmund Spenser, but I did not think to record any of this information for posterity. In the future, however, I'm going to write all these babies down.


What the hell is wrong with you? Can't you spend an hour brainstorming instead of wasting the same time stealing from the Internet? Do you have any idea what an idiot you're being? Oh, sure, you've managed to "complete" your assignment in a fraction of the time it would have taken you otherwise. Well done. Have you learned anything? Well, you're probably pretty damned good with Google now...but have you learned anything else? You think you're pulling the wool over your marker's eyes. If you get away with it,** you are...but you're also doing an excellent job of pulling the same wool over your own. Won't it be wonderful when you stroll out into the real world after cheating your way through high school and university and suddenly discover that you have no skills at all? Stop. Cheating. You aren't helping yourself in any way.

What's that? You were just borrowing ideas from a website? Web content is free to all, and you should be able to borrow as much of it as you want?


If you "borrow" an idea from your best friend, you are plagiarising. Plagiarism constitutes the unacknowledged use of words or ideas that are not your own. "Common knowledge" is rarely an excuse unless you're working at a sky-is-blue kind of level. It doesn't matter where you have found "your" ideas; you always have to cite them. Your teachers are going to back me up on this one, so don't go whining about how noooobooooody eeeeveeeerrrrr toooooooolllld yooooouuuuuu. IIIIIII DOOOOOON'T CAAAAAAARE.

Teachers, professors, and markers:

Certain of your students have been coming to this blog in search of information on The Lord of the Rings, The Faerie Queene, and other sundry subjects. Some of them may try for The Woman in White soon. Other of your students have been very good and have simply been searching for information on how to write essays well, but a few aspiring cheaters have made it here.

I am a terribly vindictive person whose great loathing for plagiarists is legendary amongst the undergrads of my home institution. I am thus going to blow off steam by setting a trap for the pestilential little maggots who wander the Internet, searching for material to rip off. If you are not a plagiarist, feel free to watch. If you are, be aware that the Wrath of Kem is currently heading rapidly in your direction.***

Google away, plagiarists. I hope that your searches pull up the following sentences:

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth stands as an example of steadiness and good sense, whereas Jane is flighty and embodies both the "pride" and the "prejudice" of the title.

Hello, Demonic Plagiarising Student. Go ahead and steal this sentence. I dare you. I double-dog-dare you. No...I triple-dog-dare you. Laugh at me and base your essay on this statement.

Few know that the title character of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is actually the protagonist's dog, which accompanies the monster on his journey of self-discovery.

Hello again, you swine. Go on...take it. There it sits, inviting theft.

Statistics Canada confirms that 86% of high-income Canadians are likely to raise morbidly obese children.

Miscreant, greetings. Accept this nugget as my gift to you.

The badger typically builds nests in trees and feeds almost exclusively on fungi.

It's yours, my hideous little canker-blossom. Use it in an essay. Put it in the introduction.

I'm onto you, plagiarists. I'm following you with my insanely glaring electronic eyes. I do not like you, Sam-I-am. I do not like your essay scam. I do not like it here or there. It should not happen anywhere.

*You may be gathering by this point that a lot of people are writing descriptive essays right now.

**Plus if you're stupid enough to hand in an essay you've found through Google, you're probably not going to get away with it. I'll let you in on a little secret: markers know how to use Google too.

***The Wrath of Kem is a physical entity with knives for eyes and extremely large, painful Fists of Inescapable Doom.


K-2 said...

Kem, just to tell an anecdote: my little brother did exactly what you are describing on this post, i.e. googling Internet to find out a good essay to plagiarise. He found not an essay but THE essay, related to the topic he was researching. I told him not to deliver it: it was wrong, simply because it was not honest. He did not listen to me. But, lo and behold!, the essay was quite famous in his university because it had won a prize in a panamerican conference. My bro not only failed the subject, he was also at the brink of being expelled from the university.

Moral of the story: don't plagiarise, you may ge in trouble

Kem said...

K-2: Your brother learned an extremely simple lesson the hard way. Last year, one of my students tried the same stunt; five minutes with Google brought her down. It's astounding how many otherwise intelligent people have a blind spot about the fact that markers do actually know how to use the Internet too. These same intelligent people can also--like your brother--fail to take count of the further fact that if a really good essay is available online, it's entirely possible that others have read it.

K'2's brother: I am shaking my finger of rage at you, but that's as far as I'll go. You seem to have been punished quite thoroughly. I think it's possible that you may not plagiarise again. If you do, you are a hardened criminal, and K-2 has my permission to lock you in a basement with a year's supply of porridge and a bunch of Meg Ryan DVDs.

Francois said...

But... Porridge is good
And 'Sleepless in Seattle' wasn't that bad.

Now, olives, chick peas and 'The Mosquito Coast', now you're talking.

You know, I would never have plagiarised, 1)because I did all my research from books and 2)because essay writing is FUN. Maybe we should be reminding kids that essay writing is actually really really fun when you do it properly. Nothing beats crafting your own wonderful argument from the carefully filtered contents of the big pile of books in front of you.

Monica said...

Hi Kem,
I admit it, I googled something and came across your blog. I was looking for rubrics for grading essays, "How To" essays in particular. As an English teacher, I feel your pain. I spent an hour reading your blog when I should have been grading (marking) papers. I didn't plagiarize anything from your blog but I certainly gained a lot from it.

Ac-smooth said...

These same brilliant individuals can also--like your brother--fail to take depend of the further proven reality that if a really excellent article is available on the internet, it's entirely possible that others have study it.I was looking for rubrics for rating articles,

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