Markets in everything

They advertise that it will take days for your professor to notice that the submitted paper file is corrupted.  He then asks you for an uncorrupted copy, but in the meantime you have purchased a copy of the term paper you need.

I thank Tucker Hughes for the pointer.


I know students do this kind of thing. I used to tell them that they could feel free to email papers, but if the file is corrupted, it counts as late and they lose credit.

That's funny. Fail Blog posted an advertisement for this site recently, calling it a SOLUTION FAIL.

This isn't limited to academe -- it's a sufficiently common software industry practice that it even has a name. "Empty-boxing" refers to a (possibly apocryphal) story of IBM sending a customer an empty tape box, then explaining when it arrived that it must have been screwed up in the shipping department. This bought the necessary time for the software to be completed.

I worked for a large telecom equipment company that was a true master of empty-boxing. In these days of instantaneous electronic deliveries, it takes a bit more skill. Extremely slow and ultimately unsuccessful downloads from ftp sites featured prominently.

My first thought was much like kxf's: stupid kids can't even corrupt their own files? What next,

It all depends on exactly how long you need. There is also the classic send them an email saying "Here is my paper" with no attachment, and then take the extra couple minutes/hours to finish, depending how often they check their email and how forgiving the professor is. As far as I've been able to tell, this strategy has seen much wider adoption in the business world.

Stuff like this is why in the freshman chemistry labs I taught, us TAs were instructed to only accept hard copies of assignments.

Or buy the term paper in the first place. If a student is so disorganized that they need to corrupt a file just to give themselves time to buy a paper, are they really that likely actually to come up with this two-pronged solution?

And, nice call on the SNL "Jiffy Express" skit: "We'll take the package-AND the blame."

When the plagiarism detector points out that your corrupted file just happens to match another student's exactly, then you're in all kinds of trouble...

That's why my school requires a paper copy and an electronic one that's scanned for plagiarism.

I had one professor complain that the file I sent her was corrupted. I had to explain that /LaTeX is supposed to look like that.

When assignments are due I check my e-mail constantly, and then open and save all attachments, so this would only buy one of my students about five minutes. I'm sure there will be something else next year...

If you do this, you have to be careful with time stamps

"On one occasion a paper she submitted was corrupted and she received a zero grade within hours after she sent it off on the grounds that it was the students responsibility to submit “clean† assignments."

"I used to tell them that they could feel free to email papers, but if the file is corrupted, it counts as late and they lose credit."

That is complete bullshit. How can the teacher possibly know that the student didn't submit a "clean" assignment, and that it wasn't the teacher's computer or e-mail server that corrupted the file? That policy reeks of "I don't understand computers, and I want to discourage you from using them for your assignments."

There are several ways to detect that a person is cheating. Perhaps you can do a md5sum, and a sha1sum, and look up the results in google, and find out that the file is something unrelated to the project. You can run the "file" command on the file, and if it says PNG Image, then it is fake. If the file is indistinguishable from random data, then it is unlikely to be derived from a real document. As another poster pointed out, if two students turn in the same corrupted file, it is fake. In the future, teachers might have a list of previous corrupted files (or just their checksums), and they can check any attempts against the list.

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