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Code plagiarism and clueless newbs

by 1nickt (Canon)
on May 30, 2017 at 12:38 UTC ( #1191584=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I imagine many of us have been irritated by the increase in lame questions from Clueless Newbs attempting to get their homework done for free. Well, according to the New York Times, there's a plagiarism plague:

College students have flooded into computer science courses across the country, recognizing them as an entree to coveted jobs at companies like Facebook and Google, not to mention the big prize: a start-up worth millions.

The exploding interest in these courses, though, has coincided with an undesirable side effect: a spate of high-tech collegiate plagiarism. Students have been caught borrowing computer code from their friends or cribbing it from the internet.

( See "As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Plagiarism", NYT 2017-05-29 )

So the next time you are about to jump in and answer a Clueless Newb's question because it will show off your skillz, consider choosing the admittedly less satisfying option and point them instead to beginners' doc. You will be better serving not only the questioner, but also Truth and Justice.

The way forward always starts with a minimal test.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Code plagiarism and clueless newbs
by zentara (Archbishop) on May 30, 2017 at 13:07 UTC
    Hi, the way I see things, we all stand on the shoulders of giants who preceeded us... I plagiarized that quote. :-)

    As you get older and realize that death is a forgone inevitability, you realize that the more you give away, the better off you are. I learned my meager skills by copy-pasting-running previously written code, and I often see snippets of my code here and there. I'm just glad that someone somewhere benefited from it. There probably are older monks than me who saw traces of their code in mine.

    . I know that programmers need to eat and provide for their families, but newbs need to learn too. If the code is so special that you don't want it plagiarized, then don't post it on the internet. Sometimes a well-crafted example is all a newb needs to open his/her eyes to how it all works.

    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. ..... an animated JAPH

      Your reply ignores completely the point of the article, and my meditation, which is about CompSci students cheating to pass classes and get jobs for which they are not in fact qualified.

      The way forward always starts with a minimal test.
        Your reply ignores completely the point of the article, and my meditation, which is about CompSci students cheating to pass classes and get jobs for which they are not in fact qualified.

        To address this point: It's them that's cheating, not you & me. Your benefit of teaching is giving; their detriment of cheating is disqualification (sooner or later), or no qualification at all.

        I know a handful of monks only. Most are completely and utterly unknown to me, and it is up to them what they do, and why. By answering questions I train my own skill in explaining things, and sometimes I find myself exploring things I hadn't thought about yet.

        Do people from "no such agency" come here? for sure. Blackhats, skript kiddies, you name it? Of course. Do I condone their actions? How so, if I know neither them nor their actions? Suspicion is akin to prejudice.

        That said, glaring "homework questions" can be answered by gently putting them on the path of learning, or providing them clothes obviously too big to fit.

        Yeah, some Seekers Of Perl Wisdom obviously don't seek wisdom in the first place, but hopefully at last, then.

        perl -le'print map{pack c,($-++?1:13)+ord}split//,ESEL'
        Hi, it isn't only computer science students cheating in school, they all are doing it. In fact, unless you come out of MIT or Cal Tech, most college grads are unqualified for any job. I saw it start when the universities began grading on curves, so that they could keep their student body levels high, and collect tuition. I've been in engineering classes where 95 % of the students got less than 50% on the final, yet they were passed with C's on the curve.

        The colleges just don't want to flunk people out anymore. They encourage cooperating in groups, taking open-book tests, and just problem solving in general. Plagiarism is just part of that culture.

        I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. ..... an animated JAPH
Re: Code plagiarism and clueless newbs -- unrelated
by Discipulus (Canon) on May 30, 2017 at 20:21 UTC
    dear 1nickt,

    I see not big link between plagiarism and our recurring newbies.

    First, at school everybody can cheat if they have a smartphone and can use it freely during assignemnts. We had cheat without phones, you can imagine.. But in this I see a problem, a defiency of the school institution: what!? programming professor, you dont know there is a site where you can ask the most disparate things (apropos: the author confused snackoverflow and github)?

    Second, about the morality related to cheat or not: the same article says they are in these courses as a flood hoping in an easy money or a better: if such is the big purpose pushing them, why you are suprised by the fact that many cheat? It's not what they see all around?

    Third, again the school: the teacher must be able to judge the preparation of the pupil with adequates methods and tools. Adequate for the matter and for pupils. If the student can have his phones on, is inadequate giving a form to fill for problem of easy solvability, not just programming, but latin, chemistry or math.

    Now we arrive to our recurring newbies: here everyone can ask and if I have an answer I'm free to answer: class assignment or not the newcomers can learn, if they want or they can cheat: it is not my dilemma. Consider also that here the response time is not everyday so fast and if I give the answer for weekend assignment, again is the professor who must tell. The newcomer can anyway see many way to do it, and this is an enrichment.

    Knoweledge is always worth to share. In our programming world even more. Certenly we are, here at PM, also free of being irritated by question asked in a superficial and lazy way. A recent similar discussion was about micro-job here around and the ansewers to such questions or alike. You can answer or not. But to share and to provoke the other's curiosity is always a plus. Perl pearls to pigs? maybe the next reader is a gentle seeker.


    There are no rules, there are no thumbs..
    Reinvent the wheel, then learn The Wheel; may be one day you reinvent one of THE WHEELS.

      Hi Discipulus, I made a mistake in the title of my OP -- should not have used "clueless newbs" because it includes all kinds of ... well, clueless newbs, and you are right that in many cases there is no reason not to show code that directly provides what the seeker wants. I should have instead said in the title something about the homework element the post was really about, and/or the lack of work put in. Thanks.

      The way forward always starts with a minimal test.

      “And may you, one day, voluntarily choose to be a teacher!”

      I dd that, many years ago, and it so happens that I have quite-recently resumed.   I teach evening classes at a local Community College.   Nearly all of the students are adults.   They already have college degrees ... some are PhD’s.   That’s not why they are in your classroom tonight . . .

      There is nothing, “in your chosen profession,” that will ever match the actual experience of teaching it.

      I highly recommend it . . .

Re: Code plagiarism and clueless newbs
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on May 30, 2017 at 14:55 UTC

    People have been copying other sources to create their term papers for as long as there has been Cliff’s Notes.®   In fact, there is a not-so cottage industry of professional authors ... and enterprising fellow-students or recent graduates ... who specialize in helping people to cheat.   Nothing new about that.

    However, it is a very long distance from the college classroom to actual success in the workplace ... especially in this business.   I have encountered, and interviewed, many people who I felt were reaching beyond their present level of competency, and I have always tried to gently-but-firmly tell them that.   Also, I have never discovered, ex post facto, that I was somehow “hoodwinked” by a candidate.   I know the business well enough to know whether or not you know it, too.

    The only way to be successful in the software business is to be able to concoct, and to debug, algorithms.   The ability to correctly express that algorithm in this-or-that source code language is secondary, although it is of course important to be able to understand what the source code that is presently in front of you is actually saying to the computer (knowing that it is ... or might be ... somehow wrong).   These are craft skills that ultimately can be learned only through experience.

    Of equal or perhaps much-greater importance are your interpersonal skills.   (To borrow from the old cornpone ... there is no “I” in the word, “TEAM.”)   You will be doing lots of sometimes dreadfully-boring work under high pressure and to exacting standards ... alongside everyone else on your team.   Do you actually know how to do that?   Many people don’t.

    This is why, if I am interviewing you, I’ll be trying to get you to talk about what you have done, and about the teams you have been a part of, and the role that you played on those teams.   Even if this is your first job out of school, you could have found a way to, say, work in the envisioned capacity at the school (apart from classroom exercises), even if you did not get paid for it.   I’m not going to talk about syntax – nor anything else that you can read in a book – nor am I going to try to make you sweat.   We’ll just talk for half an hour or so, and, by then, I will know my next move.

      Iím not going to talk about syntax

      Obviously not. How would you evaluate the candidates?

      The way forward always starts with a minimal test.
        How would you evaluate the candidates?

        As sundialsvc4 wrote: by checking how the person behaves in the teams. Including how enthusiastically the candidate talks about the different aspects of that role. (And a bit by talking about algorithms.)

        And I agree to that approach. In my eyes, that way gives you sufficient information if the person will be suitable for the job you have to offer. And if you really, really fail on someone who is only great doing job interviews, you would soon discover and then fire the impostor...

        So long, Rata

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