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Re: Does Upwork support academic cheating?

Ace Contributor
Betsy W. J Member Since: Nov 10, 2016
1 of 21

Upwork is very adept at screening my posts and proposals for my phone number, the word Skype and other topics that are of concern to it and boldly flagging them for attention. Yet words and phrases like syllabus, book report, research paper, homework, admissions application, admissions essay and various descriptions of research and citation requirements, some quite bald, frequently make it into job posts. I have even seen posts that referred to the "attached syllabus" or the "attached list of assignments" in bids for freelancers who were open to ongoing work. 

 

I flag such posts when I see them, and I hope others do, too. However, the sheer volume of them suggests that the usually vigilant folks at Upwork are doing nothing to discourage what is plainly academic cheating.

 

Surely sifting out such naked attempts at academic ethics violations could be done most effectively at the platform level, perhaps even by flagging such phrases and having the prospective client certify that whatever he or she is posting is not a violation of his or her university's ethics policies. 

 

Would anyone from Upwork care to comment about why so many explicit attempts at cheating get posted to the platform rather than being filtered out through simple word- and phrase-matching automation? 

 

Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
2 of 21

Do a forum search and you'll find some very long threads on this topic. Many of us have given up reporting these blatant listings. Many have figured out how to hide what their job is.

 

The real problem? The idiot freelancers who take these jobs. Stop/get rid of them, and the problem goes away. I know of one profile where it appears that that's all this freelancer does (and flagging the profile does no good). But hey, U is making money ... that's all that matters, right?

Moderator
Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
3 of 21

Hi Betsy, 

Thank you for flagging this here.

 

I tried a sample search of some of the keywords that you have noted, and some of the job search results that use the same keywords are not in violation of academic integrity. For example, some keyword search for homework, or assignment yields some job posts that request for tutorials on certain subjects. Some admissions essay search result are related to proofreading.

 

While I understand that it's very frustrating to see these jobs in the marketplace, I would like to share that we have dedicated systems, and teams to review these job posts, and take action. Just the same, we appreciate that users take the time to flag these job posts, and report them to us.

 

I have also reported some just now, but if you still see some of the job posts you've reported, you can share it with me through a private message, and I will follow up on your report.

 


-Avery
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Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
4 of 21

Avery O wrote:

Hi Betsy, 

Thank you for flagging this here.

 

I tried a sample search of some of the keywords that you have noted, and some of the job search results that use the same keywords are not in violation of academic integrity. For example, some keyword search for homework, or assignment yields some job posts that request for tutorials on certain subjects. Some admissions essay search result are related to proofreading.

 

While I understand that it's very frustrating to see these jobs in the marketplace, I would like to share that we have dedicated systems, and teams to review these job posts, and take action. Just the same, we appreciate that users take the time to flag these job posts, and report them to us.

 

I have also reported some just now, but if you still see some of the job posts you've reported, you can share it with me through a private message, and I will follow up on your report.

 


OK. What about posts that mention list of assignments or syllabus or attached syllabus? 

Highlighted
Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
5 of 21

Hi Phyllis,

 

It depends on the usage of the term syllabus, by definition alone a job post containing the word would not be considered as academic integrity since a syllabus pertains to an outline of the subjects in a course of study or teaching.  As Avery mentioned, these can sometimes ask for editing or proofreading etc. However, if the job post requires homework or assignments completed, then we will consider it as an academic violation. When you a flag a job we do review the posts and descriptions and those that violate academic integrity are against our ToS and are actioned. If you come across a job that you feel fits in this realm send it to us via PM. Our team will review the job along with the client and take proper actions. Thank you.

 

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Ace Contributor
Betsy W. J Member Since: Nov 10, 2016
6 of 21

Thought I would update you all about a post I just flagged. I will PM the moderators as well, but why not bring this out into the daylight given several moderators' "oh, maybe it's not academic cheating" obfuscations?

 

Here, a student ATTACHED HIS OR HER ASSIGNMENT along with a sample of the quality of assignment that the hired freelancer should match. 

 

I am curious, since the client has paid out more than $2K, whether other posted jobs were for other parts of his store-bought academic career. 

 

Also, given Upwork's ability to screen for key words, why does it not present clients with a pop-up or other notification asking the client to certify that he or she is not asking for help with academic assignments? 

 

=== And not 10 minutes later, a request for someone who has "extensive experience with writing doctoral level dissertations."  See additional attached screen shot (you'll have to download the PNG file since it is not displaying). 

 

Though it's not visibile in the screen shot, the screening question is "Have you worked on a PhD dissertation project before?" 

 

 

Ace Contributor
Betsy W. J Member Since: Nov 10, 2016
7 of 21

Lena, you should be aware that many colleges consider editing and proofreading to be CHEATING. 

 

The work submitted is supposed to be the student's own, not his + that of a professional helper.

Ace Contributor
Betsy W. J Member Since: Nov 10, 2016
8 of 21

Avery, thank you for your response. 

 

Most of the posts I flag do not contain the word homework, although I included it in my list of words that Upwork easily could flag.

 

Most of the posts that I flag blatantly ask for help editing or rewriting admissions essays or, as I noted in my post, refer baldly to a syllabus or class assignment. As I further noted, some posts have attached a syllabus or class assignment.

 

These posts are NOT asking for tutoring. 

 

For example, I flagged a post today that asked for help rewriting an admissions essay for Columbia University. Should I as someone who was admitted to an Ivy League university on my own merit help someone cheat to gain entrance? 

 

Helping rewrite an admissions essay is cheating. Every academic ethics policy I have seen has students sign off that they wrote the essays themselves. Ditto for class assignments.

 

If Upwork does not understand the distinction between soliciting for someone to explain how to do something better (e.g., walk me through these math problems so I can learn how to do them better) and cheating (rewrite my essay so that I can get into a college that I'm really not qualified for), I invite you to review the ethics agreements that incoming students sign at virtually every university in the United States. 

 

While it's true that some posts relate to proofreading, I believe that if you read my query carefully, you would not mistake my concern as being about proofreading (although some universities object even to that practice, requiring students to certify that all the work submitted is their own). 

 

If you'd like to respond to my more substantive concern, I'd welcome learning more about what Upwork is doing to shoo away would-be or current students who want to hire freelancers to boost their grades or their chances of admission to particular universities. 

 

Moderator
Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
9 of 21

I completely understand where you are coming from, Betsy. Posts that are a blatant disregard for academic integrity will be actioned on. As Lena has noted, any job that requires homework or assignments completed, or a rewrite of their academic essay, or admissions essay will be considered an academic violation. 

 

When a job post is flagged, it goes to the team's queue, and the job post's description and attachments are reviewed against our ToS, and are actioned on. If you still see some job posts that you have flagged, but are still in the marketplace, you can send the links to me through a PM, and I will follow up on your report.


-Avery
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Ace Contributor
Betsy W. J Member Since: Nov 10, 2016
10 of 21

Avery, I remain concerned that Upwork is not doing anything to flag and remove offensive posts itself. 

 

It should not fall to freelancers who are on the platform to find work to root out clients who are violating academic ethics codes. 

 

Perhaps I have overlooked it in the thread, but it does not seem as if any of the moderators has come forward with any information about what UPWORK actively is doing to prevent abuses by students or applicants. 

 

I welcome your or other moderators' response to this concern. 

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