Essay Spam

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I haven't paid much attention to my blog these last two months. I've been concentrating on completing the PostPressed website. So to my surprise and dismay, I've found I've been comment spammed. Oddly enough, they all follow the same theme: semi-professional essay writing. It's not Viagra or Lottery spam, but still off-putting.

I wasn't certain if they were touting for my business, or asking me to write for them. Nor will I - I scrubbed all the comments. However, I'd like to share my views:

  1. I write my own essays. I don't plagiarise, and I have penalised plagiarism when encountering it teaching. I have just enough pride in my own writing to hate the idea of paying others for essays pass on as mine.
  2. Conversely, I don't have the stomach for writing essays for ethically-challenged if cashed-up students. I know of one person who made a little bit of money writing papers for rich foreign Uni students. The subject didn't matter; be it was bio-chemistry or law - he'd tackle it. He's a smart man, and good at this "profession", or so I hear. But it always felt a little suss when the subject came up.
  3. Business propositions (of the non-spammy kind) go to my email address. Comment boxes are for talking about the subject at hand. All spam will be deleted.

While the spam is now but electrons in the ether, I kept one of their links, which I'd like to share. Here's a sample of the work of a firm calling themselves "Quality Papers":

Muslims strongly adhere to and observe their teachings unlike other sects and some punishment to those who break laws and commandments are severely punished and hence even in the countries where there is Islam dominance; there is no robbery and crime. A free society from crime encourages other people to respect Muslims, Islam and its doctrines which in turn bring more converts, young and old. Their (Muslims) teachings encourage and beseech people to respect their parents, strangers, orphans and all people in any given society. The virtue of temperance is properly advocated by the Muslims and hence it encourages those who are Muslims already and those who are seeking to become ones.

There are so many problems with this paragraph alone. There aren't any spelling mistakes, and grammar isn't too bad, but it is painful to read. As an English teacher, I would give the following advice to a student writing it:

  • The first sentence is a run on sentence. Split it into two, or possibly three.
  • "Unlike other sects" smacks of religious bigotry. Cut it out. Apart from being untrue, it's insulting to other people of other faiths. (Oddly enough, it's not insulting to agnostics or atheists, unless you count Richard Dawkins.)
  • "[S]ome punishment to" doesn't fit, and can be cut out; punishment is mentioned later on in the sentence.
  • "Even" and "Even though" are linking phrases implying contrast - while "hence" alludes to supporting statements. I'd remove "even" as well.
  • I'd use a comma instead of a semi-colon in the following snippet "...where there is Islam dominance; there is no crime."
  • Needless to say, the blanket statement "there is no crime" is false when describing Muslim countries - or any country in general. This shows a certain absolutist thinking in the writer, and absolutist writing is crap! Better to throw in some quantifiers to create sentences like "In most Muslim countries, there is little crime." It's more defensible.
  • Finally, what's with "Their (Muslims) teachings"? It makes it feel like the essay was generated by machine translation (and perhaps it was). "(Muslims)" is redundant - we have a decent pronoun like "their" in its place, and the purpose of pronouns is to avoid the monotony of repeating nouns.

There are other mistakes. Do I need to provide them? I think that's enough already to demonstrate the mettle of "Quality Papers", and of essay writing firms in general. My summary? Avoid.

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