As an adjunct instructor at a community college, I’ve gotten pretty good at catching plagiarism. It happens every semester—literally every semester. Sometimes I wonder how these kids managed to graduate from high school. I find myself fantasizing about rounding up their old English teachers, locking them in a room and yelling at them until they promise to do better.
“Look at what you are putting out into the world!” I’ll shout. “I’m not supposed to be teaching these kids citations. That was your job. I’m supposed to be teaching them anthropology. Now we’re going to have to stop talking about hominids and multiregional evolution and talk about not cutting and pasting from Wikipedia instead.”
(In my head, I sound very angry and convincing.)
But it’s community college. Most of the time, the kids just don’t know any better, and I’ve come to expect it.
Where I don’t expect to find plagiarism is on an online dating website.
I mean you couldn’t come up with one paragraph to describe yourself? One paragraph in your own words? There isn’t even a minimum word count.
The man in question was a model, or at least professed to be, and he was going to school part time and definitely very good looking but there was something fishy about him.
I cut and paste a sentence from his introduction into Google and voila! He’d lifted then entire thing from some early twentieth century speaker.
I should have just left it at that and logged off, but I couldn’t help myself. It was a teachable moment. If I didn’t correct him, he’d never learn. Plus, he was really cute.
So I sent him a quick note through the site’s messaging service: You totally plagiarized your profile, you know. Don’t you have anything interesting to say about yourself?
Surprise, surprise, he hasn’t written back. But surely he’ll see the error of his ways. Maybe his future professors will even thank me.