A group of educators is hoping to see an end to advertisers who are in the business of selling term papers and essays by launching an online petition.
Please help us encourage Google to stop undermining education through their policy of displaying ads that encourage plagiarism and academic fraud through the sale of pre-written and made to order term papers and essays especially when these ads are displayed on web sites that promote education.
The Google AdWords program works by matching approved ads to content using algorithms and Google permits hosting web sites to block ads only by excluding certain domain names; businesses that sell term papers and essays (e.g. DirectEssays.com and MonsterPapers.com) simply use a large number of domain names to get around this minor restriction which allows them to promote academic fraud even on web sites that promote education.
They are also suggesting that people submit their feedback about why these ads should not be allowed in Adwords.
What do I think? Well, first of all, these types of advertisers don’t sell plaigarized work, they have reprint rights from the authors of the papers. And using DirectEssays.com, one of the sites named in the petition, their terms state:
You acknowledge and agree that the license granted under these Terms does not permit you to utilize any Essay for any commercial or for-profit purpose. The papers contained within our web site are for research purposes only! You may not turn in our papers as your own work! You must cite our website as your source! Turning in a paper from our web site as your own is plagiarism and is illegal!
So while students may hand in unedited papers as their own, these advertisers aren’t promoting “academic dishonesty” by telling students to purchasing these papers for anything other than research purposes only.
And will this stop plagairism? Definitely not. Students don’t decide to buy a term paper and call it their own simply because they saw an ad for a site selling papers. Cheaters are going to cheat regardless of whether they see the ad on an AdSense site, in the natural search results, or as a recommendation from a friend who also bought a paper. The only thing an Adwords or AdSense ad will change is possibly what company he or she buys the term paper from.
On the flip side, there are also many Adwords advertisers who offer services to spot plagairized work, such as turnitin.com.
I would also be willing to bet that many publishers of educational sites are making good money from displaying these kinds of ads. It would be interesting to know the number of non-AdSense-publishers versus AdSense publishers of educational sites who are signing the petition. Many publishers displaying these ads may have a completely different opinion on this.
When viewing the petition page, I do find it amusing to see a site selling essays as one of the AdSense ads (click to view full-sized).
Spotted via Threadwatch