Thursday, September 29, 2011

Take that pen and shove it!

Image by John LeMasney
Creative Commons license via flickr
Introducing Armond the Author!

I'm sure many of you have met Armond. He of the "My work has never earned anything less that perfect scores" delusion.

I have Armond (version 1314) in class now. I thought I had dodged a bullet as his last message declared that he would no longer ask me any questions after he insinuated that instead of the published university-wide rubric, his work was being judged against my own writing.

But because the Armonds of the world cannot back down ... a new message today.

After, of course, insinuating that this is my requirement alone, he has finally capitulated to university policy and submitted his first assignment to the anti-plagiarism service. Of course, this was done under protest, as Armond has determined that the service is "useless" and "manipulative."
To thwart this, he has included his own copyright notice on his assignment. (More on this in a moment.)

The coup de grĂ¢ce, however, is that his first assignment was flagged as mostly unoriginal! A typical lame introductory "describe and discuss" question, Armond decided that it required 1/3 of his "writing" to consist of cut-and-pasted definitions from the assigned reading. Two large block quotes ensconced within truly insightful observations of how "through his extensive reading for the assignment," he has discerned that the definition of hamster fur weaving is best summarized by quoting the entire definition from the text. His "analysis" consists of yet another quotation, but integrated with the body text so not flagged by the algorithm because the quotation filter is engaged.

And then there is the copyright notice.

It is not © 2011 Armond the Author but © 2011 Armond Extraordinary Incorporated.

He declares that a brief assignment early in a course cannot be "published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed" -- as if someone is likely to pinch these two pages and somehow profit from it.
And uses a business identity to do it.
For an essay that is ... mostly other people's writing!

I am not unfamiliar with the copyright criticism of anti-plagiarism services but, I've been doing this awhile now, and have never seen a student include a copyright notice -- certainly not to a business entity and particularly not on a two page essay.

Is this a brave new world of hubris?

I had started this term with a bit of enthusiasm ... now the dread of getting bashed for actually doing my job has returned.


  1. Yep, ridiculous. If you think he's really going to make trouble (the persistence, delusions of grandeur, and other indications of a pathological level of narcissism suggest it's possible), I'd consult with a program director, whatever body deals with plagiarism, and/or the university lawyer. Since the university requires use of the anti-plagiarism service, I'm sure it's got a nice, formal policy statement, full of legalese, justifying that requirement available somewhere or other.

    Since Armond seems inclined to persist in arguing, I'd say the goal is to get him arguing with whoever is paid to argue about this particular subject, while you go back to teaching what you're paid to teach.

  2. Because I know nothing about it, I just looked up the Wikipedia article on incorporation. Hmmm.. he would need to have a charter, and corporate officers, and be registered with the state. Maybe you should see if you can look up A.E. Inc. And then when you fail to find it, include a charge of fraud along with the charges of plagiarism, hubris, and stupidity.

  3. I have no advice that others won't give, but I do feel for you. It's sad fact of our jobs that one student out of 75 can cause such dread. I wish some times instructors could drop a class.

  4. Wow, this dude really is extraordinary, if not precisely in the ways he thinks. Never mind his copyright notice: any material he submits as part of a class in which he's enrolled is covered by educational fair use.

  5. The guy is either a megalomaniac, an Ayn Rand devotee, or this is some sort of practical joke.

    I'm going with three.

    Aware and Scared is probably going with one.


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