As a glance at the dates on my posts would suggest, I don’t seem to be able to spare much time for blogging. But every once in a while, something happens that suddenly moves “Blog about it!” to the top of my priority list.
One of those things has happened.
Last week, I got a Google Alert on my name. This happens pretty frequently since I write a regular column for my local newspaper, and those articles are often posted online by the paper a few days after the print version is delivered on doorsteps. But last week’s alert was different.
It wasn’t an article I wrote but a reference to me that had triggered the alert. When I followed the link back, I found myself on a website that sells essays, term papers, and other writing assignments to students.
There aren’t many things that instantly spike my blood pressure, but academic integrity (rather, lack of it) is one of them. I searched the site for contact information and sent this email message:
Good morning,I just got a Google Alert (below) on my name which led back to the [company name redacted] site ([domain redacted].com). While I don’t see myself listed anywhere here on this actual page, I am very bothered to find that I have been affiliated in any way with this website. There must be some kind of listing on some internal page that includes me, and I DO NOT want to be on that listing.Please remove my name, my website links, and any reference to my writing/editing business completely from this site.
As a former teacher, seeing that someone has advertised me as a student essay writing service makes my skin crawl. I absolutely do not offer student essay writing. I do ghostwriting work for business professionals, but I NEVER ghostwrite student assignments. I make that quite clear upfront on my site. My student writing assistance packages require that the student actually complete his or her own essay first. Then, I work with that student through several rounds of critique and editing–similar to what a person would get from an instructor in a college writing center, just delivered virtually, via email or telephone rather than in person.
In short, what [company name] sells is a product–complete essays. What I sell to students is a SERVICE–the guidance and expertise to make their own writing better. We have nothing in common.Again, please remove any mention of me and my business from this and any affiliated sites.
Thank you,AnnaLisa Michalski
I would not have expected to get any personal response to the message; in the past, my requests for de-listing from any site have usually netted a boilerplate “Your request has been received” kind of reply. In this case, I didn’t even get that much. Two days later, that all-too-familiar MAILER DAEMON notice landed in my inbox.
My conclusion: People that sell an unethical product cannot be counted upon to have working email systems, maintain up-to-date contact information online, or really perform any task that isn’t directly connected to making a buck–both morality and the most basic of public relations be damned.
(And, at the risk of stating what should be obvious, students: A grade is intended to reflect mastery of coursework. If you purchase that grade rather than work for it yourself, your academic record becomes at best questionable in accuracy and at worst a baldfaced lie. Ask for guidance, put in more time, enlist a study partner, get a tutor, or hire a writing coach if you need it, but for pity’s sake, make the effort. Do you own work!)