Is sending a corrupted file cheating?

New online service allows students to send doctored files to unsuspecting profs

What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever given a professor for missing a deadline? Maybe your computer crashed, or your e-mail didn’t send properly. Maybe you faked an illness or family emergency. Maybe you insisted your TA lost the paper.

Chances are high that your professor has heard it all before. And for most, telling the difference between who’s telling the truth and who isn’t is easier than most students might think.

“Undergraduates who lie about dead grandparents outnumber honest students by at least 10 to 1,” writes one professor on the ranting website RateYourStudents. “What’s especially distressing is how EASY they find it to lie, and how OBVIOUS their lies are.”

But a new online service is toeing that line a bit more closely.

At, students can buy a corrupted file — either Word, Excel or Powerpoint — for just US$3.95 a pop. The files come in a range of sizes, from 2, 5, 10, 30 or 40 pages, to suit any length of assignment, and can be downloaded from the company’s website. The student can then re-name the file (i.e. Karen_English101) and send it as an attachment to their prof. Custom files can be ordered for a price of US$8.95.

According to the site, “it will take your professor several hours if not days to notice your file is ‘unfortunately‘ corrupted. Use the time this website just bought you wisely and finish that paper!” Apparently, the files can’t be opened traced and reversed, and new files are uploaded periodically. “We take pride in our corruption!”

For its part, the website says the service isn’t plagiarism, which is defined by the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary as the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”

But is it cheating? Because they’re buying themselves an extension, the site says that students will be getting an “unfair advantage” and says students should first ask their teacher for an extension before they use a corrupted file.

So, what do you think? Cheating or not?