Since the last two weeks, I have seen multiple people on discuss putting forward their grievances regarding the plagiarism issue. Not only that, many of you have also mailed me your issues hoping that they would be discussed with the admins. Recounting admins stand on plagiarism issues-
“You all must remember that the issue of plagiarism impacts us as much as it impacts you. CodeChef is a community built on trust and cooperation, and any sort of cheating that happens makes the learning experience worse for everyone involved, including us. This means that sometime we have to take harsh decisions.”
So, after a detailed discussion and an intense debate on current scenario I present to you the results of our discussion. It is possible that your question has not been covered, but it is quite likely that it has. I hope this puts your concerns to rest :). If not, firstname.lastname@example.org is the way to go. (I cannot possibly discuss all of the uncountable individual/special cases I got due to limited time with us and admin’s busy schedule.(
1.“I have been struck by the plagiarism hammer. HELP!!”
Ans: This case was not even worth mentioning to @admin. No details were present. Just a mail stating-
“I got struck with hammer. Please ask admin to undo it.”
Excuse me, but what? You got struck because of your own actions. Sorry, I cannot do anything without more details and I just cannot ask her to undo baselessly. These cases were ignored, and this was imitated to the concerned people by me wherever possible. I trust her hammer good enough that it just rain down its wrath on anyone. The number of mails I received for this category are quite concerning.
2. “My ratings have taken a big fall! Also, it is mentioned that-
Penalties on Plagiarism: Users found cheating will be penalized heavily. The first time they are caught, their ratings will fall by 500 points. The second time, it will fall by 1000, and **they will be banned on the third instance.** This will be done from now on.
Should I make a new account or continue with existing?”
Ans: We have already foreseen this dilemma. Our rating system is what will make us possibly unique here :). When calculating ratings, there is a volatility factor affecting it, which is based on how well users are performing w.r.t. their rating. It will allow a fast recovery of rating if you stick to your old account.
Regarding new accounts, please remember, you are NOT allowed to participate with both accounts (old and new) in a contest. Please keep that in mind. Penalizing people for multiple accounts just for existing (i.e. if the account is not doing anything malicious, not breaking rules) is not in our priority list right now. However, please let be known that, it is against our code of conduct and rules if you possess multiple accounts. At any point, you must be having only a single account.
My Opinion: As long as you possess only a single account, abide by all the rules and regulations, its subjective. Admin did encourage sticking to old accounts. She, however, is not very much against new accounts, provided users take responsibility upon themselves that they are abiding with the rules at all times. No arguments will be entertained if you’re found violating! First mail them and request them to deactivate your older account, and only after that make a new one. Multiple accounts rule is very strictly monitored by them.
Common Consensus: Rating System encourages you to hold on to older account due to volatility factor. Rest is up to the users provided they respect and take the responsibility of following rules. Multiple accounts are strictly not allowed. No arguments for that case. In case users have multiple account, they should contact admins via email immediately so they can deactivate the redundant accounts.
3. “Its first time you are punishing us :(. Can you not give an unconditional pardon to everybody? The community will appreciate it!”
Ans: No, we cannot. Each and Every user was informed of them being caught in plagiarism. They knew the consequences. Granting a pardon will be very unfair to honest people. We heard arguments from everyone, kept a record of the guilty and then penalized them. Everyone was allowed to have a say in their case. Hence, an unconditional pardon is not favourable since this was a fair trial.
We know that you people are sorry. We have been even receiving mails where people who plagiarised in multiple contests say that they’re sorry. But the punishment is necessary. Because, there are cases where despite being caught, and being urged on not to cheat, people cheated and are now coming up with all kinds of apologies. That cannot be accepted or encouraged.
While we feel your words, we cannot be unfair. We have to draw the line somewhere. We, however, hope that this lesson is learnt for future by the concerned people and wish them best for future contests :).
Mod Suggestion: “Can we not do it, at least, for some selected cases where the grievance seems more genuine than rest?”
Ans: We have been thinking about that since past 2 months. It’s just not feasible. While we are very sympathetic to some of the cases you mentioned, it will be very, very logistically expensive and time consuming to go and deal with cases on an individual basis. We made sure that everyone in the plagiarism list was informed latest 3-4 weeks earlier from this time onwards. Most of these cases were seen and dealt with then and there. Even we don’t enjoy giving punishments to our community members, it hurts us just as much …but it is necessary to bring fairness to the system and hence, we are forced to act. It will take up too much time and human resources to deal with cases on individual basis, and it can adversely affect plans for future on which we are working. With a heavy heart, we express our inability to deal with cases on individual basis now (after the 3-week window frame which users had) because it is just not feasible.
My Opinion: Admins had a plan, and we were very specific on dealing with all cases in that period. Once that period is over, there can be no going back because it’s just not possible for them anymore. Also, since rules and regulations have been very clear from the start of contest, we do not have any say in the matter. Admin is under no obligation, and hence, these cases depend on her mercy. If she expresses her inability, then we cannot force her to do something. That professionally, ethically and morally wrong. I feel the concerns, but I am sorry. What’s fair is fair. One cannot dodge one’s punishment.
Common Consensus: Unconditional pardon will do more harm than good. Pardon on case by case basis is not possible now, after expiry of the timeframe for that, due to it being very costly resource wise. We have to move on.
4. “I got a mail after 6 months telling that I have been caught in plagiarism. Had I known then that I am being penalized, I would have made a new account. It’s too late for that now.”
Ans: Ideally, this shouldn’t have happened. We will confirm with the concerned department for any error on our part. But that again, doesn’t change the fact that you did break rules. Our volatility system will allow you to regain ratings faster.
a. “I broke rules because I was new and didn’t know the rules and code of conduct!”
Ans: That is not a valid excuse. We are very particular about this. Not only do we make users agree on terms, conditions and Code of Conduct while signing up, we also have rules at every contest page for easy access. Sorry, but we cannot entertain this. As we said earlier, it’s too expensive for us to do that, even if we want to.
b. Some general comments expressing “Punishment after so much time is not good!”
Ans: This is not even mildly acceptable. Similar to discussion on Unconditional Pardon, this will be very unfair. Everyone was informed, and they knew the rules and the consequences.
My Opinion: @admin did express her concern over delay on emails and will inquire into it. But she was very careful in previous step on who to penalize and who to spare. The argument of not knowing the rules is immediately null and void since you agree to it while signing up and rules are easily accessible. Hence, the cases lie completely at mercy of @admin . If she expresses her helplessness over this step being very expensive and potentially delaying their future plans by a great margin, we should respect that.
Common Consensus: They should, instead of getting demotivated from past, look forward to future. Volatility of rating will allow them a speedy recovery. The lesson should be taken to heart.
5. “I missed the time window for argument.” (Not asked as a question, but was a general case I observed throughout the grievances I compiled.)
Ans: Sorry, we cannot deal with cases now since ratings have been updated already. A 1-month time window (3-4 weeks) was more than enough for you to check your inbox once and get back to us. Once the time window is missed, we cannot do anything. This is a good time to remind you all to confirm which email ID of yours is used for CodeChef communication, and to check it regularly.
My Opinion: Expiry of deadline is a serious issue. If you people saw the mails, but still didn’t respond, or for some reason didn’t check the mail, then its solely your own problem. I am sad to say that, but we cannot hold @admin accountable for it. There is no reason to receive the mail and not reply to that. That is, either sheer carelessness, or a belief that “Let them send mails, they aren’t gonna penalize me anyway.” Both of them are unacceptable.
b. “I did not receive a reply to my mail.”
My Opinion: This wasn’t serious enough to be raised. No reply does not mean that they didn’t see the mail. Every mail is seen and accounted for. If even after that your rating fell, then its because your arguments were rejected. You may mail her, with constant reminders, to know the reason.
Common Consensus: Missing of deadline cannot be helped. Each mail is seen and read. None of them are ignored or “lost”, so no reply shouldn’t be taken as “not seen”.
6. “I participated with 2 accounts. Both were mine, but I am caught with plagiarism! Also, I got a penalty for next long, even after that account got deactivated.”
Ans: Participating with 2 accounts in a contest is very serious offence, in fact, it’s the exact thing which we don’t want a user with multiple account to do. We cannot help you here. You ought to have read the rules, which state this very clearly that only a single account will be used for the contest.
My Opinion: Each penalty is independent of another, so they will punish you for each penalty, irrespective of status of that account. This practice, of participating with multiple accounts, in itself deserves a penalty (of having both accounts banned).
b. “My case is more complicated.”
Ans: N/A (This was not raised during meeting. I cannot discuss each individual case separately).
My Opinion: If you missed the deadline, we can do nothing. If the talks are still going on, then try your best, although it seems that the decisions are already taken. There were many cases which were complicated. We cannot have case to case discussions in the meeting. Get in touch with them, if the deadline isn’t missed.
Common Consensus: Participation with multiple accounts is a serious violation. Penalty is irreversible here. Again, we stress people to learn from mistakes and wish them luck for future.
7. ”Can I make a new account and copy solutions of old long challenge and submit with new account?”
Ans: No! That is same as participating with multiple accounts. You will be caught by MOSS for this. We again, recount, the volatility factor of rating to encourage you to stick to your account.
My Opinion: Don’t expect that if you “first create a new account and then ask for suspension”, then your case will be taken “leniently”. Its as good as breaking a rule and asking them to fix it. First obtain required permission from @admin , and then proceed to it. She made it very clear that having multiple accounts is not allowed. I will advise to not to transit from old to new account during a contest.
Common Consensus: No.
8. “What is the basis on penalty? You said it’s 500 for first time, 1000 for next. That’s not followed!!”
Ans: We will put up a detailed blog post telling the updated mechanisms soon. Please be patient till then!
Common Consensus: A blog post will be put soon.
9. “What are the plans of @admin for future of Codechef, which she mentioned?”
My Opinion: She is probably preparing for Chef’s next birthday.
The main purpose of the post is to act as a reference or FAQ at the forum. I feel that transparency should exist here. We should know @admin and @admin should know us. Hence, one of the chief aim of this post is to make @admin 's views loud and clear, so that the community can take that as a reference and do actions for optimum results.
I tried my best for each and every case possible. I hope you guys understand that.
Please comment any doubt, concern or suggestion of yours below.
Thanks and Regards,