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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sneaky, Sneaky

It has been an exasperating day. While I will leave out most of the details (I doubt anyone cares to hear about the minor annoyances with which I have been plagued), I thought one of the stories at least deserved to be told. It was only two days ago that I complained about a particularly brazen request for me to do another student's work. While I found that story vaguely amusing in its audacity, I now have another story of attempted use of the marginal products of my intellect, only this one is as conniving as the other was blatant (and, somewhat ironically, comes from the same course as the first. What is wrong with the people taking that course this year?).

Last week I received an email from some person (let's call him Mr. D) I had never heard of before, saying he had gotten my email from a friend, and was currently working on the final assignment for the course in question. Mr. D then went on to claim that the assignment was different from last year's, but he wanted to see my solution to last year's anyway so he could see the approach I used. I was a little perturbed by this email, especially since I had actually already seen a copy of this year's assignment and it was virtually indistinguishable from last year's. The lack of specifics on who exactly had given him my email also gave me some misgivings, so I decided to let the email sit for a few days while I decided what to do. Before I reached a decision, however, this fellow decided no response meant it was a good idea to resend his message to make sure I had seen it.

I decided to respond to the second one, if only to figure out who might have given this guy my contact information. I told Mr. D that I had read the assignment and it was fairly similar, so I wasn't comfortable just sending him my code (though I also pointed out my code did not actually work completely, and therefore might not help him much). I did say, however, that if he had any specific questions or wanted to send me his code, I would take a look at it and see if I could help him out (as has happened before, this might actually have ended up in me sending him the code he so desperately wanted to receive if it could be illustrative of an answer to a specific question). I also asked him who had given him my email address.

His response was kind of startling. Apparently, the subject of my aforementioned Monday rant had just mentioned my name in passing, and Mr. D went ahead and searched for me in the university directory (I didn't know that existed in any sort of publicly search-able way). Seemingly unaware of how this could sound mildly disquieting, he then compounded the creepiness by asking for my phone number since it was easier to ask his questions over the phone rather than through email. In what seemed like a genuine manner, though, he asked if I could at least send him my code after the due date since he was very interested in the subject. While I'm not sure that my code would bring anything of value to the table, I brushed off the creepy parts of the email and latched onto the last (decidedly less creepy) request, saying that was no problem.

I thought that would pretty much be the end of it, until Mr. D sent me another email today saying, "Please try to send the material Thursday night / Friday morning so I can look over it before I start focusing on other courses." The thing is, and Mr. D should have known I would be aware of this considering the number of other people I have contact with in the course (including the professor), they have an extension on the assignment until Sunday. Sending him my code Thursday night or Friday morning is in no way sending him it out of interest's sake, and I imagine Mr. D is very well aware of that. Sneaky, sneaky, Mr. D. Your clever scheme might have worked, too, if it weren't for those meddling other students who are emailing me to ask legitimate questions.