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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Freelance homework and other jobs on the "no" list...

Earlier today, I read about a comedian who was approached to write a paper for a college student on Hinduism. I have also noticed a few web sites that are willing to hire writers to write term papers. I have also seen requests for bids on homework projects at sites like Rent-a-Coder.

It appears as though students are outsourcing their homework! The late 80s and early 90s didn't provide that kind of opportunity, but I can imagine some of the people with whom I went to college doing something like that if they could have.

The whole thing got me thinking about what kinds of jobs I would simply refuse to take if they were offered to me. Doing someone else's schoolwork would definitely be on the "no" list. I value the idea of academic integrity too much to even think about writing someone's papers for them. I wouldn't have to wrestle with that one at all. I just wouldn't touch it under any circumstances.

Freelancing, however, does create some interesting ethical situations in terms of what you are willing to write. For instance, if one is asked to write ad copy for a product they feel is sub-par, should he or she take the job? What if the same client asked you to write a series of factual articles about the problem that product was intended to solve? The articles would be accurate and honest, but would you be willing to write them knowing they would be positioned as a means of selling a lousy product?

I might write erotica for someone (I have no idea why anyone would ask ME to do that, but we're dealing in hypotheticals here), but I wouldn't write blurbs for a hardore adult site. I would refuse jobs with a political slant I found distasteful or destructive, too. I wouldn't hype something I knew to be a complete and utter joke, either. I would also feel pretty uncomfortable writing factual pieces if I had advace knowledge that they would be used to move a rotten product.

I don't know if my position is common among most writers. I think it would be interesting to find out.

Oh, the story about the young woman who accidentally attempted to have a comedy writer author her schoolwork on the Hindu faith is an interesting read. You can check it out at A Week of Kindness.