Things are tight for me right now. Maybe I should abandon The Dream for a Nine-to-Five and submit-to-the-man but I remain really keen to be my-own-Boss. All I need is a few more coins to rub together until my big-thing really starts to take off!

Meanwhile, I have a very modest local "computer programmer available" ad floating around the Interwebs. The dubious enquiries from people who have 'forgotten my password' I have no trouble rejecting, but occasionally I get enquiries from locally enrolled, invariably foreign, students, who don't directly declare it but—from reading the specs it's plainly obvious to us both—they have an assignment due.

Some of them are offering (IMHO) good money. eg: US$1000 for what might take me 8-12 hours.

On a philosophical level—I'm not enthusiastic about helping a wealthy foreigner buy their visa/qualifications for another year because (a) they haven't earned it and (b) their unearned qualifications dilute the value of my own. But...

OTOH, am I a chump not to reject this kind of income? It's only a small-ish distraction from my main project, and I'm not ready to give up the dream. There is certainly a market there which can prop me up a little while longer.

Is sneaking in this kind of work when times are tough a smart-move example of getting-ahead in a dog eat dog, real world? Or is it just cheating myself, and others?

  • 4
    why are you asking randoms on the internet for moral decisions? don't you see where this might go wrong?
    – bharal
    Nov 5, 2014 at 1:44
  • 1
    No? What's the risk?
    – Kanga Roo
    Nov 5, 2014 at 2:01
  • 3
    well, it depends on the randoms. you don't know any of us, so you don't know what sort of people we are. typically, you want the moral viewpoint of someone you respect and admire. but what do you know about us? nothing. worse, for all you know we're a collection of programming teachers (or a collection of non-homework doing rich folk), so you're just going to get well thought out vested interest responses.
    – bharal
    Nov 5, 2014 at 3:59
  • also, why can't your answer be both the "smart answer" and the "cheating yourself" answer?
    – bharal
    Nov 5, 2014 at 4:01
  • 1
    The fact that you asked this qwuestion should be telling you that it is wrong. If you felt it wa right, it would not occur to you to ask.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 5, 2014 at 14:50

2 Answers 2


Quick observation: Someone who's willing to cheat their way through a class will almost certainly be just as willing to cheat you. If you insist on doing this, get the money up front.

And these days I wouldn't bet against your getting involved in this coming back to haunt you. Do you want to be in the position of trying to explain this to an employer?

Yes, they're cheating themselves. No, that doesn't make it ethical to help them do so. And I really don't think it would be wise, no matter how you evaluate the ethics.

  • As evandentremont observes, they're still likely to fail if the course has any elements other than homework. If they're prepared to pay this much to cheat, then do you really think they wouldn't be prepared to retaliate against you (eg. trashing your reputation online) if they don't get the grades they want? Nov 5, 2014 at 9:24

$100 an hour is good money, especially for something legal.

Immoral is a relative term. If it was a matter of making rent or not, I would say yes for one reason: They're cheating themselves out of an education.

The person paying you to do their assignment will suffer for it. They won't understand the concepts, and won't pass their course. Homework is often a relatively small percentage of the final grade. (~10% from my experience)

  • 1
    I have to agree with this because, first, it is assumptions until OP hears directly from the inquirer that it is for school. Next, if they turn in a quality-made project that is too good, then the potential professor may expect this all the time or ask questions about it they can't answer.
    – Xrylite
    Nov 5, 2014 at 16:26

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