Addicted to novelty since 2001

ReviewMe Review: iPlagiarismCheck

This is a review for ReviewMe, first discussed around here last year. The subject of the review pays me to review their product or service, though I’m under no obligation to provide a positive review. Let me know if you think this sort of thing is arse–I’m definitely seeking feedback.

One other note: I’m using the rel=”nofollow” tag for ReviewMe subjects, so that they’re not buying my link juice along with their review.

Of the five or so ReviewMe products and services I’ve reviewed, iPlagiarismCheck is the one that’s intrigued me the most. I really don’t know anything about plagiarism checking services, but I’d like to.

I asked a relative who’s a university professor, and she told me that they do, in fact, use such a service at her school. However, she also told me that googling suspicious phrases works pretty effectively.

Here’s their spiel:

Plagiarism-Checkers is a privately-held company specializing in collaborative e-learning and assessment solutions for academic, publishing and corporate clients. Various online applications produced by Plagiarism-Checkers are in use by hundreds of institutions and companies worldwide, serving an overall user population of over 2 million.

Blatant SEO Tricks

UPDATE: The keyword stuffing I referred to is gone from the website, but it was definitely there last night. Peculiar.

A brief comment on their website. At first glance I liked it well enough–charming line-drawing and so forth. It’s a bit text-heavy, but that’s a common enough mistake. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, however, and see why they lost all credibility with me. They’re keyword stuffing using a bunch of unformatted paragraphs of descriptive text. That feels pretty spammy to me, and isn’t really legitimate tactic. Such blatant SEO tricks (which probably don’t work) don’t reflect well on the company.

Tacky website aside, does the service work? I cut and pasted together a short essay on the Rose Theatre, an Elizabethan theatre in which Shakspeare acted. I built the essay from various sources. I also submitted a very short, completely original essay as a control. You can see my longer, cobbled-together essay after the jump, with added labels indicating the origin of each paragraph.

They correctly didn’t find anything wrong with my completely original essay. Here’s what I got back from iPlagiarismCheck on the heavily-copied one (click for larger version):

My Plagiarism Check

Two for Five Ain’t Good Enough

They only spotted the Wikipedia content. They did also find a sentence in the last paragraph, but didn’t assign it to the right source. I presume a student from Panther Valley High (do you suppose their football team is named ‘The Panthers’?) copied it from the same book that I did.

If I’m a university professor, that’s unsatisfactory. The service claims that they “check your documents against hard and soft copy publications of all kinds”, but they missed both books I copied out of, as well as the stuff from this website. In the time it took me to submit the essay, I could have googled sentences from each paragraph and had a better success rate.

There’s no nice way to put this: based on my anecdotal test, iPlagiarismCheck doesn’t work well enough.

As discussed, here’s my little essay with labeled paragraphs:

Original Content
The Rose Theatre was an English theatre of the Elizabethan period, situated in central London. It was a contemporary of The Swan, Shakespeare’s famous theatre. While the Bard’s plays probably weren’t performed at the Rose, he probably did act in other plays, and Marlowe’s drama were definitely featured.

Wikipedia
The Rose was built in 1587 by Philip Henslowe and by a grocer named John Cholmley. The theatre was built on a messuage called the “Little Rose,” which Henslowe had leased from the parish of St. Mildred in 1585. It contained substantial rose gardens and two buildings; Cholmley used one as a storehouse, while Henslowe appears to have leased the other as a brothel. The building was of timber, with a lath and plaster exterior and thatch roof. It was polygonal in shape, about 21 meters in diameter.

Wikipedia Again, but I edited it
In 1592, Edward Alleyn performed with personnel from Lord Strange’s Men and the Admiral’s Men; this group decamped to the Rose Theatre in February, 1592. Philip Henslowe increased the size of the building for the new company, moving the stage further back to accommodate an extra 500 extra spectators. The original was smaller than other theatres of the period, only about two-thirds the size of the earlier Theatre built 11 years earlier, and its stage was also strikingly small; the renovations resolved both issues.

From Peter Ackroyd’s biography of Shakespeare (I manually typed this out from the dead tree edition)
The Rose was situated on Bankside in Southwark, close to the High Street and in the parish of St. Saviour’s. It was smaller than its predecessors, in large part because of the premium on building land. Its walls were of the lath and plaster, its galleries roofed with thatch. It was situated beside two houses for the bating of bulls and bears, suggesting that it harboured a distinct but associated activity.

From The Rose Theatre: An Archeological Discovery (manually typed out from Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ preview of the book)
The London playhouses marked the beginning of recorded theatrical history in England, and a tradition of Renaissance drama still alive today. Although there was a contemporary theatrical tradition in Spain and English actors are known to have played in theatres in northern Europe, the outdoor playhouses of Elizabethan and Jacobean London remain unique.

From a page on this site
The remains of the Rose was discovered, to much excitement, in 1989, while excavating for a new office building. They still built the building, but left a large, dark cavity underneath it to preserve the remains. Unfortunately, the remains weren’t open to the public. Soon, they will be.

5 Responses to “ReviewMe Review: iPlagiarismCheck”

  1. Michael Kwan

    I do paid reviews on my blog all the time and I have no issue with them, so long as there is full disclosure. I don’t completely believe in doing a nofollow, however, because the person requesting the review obviously wants the link juice as well. This is partly why high-ranking (Alexa, Technorati, GooglePR, etc.) blogs demand higher RM rates.

  2. Andrea >> Become a Consultant

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with disclosed paid reviews.

    I’m not sure where you saw the keyword stuffing, though. It just looks like they put way too much content on the main page. (And their layout sucks.) It seems to be more of a design issue.

  3. darren

    Michael: That’s probably why I don’t get more requests to review stuff–most of my reviews have been negative, and I use ‘nofollow’.

    Andrea: Now that I look at the page again, that material is gone. It was definitely there last night. I’ll update the post.

  4. Raul

    There is a better service called TurnItIn.com. You may want to check it out. Universities subscribe to TurnItIn, particularly to find out potential cases of plagiarism that can actually be significant (e.g. PhD theses!).

Comments are closed.