What sets the passionate programmers apart from the ones who resort to plagiarism in coding competitions? We believe it is the love for programming. CodeChef is a product of this love, and the collective sentiment of the community has made the platform what it is today.
Plagiarism is an unfortunate by-product of almost any online contest, and ours has been no exception. To plagiarise in a platform that is built to strengthen one’s skill in programming is just counterproductive in the long run.
We’ve had plagiarisers since almost the beginning, but we started taking measures against them only after a few years. But over the last many months, we have had a significantly larger number of cases of plagiarism, partly because the number of participants has increased significantly and partly because of our inaction at a particular penalisation step.
A typical short contest these days gets about 50,000 – 90,000 submissions while a long challenge gets about 5-6 lakhs. Not an easy number to weed out plagiarism from, but we do try our best. For the understanding of the community, these are the steps that we follow –
- All submissions are filtered through MOSS (a plagiarism checker tool), that throws up pairs of submissions with similar code percentage.
- Then, we manually look at those to identify the right parameters to find similar-looking solutions.
- Once identified, we disqualify those submissions, and as a result, the corresponding users go down the contest rank list.
- However, we do allow them to make an appeal for their case, informing them of the same via email.
- If they reply and we are convinced that they were wrongly accused, their disqualification is revoked. The onus lies with them to prove their innocence.
- If found guilty, we drop their ratings by 275 points.
The whole process takes a tremendous amount of our time, and we have tried to be as fair as we can be. The above process requires manual scrutiny. We try and make sure that we do not allow any false positives to go through, and therefore, facilitate an extensive appeal process.
And hence, while most of the above steps are being implemented, we have not been able to execute the last step from the month of August 2018. We understand that this has encouraged many more participants to take the system lightly. However, we want to assure you that it was not that we have been casual about this. Being a small team, we just could not prioritise this over so many other things that we have been doing.
Given that the situation has become so dire, we want to sincerely apologise for the same, and make sure that this is not continued. Also, going forward, we will be taking up a proactive approach against those users who are caught plagiarising.
We want to inform the entire community that we are currently in the process of dropping ratings for all users who have been found to have plagiarized in any contest between [AUG18] and [FEB20]. The penalisation for the contests after FEB20 will be done in the coming months. As mentioned above, the whole process takes a lot of time, and we will also try and come up with ideas where we can take help of the community in some way to speed up the process.
For future contests, we will continue to punish users engaging in plagiarism with a 275 point rating drop. Along with this, we will also be banning users who are caught plagiarising three times, with the count starting from AUG20.
We want to reiterate that while taking reference from study materials and solutions to solve problems is acceptable, ripping off someone else’s solutions isn’t in the best spirits of the competition.
If you need to report any cases of plagiarism, you can always do so here.
We hope that these measures will help address a long pending issue at hand.