"Chegg is Just French for Cheat"
Plus, Australia's cheating regulator is asking questions about Chegg. Plus, an editorial from Kenya worth reading.
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NYT Podcast: “Chegg is Just French for Cheat”
In another great catch by an engaged reader, a recent episode of the New York Times podcast “The Hard Fork” raised the topic of Chegg’s stock collapse (see Issue 206).
Skip ahead to 21:20 to get to the Chegg bits.
Here are some highlights.
Pointing out that Chegg started out by renting textbooks, one of the hosts says:
they then pivoted into, what sounds to me like kind of a uber for cheating on your homework business
The other host replies:
Yea, this was how you cheated in the world before ChatGPT
And after commenting that the word Chegg is now a verb, the second host says:
Chegg is, I think, just French for cheat. That’s my understanding.
Later, when discussing the stock plummet, the second host says:
Think about it from a business perspective, Kevin. You’ve got two businesses. One lets you cheat on your homework for a monthly subscription fee, the other one lets you cheat on your homework for free. I think it’s clear which one of those businesses is going to succeed among 14-year-olds.
[Chegg] provided something that was valuable, until it wasn’t
Exactly. As we discussed and covered back in March, in Issue 193. In it, I wrote:
At the end of the day, I think most cheating-prone students aren’t hung up on the quality of their fraud. Instead, they’re more likely to care how much it costs, how fast it comes and how likely they are to be caught and I think ChatGPT wins on at least two of those.
if you assume you’re paying for garbage from Chegg, why not get garbage from ChatGPT for free, even if it is slightly worse?
Or - you know - what they said.
Back to the NYT podcast, where one host says:
I don’t see a lot of people shedding tears for Chegg. It is not a beloved company. College students in particular seem to have a love/hate relationship with it because it does cost money to use and people have complained that the Chegg experts that you can ask questions of - they sometimes they’re not very responsive or don’t give you the answer you’re looking for in time to use it on your exam. So, I am not seeing a whole lot of love lost for Chegg in this scenario
The segment is worth a listen.
The big picture here is that in an exceptionally high profile, culturally influential conversation, Chegg is - at long lost - flatly and unambiguously characterized as a cheating company.
And now that ChatGPT and other easier, faster, free cheating engines are devouring Chegg in real time, it’s becoming impossible to argue that it is anything but a profit-driven, industrial misconduct machine.
Australia’s Regulator Asking Questions about Chegg
You may be aware that, rather uniquely, Australia has both a law banning academic cheating and a regulator (TEQSA) enforcing the law. That’s great.
As example, TEQSA has already blocked hundreds of cheating websites (see Issue 142). When TEQSA blocked the first few, I wrote that I was disappointed because the regulator left the biggest, baddest of the cheaters off the list, letting them continue to operate.
That may be about to change.
About ten days ago, TEQSA sent a letter to higher education leaders and institutions asking for their input on Chegg. The title of the letter:
Protecting Academic Integrity: Concerns about Chegg.com
The meat of the letter is:
Since the [cheating laws] came into effect, TEQSA has received numerous concerns from higher education providers that the online platform Chegg.com facilitates contraventions of the provisions of the TEQSA Act which prohibit providing, offering to provide or arranging for a third person to provide academic cheating services. The complaints that TEQSA has received have primarily related to Chegg’s ‘Expert Q&A’ function that allows subscribers to post questions and receive worked solutions to those questions.
TEQSA is concerned that these functions may be used by Australian students to receive solutions to assessment tasks that they are required to personally undertake. We are interested in understanding the extent to which this concern is shared by higher education providers in Australia and would be grateful for your advice of any concerns and if so any examples of Chegg’s services being used in this way. TEQSA is considering options to address any concerns, and we would also be interested in your views about options to address such concerns.
TEQSA has had complaints from education providers that Chegg may be in violation of the law by facilitating cheating. You don’t say.
This is big because, as mentioned, TEQSA has the power to ban Chegg, block it outright, in Australia if they believe students are using it cheat.
Personally, I cannot wait until Chegg’s few remaining shareholders catch wind of this. Being banned, literally removed from the Internet by federal authorities, can’t be good for business, right?
Anyway, if you’re in Australia and have concerns about Chegg:
Any information you would like to share with TEQSA can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe mention Course Hero and Quizlet and too, while you’re at it. If you’re so inclined.
An Editorial From Kenya
The Standard, a news outlet in Kenya, published an editorial recently on “massive cheating” in national exams.
The short version is that, like many nations, Kenya has national exams that, along with grades, help determine college and career placements, but are also used to rank schools. Last year, the national exam results stunned some people as schools and students scored unusually and exceptionally well.
Cheating was immediately suspected but government leaders dismissed the suspicions as rumors or plots. Then, as this editorial recounts, an inquiry by parliament found that, “It is true there was massive cheating.”
The paper calls for further disclosure and legal consequences for conspirators and students.
I’m sharing it because of this line:
For the sake of the reputation of Kenya's education and to ensure our institutions of higher learning produce quality professionals, it is important we safeguard the integrity of our exams.
No doubt about it.
As a thought exercise, swap “Kenya’s” with “America’s” and try to remember when you heard anyone say anything like that.