In this day and age it is often surprising to receive a corrupted document from a student or colleague. Most of us know how to properly save our documents and either send them as e-mail attachments or upload them to an external site, such as a Blackboard course. But a new web business sells corrupted files that can then be sent in order to meet a deadline, but which the receiver won’t be able to use. The site, Corrupted-Files.com charges $3.95 for a corrupted file. The information on the site makes it clear that it is intended for students who need to buy more time to complete their work. The idea is that the student submits the corrupted file to meet the assignment deadline. Then, after a few days, when the professor is unable to read the garbled document he or she e-mails the student to request a working version of the file. The student feigns surprise about the corrupted file and then proceeds, several days later, to send a working file. Thus the student technically meets the assignment deadline yet actually has extra time to complete the work.
News about Corrupted-Files.com was originally reported in InsideHigher Ed, and it was interesting to read that the site creator just set up the service as a joke and really didn’t expect anyone to take it seriously. Yet when he started getting requests from students and others for corrupted files he decided to make a profit off the service. It is worthwhile to review the comments to the story from faculty, some who are amazed that any student would go to such efforts to avoid an assignment deadline to others who offer advice on how to prevent getting duped this way, and yet others who point out that Microsoft products aren’t perfect and that sometimes files really do get corrupted. While the site is still up and appears to be doing business as usual, the “secret” the site asks you not to share is now out of the bag. It now is just a question of time as to whether or not students will realize their professors are going to be a bit more wary about the old “corrupted file” excuse.