Back in 2010, I wrote a review of the Viper Anti-Plagiarism Scanner and, to put it modestly, I was not impressed. I found the service, which can be found at ScanMyEssay.com, to be slow, poor at detecting matches and generally far less useful than similar services.
Like most ineffective plagiarism detection services, I quickly forgot about it and moved on. However, it appears that it may have been a mistake.
Last week, Zulfiqar Ali Khan, a researcher at the Syed University of Engineer, wrote me seeking help getting a paper of his removed from an essay mill website (a website dedicated to posting copies of essays for students to use and often plagiarize from). When the paper eventually came down, the site involved explained that all of the content on its site was sourced from the Viper Anti-Plagiarism Scanner. They provided a link that indicated how that happened.
In short, the terms of service of Viper make it so that every single essay checked through it is, eventually, posted on one of a network of essay mill sites and there is nothing that the rightsholder and creator can do about it.
But while Viper does openly admit to doing this, their claims of being “transparent” ring hollow as the information is well-hidden on their site and it’s possible, if not likely, most people using the service are unaware that Viper is feeding their essays to various sites with the intent of making the available for others to use.
Unfortunately, this is just another cautionary tale about working with questionable plagiarism detection services and the dangers that they can pose.Continue Reading