HT verify timestamp of an email?
October 17, 2006 8:50 PM   Subscribe

I received an assignment by email from a student five days after it was due. The 'sent' date on the email is the day the assignment was due, but the 'received' date was five days later. Can I verify the real time the message was originally sent from the email header (below)? If not, if the email originated from a university address, should the IT staff be able to get the information? Thanks MeFi.

The email header:

Received: from ([unix socket])
by (Cyrus v2.1.18) with LMTP; Tue, 17 Oct 2006 20:55:27 -0400
X-Sieve: CMU Sieve 2.2
Received: from ( [XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX])
(using TLSv1 with cipher EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA (168/168 bits))
(Client CN "", Issuer "Tech Support CA" (verified OK))
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id XXXXXXXXXXXX
for ; Tue, 17 Oct 2006 20:55:27 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from (localhost [XXX.0.XXX.XXX])
by localhost (Postfix) with SMTP id 09C874CE
for ; Tue, 17 Oct 2006 20:55:27 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from ( [XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 640DA4CC
for ; Tue, 17 Oct 2006 20:55:26 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from [XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX] ([XXX.XXX.XXX.X])
id ; Wed, 18 Oct 2006 00:55:24 +0000
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 11:53:23 -0400
User-Agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20060909)
MIME-Version: 1.0

Subject: XXXXXXX
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
X-XX-Spam-Details: The following antispam rules were triggered by this message:
Rule Score Description
DATE_IN_PAST_96_XX 0.205 Date: is 96 hours or more before Received: date
X-XX-AVAS-Version:, Antispam-Engine:, Antispam-Data: 2006.10.17.173442
X-XX-Spam-Rating: (8%)
posted by mdion to Computers & Internet (55 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Good question. My parents -- both profs -- have been in similar sit'ns; all I could say is: "Well, maybe if you get the geeks to check the logs?"
posted by docgonzo at 8:52 PM on October 17, 2006

I'm sure there's a reason not to give this kid the benefit of the doubt, but this same situation has happened to me with the roles reversed.

I emailed in an assignment well before the due time, but lo and behold my professor called me the morning after the due date to ask me where it was. I turned in a hard copy, but the email found its destination later that afternoon... A full two days after I sent it.

I'm not quite sure what happened, but I know it can happen, especially given the typically sub-par technical administration of many universities.
posted by Willie0248 at 9:01 PM on October 17, 2006

I think he sent it late. The only timestamp that shows the 13th is also the only one he might have been able to fiddle with. The earliest timestamp that he didn't have control over is the 18 Oct 2006 00:55:24 +0000 from Comcast, which appears to be when the email left his machine (the hsd1 address) headed for his SMTP server.
posted by llamateur at 9:05 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: This is the *first* time I've ever received an email at this university with such a lag... though I recognize it could be a coincidence.
posted by mdion at 9:05 PM on October 17, 2006

If the message was not delievered within 24 hours, typically most servers send a notice to the sender letting them know that the message was delayed. Ask if the student received this?

The headers don't look right and I'm sure that it's not too hard to find something online as to how to spoof the send date. I get a lot of spam with old dates. 5 years ago, it was a legitimate excuse to say that an assignment got lost in email, but with increased reliability, it is rare that these things happen now. But this happened to me last year, where the assignment got delayed in the university server.

Perhaps it may be helpful to request in the future that students submit a hard copy the day after they email it. If it's distance education, they can get it date-stamped at the post office, or at the university, a secretary can confirm the time of receipt.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:08 PM on October 17, 2006

An additional note-- if you have additional correspondence with this student, compare the headers of two emails.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:10 PM on October 17, 2006

You read the Received: headers from the bottom to the top to see the path the message took. I am almost 100% certain that Comcast accepted the message for delivery today (I would be 100% if I could see the XXXed out data). It is possible, however, that the message got stuck on in the student's machine in the outbox or something. It seems pretty unlikely to me, but it's impossible to tell for sure.
posted by paulus andronicus at 9:16 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, perpeutualstroll. I do require hard copies; this assignment was already late by Friday. I will check the headers.

Any idea what the 'antispam rules' stuff at the bottom of the header means?
posted by mdion at 9:16 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks paulus. Does Thunderbird tell you if you try to exit with unsent messages in your outbox? [So that he would know if the message didn't get sent...]
posted by mdion at 9:21 PM on October 17, 2006

...good luck on figuring it out...just to suggest for the future: the system i use to submit online assignments sends back an email verifying that my assignment has been received; you might consider setting up a special email account for assignments that sends an autoreply to the student indicating that the email has been received; if the student does not receive such a reply, it is the student's responsibility to resubmit or figure out the problem...
posted by troybob at 9:26 PM on October 17, 2006

The spam stuff at the bottom are tests that get applied to the message. Each test is assigned a score, positive or negative, and then if the cumulative score of the message is above a certain threshold, the message gets marked as spam. This one set off the DATE_IN_PAST_96_XX rule which basically means "The time listed in the Date: header is 96 hours or more in the past". This seems accurate based on the information we have -- the Date: header is taken from the sender's computer, which means that it can be trivially forged.

I'm not sure what Thunderbird does when it is closed and a message is undelivered, but I would be pretty surprised if it didn't give you some kind of notification.
posted by paulus andronicus at 9:28 PM on October 17, 2006

It's possible this message was 'Sent' by the student at exactly Fri, 13 Oct 2006 11:53:23 -0400 when his copy of Thunderbird was in in 'Offline' mode - the message was saved with that date and then placed in the send queue.

He then went back into 'Online' mode and Thunderbird delivered the email to Comcast's SMTP server at exactly Wed, 18 Oct 2006 00:55:24 +0000, or Tuesday at 8:55pm EDT.

I'd ask him, preferably with a light shining directly in his face in a dimly lit room with a urgent voice:

Where were you at 8:55pm on Tuesday, October 17th?

...or you could just let the poor kid slide. Looks like he had it done on time, meant to send it to you, and just screwed up.
posted by slhack3r at 9:31 PM on October 17, 2006

I just tried it on my Thunderbird-- you set the system clock back a few days and send an email. Voila. Given the headers in the student's email and the lack of followup from the student (he/she should have been sent a message undeliverable message), my bet is that the date was forged.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:32 PM on October 17, 2006

I have absolutely no expertise in this sort of thing, but I noticed something -- so the first timestamp is 18th Oct 00:55:24 +0000. That's when the e-mail went to the SMTP server. It bounced around for a couple seconds, 20:55:26 (that's minus 4 hours GMT, remember, or, as the timestamp so conveniently tells us, is EDT, Eastern Daylight Time), and then 20:55:27 shows up three times. That's probably when it landed in your inbox.

Now, for the timestamp that would confirm he sent it on the 13th... 11:53:23. In minutes and seconds, that's a couple minutes (almost exactly) earlier than the other, 17th Oct timestamps. In fact, that's exactly two minutes and one second earlier than it left his machine, discounting hours. That's a very nifty coincidence, and one that I'd certainly be suspicious of. Are machines ever set to send two minutes after the send button is pressed? Does that make sense to anyone? With, again no expertise or any kind of business making any kind of deductions, I'm guessing that he changed the date and the hour but not the minute or second. I think that the 13th Oct timestamp originally was 17th Oct 20:53:23 -4000.
posted by incessant at 9:33 PM on October 17, 2006

Sorry for all my messages... lightbulb just went off. If it was sent in a Word document check the properties in the document, should give informaiton like created, last saved, edited, etc.
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2006

...though the fact that the email was 'sent' at :53 past the hour and 'received' days later at :55 past the hour argues for the idea that the student might have reset his date and hour but didn't bother with resetting the minutes (if the student's machine setting is what determines the 'send' date, that is)...
posted by troybob at 9:34 PM on October 17, 2006

One of two things happened here:

1) The student did, indeed, compose the email on 10/13 and hit "Send" but for some unknown reason (network trouble, perhaps) the message sat in his "Outbox" until today.

2) He sent the mail today but tinkered with the "Date" header. This could be done as simply as changing the time on his computer before sending the mail.

I can't think of any way to figure out which...
posted by insyte at 9:38 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Good point slhack3r, except that this is a [somewhat geeky] grad student and I'm at a Tech school where geekery abounds. I've also had a grad student submit a 'fake' corrupted .doc file, which is why I require hard copies in class normally. If it's an intentional date spoof then it's an honor code violation.

A better question...would someone with more than 400 facebook friends really go five days with his/her Thunderbird in offline mode?

Thanks again. I may just try the bright light in the eyes. :) Or at least make him sweat a bit before letting him slide.
posted by mdion at 9:39 PM on October 17, 2006

Excellent catch, incessant!

I propose that this is what happened:

1) He changed the date (NOT the time) on his computer.

2) He spent 2 minutes composing the email with his homework.

3) Hit send.

That would exactly fit the headers!
posted by insyte at 9:40 PM on October 17, 2006

perpetualstroll wrote...
If it was sent in a Word document check the properties in the document, should give informaiton like created, last saved, edited, etc.

This is the first suggestion that I've seen that could give you a real answer. The headers could easily be explained by the student's machine holding onto the message (due to being offline, etc.).

There just isn't enough information in what you've show us to make a determination.
posted by tkolar at 9:41 PM on October 17, 2006

posted by tkolar at 9:41 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: Already looked at the file properties. It's a .pdf. Created and modified at 11:47:04 on Friday.
posted by mdion at 9:44 PM on October 17, 2006

Response by poster: The .pdf file properties could be faked if the computer date/time was reset, correct?
posted by mdion at 9:45 PM on October 17, 2006

As a teacher I see this all the time. I have several students that will work on their assignments after the midnight deadline and email it to me the next morning with the date set back. I have never had a student bold enough to try this 5 days after the due date. In this case there's not much you can do. But here are some solutions for the future.

a) Insist on hard copies for this reason. Give them till the end of a working day to get it to you (or the main office). Anyone that emails the assignment after closing time gets points knocked off. This is what I do (although I make exceptions for good reasons). Don't you need hardcopies anyway to write comments/feedback?

b) Consider using your schools online tools. I have something called an Electronic Drop Box (basically an online file submitter) which refuses to accept files after a set time/date. I bet you have something similar (contact IT or classroom technology services).

Don't invest too much time trying to investigate this. Let this one go. I was once positive that a student cheated but had no proof. She was tardy enough to try it a second time and got caught. If your student really did cheat, he/she will get caught on a future assignment (and you'll be ready this time, hopefully).
posted by special-k at 9:48 PM on October 17, 2006

gee, delayed email happens all the time. I work with a company that has experienced IT staff and up to date systems, and our client is another company that has equally experienced IT staff and up to date systems.

A few weeks ago, for a couple of days, email was delivered with time-lags of anywhere between 5 hours and several days.

this happens!

Our IT group investigated and fixed a few things, their IT group investigated and fised a few things, the two groups talked with one another and the problem was fixed.

Delays happen. If we are having a vote here in AskMe, then my vote is for slack for the kid - he likely sent it in on time, before the gremlins kicked in.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:49 PM on October 17, 2006

If this students email was the only one that didn't get through then you can't blame the email servers for holding it up.

There is also no proof to say that the student did this on purpose, like people have said above, the e-mail software could have held it in its outbox until he reconnected.

Could be an honest mistake, could be purposly altered, I can't tell. Innocent till proven guilty though, right?
posted by Sonic_Molson at 10:33 PM on October 17, 2006

I was on the other side of this at one point in my college career, but with paper copies. At the last minute, I sent the paper to the place I believed my professor to be, based on the itinerary she had provided me for the trip she was on. She had already left said place and handed me an F for the class. And (of course) I didn't have proof of sending it. After arbitration from the dean, including a thorough examination of my record, I got to resubmit the paper, which received an "A."

At least she wasn't vengeful about the grade.

I suppose my point is that you should be careful about tossing around accusations when the kid might be innocent. You know as well as I do that this sort of thing is taken very seriously in academia.
posted by lackutrol at 11:50 PM on October 17, 2006

The suspicion based on the two minute difference between the time "sent" and "received" seems a bit misplaced. One out of every twelve emails (with some random delay) will have a received/send minute differential of two minutes or less. Maybe it's daming in conjunction with the other suspicious facts, but it's not all that unlikely.
posted by jaysus chris at 11:55 PM on October 17, 2006

The only way this kid is telling the truth is if he closed his email program right after he hit 'send', and then didn't open it again until exactly five days to the minute later.

I teach IT, and if this was my student, not only would he get a zero on the assignment, I'd kick him out of the class for submitting an essay in what is clearly a fraudulent fashion.
posted by Jairus at 12:19 AM on October 18, 2006

I was going to point out what jaysus christ said. The two minute margin is not enough to justify saying he just fiddled the hours and days on his own machine.

Now, if other correspondence shows the same offset in minutes consistently, so that you can show that it was substantially less than a minute out when compared to all his other emails then you've got a case. Go back and see if his machine seems to have a clock that is two minutes slow in his other emails.

(That's just going on the minutes-being-the-same thing alone and assuming that if that didn't hold up you had no other reason to be suspicious, which is obviously not going to be the case).
posted by edd at 1:05 AM on October 18, 2006

This is either fraud, negligence, or a failure on Comcast's part. At best, the student and/or his agent (Comcast in this case) failed to deliver the assignment in anything even remotely approaching the due date, and at worst (and I'd say with a much greater than 50% probability, based on the evidence above,) the student is attempting to defraud you; in either case, if I were in your position, I would not take the assignment. I don't think there's quite enough hard evidence to actually level a direct accusation of fraud. I _might_ be more lenient (albeit begrudgingly) if this is a make-or-break end-of-term type assignment.

Email definitely isn't designed for this kind of thing. I'd be surprised if a reasonably technical college didn't have some kind of ready-to-go solution you could use.
posted by blenderfish at 1:33 AM on October 18, 2006

Sorry. Substitute "His Computer/Mail Software" for "Comcast" above.
posted by blenderfish at 1:35 AM on October 18, 2006

My vote is for the 'he changed the date on his computer back 5 days, and hit the send button 2 minutes later' theory.
posted by girlgeeknz at 2:36 AM on October 18, 2006

Look at what is triggering that spam warning at the end. I think it's saying that the message has an 8% propability of being spam based on the "DATE_IN_PAST_96_XX 0.205 Date: is 96 hours or more before Received: date" message. That's because the kid changed the date on his pc.
posted by fixedgear at 3:34 AM on October 18, 2006

As a student, this happened to me. I emailed an assignment in a week before it was due and the prof didn't get it until after the due date. He spoke with me after class and I explained my side of the situation. He was hesitant to believe me, which I completely understood. It was a large, gen ed lecture class--he didn't know me.

Fortunately, he was understanding. I offered to give him the names and email addresses of profs who did know me well and he accepted. Thankfully, I have a track record of submitting assignments early and my profs vouched for me. I ended up getting an A on the assignment.

In the end, I was thankful my prof looked to my character instead of circumstantial evidence. Not only did it speak a ton about his character, but I still hold him in high regard. Also, I believe I performed better in his class because of the respect he showed me. My respect of him sky-rocketed, hence, I paid better attention, took better notes, was more likely to ask questions, etc.
posted by hercatalyst at 4:16 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have your school's IT department look for any other messages that went through their incoming mail server from this sender in the quiet period (between the Date: date and the first Received: date). If there aren't any, then he may have left Thunderbird in offline mode for five days. If he sent mail to anyone else at the school during that time, though, and only your message was delayed, then he's full of it.

(We know for sure that the delay was between Thunderbird and his ISP's mail server, so it wasn't a "delayed in transit" problem -- so if any other mail left his Thunderbird at that time then the odds of this message, but not the other one, being delayed are very low.)

You might consider providing some sort of instant-feedback assignment submission mechanism, like a Web form, or even an email autoresponder, and then making it the student's responsibility to see the confirmation message to know their assignment made it.
posted by mendel at 4:50 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for the feedback. Background and what I've concluded from the discussion/my intuition:

All assignments are due in hard copy in class to avoid these problems. Students have 48 hours to get the assignment to me late and receive a penalty. This student did not turn his in on time, and since I had trusted him, I told him to email it to me by the 48 hour deadline. He is a graduate student. He brings his laptop to every class. He has 400+ facebook friends. He is somewhat geeky with technology.

The more technical answers indicate the message either was time-altered or got 'stuck' in his outbox. From what I know of the student, I find it unlikely that he didn't open his email for 5 days while online and/or send email, though I'll admit it is possible. It is more likely that he didn't have the assignment done and tried to alter the date stamp. (It's telling that it arrived at 11pm at the end of a 4 day weekend.)

What I'm going to do: Tell him that I believe one of two things explain why it arrived 5 days late (either stuck in outbox or funny timestamp); in either case, it was late and according to policy, could be a 0. Tell him that this time, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and accepting the assignment with only the penalty for turning it in one day late BUT with the caveat that he cannot turn in any other of the project assignments late for the rest of the semester. If he does, it revokes this one 'get out of jail free' pass.

Hopefully, this approach will make it clear he didn't get away with anything, if that was his intention, and will remind him of his responsibility to make sure his assignments arrive in time, if was not.

Thanks all for the feedback.
posted by mdion at 5:39 AM on October 18, 2006

How important is this? How much of your IT department's time do you want to spend/waste on this?

What you really need to do is set a clear policy for next semester about due dates:
"Assignments are due at the time specified. No work will be accepted after that date without <insert appropriate stipulation, such as medical reasons>. Students should be aware that the assignment is accepted when it arrives, not when it was sent. Students should be prepared for delays in conveyence." or something like that.

In short, when I was doing my undergrad in CS, it was made clear that the due date/time was immovable and that "the stupid Scheme class was slowing the system down" is not an excuse since all assignments came with ample time allotments.
posted by plinth at 5:44 AM on October 18, 2006

Have the school's email admins look for any emails received from from the 13th to the 17th. If they find one have them look at the User-Agent and if it is the same as this one, Thunderbird (Windows/20060909), you know he had Thunderbird connected and online during the missing days, meaning the message should have been sent with all of his other email. If you get this you're beyond a resonable doubt of guilt and can proceed as such.
posted by jwells at 5:50 AM on October 18, 2006

A few weeks ago, for a couple of days, email was delivered with time-lags of anywhere between 5 hours and several days.
this happens!

Oh, please. Of course "this happens," but it happens much more frequently that students try to pull the wool over the teacher's eyes. I'm sure homework occasionally gets eaten by pets, too. If I were the teacher, I'd make it clear that I don't believe the story and that I'm keeping the student on tight probation; any further crap-with-implausible-explanation and he flunks. In other words, pretty much what mdion is doing, except with more surliness.
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on October 18, 2006

Yay, mdion! That sounds like a really fair solution.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:52 AM on October 18, 2006

Well, it's decided, but I thought I'd throw this out there. I have a laptop and a home computer. Because I work off of two computers, it is quite possible for me to go 5 days or more without opening the mail program on one or the other of them, even though I'm connected to the internet every day.
posted by carmen at 6:56 AM on October 18, 2006

sounds like you need a web-based submission system (where the student can see that their assigment was accepted and you control the dates) or at least an email confirmation system. (like how help desks send you an auto-reply with a ticket number.)

also: if you require students to hand in a hard copy, why bother with getting digital versions cluttering your inbox? seems like a waste of time for everyone.
posted by kamelhoecker at 6:57 AM on October 18, 2006

Can you ask any of the kid's other professors/tutors if they've seen similar "late" submissions from the same student?
posted by Hogshead at 7:23 AM on October 18, 2006 'geeky with technology', do you mean that he doesn't know it well, or that he knows it very well...if it's the latter, the thing about not knowing how his outbox works is unrealistic...

but if he brings his laptop to class, maybe you can help him 'diagnose' his little email problem by taking a look at his outbox...
posted by troybob at 9:47 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Update for the few who care:

By geeky, I mean knows technology well--so yes, it's unrealistic he doesn't know how to check his outbox.

Our IT guys came to the same conclusion as the hive (probably set back PC clock, though no way to tell; only certainty is that the message left his PC/comcast server on Tuesday not Friday), and they also noticed the suspicious similarity in the minutes between the two times.

The required hard copy was in my office mailbox _on top_ of items the secretary placed in my box yesterday with certainty; he probably did not turn in hard copy until Wed a.m. after the Tues p.m. email unless you want to believe that someone arbitrarily rearranged the mail in my office mailbox.

Mystery solved to my satisfaction, though not conclusive enough to take to honor board. Instead, student will be given stern warning (plus the max late penalty for this paper) and be given no opportunity to turn anything else in late (in hard copy or otherwise).

Just another interesting anecdote for my amusement.
posted by mdion at 9:58 AM on October 18, 2006

mdion, that's a very fair resolution to this; you're taking into account the small but real likelihood that this was not an attempt at trickery, meting out the appropriate punishment for the incontrovertibly-late assignment, and making your ongoing expectations for this student plainly clear. I applaud that -- since my suspicion is that this student did manipulate the clock on his computer and attempt to defraud you, I'm not sure I would be as fair, but that's not to say that I'd be right! Nice job.
posted by delfuego at 10:51 AM on October 18, 2006

I think students should be expected to use email technology competently. It's quite likely that XXXX U. provides every student with an email account, accessible via the Web, that can be used to send assignments. If a student chooses to use another account, that's fine, but they are still responsible for getting the assignment in. In Real Life, this kind of fakery isn't subject to a poor grade, but to Real Life consequences, so they might as well get prepared.

Mdion, your response is quite reasonable.
posted by theora55 at 11:16 AM on October 18, 2006

Was the assignment any good?
posted by chaschas at 5:42 PM on October 18, 2006

If I was you, I would not present him with all the technical evidence pointing to possible guilt. It would just educate the (possibly) cheating student fraternity about how to cheat better (setting seconds and minute differentials, claim to have a second computer etc.)

I would also tend towards giving him the benefit of the slim doubt, as you seem to propose to do. Although, if you are giving him the benefit of the doubt, how can you consistently give any penalty at all? (As I understand it, if he is given the benefit of the doubt, he didn't send it late at all). Hiding behind the technicality that the rule is that you should receive the paper at a certain time is really a bit of sophistry and a moral cop out. You would presumably not penalise a student at all if it was shown incontravertably that there had been a glitch in the system (say, the servers were down, and the emails of the whole class had been five days late).

He either did it, in which case you have to apply the appropriate penalty, not the irrelevant penalty of only being slightly late (which he was not in either case, as I understand it). Or he didn't, in which case no penalty is appropriate. In the real world, it is not possible to be in a state of only slightly (as in being 50 per cent likely to be) doing something and cannot be punished 50 per cent because of the doubt. One is either completely innocent or completely guilty.

The only way you can justify a partial penalty is on this narrow, and completely separate matter, of the submission of the hard copy of the paper. That has nothing to do with the undecided and undecideable email issue. You could use this to justify the lesser delay penalty.
posted by chaschas at 6:02 PM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: chaschas, even if it had arrived on Friday at the questionable timestamp, it would have a 10% deduction for being turned in within 24 hours of the original due date/time.

In hours 24:01-48 after the due date/time, it's a 20% penalty. After 48 hours, papers are not accepted, according to the syllabus.

He gets at least the 10% penalty no matter what.

The appropriate question would be whether he should get the 10% or 20% penalty. (I've ruled out the 100% penalty--a zero on the paper--on the slim chance that this was a mistake.)

10% would let him off without any real penalty for either the attempted fake or the fact that he didn't follow up and ensure that his email sent and/or the hard copy was turned in within the deadline to get only the 10% penalty.

The 20% would still be more generous than not accepting the assignment at all, but would send a stronger signal about my suspicions AND about his responsibility to make sure that the assignment arrives at its destination by the deadline.

I'm kind of on the fence about the 10 vs 20% issue. I'm tempted to either do one of two things:
1. Call him to my office and have a stern/serious discussion, see how he reacts, and decide based on how he responds to my concerns about the email.
2. Pretend I haven't noticed the email since it could have easily been overlooked since it showed up very far down my email list. (If I only used webmail, I would have never noticed it. Even in Outlook, it only appeared at the top of my inbox b/c I sort by 'received' rather than 'sent'.) In my experience, students who have tried something like this actually don't behave the same as students who have turned their assignments in. (For instance, the student who turned in a fake corrupted file never asked for his graded paper back, even though he needed it to write the next section of his project.) The actually penalty would be determined according to whether his behavior is consistent with a student who had turned in the paper or someone whose avoiding me for fear of being caught.

As an aside, his email message with the assignment was super chatty and wished me a nice weekend, which is especially annoying if it was written on Tuesday. That won't really affect the grade decision, but it was ballsy.

Oh, and the paper was ok. Not worth the 5 day delay.
posted by mdion at 6:26 PM on October 18, 2006

Ok, I get it.
posted by chaschas at 6:32 PM on October 18, 2006

He either did it, [ ... ]. Or he didn't, in which case no penalty is appropriate.

Not true. Whether there was fraud or not, he (and/or his equipment) failed to turn in the assignment anywhere remotely near on time. Doesn't really matter why. She doesn't have to give him anything in either case.
posted by blenderfish at 12:30 AM on October 19, 2006

mdion has already clarified this. A penalty would be appropriate anyway because he was slightly late, even if his story is believed. For what it is worth, Blenderfish, your argument seems to be persisting with the equipment cop out I mentioned in my original post (but this irrelevant anyway because the premise of my post was wrong).
posted by chaschas at 7:20 AM on October 19, 2006

Kids are tricky. Don't let them set the terms of the argument, next time. It's his responsibility to make sure it's in your inbox by the due date, not just sent. It's the equivalent of "the check's in the mail", and the larger lesson is that he needs to accept responsibility for getting to you, rather than trying to shift the blame onto technology.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 12:23 PM on October 19, 2006

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