By Grace Deng
At the start of the new school year, three SAS students launched SA Share, an essay database allowing students to upload and download past work. Currently, SA Share’s database has around 60 files.
Ally Zhu, who founded SA Share along with senior Jason Xu and SAS alumni Jony Liu, said she first thought of the idea in junior year, after using another person’s IB math independent assessment to help her write her own.
“This is a platform that could bridge the gap and make student work more accessible for everybody, without making it reliant on connections or whether you have friends in the upperclassmen years,” said Zhu, a freshman at Brown University this year.
Senior Rena Jiang, who uploaded English papers and chemistry labs to SAshare, believes the service is a good idea.
“I like the idea of it,” Jiang said in a direct message, calling it “very wholesome.” She added she feels people would “like uploading” because it lets “people publish the stuff they’re proud of,” allowing other people to use it as references.
However, Jiang believes the cost of the service may be a “turn-off” and a reason students won’t use the service.
If students wish to download an essay from SA Share’s website, they pay a fee of 5 RMB.
Uploaders receive 2 RMB every time someone downloads their work. Transactions are all done through WeChat.
A senior who wished to remain unnamed as some of his friends are involved in SA Share said he disapproves of the required fee.
“I personally hate the idea because I don’t have enough disposable income for that,” he said through a direct message. “This stops peer collaboration because everyone’s gonna be going for the money, and honestly I think it’s just morally somewhat sketchy.”
SA Share’s website says the money not given to uploaders is funneled into maintaining the website, and co-founder Jason Xu believes “SAshare is as morally sketchy as sample work you receive.” (Xu no longer works for SAshare because he initially joined due to his interest in code, but has lately felt like he has too much going on).
“If you can’t pay for five kuai, how can you pay for Shanghai American School?” Zhu said.
Other concerns raised by students include plagiarism and lack of originality.
While Zhu said plagiarism concerns are being discussed with Dr. Lee, Dr. Lee said in an email that Zhu had not discussed SAshare with him other than a “brief conversation” about what he said Zhu called “just an idea.”
“I’ve reached out to the SAshare folks and hope to hear back from them,” Dr. Lee said. “Looking through their site, I see a number of reasons for concern. It is (and always has been) very easy for people who want to plagiarize to do so.”
Xu agrees with Dr. Lee that SAshare may make it easier to plagiarize, but he says SAshare still deserves to exist.
“It’s not SAshare that has malicious intent, it’s the people who choose to use it as a source of plagiarism,” said Xu. “We tried making it so that we limit plagiarism by only featuring content that is unique and difficult to replicate,” providing examples such as not uploading TOK essays, which are easy to copy because the prompt is the same for everyone.