When Professor Insists Paper Should Be a Certain Length, Student Over-Complies

My rhyme is of two little weeds, called Vanity and Pride,
That in the garden of our hearts are ever side by side.
They are weeds of very sudden growth, and, getting once a start,
They choke the flowers that otherwise would beautify the heart.
They flourish in all seasons, and thrive in every clime.
They were sown in Eden’s garden, and will perish but with time.
They are weeds that are productive of but very little good,
And ’tis said the breath of flattery supplies them both with food. ~Mart Taylor

Photo: Pexels/cottonbro studio

Sometimes malicious compliance can hurt the very person who endeavors to prove his point. It can happen when the intention is not for humor, nor for justice, but simply the bitter fruit of pride. To spite someone whose opinion we disagree with.

In this story of the Original Poster with the username u/Wild_Butterscotch977, he had a point in his contention. But still, as he said in his post on Reddit’s popular r/MaliciousCompliance forum: “Admittedly, I was probably the one that suffered the most from my own MC.”

And yet, he followed it up with the words, “but I didn’t care, and I’d do it again.”

Photo: Pexels/Mike Murray

Well, it would be easy for him to repeat the deed since he’s used to writing lengthy papers. Except that, he’s also aware that such an obstinate stand can cost a person the most valuable resource in the world: time.

How much time are you willing to expend just to prove your point? And then, in the end, the person you want to spite fails to see your point at all.

Yes, in the end, you realize that no matter how much effort you exert, people have different standards, beliefs, and perspectives. It can be very annoying, but for your own peace of mind, it may be best to heed the ancient saying, “Bend like a willow and don’t resist like an oak.”

Photo: Pexels/Genaro Servin

Here is OP’s story of malicious compliance: “Another post reminded me of my own little bit of malicious compliance back in college. This was more than a decade ago. So in my junior year I was taking an art history class on medieval art and architecture. Partway through the course, the professor assigned a paper, and the instructions were that the paper length was to be 5-9 pages. I wrote my paper, and it ended up being 5 pages. I said everything I felt was necessary to say in that amount of pages.”

OP then revealed, after getting the assignment back, that the paper was marked with an A minus.

What was OP’s reaction? ‘Now, I’m not usually the type to complain about an A minus, but in this case, I knew I wrote a strong paper. I was an art history major and at this point was three years into my program, so I had a buttload of art history classes under my belt and I f-cking knew when I produced a good art history paper. So I really wanted to hear why I got the minus instead of a straight A.”

Photo: Pexels/cottonbro studio

So, he went to talk with his professor and asked why he received only an A minus. The question amused his professor, but he told him the reason. His paper could have been longer. He tried to argue that his paper was within the required number of pages. But his professor simply reiterated his response.

Infuriated by the incident, OP was determined to have the upper hand the next time. And the opportunity came with a new term research paper that must be at least 15 pages. What OP did was produce a paper with 29 pages, which he expected would tire out his professor from reading.

According to his own words, “Cue MC. I worked my a-s off writing this research paper. And out of pure spite, I made this dude read no less than 29 F-CKING PAGES about some stupid medieval church. Now I had written papers this long before (and a year later, when I wrote my honors thesis, it was nearly four times that length), but for this particular topic, I was really stretching it. The verbosity was a bit ridiculous.”

Photo: Pexels/RODNAE Productions

But did OP achieve his purpose? Was he able to spite his professor this time? He revealed in his post, “A week or two later, he returned the paper. A+ grade. He handed it to me and said with a genuine smile, ‘It was great, I loved it. You should submit it for publication to xyz history journal.'”

And when he begrudgingly submitted the paper to the journal, it got published!

So, in the end, he failed to spite his professor, and it was this very same professor who then encouraged him to get his paper published in their journal.

Now, more than ten years later, these details remain fresh in OP’s mind. That’s because his pride still couldn’t accept that he didn’t really win over his professor the way he had wanted to. But at least he got the grade.

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