There is an aspect of Photography which the photographers everywhere might find worthy of thought:
DISHONEST PEOPLE CAN NEVER BE GOOD PHOTOGRAPHERS!
That is an irrefutable truth, and any analysis will prove it to be iron-clad.
To become and be a Photographer, one has to have an interest in the art of recording, which is actually creation of visual comments upon our World. It comprises a large measure of exploration, and this means being open to all we experience, which requires personal integrity and honesty.
Exploration happens both within the explorer, as well as outside, in the World we're exploring. Anyone who does not readily accept it as reality will always remain enclosed in all kinds of restrictions, which in effect work like a kind of horse's blinds. These restrictions exclude parts of the aspects encountered, creating an imbalance that by default severely reduces originality and creativity.
In short, one simply has to be sincere and unbiased in order to be open to the World, its mysteries and wonders. Within every personality this may be the basic ingredient for any artistic activity.
Modern photographic equipment is simple to operate, so many people feel it would be the easiest way to create art, especially since the cameras seemingly do it all by themselves. Thus, it is easy to believe that there need not be much learning, or other efforts involved in becoming an artist in the field of Photography.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Tools help; people create.
In photography, same as in any other creative process, 90% of the creativity comes from the artist. Any equipment used is just tools, whether it is a pencil, hammer and chisel, a guitar or dancing shoes. The same goes for all photo-editing programs, whatever clever tricks and effects those offer.
When the initial results are unsatisfactory, normal people see it as the reason to invest in their skill. They strive to learn, work more, and so become better at their chosen craft. But some think they can borrow, steal, and cheat, using dishonest shortcuts to what they see as their way to "glory". Especialy on Internet which seems the easiest place to be "somebody", some people are ready to use other people's work and pronounce it their own.
There are many ways of cheating we encounter daily, aside from stealing, modifying and re-posting as own. People change or add false metadata, descriptions and locations, and some do it easily without even having to use the camera, just to be „photographers“. Have you ever wondered why would anyone go to such lengths? What goes on in such souls, and why would they lower themselves to that level just to be seen as something they're not?
Whatever the psychology and psychiatry would have to say about this, one can't but note how the sheer percentage of such people has become alarmingly high, and what's worse, it is growing by the minute. For details, just look up some Forum related to photo competitions; cheats are revealed in large numbers daily!
Never mind the actual kind and ammount of cheating; even the willingness to get something for nothing (like being praised for someone else's work) creates those horse's blinds, shifting the intentions to something other than ability to see the way the creative person is supposed to see! People willing to cheat are by their very attitude pre-ordained to thwart their own efforts, since their advancement will restrict itself only to the art of cheating. Their path to proper creativity will definitely be closed forever, and there is nothing worse people can do to themselves.
It is clear that people obsessed with delusions of easy social advancement through winning something by any means, (even winning in Photography which is an utterly wrong field for competition), block their own abilities in the most important part there is. That way, cheating becomes far worse than a mere dishonesty to others. It is a kind of suicide in all aspects creative, and also an open invitation to one serious sickness of the psyche, called vanity. It can and will be very detrimental to personality, affecting all of the person's life. Worse; its progress is invisible to the afflicted, can only be seen from the outside - and it is very difficult to cure.
Photographic knowlege can't be replaced by any photo-editing program. Creating authentic works of art simply can not be playacted, even if one is inclined to think that all photography is art. It certainly is not, but there is an immense field for artistic creativity, awareness of which depends solely upon the author - and honesty.
I hope this gives sufficient material for thought to those playing with the idea of winning by cheating, and mainly to those who just contemplate it... Because those already sick with vanity will neither wish nor be able to change their ways easily. Vanity is very persistent, and can be regarded as a sort of cancer of the psyche.
And, sadly, nothing short of some kind of personal tragedy will ever stress those afflicted hard enough to reconsider.