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By rusty in Site News
Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 11:36:02 PM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

As some of you may be aware, K5 user Crashnbur has recently engaged in a spate of plagiarism, stealing articles from The Weekly Standard, and The Hill [1] and [2]. He has apologized to me personally for this, admitting that it was not a mistake, but simply an effort to get attention to what he thought were very good points. They were great articles, and it's too bad I've had to remove them, but plagiarism simply will not stand.

I wanted to also apologize, to both the original authors of these works, and to those of you who put in time discussing them. Your comments are still accessable, if you're in an ongoing discussion, but the stories are not.

I hate to see this kind of thing, and I urge you all to check your sources. If "a buddy" sends you an article, someone else had to have written it. Don't cut and paste it into K5. There's a perfectly easy and ethically acceptable way to steal someone else's material. It's called "quoting with attribution." Copying someone else's writing without giving them credit is always wrong.

Thank you, you may now return to arguing about politics.


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Display: Sort:
Plagiarism | 32 comments (32 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
politics? (3.75 / 4) (#1)
by delmoi on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 12:51:28 AM EST

Thank you, you may now return to arguing about politics.

Arn't we supposed to be arguing about Technology??
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
No (4.50 / 6) (#7)
by wiredog on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 08:00:18 AM EST

What do you think this place is about, anyway? Technology and culture from the trenches or somethin'?

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
yer sig? (nt) (3.66 / 3) (#8)
by speek on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 08:06:33 AM EST

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

It's an on going problem (4.71 / 7) (#2)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 06:33:03 AM EST

I'm surprised by how many people seem to think that cut-n-pasting makes a valuable contribution the the site.

Rusty, its good to see you're not afraid to be open about doing something about it.
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

when people have nothing to say... (4.00 / 3) (#6)
by cetan on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 07:31:25 AM EST

People with nothing to say usually are the loudest.

===== cetan www.cetan.com =====
[ Parent ]
Changes in references (3.60 / 5) (#3)
by jesterzog on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 06:40:33 AM EST

One of the things I've found amusing when going through the education system is how the emphasis seems to change.

I can remember through high school I was always trying to write my own original stuff and ideas. Citing other people's work always makes your essay seem worth less because it's like an essay is made up of stuff that you haven't done, and it won't get counted.

At tertiary level I've so far authoured and co-authored a couple of scientific papers (not yet published), and citing more people makes it ultimately cooler. (yeah yeah - it's the content that counts.) It's more a situation of "I think this, and this person said something and that person said something and I they both support what I'm doing." And being able to connect your paper in with all the other ones makes you feel much better about yourself - if you get it published somewhere then it'll almost certainly get credited from time to time by anyone else doing similar stuff, including people who are considered leaders in a field.

It also makes it much more likely that other peolpe are going to find them and cite you, since scientific paper research engines like citeseer do a heap of cross-referencing on all the references and let researchers look up papers based on where other papers are cited.

I should stop going off on tangents.

jesterzog Fight the light

plagarism v citation (4.50 / 2) (#5)
by Merekat on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 06:52:17 AM EST

I ended up on a course where there was a terrifying amount of plagarism going on, and it baffled me. Why didn't they just stick what they were plagarising in quotes, add a footnote and at least pretend to call it research? A couple of sentences analysing what they'd already presumably read in order to cut and paste, and it really would be research! Did they seriously think it would actually fool the people whose whole lives were dedicated to this one topic that they had to write a single essay on?
I've always had the greatest respect for other peoples crack-pot beliefs.
- Sam the Eagle, The Muppet Show
[ Parent ]
Papers and cites and plagiarism, oh my! (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by epepke on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 12:01:13 PM EST

Once I had to write a chapter for a textbook. ("Animation and the Examination of Behavior over Time" in Computer Visualization: Graphics Techniques for Scientific and Engineering Analysis, CRC Press, 1995 in case anybody gives a wet slap, which I doubt.) The specs were to have an annotated reference page of only one page in length. I did this, but of course you can't put more than a dozen references and annotations on a single page. The reviewers complained that there weren't enough references. I pointed out that there was no way of satisfying this, and they said, well, most of the other authors weren't annotating. So, I took off the annotations and came up with 39 references without needing to change the text to accommodate them. Hah!

WRT plagiarism, it is interesting to see what has happened in copyright law over the past ten years. Remember the movie The Terminator? Harlan Ellison successfully sued them for credit, the rationale being that he had written a Twilight Zone episode ("Soldier") about a couple of soldiers that went back through time. It was a good episode, but only a lemming with a brain tumor could have believed that the two texts were even remotely similar enough to support a charge of plagiarism. Is everyone who writes about a murder going to have to pay royalties to the estate of Agatha Christie?

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Citing to the max... (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by Happy Monkey on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 04:08:40 PM EST

I can remember through high school I was always trying to write my own original stuff and ideas. Citing other people's work always makes your essay seem worth less because it's like an essay is made up of stuff that you haven't done, and it won't get counted.

My sister is in high school now, and she had to do a debate on whether land mines are a weapon of mass destruction (!), and her instructions were to ONLY use cites. She was not supposed to come up with any original points, only find a large list of other people's quotes, and pick an appropriate one out of your deck in response to your 'opponent's' quote. Sort of like playing Pokemon with propaganda (the only quotes you're likely to find on that topic).
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
highschool (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by nodsmasher on Sun Nov 04, 2001 at 08:43:40 PM EST

ya im in high school, they tend to fail you if you don't cite. i recently did a paper where you not only had to have a bibliography but also print off all internet sorces and hand them in with the paper.
Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
[ Parent ]
I suspected as much (2.90 / 11) (#4)
by greenrd on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 06:40:41 AM EST

Next time I'll do a quick google and/or ask for credentials if a story sounds too informative to be original.

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes

Crashnbur (4.00 / 4) (#11)
by fluffy grue on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 05:10:18 PM EST

I seem to recall that Crashnbur has been posting plagiarized stories for quite some time. There were also allegations floating around that Crashnbur is leadfoot180. You might also want to look at the authors of articles which are accused of being plagiarism.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

If you're referring to my post (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by CaptainZornchugger on Sat Nov 03, 2001 at 06:59:58 PM EST

I don't actually have any valid reason to believe they're the same person. I was sort of making light of the fact that they both cut-and-paste copyrighted material in the queue, both whine self-righteously when it gets voted down, and both went through a phase where they were doing it three times a day. The similarities are striking, but I doubt they're the same person. I seem to recall them having vastly differing political views, for instance.

Look at that chord structure. There's sadness in that chord structure.
[ Parent ]
Oh (none / 0) (#27)
by fluffy grue on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 01:51:17 AM EST

Nevermind. Still, my other point about him having done this for a long time still stands.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

plagiarism (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by bukvich on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 05:25:08 PM EST

If you are serious about running a website, I suppose you ought to be serious about discouraging plagiarism. If you are just surfing the web, it doesn't matter at all. Teachers drilled a lot of crap into our heads about how terrible it was when we were in school, but that was total overkill and the only purpose of it was to make their job easier. I stole this from somebody: everybody has influences, genius steals. Bob Dylan has traditional songs on his albums, copyrighted material, he's got right on there: by Bob Dylan. He stole a ton of it. It isn't that horrible when Bob does it. It isn't that horrible when crashnbur does it. What's horrible is when you have a class full of fifteen year olds and you are trying to teach them to write and they are too lazy to do anything but copy somebody else--that's horrible.

Stealing (4.75 / 4) (#15)
by rusty on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 11:58:12 PM EST

"Genius steals" because genius can take something that's not original and make it original. Copying a story off a website is not making it your own, it's just stealing it. Bob Dylan singing a traditional song that he didn't write isn't stealing because (A) most traditional songs don't have known "authors", but more importantly (B) he made those songs uniquely his own in the performance of them. That's not a valid comparison with cutting and pasting text from email into a web form. There's not genius there, so all that's left is the stealing.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Nothing new under the sun (none / 0) (#24)
by Rand Race on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 05:25:53 PM EST

Teachers drilled a lot of crap into our heads about how terrible it was when we were in school, but that was total overkill and the only purpose of it was to make their job easier.

Oh yea, it's so much easier when you have to run all your papers through search engines to check for plagarism after grading them all. In fact, only the lazy, worthless, seat warmers of the teaching proffesion don't care about plagarism; Those who fight against it the most are the ones who work the hardest to make you into an educated human. The reason they did it was to force you, against your apparent will, to actually learn something rather than simply parroting someone else. Yes, to force you to apply critical thinking to a range of influences in order to syncretize them into a creation of your own (much like a certain Mr. Dylan). Influence ain't stealing, plagarism is theft as well as being intelectualy lazy.

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Bullshit beyond belief (1.57 / 19) (#13)
by darthaya on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 05:35:17 PM EST

Man, surely rusty takes himself and a website a little too seriously. I read kuro5hin because I can get a broad aspect of informations, interesting viewpoints and good stuff in general here. I can't care less if the "poster" wrote it themselves or took it from some other places. The whole reason behind anti-plagarism, IMHO, is for the money and honor that comes with the original work. I hardly even notice the "poster"'s name.

The absurdity showing here is amazing.

Oh yes, Rusty is an ass for covering his (4.40 / 5) (#14)
by AdamJ on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 08:22:31 PM EST

Man, surely rusty takes himself and a website a little too seriously.

Rusty is flying to conferences and giving speeches and being an all around Cool and Lucky Dude. He doesn't need his repuatation smeared by other people committing crimes on his website.

I can't care less if the "poster" wrote it themselves or took it from some other places.

If they took it from another place, a link would suffice, no?

The issue with plagarism isn't whether people 'care' about who wrote it, it's the legal realities that unless you have permission to copy something that you do not own the copyrights to, you can only use it within Fair Use guidelines - and cut and pasting the entire thing into a weblog isn't part of Fair Use.

[ Parent ]

Legality (5.00 / 3) (#16)
by rusty on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 12:00:50 AM EST

Pretend I didn't believe that cut-and-paste writing was just lazy, stupid, and wrong. If we do run a plagiarized article, and the author finds out, it's my ass hauled up in court. How about this: you take full legal responsibility for everything posted here, and I won't worry about it anymore. I'm serious. I'll send you the paperwork.

Nah, I won't, because I do also believe, personally, that stealing someone else's writing and passing it off as your own is just wrong. Hey, at heart, I'm a writer. That's just the way it is.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Legal issues aside for a moment... (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by jesterzog on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 06:57:31 AM EST

I hope you're not comparing this with the free music type of argument, because it's not the same. However much you might want to argue that information wants to be free and that it shouldn't be restricted, that's not related to the definition of what plagurism is.

To plagurise is to pass off someone else's work as your own. It's not just cutting and pasting an article from somewhere else - it's taking full credit for it when it's not yours, and lying to people about your ability to write good stuff.

I like open source and I like the ideas behind openly sharing information, but IMHO it's also very important to credit people. If you're not going to pay them for their work and effort, at least make it so that people who enjoy it know where to congratulate them. However much you think people should give away all the information they generate, you have to recognise that without some encouragement, recognition and credit, most will just give up in disgust. (I'm sure you won't, but how much time and effort do you put into developing interesting information?)

jesterzog Fight the light

[ Parent ]
A thing about Plagiarism... (2.00 / 1) (#18)
by t0rment on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 04:44:44 PM EST

It's against the law to copy one article's information. But its perfectly fine to copy multiple articles information and put it in one article. Somehow I find this, to be very funny.

. - = [ t 0 r m e n t ] = - .

Anyone can become angry--that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.

- Aristotle
More specifically (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by rusty on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 05:03:17 PM EST

It's against the law to copy large amounts of anything, or to copy anything without crediting the source. This goes for any number of articles. The definition is necessarily vague, since a "large amount" of a five-sentence article is a lot less than a "large amount" of a five page article. But in any and all cases, attribution is probably the key factor in defining plagiarism.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
True. (none / 0) (#21)
by t0rment on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 06:04:22 PM EST

Yea. That makes sense. I agree about the due credit. I would personally hate it if somebody stole an article I wrote and then took credit for it. I think the key thing here is integrity.

. - = [ t 0 r m e n t ] = - .

Anyone can become angry--that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way; this is not easy.

- Aristotle
[ Parent ]
My other point (none / 0) (#20)
by darthaya on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 05:12:53 PM EST

It is quite difficult to gather attention if you simply post a link to the good article. (Bad)People usually dump it with reasons like "doesn't have your own thought" without even bothering to read the linked article.

But then again, people will dump the same article even if you give the credit in your post with the reason like "why don't you put up a link and post it under MLP?"

And btw, I hope rusty didn't get offended by my words. :) I really enjoy reading k5!

Law vs. Ethics (5.00 / 6) (#22)
by BlckKnght on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 08:54:06 PM EST

I feel the need to point out the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement, which seems to be getting missed (or misstated) in a lot of the other comments.

The difference between the two is the difference between ethics and law. Plagiarism is a matter of ethics. Copyright, on the otherhand, is a law. It is unethical to mislead someone into crediting you with another's work and it is illegal to distribute copyrighted works without permission (with some exceptions like fair use). Proper citation is irrelevant to copyright infringement, but it is central to issues of plagiarism.

As an example, I include here a definition of plagiarism:

  1. a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work
  2. the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own
As it stands, this is plagiarism, as I have not credited my source properly. It's probably not copyright infringement, however, as I included such a small part of the work (a dictionary) that I am probably protected by fair use. It works the other way too, as validly citing a work is not any assurance that it is legal to reproduce it. Duplicating the entire content of another publication (such as a newspaper article) is almost certainly copyright infringement.

This being said, I think Rusty is justified in taking down posts that either are plagiarism or that violate copyright laws. The first is justified by journalistic ethics and the second is justified by legal liability. It would be up to him (and perhaps his hosting service) to draw the line of questionable material like deCSS.

(Oh, the source for the definition above is WordNet)

Error: .signature: No such file or directory

True (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by rusty on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 10:14:36 PM EST

Good point. The stories in question were both copyright violation and plagiarism, but it's extremely useful to be clear on the difference. Thanks.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
My thoughts (none / 0) (#28)
by mcherm on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 10:30:03 AM EST

Rusty: Thanks. Sounds like that was nicely handled.

-- Michael Chermside
not only nicely handled... (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by Your Mom on Mon Nov 05, 2001 at 08:11:42 PM EST

But he's right there on the front page, telling eveone exactly what happened, and his position on the matter for consideration by anyone wishing to post.

Good show...

"As far as I'm concerned, Osama bin Laden can eat a dick." -trhurler
[ Parent ]

How low has media sunk? (5.00 / 2) (#30)
by rusty on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 01:35:13 AM EST

Sheesh. Is it actually that surprising to see? Has it gotten that bad? This seemed like the obvious thing to do. I mean, I appreciate the approval, but shouldn't every news source of any kind do the same if it finds itself supporting plagiarism? Oh, wait. I see what you mean.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
I understand... (none / 0) (#31)
by MattOly on Sat Nov 10, 2001 at 05:04:46 PM EST

I was once accused of Plagarism on this very site. I could understand the argument the person made, and it makes you feel like shit. Please make sure you're not mean about it, yah?

A final note to...the Republican party. You do not want to get into a fight with David Letterman. ...He's simply more believable than you are.

I think this article would be related to this (none / 0) (#32)
by frogga on Wed Mar 27, 2002 at 01:51:11 AM EST


Plagiarism | 32 comments (32 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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