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Alleged Plagiarism In Chris Anderson's New Book 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the hyperlinks-don't-stick-to-dead-trees dept.
ScorpFromHell writes "Blogger Waldo Jaquith alleges in his blog that Chris Anderson, Wired magazine's editor-in-chief and writer of The Long Tail, has apparently plagiarized content from various sources without attribution for his soon-to-be-published book. 'In the course of reading Chris Anderson's new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, for a review in an upcoming issue of VQR, we have discovered almost a dozen passages that are reproduced nearly verbatim from uncredited sources. ... Most of the passages, but not all, come from Wikipedia.' When questioned about the similar passages, Anderson responded, "All those are my screwups after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to find a good citation format for web sources... As you'll note, these are mostly on the margins of the book's focus, mostly on historical asides, but that's no excuse. I should have had a better process to make sure the write-through covered all the text that was not directly sourced. I think what we'll do is publish those notes after all, online as they should have been to begin with.'"
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Alleged Plagiarism In Chris Anderson's New Book

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:28PM (#28454065) Journal
    It's a "mashup"...
    • by megamerican (1073936) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:36PM (#28454215)

      Plagiarism is copying from one source. Research is copying from many.

      • by wild_quinine (998562) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:44PM (#28454365) Homepage

        Plagiarism is copying from one source. Research is copying from many.

        Another snappy witticism on slashdot. But it's wrong. And not in a nitpicky killjoy technicality kind of a way, but just plain wrong. So inaccurate, that it's not funny is what I'm saying. Plagiarism is when you directly copy, or reinterpret with significant similiarity, the work of another without citing the original author. It's got squat to do with how many places you take from. And it's perfectly fine to build on the ideas of others - hell that's the foundation of academia - as long as you don't pass off that work as your own.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:01PM (#28454643)

          Plagiarism is copying from one source. Research is copying from many.

          Another snappy witticism on slashdot. But it's wrong. And not in a nitpicky killjoy technicality kind of a way, but just plain wrong. So inaccurate, that it's not funny is what I'm saying. Plagiarism is when you directly copy, or reinterpret with significant similiarity, the work of another without citing the original author. It's got squat to do with how many places you take from. And it's perfectly fine to build on the ideas of others - hell that's the foundation of academia - as long as you don't pass off that work as your own.

        • by cenc (1310167)

          More accurately, it is representing another's SPECIFIC work or idea as your own.

          Only a slight variation from your point, but important clarification I believe. For example, If I give you permission to copy word for word something I wrote and to publish and use it without citing the source, there is no plagiarism.On the other hand, common knowledge within a particular circle (i.e. the readers will recognize the source) is also not plagiarism.

          Not trying to pick a fight, just clarifying.

          • If I give you permission to copy word for word something I wrote and to publish and use it without citing the source, there is no plagiarism.

            You raise an interesting point, but I think that even permitted reproduction of ideas would be considered plagiarism if it was done without actual citation. Remember, this isn't a copyright issue, it is related to giving credit. If you don't give credit then it may well constitue plagiarism even when done with permission.

            Plus, to steal a great quote without citation, "Who is The Journal Of Quantum Physics going to believe?"

            • by siloko (1133863)

              "Who is The Journal Of Quantum Physics going to believe?"

              God?

              And this is not off-topic, spiritual and religious issues form the bedrock of any consistant view of plagiarism. And copyright. And football.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TheLink (130905)
            It's still plagiarism even if it's allowed by the original author.

            For example if you were a researcher in some university, and the original author gave you permission to plagiarize and publish his work as yours, it's still plagiarism and it's still wrong, and you should still be punished.

            Students get in trouble if they get someone to take their exams for them.

            As long as there's misrepresentation going on, even if the original person gave permission for the misrepresentation, it's still a form of deception.

            I
            • by winwar (114053) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @03:00PM (#28456699)

              As there is no "-1 Wrong" moderation, I'll respond instead:

              "It's still plagiarism even if it's allowed by the original author."

              You are wrong. It is called authorized copying. There may also be some legal issues if the author wasn't allowed to get permission.

              "Students get in trouble if they get someone to take their exams for them."

              This is called cheating. Not plagiarism.

              "As long as there's misrepresentation going on, even if the original person gave permission for the misrepresentation, it's still a form of deception."

              Deception is not plagiarism. It may be considered unethical but that does not make it plagiarism.

              "If the misrepresentation was unintentional then that's different..."

              It doesn't matter. Now the penalties, if any, may be lower.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by hplus (1310833)
                According to the OED, you are wrong. Here is how it defines plagiarism:
                the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.
          • by Miseph (979059)

            Try handing in a paper that your roommate wrote with your name on it some time and getting caught. You'll find that just because he said it was cool, doesn't mean it isn't plagiarism.

            A much better argument is that, ultimately, plagiarism is almost never a black and white issue. how many words in a row do I have to use for it to count? 10? 5? 2? Should every single paper have to cite the language(s) in which it is written because otherwise it is copying that culture's work without giving credit? Maybe we sho

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I hereby cite Merriam-Webster:

          joke

          Pronunciation: \ËjÅk\
          Function: noun
          Etymology: Latin jocus; perhaps akin to Old High German gehan to say, Sanskrit yÄcati he asks
          Date: 1670

          1 a: something said or done to provoke laughter ; especially : a brief oral narrative with a climactic humorous twist b (1): the humorous or ridiculous element in something (2): an instance of jesting : kidding c: practical joke d: laughingstock
          2: something not to be taken seriously : a trifling matter â"often used i

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

        Plagiarism is copying from one source. Research is copying from many.

        Another snappy witticism on Slashdot, but it's wrong, and not in a nit-picky killjoy technicality kind of a way, but just plain wrong. It's so inaccurate that it's not funny is what I'm saying. Plagiarism is when you directly copy, or reinterpret with significant similarity, the work of another without citing the original author. It's got squat to do with how many places you take from. It's perfectly fine to build on the ideas of others -

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      It's a "mashup"...

    • "Plagiarism is copying from one source. Research is copying from many." Ah, another snappy witticism on Slashdot. More accurately, plagiarism is representing another's specific work or idea as your own. Allow me to demonstrate. Now, if I give you permission to copy, word-for-word, something I wrote and to publish and use it without citing the source, there is no plagiarism. Right? I'm not trying to pick a fight or anything; just clarifying. Anyway, I think that even permitted reproduction of ideas w
  • Time Warp! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:35PM (#28454169) Journal
    I found the February 20th, 1875 article [nytimes.com] online that both Anderson & Wikipedia excerpted and it was actually pretty interesting to read. In college I had an English composition teacher that had us dig up old Microfiche and select an interesting article and write an essay on it. I found one that was an article of the execution of a slave convicted of rape and murder. It was amazing to find out that the details of the rape and murder obviously sold newspapers then just as much as they do today.

    What is really interesting is that even though this article is 140 years old, they still ended the soft articles on a light note (maybe I notice this because the Onion mocks it so often?). The last few sentences:

    I related to Mr. Lacoume the conversation which I had overheard between the old Frenchman and the waiter, and asked him if he had many discontented customers. "Oh yes," he replied laughing, "there are at least a dozen old fellows who come here every day, take one fifteen cent drink, eat a dinner which would cost them $1 in a restaurant, and then complain that the beef is tough or the potatoes water." Mr. Lacoume confirmed the statement that thousands of people in New-Orleans live on free lunches.

  • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter@gmaO ... inus threevowels> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:35PM (#28454171) Homepage

    "All those are my screwups after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to find a good citation format for web sources"

    Really...because almost every form of writing style has web formats as a cite style these days.

    Hell, I use APA style, but it isn't much harder in MLA (the two biggest styles)...and it isn't hard to find even more...

    I wouldn't call this plagiarism, just lazy...and honestly, I know I've been lazy myself at times and screwed up (as I double check my thesis before handing it in tonight to make certain this hasn't happened to me!!!)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Try arguing that in school: "I didn't plagiarize my paper, I was just being lazy!"

      Using Wikipedia entries as if they were your own is completely unacceptable in all contexts.
      • by eln (21727) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:48PM (#28454419) Homepage
        Using Wikipedia entries even if they're properly cited is unacceptable. If he wanted to use Wikipedia as a research tool, that's fine, but he should have read through the materials cited by the Wikipedia article itself and used them as his sources, with proper citation. If the Wikipedia article cited no sources, then it shouldn't have been used at all.
        • Why shouldn't you use information from Wikipedia with no cited sources? Why can't Wikipedia be the source? Does the same go for citing from Encyclopedia Britannica?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by eln (21727)
            Of course it does. Citing from encyclopedias, whether Wikipedia or any other, is not an acceptable practice in any sort of research I've ever heard of.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by julesh (229690)

              Of course it does. Citing from encyclopedias, whether Wikipedia or any other, is not an acceptable practice in any sort of research I've ever heard of.

              Yes, but writing a non-fiction book for the general market is not research.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sorak (246725)

            Why shouldn't you use information from Wikipedia with no cited sources?

            I hope you're being sarcastic. If you have a source, then you have accountability. You may not be able to sue someone or have them arrested, but you at least have a name, and a person's reputation being staked on the accuracy of the work. In the case of Wikipedia, you MAY have a citation.

            Why can't Wikipedia be the source?

            Think of it this way. Someone publishes a paper or a college level manual, or conducts an interview. The person is the primary source of information on what they did. As such, which would you rather have, their account, or

            • No, Wikipedia is at best third-hand information as per their "No original research" policy. Original research would make it second hand (as the original experiencer would tell a first-hand account, the original researcher/interviewer would tell the second-hand account to the public, and Wikipedia, citing the researcher, would be telling a third-hand account).

          • by ajs (35943)

            Why shouldn't you use information from Wikipedia with no cited sources? Why can't Wikipedia be the source? Does the same go for citing from Encyclopedia Britannica?

            I suspect you're confused about what's being cited. Of course, it's perfectly reasonable to say, "Wikipedia says that the moon is made of red donuts and bubblegum." This is a statement of fact, and if it were true that Wikipedia said that, it would certainly be a very interesting fact indeed!

            The confusion comes about when you are not reporting on the content of an encyclopedia, but on its topic. In that case, the encyclopedia stops being a primary source and becomes, at best, a secondary source. Secondary

        • Using Wikipedia entries even if they're properly cited is unacceptable. If he wanted to use Wikipedia as a research tool, that's fine, but he should have read through the materials cited by the Wikipedia article itself and used them as his sources, with proper citation. If the Wikipedia article cited no sources, then it shouldn't have been used at all.

          This is what every teacher needs to be emphasizing to students. Wikipedia is not a source. It directs you to potential sources.

          • Instead, many just say, "Don't ever use Wikipedia! It is full of lies and deceit!"
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            Wikipedia at face value is just as valid as a source as any other collection of research. Wikipedia takes information from sources and condenses and analyses them for the reader, just like any other encyclopedia. It is perfectly viable as a quality source, as long as you take into account the quality of the sources cited by each encyclopedic article.

            For example, if you are writing a "general knowledge" sort of essay/book/whatever, directly sourcing Wikipedia is probably fine unless the cited sources of th

            • Basically, anything can be a valid source - hell you could source a comic strip and it would be valid.

              Hey, I'm a DeVry grad too!

        • by TerranFury (726743) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:54PM (#28455619)

          Using Wikipedia entries even if they're properly cited is unacceptable.

          When I hear about this statement I wonder if it has more to do with fundamental truth or social convention. Are "authoritative sources" truly more authoritative? As a pragmatist, I simply avoid citing Wikipedia because I know there are people with strong opinions who would disapprove if I did.

          But let me give you an example:

          Suppose I need to look up a mathematical identity which is not obvious. I go to Wikipedia and find it there. Then I sit down, verify it myself (math has that advantage), and use it. Now I have a dilemma. Do I,

          1 - Use the identity without citation.

          2 - Cite Wikipedia.

          3 - Cite the source cited by Wikipedia without reading it.

          4 - Cite the source cited by Wikipedia after wasting my time slogging through it to get to the punchline that I just verified myself.

          Option #1 is fairly safe, but does nothing to help the reader, and moreover represents someone else's idea as your own (even if it is "common knowledge"). Option #2 makes your paper more transparent and accessible, and is honestly the most helpful, but it makes you look bad. So you might be tempted to do #3; that's somewhat helpful to your readers (but less so than #2) but also not entirely honest; it's also slightly risky because it's entirely possible that the unread source doesn't actually contain the tidbit you used. Option #4 is by far the safest, but it is a tremendous waste of time -- and since it asks your readers to slog through the same dense paper, it is less helpful to them than #2.

          Of course, this kind of use of Wikipedia is only really justified for things that one is in a position to verify oneself, like math. But I think that the standard debates about "authoritative sources" tend to neglect this angle, assuming that truth is necessarily generated by authority and is not observable directly from nature. For those cases where I can verify myself that what Wikipedia says is true, I'd sort of like to be able to cite it. Being a pragmatist, however, I refrain!

          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            My professors (at Cornell) include links to Wikipedia in their lecture notes when they want to a kind of "read more" link (as opposed to citing specific information -- which one does not tend to do in lecture notes anyway). I suspect most of them would just link Wikipedia in that situation. Take that as you will.
          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            Of course, this kind of use of Wikipedia is only really justified for things that one is in a position to verify oneself, like math.

            That's poppycock. You don't need to be an expert in anything to verify a wikipedia article. Basic research, even simply checking the wikipedia article's sources, will tell you if this is something that is consistantly agreed upon, or if it is somewhat contentious. That's why Wikipedia cites sources!

            The "Wikipedia is not a valid source, ever" idiocy comes from people who misuse wikipedia. These same people would misuse the Encyclopedia Brittanica or ANY academic research comprised of collecting and conde

          • by winwar (114053)

            "Suppose I need to look up a mathematical identity which is not obvious. I go to Wikipedia and find it there. Then I sit down, verify it myself (math has that advantage),..."

            You probably don't have to cite it. Especially if it would be considered "general" or "basic" knowledge in the field of study. That doesn't mean YOU didn't know it.

            In geology, for instance, you don't have to cite where you got the chemical formula of a mineral or the general characteristics of a rock, etc. even if it is rare or you hav

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dkleinsc (563838)

            None of the above: use option 5, which is including your verification as a lemma, and also referring them to the work described in option #4.

            • by pbhj (607776)

              Suppose I need to look up a mathematical identity which is not obvious.

              "The verification of this identity is left as an exercise for the reader."

          • by Calydor (739835)

            Would there be anything wrong in citing both?

            In your example, "Original proof by Whoever McSomeone, www.math.com, found through summary on Wikipedia".

            Is there anything wrong in that approach?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Unacceptable? This isn't his dissertation or a thesis. It's a non-fiction book. It's not peer reviewed, and it's not subject to defense.

          He did the wrong thing. But let's not go OTT here.

      • by Bakkster (1529253)

        Using Wikipedia entries as if they were your own is completely unacceptable in all contexts.

        Using any text from a source verbatim without identifying it as a direct quote is still plagiarism, whether or not the source is identified.

        • Some twit said:

          Using any text from a source verbatim without identifying it as a direct quote is still plagiarism, whether or not the source is identified.

          Entirely self contradictory.

          When you identify a source, you do it for each section quoted. And if you don't, then you haven't identified the source.

          • by Bakkster (1529253)

            I mean that it's possible to cite a source and yet still plagiarise. for example:
            When you identify a source, you do it for each section quoted. And if you don't, then you haven't identified the source. (Hognoxious) would be plagiarism, because I did not identify as a direct quote. However:
            "When you identify a source, you do it for each section quoted. And if you don't, then you haven't identified the source." (Hognoxious) is the proper way to direct quote. Alternatively, I could rephrase what you said a

    • Hell, I use APA style, but it isn't much harder in MLA (the two biggest styles)...and it isn't hard to find even more...

      Yeah, Chicago style, ALWD (a major style in legal works) have citation styles for web sources; in fact, I'd be surprised if there is a serious modern style manual that doesn't cover web citations. The excuse offered is ludicrous on its face.

      • by JimFive (1064958)
        I don't think it's ludicrous. How are you supposed to cite a Wikipedia article (or really, any web article) in such a way that when someone goes to research your sources the article hasn't been altered to remove the bit you cited? With Wikipedia you at least have the history of changes to look at, but it's still a problem.
        --
        JimFive
        • How are you supposed to cite a Wikipedia article (or really, any web article) in such a way that when someone goes to research your sources the article hasn't been altered to remove the bit you cited?

          Clearly these boffins aren't anywhere near as smart as you, but it did occur to them [anglia.ac.uk]

        • by Americano (920576)
          I see what you're saying. Rather than going to all the bother of attempting to identify your source, you'd prefer to just skip it.

          Much cleaner solution there, I'm sure that'll catch on soon in all the trendy academic circles.
  • by wild_quinine (998562) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:40PM (#28454267) Homepage
    Nice cover with the 'alleged' in the title and all... but accidental non-citation is still plagiarism, I do believe. Therefore, since he's admitted himself, it's pretty much not 'alleged' any more. I don't care to share an opinion on the act, but I think we can safely call a spade a spare.
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:55PM (#28454535) Journal

      but I think we can safely call a spade a spare.

      I like bowling too.

      • but I think we can safely call a spade a spare.

        I like bowling too.

        Yeah, but those Hoyle cards I throw always end up in the gutter.

    • by cathars1s (974609)
      Couldn't we just call it a spade?
    • by eples (239989)
      Or they could do what Fox News does: put a question mark at the end.

      "Obama having affair with the Ayatollah?"
    • by tepples (727027)

      accidental non-citation is still plagiarism

      If I'm writing something, how can I make sure that I don't accidentally non-cite?

      • by Changa_MC (827317)

        By NOT reading a source, copying it verbatim, and then saying "oops!" when you get caught?

        • by tepples (727027)

          By NOT reading a source, copying it verbatim, and then saying "oops!" when you get caught?

          I don't understand whether you mean not reading a source, or not copying verbatim, or not saying "oops!" In other words, what can I do to avoid copying verbatim a source that I had read six years ago? How could George Harrison have avoided getting sued for "My Sweet Lord" (Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music)?

  • Web citing made easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:42PM (#28454309) Homepage

    Anderson responded, "All those are my screwups after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to find a good citation format for web sources... "

    Zotero [zotero.org], brother: a plugin for Firefox. Makes citing online sources a breeze in any format you care to mention.

    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:57PM (#28454567) Journal
      He didn't say it was difficult, he said he couldn't find a good format. So a tool that makes it easy to do in any format, wouldn't have helped much. Still, its a lame excuse. Its like saying I didn't pay my bills because I couldn't decide on the right signature.
      • I'm curious to know what his criteria for "good" are. The professional societies that declare the citation formats have wrestled with the same issues for much longer than he has. Either they've hit on a solution he's not buying, or whatever quality he's trying to capture in his citations isn't important enough for the pros to bother with.

        Pick one and go, I say. At least he can show a good faith effort that way.

        I like the bill paying metaphor, by the way. I think I'll use that, depending on how this inci

        • Assuming that his stated reason is correct, I suspect it went something like this. "I don't really like the APA or MLA style for online citations. I'll look for some other style that I like, so take it out for now, we'll put the online citations in later."......Months later the book is published and everyone forgot to go back and put the citations back in.
      • Being a former editor of an academic journal dealing with the law, I prefer Bluebook's format. Basically, do a cite analogous to its print version. An article published online would be

        Author, /Article Title/, <<Webpage Name>>, Month Day, Year, url. (where the double greater/less thans pairing means smallcaps).

        A book published online would be <<Author, Title>> page number (Edition# ed., Year), URL.

        Anything available in print but also available online (think Lessig's Code 2.0) can be d

    • Seriously - if you are a student who writes anything of any length, check out Zotero. It's not just web citations, it can pull information from your library database, online databases like EBSCO, HeinOnline, etc. Use the word processor integration as well, it will save you hours of work.

    • by fermion (181285)
      This is silly. Almost every web page that is expected to be cited has the proper citation listed on the page.

      Specifically Wikipedia has a cite this page [wikipedia.org] link in the left nav. For instance we can cite the article on . Once on the cite page, we can choose from any number of common citation formats. Just choose one that is acceptable. Saying they are all bad is pretty much aaying that any method of citation is bad. [wikipedia.org]

      This is just a typical case of not wanted to cite a source. This is typical of casual w

  • Plagiarism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldhack (1037484)

    The term is largely meaningless if you accept all works are derivative.

    Seems its only use is as writer's equivalent of gorilla feces-pitching.

    • Re:Plagiarism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wild_quinine (998562) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:51PM (#28454475) Homepage

      The term is largely meaningless if you accept all works are derivative. Seems its only use is as writer's equivalent of gorilla feces-pitching.

      No, the meaning is utterly clear. Don't pass off the work of other people as your own. Anything you add to the foundation is your contribution, and others wishing to build still further should cite you for that. Plagiarism is, in fact, when you *don't* accept that all works are derivative, and take credit for the whole body of work, not just the ideas that you added.

      It's not a copyright issue.

      An open-source equivalent would be if I created a cute little font switching extension for Firefox, and then claimed to have singlehandedly coded the browser, standardised HTML, and come up with CSS whilst I was at it.

      • by oldhack (1037484)
        Assume the premise. Then, "the ideas that you added" is also derivative work whether or not you are aware. What then is the meaning of term?
        • Um, that's what he said. Almost all works are derivative. Hence the need to cite one's sources. It gives credit to the original author and allows the readers the better evaluate the extent of your contributions. Plagarism is simply not citing your sources. Copying paragraphs from wikipedia into your book is not plagarism. Not citing your source is. Of course if he did cite wikipedia he might have been exposed as a lazy hack. But that's much better than plagarism.
      • by Tiro (19535)
        You mean like this guy [unitzeroone.com]?
      • The term is largely meaningless if you accept all works are derivative.

        Seems its only use is as writer's equivalent of gorilla feces-pitching.

        [... ]Plagiarism is, in fact, when you *don't* accept that all works are derivative, and take credit for the whole body of work, not just the ideas that you added.

        It's not a copyright issue.

        [...]

        Is too a copyright issue. The creator of a work has a right to be recognised as the creator . Similar things apply with patents, that's why "inventor" is listed on patent application/publications.

        Berne Convention, Article 6bis S(1)
        "(1) Independently of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the

    • I agree. The term is largely meaningless if you accept all works are derivative.

      Seems its only use is as writer's equivalent of gorilla feces-pitching.

    • 1) IF ... big if. If all works are derivative, where did they all derive from?

      2) Lifting sizeable chunks of text verbatim is stretching the definition of "derivative"

      3) Even if a work is derived from others, the proper thing to do is state the source of any unoriginal material.

      4) Never underestimate the entertainment value of poop-throwing.
  • Wikipedia? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sabt-pestnu (967671) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:53PM (#28454497)

    I can understand problems with trying to cite a web source. Things like Wikipedia, you'd have to refer to a page in the history; the content is always being changed. ... and vandalized.

    My objection to the author would be more along the lines of "why didn't you look up the sources used by wikipedia? Where IS the research?" As Wikipedia has a policy against original research, anything reliable on it is by definition at least second-hand. Is there a reason besides laziness that the author would not have indicated at least the sources given by wikipedia, if he could not do the research himself?

    • I've only used MLA and APA formats myself, but when citing a web source, the citation format explicitly provides for a retrieved-on date. It's a concession to the fluid nature of the web. I expect any other contemporary citation format worth its salt will do the same.

      Some web sources are primary, by the way. There's no paper copy of my own web works, so if anyone thought I'd written something worth citing, they'd have to use a URL to cite it.

    • Things like Wikipedia, you'd have to refer to a page in the history; the content is always being changed.

      Books change too, just more slowly. If I refer to a print encyclopedia, I better at least refer to a specific year, the article may be updated next year. It can even be a problem for fiction. If you don't cite publisher and publication location, and you cite that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire contains references to "pudding" and "biscuits" anyone checking your citation in the US release [hp-lexicon.org] will

  • by SheeEttin (899897) <sheeettin@nospAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:03PM (#28454665) Homepage

    Chris Anderson ... has apparently plagiarized content from various sources without attribution

    As opposed to...?

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:05PM (#28454705)
    Boycott buying hard copies of the book, and make electronic copies widely available via bittorent. Simple test: If all the copied text was in quotes or italics, I would say he actually intended to attribute it. If not, it would appear that he was trying to claim it as is own, and only made up an excuse after he got caught. Which is it?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      TFA shows some pretty damning images of the passages in question.

    • by pbhj (607776)

      You too would be infringing the rights of the original writers, particularly the right to be named as author of their work. I think they waive that right under GFDL (old Wikipedia license) but you must distribute the license with the work. Others appear to say that Wikipedia license now allows work licensed as CC-BY-SA 3.0 so you'd need to state the authors of the sections and make available any modifications under the same license - this can be pretty hard to establish for Wikipedia.

      I'm sure someone will c

  • I am cited as a minor author in this C# book [google.com] just because I edited a Wikibook entry on C# Programming, and then it got published later.

    I received no money but at least I got credit.

    I am trying to write my own book or books, I forgot how to use the APA format for web citations, but I will do research to learn it all over again, I hope. But my book is a work of fiction and parody, so maybe citations are not needed? What say you Slashdot?

  • I thought wikipedia was free to use however people want as long as the people who use it do the same? Wouldn't this fall under that situation since the guy is offering the digital copy of the book for free. Correct me if I'm wrong which I probably am.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zxjio (1475207)
      No the author has ignored the terms of the license and stolen their work. To be okay, he would need to have given its authors credit, and said that it is licensed GFDL/CC and so you too can use it. He can charge for a reproduction if he wants, cost is not relevant; but freedom and acknowledgement are necessary.
      • by zmnatz (1502127)

        Sorry, that's what I meant. I've listened to Chris Anderson a few times and it always seemed like he supported the whole free for anyone to use thing. When I said free that's what I meant, not as in price.

      • So technically Wikipedia could sue him for copyright infringement or breach of license. It depends on how the license is drafted. This distinction comes from a US case issued in the past few years.

  • I had no idea you could put your citations somewhere other than with your work. Next time I hand in a term paper I'll just tape the citations to my door, should be fine!
  • The publisher should have used TurnItIn [turnitin.com].

  • by cdrguru (88047)

    We are building an entire world from the ground up where everyone believes they are free to use (borrow, steal, whatever) anything they can find on the Internet in whatever way they feel like.

    Music, movies, books, software, whatever. The idea of creative ownership - I created this and therefore nobody else can use it unless I say so - is rapidly disappearing in younger people's minds. The result of this is of course there will be lots of "unattributed use" because when nobody respects this kind of ownersh

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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