It just seems wrong somehow. September 6, 2007 2:11 AM   Subscribe

Great thread and everything, but shouldn't we be a bit concerned that the post itself is just the first two paragraphs (even the same links) of the main atlantic article, without even attribution? Seems a bit off to my delicate sensibilities.
posted by Sparx to Etiquette/Policy at 2:11 AM (64 comments total)

I found that a bit odd too, although personally, I think the link to the article counts as attribution.
posted by Brittanie at 2:28 AM on September 6, 2007


that's totally ok in my book, especially seeing as it's the first link, which by default is going to be read as being the "main" link.
posted by juv3nal at 2:36 AM on September 6, 2007


mmm - it just seems to be taking credit for another's work, as there's no indication to the casual eye, by blockquoting or even quotemarks, that it's not the poster's own carefully constructed post. You shouldn't have to click a link to discover it's been lifted whole cloth. Perhaps I'm just a fragile little bunny.
posted by Sparx at 2:52 AM on September 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


Perhaps I'm just a fragile little bunny.

Perhaps.
posted by dersins at 3:01 AM on September 6, 2007


Pretty much what juv3nal said; hardly sneaky plagiarism.
posted by Abiezer at 3:01 AM on September 6, 2007


It's all the extra reference-type links that make it look like an essay written by the poster. I'm not a fan of these additional links anyway, but this seems like a new reason to avoid adding them.
posted by tomcooke at 3:24 AM on September 6, 2007


Yeah, very odd, especially as the other links aren't to anything interesting. A straight quote would have been better.
posted by cillit bang at 3:54 AM on September 6, 2007


It's weird to copy/paste a block of text from the beginning of a linked article and copy all the (dull) links over, yes I agree.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:59 AM on September 6, 2007


When making frontpage post, I often grab the teaser straight from the 'about' page of the site I'm linking to. Commentary on the content aside, considering the links go to the article he cut and pasted from, I don't see that there's any problem whatsoever.
posted by Dave Faris at 4:48 AM on September 6, 2007


I would have just linked to the Atlantic article and left it at that. Still, he does link there, so people can figure out pretty quickly that the rest of the links and writing aren't his own.
posted by chunking express at 4:59 AM on September 6, 2007


It's a minor stylistic thing in this setting. It ought to be within quotation marks or italicised. But I don't think you can state outright that the poster was trying to present the words as their own. We don't have strict editorial etiquette here so the main link being attached to the initial words of the post just about negates any ethical breach. It would be nice if people did use quotation marks or italics though.
posted by peacay at 5:19 AM on September 6, 2007


I agree, it's quirky.
posted by OmieWise at 5:20 AM on September 6, 2007


*slaps OmieWise voodoo doll with halibut*
posted by peacay at 5:31 AM on September 6, 2007


Mmmmm, halibut.
posted by OmieWise at 5:45 AM on September 6, 2007


"Weird"? I call it plagiarism.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:03 AM on September 6, 2007


People have different formatting preferences—I prefer quotes or italics on a quotation, generally, but sometimes folks don't, and I agree with the argument that the very first link going to that same text makes it a non-issue. Slightly weird presentation, but a far cry from plagiarism in any meaningful sense.

We got every flavor of quirk around here, and I don't think this is the worst sort.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:08 AM on September 6, 2007


Yes, at least it's not chirmed.
posted by chrismear at 6:13 AM on September 6, 2007


What IS the worst quirk? I nominate fandango_matt urging a fellow MeFite to commit suicide (here, since cleaned up). Delightfully quirky!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:14 AM on September 6, 2007


Plagiarism, for Christ's sake? The only problem I see here is all the useless "supporting" links. Let me try this again, in the key of C:

There is nothing wrong with one-link posts.

posted by languagehat at 6:39 AM on September 6, 2007


I was fairly careful not to use the 'P' word. It's just so close in style to a normal FPP that I felt the inclusion of the supporting text and links was a tad...misrepresentative. But if modly folk are more or less ok with it in general I shall lower my questioning eyebrow and back slowly away.
posted by Sparx at 6:55 AM on September 6, 2007


It's done all the time on FPPs.
Also...who cares?
posted by rocket88 at 7:05 AM on September 6, 2007


He could have just down a blockquote y2karl style.
posted by empath at 7:06 AM on September 6, 2007


How can we sleep while our beds our burning?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:10 AM on September 6, 2007


That's not plagiarism, it's what's called "lazy formatting." Irksome, sure, but not criminal.
posted by majick at 7:18 AM on September 6, 2007


How could it be considered plagiarism if he's just reposting a link on an aggregator blog? Sense of scale be damned, hmm?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:19 AM on September 6, 2007


Also...who cares?

I was just wondering about the etiquette of what seemed an unusual situation. So I asked. And got an answer. The system worked. So now I am very calm.
posted by Sparx at 7:26 AM on September 6, 2007


How can we sleep while our beds our burning?

There was a great, great, great piece in the short lived 80s anthology comic Wasteland about a man who was constantly worrying about his bed catching fire. If I remember correctly it was written in a sort of Harvey Pekar/R. Crumb parody style. Man, I need to get out my old comics and fire up the scanner.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:41 AM on September 6, 2007


languagehat, all the supporting links were links in the original article. The only change from the article itself was a link to it in the first word.
posted by mzurer at 7:54 AM on September 6, 2007


Still not really plagiarism, but it's not a single-link/multi-link issue.
posted by mzurer at 7:54 AM on September 6, 2007


Hell yeah you do -- that book was awesome! (I don't remember that story, but I only saw a few issues.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:55 AM on September 6, 2007


languagehat, all the supporting links were links in the original article. The only change from the article itself was a link to it in the first word.

Yes, I grasp that. I also know that it is a common method of creating a MeFi post, and it boggles my mind that some people apparently don't get the difference between this and passing off somebody else's paper as your own.
posted by languagehat at 8:10 AM on September 6, 2007


So now I am very calm.

Well that won't do. That won't do at all.
posted by kosem at 8:20 AM on September 6, 2007


the difference between this and passing off somebody else's paper as your own

is that the paper you're passing off isn't a single-paragraph abstract, said abstract doesn't have "step one: go ask the student from whom I stole this paper to talk at much greater length on the subject" in block print at the top, and the class in question is not "showing off neat papers you stole from other students 101".

There's no clear intent to deceive, the ownership of the text in question is utterly clear if you click on the first link, and this is a place where people post links they found elsewhere, for the express purpose of having those links clicked upon, often with quotes or bites from the source as post text. It really is just a matter of formatting preference.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:25 AM on September 6, 2007


I get what sparx is saying - particularly because I remember a very long winded thread about someone's comment being (partially) edited by Jessamyn, and the ensuing outcry of "OMG WE ARE PERSONALLY LIABLE FOR EVERYTHING WE POST/COMMENT HERE."

It was a great post, but psmealy didn't write it. If I had done it (ok, sure, I hardly post, and I'm a n00B) I would have slapped quotes around the whole thing.
posted by Liosliath at 8:27 AM on September 6, 2007


Also, I read lhat's comment as taking the exact opposite stance from what it was actually taking, so please read that as an affirmative elaboration rather than the i-can't-believe-you-of-all-people double-take it was in my head when I was writing it.

*high-fives languagehat, skulks off*
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:28 AM on September 6, 2007


I think the post used bad form but falls far short of plagiarism. When you quote the text you should use italics or quote marks etc. to indicate that you are indeed quoting. That wasn't done here, which seems a minor nit to me. As for plagiarism, there was no attempt to hide the source, what with multiple links to the article within (again perhaps not the best form as languagehat pointed out). In any event, noe of this seems worth taking to meta.
posted by caddis at 8:28 AM on September 6, 2007


I think that when linking to an article that does a decent job of explaining itself in the first couple of sentences, copypasting those sentences is the most sensible way to construct the post. The link to the source is sufficient attribution, and the format of the Metafilter front page does not lend itself well to more explicit declarations of authorship.
psmealy's use of text from the original article was fair use and in no way did he attempt to claim authorship. If the post had contained a mixture of quotes and psmealy's editorial, more care would have been needed, but it didn't so it isn't.
posted by nowonmai at 8:40 AM on September 6, 2007


No, it was definitely worth taking to meta, if only for the confirmatory "yeah, that seems weird" comments.

Myself, I was only squicked that the post got such a quick "great links! can't wait to read them all!" response, and psmealy never corrected the obvious misconception.

It shouldn't have been done that way, imho, but it's not the end of the world, either.
posted by yhbc at 8:40 AM on September 6, 2007


Agreed - not plagiarism, but a strange post nonetheless. It made me wonder why the OP spent all that time recopying the links. Whatever.
posted by taliaferro at 8:48 AM on September 6, 2007


Seems a bit off to my delicate sensibilities.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:50 AM on September 6, 2007


It made me wonder why the OP spent all that time recopying the links.

Well, it takes a second to cut and paste.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:54 AM on September 6, 2007


Non-issue.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:55 AM on September 6, 2007


No, it was definitely worth taking to meta, if only for the confirmatory "yeah, that seems weird" comments.

Thanks yhbc - validation rocks!

Let me state again - I wasn't accusing anyone of plagiarising or claiming credit - merely saying it could seem that way to 'the casual eye' (such as the "great links" poster), or someone who only clicked on the Miranda link, so I wondered if more obvious attribution might be a good idea. That's why I flagged it as an etiquette question. Surely we all want to be polite, especially if we're borrowing words.
posted by Sparx at 8:56 AM on September 6, 2007


could seem that way

Or more particularly - not seem that way, as they wouldn't know it wasn't by the name at the bottom, because of the format. Hence - possibly a bit sketchy.

Anyway - I was only asking.
posted by Sparx at 9:09 AM on September 6, 2007


Well, sometimes one might be borrowing words to be pointedly impolite, but, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:15 AM on September 6, 2007


It's a weblog. Have any of you ever read a weblog?
posted by gleuschk at 9:17 AM on September 6, 2007


Have any of you ever read a weblog?

Nope, never. But I have seen an owl beg. So sad, really.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


Go Blew!
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:34 AM on September 6, 2007


I like my quotes labeled. I wouldn't quote someone else's comment without indicating it wasn't my words.
posted by smackfu at 11:47 AM on September 6, 2007


I wouldn't quote someone else's comment without indicating it wasn't my words.
posted by brain_drain at 12:27 PM on September 6, 2007


I have seen an owl beg.

* cries *
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2007


I thought that was for baby jessamyn to do?
posted by OmieWise at 1:17 PM on September 6, 2007


Now y'all made a mod cry. Happy?
posted by everichon at 1:30 PM on September 6, 2007


I thought that was for baby jessamyn to do?

Um, baby_jessamyn is six years old...
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:46 PM on September 6, 2007


Sorry, if you didn't get it, I posted it as it was posted in the Atlantic precisely because it resembled your typical MeFi multiple link FPP. It seemed, given the subject matter and general snarky tone, to re-post it as it was.

Sorry if you didn't get the joke, Sparx.
posted by psmealey at 3:08 PM on September 6, 2007


If it makes you feel better I had a mouse in my pocket which I gave to the owl who then devoured it gratefully and was no longer so sad.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:10 PM on September 6, 2007


I didn't say it was a funny joke. Just quirky.
posted by psmealey at 3:11 PM on September 6, 2007


mmm - it just seems to be taking credit for another's work

If it helps, I've taken some shots for some of my own extensive (tedious) multiple link posts, thought I had at least earned a pass without having to endure spurious accusations of taking credit for another person's work.

Btw, seriously? In what alternate version of MeFi do links to McSweeney's, ThisLife.org and Wikipedia count as "work"?
posted by psmealey at 3:18 PM on September 6, 2007


See, you used quotes around "work". Much better.
posted by smackfu at 3:29 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


psmealy: You know? When you put it like that, it is kind of quirky.

Like people that write in all caps is quirky

snuzzerruffin nunbke quirky bastards mumbl snurf

posted by Sparx at 3:35 PM on September 6, 2007


it just seems to be taking credit for another's work

yeah - that was poorly phrased and came out a little hard-sounding. It helps if you emphasise the 'seems' rather than the 'taking credit' - I was talking about the effect of the formatting of the post (an it), not you personally (not an it). Apologies for any damage to your reputation.
posted by Sparx at 3:50 PM on September 6, 2007


Ah, no worries. I have done long-term significant and irreparable damage to my own reputation long before this call-out.
posted by psmealey at 3:54 PM on September 6, 2007


Same here! I spell 'reputation' L I V E R but it's all the same thing in the end.
posted by Sparx at 4:06 PM on September 6, 2007




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