Wikipedia Posts Here? April 12, 2012 7:55 PM   Subscribe

Copying, without attribution from Wikipedia, should be cause for deletion. Exactly the same, word for word, as the FPP. I pointed this out and got deleted. Why? If you can't write a reason for the post without using another's words, maybe the post shouldn't exist. posted by Ideefixe to Etiquette/Policy at 7:55 PM (104 comments total)

Well, it's not like wikipedia is copyrighted....
posted by cjorgensen at 7:59 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I pointed this out and got deleted. Why?

Because MetaTalk is the correct place to have this discussion. The Blue thread isn't.

Jessamyn and I talked about this a bit and while I think it's a lazy way to frame a post, it has actual links and, being Wikipedia, there isn't actually a copyright violation that I'm aware of (although a cite would have been nice.) Not super great, but not an insta-delete (while the threadshitting very much is.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:03 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


For those who don't know, Wikipedia (Listeni/ˌwɪkɨˈpiːdiə/ or Listeni/ˌwɪkiˈpiːdiə/ WIK-i-PEE-dee-ə) is a free, collaborative, multilingual Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah I don't love copy/paste stuff from Wikipedia but it's not a slam-dunk delete at all. Don't love the post, but a lot of people make quotes into their entire posts, though usually they are quotes from the articles/content that are linked to which I would have preferred to see in this case also.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Using the text from a site without attribution is kind of a weird choice, and I'd suggest not doing that; an explicit link to the wikipedia page being quoted would make a lot more sense.

On the other hand, italics is a pretty common variant of the informal house style here for indicating quotation, so it's not like Trurl was trying to claim it as his own work in how the post was presented, and as likely as not the omission of the link was an unintentional side-effect of the post editing process he went through.

If we see people seeming to like mercenarily misrepresent other folks' text as their own, we'll definitely talk to them about it and either see about amending the post or deleting it. This does not seem like that sort of case, and generally speaking dropping us mods a line at the contact form is a better plan than making a stink about it in-thread, because if there was anything other than malicious intent involved it's not really improving the situation to make accusations over there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2012


I don't see why the mods have to be alerted to have a confab about a post that's directly lifted from another source, copy right protected or not.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:11 PM on April 12, 2012


Well, if the confab is going to be a weird derail from the ostensible topic of the post, that sucks for everyone interested in the actual topic of the post. Which at an outside guess is just about everyone clicking into the thread. That's why we've got Metatalk, and the contact form; these are dedicated venues to act as an outlet for metacommentary so it doesn't get in the way of on-topic discussions in threads themselves.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:16 PM on April 12, 2012


What? I just saw the comments on Trurl's post and asked restless_nomad "Hey what do you think about this?" and we chatted a bit and axed a few comments and I left a note and now here we are. And bonus cortex!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:18 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The text is italicized, and there are also new links... What's the big deal?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:18 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


if you guys ever need to do a kickstarter for any reason, one of the rewards should end with "And bonus cortex!"
posted by nadawi at 8:21 PM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


The text is italicized, and there are also new links... What's the big deal?

You got me.

Not the first time I've done it. Probably won't be the last. The opening paragraph of a Wikipedia article is often as concise and editorializing-free a summary of a post topic's notability as anything else out there.

An explicit attribution strikes me as superfluous. But if it will improve anyone's digestion, I can include it the next time.
posted by Trurl at 8:37 PM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Please add the attribution if you're quoting it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:38 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


You should have seen the post Trurl was going to write about Joyce Carol Oates. No citations or anything. Disgusting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I often use text from the main link in my FPP when I'm making a post, with quote marks. Usually there'll be something that is both a decent summary of the content and being from that source, fair warning of the style/tone you'll be getting or what have you. Text from Wiki when it's not about a link to Wiki is a bit different I suppose, but doesn't seem like a heinous offence.
posted by Abiezer at 8:41 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always copy text from an unrelated Wikipedia article, just to see what effect it has. It's sort of a dada thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:46 PM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


William Burroughs cut-ups might be pushing it a bit.
posted by Abiezer at 8:51 PM on April 12, 2012


I would include a link to the article - which would then probably invite some wang to gripe about lazy Wiki linking - but otherwise, weak callout. I mean shit, yesterday I saw someone make a comment that totally cribbed from a tweet by someone the cribber and I both follow, but you don't see me raising a stink.

And to that person, who totally knows who they are, those favourites you got via your cibbery are totally invalid, and also, how do you sleep at night, sir/ma'am, I say, how do you sleep?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:53 PM on April 12, 2012


Text from Wiki when it's not about a link to Wiki is a bit different I suppose,

Ah, I had not noticed there was no link to Wikipedia. That's a little different.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I saw the italics I assumed the text was lifted from somewhere that could be found with a trivial googling. It does seem to be a house style kind of thing.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:57 PM on April 12, 2012


How is the poster expected to make a new FPP every day if they can't copy/paste things from time to time?
posted by birdherder at 9:05 PM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


STOP CALLING WIKIPEDIA "WIKI" STOP IT STOP IT STOP IIIIIIT
posted by mendel at 9:12 PM on April 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:16 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just think quality control should be run by the mods.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:18 PM on April 12, 2012


It might be a weak call out, but a far weaker FFP. If you can't write anything more compelling than a wikipedia entry, maybe you should re-think the whole thing.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wikki-Wikki-Wikki-Wikki.
posted by mykescipark at 9:25 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]




It's a sad time when the front page of MeTa only covers two days.
posted by dg at 9:27 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you can't write anything more compelling than a wikipedia entry, maybe you should re-think the whole thing.

Can we apply this to ObitFilter?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:30 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Copying, without attribution from Wikipedia, should be cause for deletion. --- Why do you think so? It's happened lots of times in the past without any complaints. Why this post, and why now?
posted by crunchland at 9:35 PM on April 12, 2012


Wikipedia content is licensed under an attribution license. That means that if you want to use it elsewhere you have to attribute the source.

I'm surprised that a community so focused on sharing others' creativity is so blasé about plagiarism. If MeTa is the proper place to call this out then deleting callouts in the thread makes sense. However, once it's established that the poster stole content, why is the post not deleted?
posted by SakuraK at 9:45 PM on April 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


The opening paragraph of a Wikipedia article is often as concise and editorializing-free a summary of a post topic's notability as anything else out there.

C'mon, you can do better than that. Use your own words.
posted by mediareport at 9:48 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why this post

No bacon, I guess.
posted by Trurl at 9:48 PM on April 12, 2012


I agree. I think some people can go overboard on the over-attribution (namely, saying where someone gets the idea for linking to something, like reddit or something), but a direct quote that is not one's own creation should have an overt attribution.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:49 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, ok. I didn't closely examine the post, and assumed that one of those links actually linked to the source of the text. I understand, and agree, trurl probably should have thrown in a link to the wikipedia article, even though the fact that it was a quote from somewhere, as demonstrated by the italics, was implied. I think, though, that instead of deleting it, a link to the wikipedia article could be appended by the mods, much like an "nsfw" or other indicator has been applied in the past.
posted by crunchland at 9:56 PM on April 12, 2012


Copying, without attribution from Wikipedia, should be cause for deletion. Exactly the same, word for word, as the FPP. I pointed this out and got deleted. Why? If you can't write a reason for the post without using another's words, maybe the post shouldn't exist.

Moderators may step in and temporarily suspend an offending user's account, but this is rare; permanent bans are rarer still, and are generally reserved for spammers and other egregious abuses of the site. MetaTalk also sees particularly excellent posts called out for praise, and moderators regularly feature superlative contributions on the main page's sidebar.
posted by davejay at 9:56 PM on April 12, 2012


An explicit attribution strikes me as superfluous.

It's not reasonable to assume that someone will see something in italics and think, "Oh, that must be from Wikipedia!"
posted by ignignokt at 9:57 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


once it's established that the poster stole content, why is the post not deleted?

Information wants to be free. And it's not stealing!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:21 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's styled as a quote, but you don't link what you're quoting from. That's weird in an fpp especially.
posted by rtha at 10:21 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that a community so focused on sharing others' creativity is so blasé about plagiarism.

I think there's a distinction to be made between plagiarism in any sense of the word that carries a real charge and mere sloppiness about explicit attribution in a no-stakes environment, is mostly all there is to it.

Which, again, I think attribution is the way to go, period—if you're quoting text from somewhere, the general expectation is that that somewhere is one of the links in your post—but the distinction between someone attempting to pass off someone else's writing as their own and someone merely failing to explicitly lay out the path to what is already fairly clearly not their own text (i.e. something marked up in a style that indicates quotation) is a pretty important one.

It's the sort of distinction that makes the difference for me and I'd guess for a lot of people a between a reaction of "weird, don't do that from now on" and one of "what in the fuck, dude".
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can't write a reason for the post without using another's words, maybe the post shouldn't exist.

I hope you realize that you can't write a reason for this metatalk post without using another's words.
posted by BurnChao at 10:27 PM on April 12, 2012


I think attribution is the way to go, period

I have no objection to the mods adding it now - if that will help.
posted by Trurl at 10:38 PM on April 12, 2012


Use your own words.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hope you realize that you can't write a reason for this metatalk post without using another's words.

Not only that, but I couldn't even post a comment in this thread without quoting wikipedia directly. Not that anyone noticed.
posted by davejay at 10:41 PM on April 12, 2012


I have no objection to the mods adding it now - if that will help.

Done.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:45 PM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not only that, but I couldn't even post a comment in this thread without quoting wikipedia directly. Not that anyone noticed.

I can't even write reason for this comment without using your words.
posted by BurnChao at 10:52 PM on April 12, 2012


Done.

Thank you.
posted by Trurl at 10:53 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there's a distinction to be made between plagiarism in any sense of the word that carries a real charge and mere sloppiness about explicit attribution in a no-stakes environment, is mostly all there is to it.

Just because nobody will bring charges over this plagiarism doesn't make it excusable.

I work in a field where lots of people take things without attribution. Most of the time there's no way the creator will (or can) go after the takers for what they take - even when that use is, like unattributed Wikipedia content, legally chargeable as copyright infringement or whatever. The only thing that keeps people honest is other people pointing out when someone is exploiting the creator.

I grok that this is a no-stakes environment in that the mods won't go after people who copy stuff without attribution. But surely stealing the entire text of a post crosses a line, doesn't it?
posted by SakuraK at 11:06 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, again, this isn't a case where there was a plausible attempt to pass off the text as not-from-elsewhere; the italic markup is a distinctive indication of quotation. Omitting an actual link to the source of the quotation is a weird move that creates work for the reader and is not something we consider a good way to make a post, but it's not the same thing as trying to disguise another's work as one's own. "Stealing", in this case, is a pretty loaded description of what actually occurred, however much I may agree with the position you're arguing in principle.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:24 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just because nobody will bring charges over this plagiarism doesn't make it excusable.

Perhaps you can bring pressure against the District Attorney.
posted by Trurl at 11:31 PM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Using an italised quotes as the body of a post with a link or links inside the quoted text is totally standard practice and happens all the time. Arguably it's not even unique on the front page at the moment, though the other example doubles up on indicating a quote with punctuation and doesn't have secondary links.
posted by Artw at 11:34 PM on April 12, 2012


Ah, I see the first link is new. Yeah, that would have been helpful from the start.
posted by Artw at 11:36 PM on April 12, 2012


Information wants to be free. And it's not stealing!

The courts actually agree now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:18 AM on April 13, 2012


while the threadshitting very much is

Does this meet the definition of "threadshitting"? I am not so keen on the phrase anyways, but I thought it was for vicious and trolly stuff - ad hominem attacks, ugly derails, drive by flame bait... maybe the deleted comment was of that calibre? Or I define "threadshitting" too narrowly?
posted by Meatbomb at 12:42 AM on April 13, 2012


"This post is an afront because blah blah blah" is pretty much textbook threadshitting.
posted by Artw at 12:58 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The courts actually agree now.

I'm just poking a little fun. People get up in arms about copying a sentence from Wikipedia, while screaming loudly about the right to torrent music and films. I just find the community's manic cognitive dissonance on the subject of creative ownership worth a laugh or two.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:05 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


This just goes to show how AGAIN the moderators, normally so fair-minded and thoughtful in enforcing the rules - throw all that out the window when it comes to their pet cause, Afro-Peruvians. AGAIN!
posted by mreleganza at 4:01 AM on April 13, 2012


It's a sad time when the front page of MeTa only covers two days.

It has been quite - active - around here recently. I wonder why?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:12 AM on April 13, 2012


Maybe people are putting off finishing their taxes?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:39 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alvy Ampersand: "WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI"

What is the sound my bicycle made before the front wheel fell off?
posted by Splunge at 5:02 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, now that the link is there, can someone explain to me the need for such histrionics in this thread?
posted by crunchland at 5:16 AM on April 13, 2012


I'm baffled to see anyone describe this as plagiarism, and I am as zero tolerance on plagiarism as its possible to be. The text was in italics, which is MeFi for "This isn't me talking--I'm quoting this". I think everybody agrees that the source of the quote should have been one of the links, but if you think this was plagiarism, you either don't understand what plagiarism is or how MetaFilter works.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:21 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't see why the mods have to be alerted to have a confab about a post that's directly lifted from another source...

If I had to guess, I'd say that it's probably because they haven't memorized everything written or said in the history of language and that they lack the uncanny ability to recall same whenever they run across it on MeFi.

I am shocked and appalled by their lack of commitment!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:56 AM on April 13, 2012


I was really confused reading this thread, because so many people were missing the fact that he linked to the Wikipedia article right there in the post! Then I got to this comment where cortex notes that he has added the Wikipedia link and it all made sense. I know it is rare to edit a MeTa thread, but do you think it might be worth it to add some sort of explanatory text at the top of this thread for people who are coming to it late?
posted by Rock Steady at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2012


An explicit attribution strikes me as superfluous. But if it will improve anyone's digestion, I can include it the next time.
posted by Trurl at 4:37 AM on April 13


Please do. If you actually copy someone else's words it's polite and decent to acknowledge it. Always. I find it sad that you, or anyone else, would ever regard doing so as being superfluous.
posted by Decani at 7:02 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that a community so focused on sharing others' creativity is so blasé about plagiarism.

I am assertive and sometimes aggressive about Fair Use in this country and I could make a strong argument that this qualifies. And in this case where sure it's an entire post but it's three sentences from a Wikipedia article and yes, that is not something we care about. If the community cares because they think it's lazy post-making or whatever, that's fine, but I do not think this is anywhere near "This is a legally bad thing" and I believe that enough that I'd be willing to go to the wall for that and also canny enough that I know that I wouldn't have to.

Threadshitting as we talk about it here is basically showing up in a post do do nothing but say that he post sucks and or make general nonsense comments especially early in the thread when there's no discussion built up. It's the difference between "I don't like this guy's music for $_REASONS" [totally fine assuming you're not being an asshole about it] and "This post sucks." Early threadshitting can doom an otherwise okay post and we've been a little more aggressive over the past 3-4 years trying to get people to not do that especially early in a thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:04 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you actually copy someone else's words it's polite and decent to acknowledge it.

This touches upon why I was indifferent about making a specific attribution.

The nature of Wikipedia means that I was not quoting someone else's words; I was quoting everyone else's words. And "everyone" seemed like too generalized an entity to have a stake in receiving an explicit credit - the terms of Attribution License notwithstanding.

Which leads to an interesting question. I have contributed to Wikipedia articles. But presumably my post does not constitute a bannable of act of linking to a web site I have contributed to.

But what if I had contributed to Mr. Technique's article itself? [For the record, I have not.] Or even written the particular sentences I quoted?

At what point, with respect to the self-linking policy, would I lose the cleansing effect of Wikipedia's collaborative structure?
posted by Trurl at 7:34 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The trick there Trurl, is you could rightly say you aren't plagiarizing, just restating something you've said before.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:37 AM on April 13, 2012


Alvy Ampersand: "WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI"

Visions of Fozzie Bear up to his elbows in Wikipedia.
posted by arcticseal at 7:37 AM on April 13, 2012


Yeah, I don't see it as being plagiarism or illegal in this case. I just seeing it as proper form, such that you don't give the impression that those were your own words or something. I'm not sure italics alone bears this burden. And, it is polite to those who actually did write those words, whether individually or collectively.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:40 AM on April 13, 2012


The opening paragraph of a Wikipedia article is often as concise and editorializing-free a summary of a post topic's notability as anything else out there.

That sounds like a reason to credit Wikipedia. If a source has used the best wording you can find to make your point, great -- you can go ahead and use those words, as long as you attribute them.

Yeah, I don't see it as being plagiarism or illegal in this case.

How would you define plagiarism?
posted by John Cohen at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


But what if I had contributed to Mr. Technique's article itself?

If you've contributed to an article we would expect you not to link to it, period. If this somehow inhibits your use of MetaFilter to a miniscule degree in the interests of keeping the self-linking line bright and easy to understand we are totally okay with that. The self-linking rule is not about "Hey don't use your own words" it's about "Don't link to stuff that you may be too close to to determine if it's going to be a decent post to MeFi and.or one that you get some sort of financial/other incentive for linking to"

This is, at some level, rules lawyering. Do not link to pages on the web that you have contributed to and if you have questions about that, drop us a note at the contact form and we'll be happy to explain the way we generally interpret this.

And, additionally, cite the quotations that apperar in your post if only so people who read it can know where they came from.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:01 AM on April 13, 2012


If you've contributed to an article we would expect you not to link to it, period. If this somehow inhibits your use of MetaFilter to a miniscule degree in the interests of keeping the self-linking line bright and easy to understand we are totally okay with that.

Thanks for the forewarning. I wouldn't even have thought of it before this.

Happily for me - regrettably for others - the inhibiting effect will be zero.
posted by Trurl at 8:06 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


How would you define plagiarism?

Perhaps an unintentional form, them, which I do think is a step removed from intentionally plagiarizing. I think the OP was trying to indirectly attribute by using italics, which doesn't quite get us there, but it's also not worthy of a serious reprimand.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2012


The nature of Wikipedia means that I was not quoting someone else's words; I was quoting everyone else's words. And "everyone" seemed like too generalized an entity to have a stake in receiving an explicit credit - the terms of Attribution License notwithstanding.

But if I, or anyone else, wanted to read the whole article, how would we do so if you don't link to it? I think quoting bits and pieces is fine, and linking to the whole piece or pieces is even better because the context in which those quotes occurred is important.
posted by rtha at 8:10 AM on April 13, 2012


But if I, or anyone else, wanted to read the whole article, how would we do so if you don't link to it?

As Blasdelb pointed out, it is trivially Google-able.

And given how little evidence there is of anyone having followed the links I did use, your hypothetical is pretty far down on my list of things to worry about today.
posted by Trurl at 8:15 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The nature of Wikipedia means that I was not quoting someone else's words; I was quoting everyone else's words. And "everyone" seemed like too generalized an entity to have a stake in receiving an explicit credit - the terms of Attribution License notwithstanding.

It may be helpful for you to think of this not so much as crediting someone but as showing folks where the text is from. You don't need to know the identity of the author or authors of a piece of writing to point to the piece of writing, and it's useful for readers to know what your source is regardless of whether you personally are indifferent about it or whether the readers could google it themselves. Much as I don't think you were up to anything nefarious, this does feel like a really simple and obvious aspect of post construction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:22 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Do it yourself, lazy" and "but no one clicks anyway" are really terrible refutations, Trurl.

After all, it would also have been trivially easy for you to make the link, and it's a practice that the vast majority of posters here actually do.
posted by rtha at 9:02 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


To excess, as far as wikipedia is concerned.
posted by crunchland at 9:16 AM on April 13, 2012


How would you define plagiarism?

Plagiarism is not just using someone's words. It's using someone's words while attempting to pass them off as your own. It's trying to take credit for someone else's work.

The use of italics clearly demonstrate there was no attempt to pass those words of as his own. The italics indicate someone else's words. Notice that half the comments in this thread (36 out of 77, by my count) use the exact same method to indicate someone else's words. Like how I put your words in italics at the top of this comment.

So call it what it is. Because your over-exaggerations make it so you can't be taken seriously. If you want your own words to count, don't make them so easy to dismiss. This is not anywhere even close to plagiarism.
posted by BurnChao at 9:22 AM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


The use of italics clearly demonstrate there was no attempt to pass those words of as his own.

Attribution issues aside, I see no attempt on Trurl's part to pass off the words in that sentence as his own, either. He didn't write by Trurl at the end, and for that matter, when people italicize pullquotes from articles, they don't do so either. The faux outrage is as laughable as it is inane.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:33 AM on April 13, 2012


Yeah, this seems like too little to get so worked up about, even for Metatalk. What gives?
posted by crunchland at 9:48 AM on April 13, 2012


Abiezer: William Burroughs cut-ups might be pushing it a bit.

I thought I was clear in citing Burroughs' text, but I was mistaken.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:24 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, as long as we're having a discussion about doing things correctly, you might want to fix the spelling of "plagiarism" in your tag.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:58 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The funny thing is, had Trul not italicized the text, indicating it wasn't his, nobody would be complaining about "plagiarism", because they wouldn't know it wasn't his.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on April 13, 2012


I do not think this is anywhere near "This is a legally bad thing"

You'd need to pack a bag and stop the mail just to get close to "this is a legally bad thing."

Lazy, maybe, but it's a post about an undie rapper, so bfd. No, the real dereliction here is a failure to name check Paris, Immortal Technique's spiritual father, more or less, or to note that Paris performed at last year's Gathering of the Juggalos.

(9/11 truther rap performed for Juggalos. Man, I get high just thinking about that.)
posted by octobersurprise at 11:25 AM on April 13, 2012


Actually, Trurl, I apologize if I raised anything in anyone's minds to the level of plagiarism, referring to it as "unintentional" or not. You shouldn't be saddled with even a hint of a whisper of that accusation over something as mundane as this, and even skirting the issue in a theoretical way can leave a bad taste over something that is pretty much a non-issue. I do think that it's an issue of proper attribution out of politeness and good form, but plagiarism should not have entered the discussion, and in my probably mind wrecked what could have been a better conversation about general attribution issues. Not to mention make you look less than stellar, which was the last thing on my mind.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:43 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I'm baffled to see anyone describe this as plagiarism, and I am as zero tolerance on plagiarism as its possible to be. The text was in italics, which is MeFi for "This isn't me talking--I'm quoting this". I think everybody agrees that the source of the quote should have been one of the links, but if you think this was plagiarism, you either don't understand what plagiarism is or how MetaFilter works.

I totally agree. I can understand the desire for attribution, even when no single author is involved, and can sort of see the utility of bringing the topic to people's attention with a MetaTalk post, but this overheated talk about "cause for deletion" and "plagiarism" and all the rest of it is just silly. And Ideefixe, when people seem not to agree with you here, it's generally a good idea to back off and rethink your priorities rather than getting all huffy and doubling down on the outrage.
posted by languagehat at 1:22 PM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


it is trivially Google-able

Good lord. You're actually defending the completely lazy non-sourced quoting of Wikipedia as the main text of your post because anyone could Google some of it? Trurl: keep your eyes on the prize. Your fellow members deserve better.
posted by mediareport at 8:13 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(And I say that as someone who enjoys many, many of your posts, Trurl. This was a step down from the usual, and some of us are hoping you reverse that.)
posted by mediareport at 8:14 PM on April 13, 2012


Trurl is far and away my favorite poster on Metafilter. This was a mistake, I guess – but yeah. I guess I just wanted to mention that.
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 PM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(By "this" I mean the whole wiki-without-attribution thing, that is.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 PM on April 13, 2012


I am assertive and sometimes aggressive about Fair Use in this country and I could make a strong argument that this qualifies. And in this case where sure it's an entire post but it's three sentences from a Wikipedia article and yes, that is not something we care about.

What does count as "Unfair Use"? Three sentences comprising an entire post is not enough, so how many sentences are? Lots of posts have been deleted for lesser offenses, so how much karma must a poster have in order to be granted such indulgences?

From the perspective of someone who publishes a lot of stuff with a simple request to attribute the author, the attitude here towards such minimal requests is disheartening. I get that Trurl is a popular poster, but a simple mod fixup + condoning of bad behavior tells us mere mortals that it's not worth trying to share anything in a non-confrontation manner. This would not be surprising across most of the Web, but I'd honestly expected better here.
posted by SakuraK at 12:21 AM on April 14, 2012

And Ideefixe, when people seem not to agree with you here, it's generally a good idea to back off and rethink your priorities rather than getting all huffy and doubling down on the outrage.
With an username of "ideefixe", I'm not sure that's really a direction they're very amenable to.

Teehee, I'm silly.

CARRY ON.
posted by kavasa at 1:03 AM on April 14, 2012


I don't know what to tell you, SakuraK. I feel like you're bemoaning a situation that is different from the actual situation pretty much everyone here saw: you're upset that a blatant act of plagiarism was left unpunished, while we're annoyed at some sloppy attributional work in what was blatantly not a case of plagiarism.

Like I said, I basically totally agree with the principle you're defending. I just think you've picked something that is not actually any kind of good example of the problem in practice.

Lots of posts have been deleted for lesser offenses, so how much karma must a poster have in order to be granted such indulgences?

Oh, man, ask Trurl if he's in our good graces, I guess. I can strongly assure you this is not a case of him cashing in good karma, much though I appreciate that a lot of his posts are good stuff.

We don't see this case—someone clearly marking text as quoted but failing to provide the attribution link—as some kind of You Must Be Made An Example Of situation, is the long and the short of it. This particular issue almost never comes up (since people generally either write their own post text or include a link to the source of the quotation), didn't come up here as a malicious or deceptive act (text was clearly marked up as quotation), and talking about it in Metatalk to reinforce the norm that attribution is the thing to do even in handwavy cases is pretty much how stuff gets addressed much of the time around here.

If we see someone legitimately trying to pass off another's text as their own, that will be a bigger problem, and one we'll deal with when and if it happens. This just isn't that situation, and we're not going to react to it like it is. I think, and we have said several times in here, that skipping attribution even for an "obvious" source of text is bad posting form and should not be done; I'm not sure how much clearer we can be on that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:36 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there had been any doubt over a possible intent to pass off the words as my own, it's possible that my record of 500+ posts - bristling with links to sources, including Wikipedia - might have earned me the benefit of the doubt. But it doesn't seem like there had been much doubt to begin with.

(And having recently finished my second time-out in the past month, I'm pretty sure the mods didn't override an instinct to delete the post because of a sense of chumminess towards me.)

Perhaps I have exhibited insufficient contrition in this thread. Then in gratitude for the recent approving comments about my work, let me solemnly affirm that I regret my laziness on this occasion (oh boy, do I regret it) and will never, ever do it again.
posted by Trurl at 8:07 AM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find it sad that you, or anyone else, would ever regard doing so as being superfluous.

Christ, I agree with you but do we have to be So Very Concerned about every minor quibble? Surely Metafilter's hands are wrung frequently enough.
posted by spaltavian at 8:21 AM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


What does count as "Unfair Use"?

It's really a thing for the courts to decide, in the US, but freely quoting a small part of something that is available on the internet with a fairly non-restrictive license is really not even close. The weird thing about Fair Use in the US is that it's not very well defined and so we mostly know what we know about the limits of it by what's been determined through lawsuits. And to be clear, I'm not talking about just the adjectival "This is fair" meaning, I'm talking about the exception to copyright law that we have in the US that allows limited use of copyrighted material. Using a clearly delineated quotation is always okay, we'd strongly prefer that it was attributed but that's basically it.

having recently finished my second time-out in the past month

Just to be nitpicky, this was not your second time-out, even under this account. It may have been the second one you noticed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:17 AM on April 14, 2012


Just to be nitpicky, this was not your second time-out, even under this account. It may have been the second one you noticed.

I was only referring to the past month. Of the others that preceded that, I don't believe any have escaped my notice.

It's rare for me to go much more than 7 hours without checking my profile - which will trigger an automatic log-out - let alone 7 days.
posted by Trurl at 10:26 AM on April 14, 2012


I though it was kinda obvious that he was saying he'd been timed out twice this month. It actually took some work to find another way to parse the statement into a different meaning.

On an aside, is that alright, to point out someone has another account? (I don't even know if it's alright to have another account. But if it is, seems like bad etiquette to announce that someone has one.)
posted by BurnChao at 10:43 AM on April 14, 2012


> From the perspective of someone who publishes a lot of stuff with a simple request to attribute the author, the attitude here towards such minimal requests is disheartening.

"The author"? There is no author here. This is Wikipedia. Jesus, some people sure love feeling the outrage.
posted by languagehat at 10:51 AM on April 14, 2012


On an aside, is that alright, to point out someone has another account?

Even if I hadn't already alluded to it myself just now by citing a combined post count, there was already an entire MetaTalk post on my Beese-ian past. It's a non-issue.
posted by Trurl at 10:56 AM on April 14, 2012


Oh, okay. I didn't see your allusion to it (still can't, actually), and I'm not aware of your specific metatalk history.
posted by BurnChao at 11:13 AM on April 14, 2012


(I don't even know if it's alright to have another account. But if it is, seems like bad etiquette to announce that someone has one.)

To explain a little more: Some people have more than one account. Some accounts are used to ask (or answer) questions that the user may not want associated with their main account; mods and community have deemed this usage pretty much okay as long as it's not abused (e.g, no using extra accounts to get around the one-askme-per-week restriction). Other accounts are Brand New Day (BND) - maybe the old name has a lot of baggage associated with it that the user doesn't want hauled into every thread they comment in, or they just want a fresh start; those accounts are not run concurrently, generally. Then there's jokey accounts, used (one hopes) for context-sensitive bits of witticism.

Basically, you can have more than one account here, as long as you don't fuck around with them, or use them to fuck with the site and other users. Like, it's definitely a no-no to use one of your accounts as an apparently objective party to support arguments made by your other account.

As to the outing of accounts: hang around long enough, and you'll begin to grok the allusions. Some BND users are okay about people knowing they're a BND and their former username is [whoever]; many aren't. If you don't *know* that the person is open about their other accounts (like, they list them in their profile(s), then discretion is best.

I hope I explained this right. I'm sure others will jump in if I haven't, or have forgotten something.
posted by rtha at 11:25 AM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


On an aside, is that alright, to point out someone has another account? (I don't even know if it's alright to have another account. But if it is, seems like bad etiquette to announce that someone has one.)

As a general rule when it's not already public knowledge? No, and we will put up a maybe surprising (if not limitless) effort to avoid outing people when an account change isn't something they've made public themselves. But that's not the situation in this case, so, not as much of an issue. Still not something we're going to bring up on a regular basis, but not the same situation.

rtha's summary covers the basics of multiple account stuff well.

The key things are that (a) we expect people to have one primary account, and any socks are case-specific things that need not to be used as concurrent active "I am a distinct person" narratives, and (b) a user is not obliged to have it be public knowledge if they decide to retire an old primary account and start over with a new one (or even technically mod-side knowledge, though we are generally aware especially if it's a high profile user) and we'll do what we can to support that anonymous Brand New Day situation for them, but (c) we can't prevent folks from noticing really conspicuous continuity of behavior across multiple apparently unrelated accounts, nor can we put the cat back in the bag when someone explicitly or implicitly really clearly reveals the identity of their previous account, so once it gets to a certain point there the idea of masking that account interrelatedness pretty much goes out the window.

It's weird exception case stuff. This is one of them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:46 AM on April 14, 2012


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