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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Plagiarism or Point Scoring?

Much steam, brimstone and smoke has belched forth from the denizens of the left concerning alleged plagiarism on the part of a couple of righties, one a jouno for the Press and the other, her father and director of the Maxim Institue.

I fail to see what they did as anything other than an extremely minor matter, not warranting all the fuss. The reason I say this is that, in truth, no idea is new. Somebody, somehwere thought of it before, whether you know about it or not. Accordingly, I'm not too fussed if the young lady repeated some of her father's mantra (pl?) or if her father repeated the ideas of long dead or far way people without documenting the original source. The point is, who cares where the idea came from? What is important is the question of whether the idea is sound or flawed.

The lefties who are shouting long and loud are really being cute. Plagiarism is important where there is professional information involved such as scientific papers, academic research, literary credibility and the like but to make such a fuss about a few political and economic opinions is mischevous nonsense.

How long it is since Rod Donald or Genetix or phil u actually named the original sources of their much repeated political dogma?. How would Russell Brown and Jordan Carter go if some serious analysis were applied to their ravings of the past twelve months? I understand there is new computer software available which allows for easy identification of like phrases in unlike places.

Posted by Adolf Fiinkensein | 10/20/2005 10:38:00 AM


Blogger darren said...

Theres an old saying.
To copy of one person is plagiarism.
To copy off several is research!

10/20/2005 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Whaleoil said...

Is it just me or is Jordan really snippy at the moment.

10/20/2005 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger noizy said...

It wasn't just repeating ideas, it was cutting and pasting entire swathes of text and passing it off as their own work.

There is, I think, a significant difference between using someone else's political theories in your own writing, and copying someone else's work word-for-word.

Both Russell, Jordan, and indeed, you guys (and most bloggers), are aware of the importance in linking to and blockquoting stuff that has been culled from elsewhere.

10/20/2005 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't plagiarism theft? Doesn't the right support the right of private owners to property and ideas? Until the right is caught stealing, of course...


10/20/2005 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is more to this than meets the eye.


10/20/2005 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

I don't know. Signing somebody else's work as your own has been heavily criticised on this site before.

If you really believe it's a minor matter you should retract everything you've ever written about Paintergate.

10/20/2005 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

James Guthrie. Point taken

amonymous. I doubt it is theft in this case - there was no intellectual property was there? Were any of the pieces infringing copyright?. Paintergate definetely was theft.

Rob O'Neil. I suggest you go back and read the post. What did I say about literary credibility?

10/20/2005 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

Okay, to put it simply "literary" means words, not paintings and certainly not paintings produced by amateurs.

"Of, relating to, or dealing with literature: literary criticism.
Of or relating to writers or the profession of literature: literary circles.
Versed in or fond of literature or learning.

Appropriate to literature rather than everyday speech or writing.
Bookish; pedantic."

In short it's an issue when you say it's an issue and when you say it's not, it's not! Brilliant! I wish life worked like that for me...

10/20/2005 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous blackdog said...

Stuart wasn't a journo - she was a freelance writer.
A while back, she made mention in her Press articles of being enrolled as an adult student at Canterbury.
As such, she ought to have been familiar with the university's policies regarding plagiarism. For example:

"Plagiarism is the use without proper acknowledgment of someone else's material. It is considered dishonest and carries the highest penalties in the university. However, while some of the most obvious forms of plagiarism are easily recognised, there are more subtle forms which one can fall into, often without even realising it."

More here:


Not much help with your present preaching to the converted in order to protect a couple of useful idiots, but even Logan has the sense to realise he's been very silly indeed.

10/20/2005 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Blackdog, piss off. I have no interest in the two people concerned and in fact I tend to agree they are both idiots. I am interested in the distinction between genuine really serious plagiarism ala Skakespeare pinching the work of Bacon or Clark signing some else's painting to raise funds or a humanities graduate using unatributed speeches in a doctoral thesis on the one hand and on the other the demented ravings of extremists from either left or right. To attribute the same sense of offended righteousness to both is just foolish. Are you afoolish person?

10/20/2005 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Blackdog. Since when is a free lance writer not a journalist? I should know the answer to that. Since Winston Peters could claim to not be a member of Clark's coalition. Since terrorists could be called insurgents. Just more loony left 'nuancing.'

10/20/2005 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

Funny, I thought you were a bit of a stickler for correct usage and spelling, Adolf??

I guess not when it's inconvenient ...

10/20/2005 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

By the way, Blackdog, in his very reasonable comment, didn't mention Paintergate. I did.

So he (she?) at least is not a foolish person.

10/20/2005 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

I disagree Adolf. What Bruce did was beyond the pale. Just look at his articles where we can read:

Bruce says: "...."

And the ellipse is a complete quote from some article? Not once and not twice.

He claimed words as his own that were not. He claimed credit for paragraphs that were not his. He copied sources with attribution. This is a classic example of plagiarism.

Don't take my word. I went through the entire article, I checked most of the mentioned articles against CopyScape myself, and you cannot spin out of this.

10/20/2005 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger darren said...

The seriousness of the crime of plagiarism depends on the level it was done.
All journos rewrite press releases and often have their byline put by them.
Is this plagiarism? It is just a matter of what you change, what you add is new.
Yes, the Maxim chick was very silly and stupid and the Press was right in dumping her.
What Reenee Kiriona did at the Herald last year, taking chunks of a Waikato Times feature for an article she wrote, was also stupid.
But Kiriona did not get the sack.
As a journalist, I will often use information from several sources. Using it for background info is okay, but if you use an actual quote, or it reads quite similar, then you MUST attribute it.
The same should apply with columnists and bloggers.
If they read a comment from someone else, then for the sake of their integrity, it would help if they said "as so-and-so said."
However, you might innocently think the same thought and as long as you express it differently, that is fine.
As for obtaining a picture painted by someone else, and passing it off as your own work, yes, that is different.
Here was a deliberate fraud perpretrated by someone who should know better. Helen Clark was not having a bit of fun, she did not do it as a joke, she clearly set out to committ fraud.
And she is not some fresh-faced naive young journalist/writer.
Rightly or wrongly, people expect honesty from our PM, especially when she has made her own honesty such a big issue. Look at the start of the election campaign when she said it was about integrity.
Now, Paintergate, what Clark did there was she purely set out to decieive. It was a clear cut case of fraud. She was lying.
Now, you might recall Helen Clarke racing through the countryside saying she was too engrossed with her papers and with Jim Sutton to note she was speeding. However the police said she enjoyed the ride and described it as 'heroic."
Helen Clark gave details to the Sunday Star-Times about Doonegate, which she verified several times to the paper, even though what she said differed to the evidence she had read in the official reports, now published elsewhere on Sir Humphreys.
No doubt, there are other issues where the PM's honesty is lacking.
Plagiarism is a somewhat grey area. It depends on the amount of copying, fresh material and attribution.
However, what Clark did with Paintergate was somewhat black and white- a clear case of pre-meditated fraud.

10/20/2005 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, this is fun....watching the selfrighteous right try to justify the actions of a fraudster. Keep it up, guys, it's the best show in town!


10/20/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Fair points Adolf, in discussing the degrees of impact of plagiarism, where the ideas (whoever they are from) are the main point of the paper, and not who actually said them.

I thought Darren had a good summary.

However, in this specific case, whatever the point of the document(s), it was extremely unprofessional not to properly site references and sources, and some of the work looks to have literally been "cut and paste".

It would appear even the most average of blogs have adhered to a code of conduct to site references etc better than the person in question at the Maxim institute.

It also looks like he has paid the price - by resigning from the job, as he probably should.

However, this is a case where some guy gets caught out and resigns and yet the left are bleating on about Christian Right-wing conspiracies, and trying to make the issue bigger than badder.

As Darren explained, its not bigger and badder than Paintergate or Doone, but we will get more press about this story I am sure.

10/20/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

"bigger and badder", not "bigger than badder"

10/20/2005 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Cathy Odgers said...

I caught the little boogers copying me actually..


10/20/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

adolf..do you mean copyrighted phrases like 'bilious bitch..'(i borrowed it the other day..it so fitted thatcher..)

btw you really are having a go at defending the indefensible....eh..?

imagine if this had been a leftwing thinktank....and not just a bunch of bullshitting christians...

you'd have done a 'war and peace' on it..eh..?..righteous indignation would have rung from the rafters...

(but we all know you guys/gals only cover the news you like ...eh..?..:)


10/20/2005 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

phil why don't you go and read the post? I'm not sure that one actually was mine. It might have been but on reflection I think I pinched it too. I can lay claim to the Tailor's Dummy and The Cullender (nothing he say's holds water.)

I really couldn't care less about the two people. I do not know or care what or who the Maxim Institue is, I was unaware it was a so called 'Christian' think tank. I simply drew to the attention of dear readers, in my own charachteristicly forthright way, the incredible amount of spluttering over some minor infraction of etiquette and common sense.

And yes, of course I cover the news I like. It's my goddamned blog so bugger off if you don't like it.

10/20/2005 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the article in question had not been attacking Labour government policies, nobody would have known or cared about this. The fact that some hack was poring over this looking for a point of attack tells you that it was the words themselves, not the source, which bothered them the most.

10/20/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

It is a fair amount of spluttering over nothing, but its probably no different to some of the frothing that has occurred on the right as well.

I do object to quoting with reference, as this can often imply taking a quote out of context, especially when trying to hide something. Is it compulsory? Probably not in casual use, certainly is in academia. The reference is required to make the link back to the original document to understand the context from which it came - just like the way AL had a go at Jordan's Blair speech recently.

I would like to see much more referencing when politics is involved - it helps us to fact check and catch the bastards out. No wonder the left doesn't like referencing ;)

10/20/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

"I do object to quoting with reference" should be "I do object to quoting WITHOUT reference,"

Where is the edit button when you need one...

10/20/2005 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

I must say the NZ Herald article on this is pathetic. Those are just the two examples that aren't plagiarism. Heck, the two examples they mention are ones I use almost daily.

Stupid journos. All the work has been done for them and they pick the two examples any sane person would agree are not plagiarism.

10/20/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

"No wonder the left doesn't like referencing".

It's you guys defending plagiarism, not the left.

Personally I like (reference alert!) Miss Vile's take: "Plagiarism save time". She also has a neat modified Creative Commons logo reading "No Rights Reserved: Really. I Don't Give a Damn."


10/20/2005 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

"Its you guys defending plagiarism, not the left"

No I'm not.

What I hate is generalising. All of you on the left, without exception, over generalise, exaggerate, over-splutter and make it about the right whenever there is an issue you don't like.

Is that general enough for you Rob?

(Yes, I know what I said. It's being ironic.)

10/20/2005 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Rob O'Neill said...

Got it. Quite funny. 3/5. Oh, dammit, 4/5!

10/20/2005 06:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


they really are a christian rightwing thinktank..(their policy is to only hire people who are avowed christians).....this is partly why i found it so piquant...so does that come under the sin of thieving....or false pride..?

and it isn't just a couple of occaisons...suspicions have been strong for some time...and any written requests to maxim for references for their works were studiously ignored...

the whole edifice is built on bullshit...this maxim guy claiming to be this great rightwing mind..what a fucken joke..eh..?..the msm are really pissed about this...they have been running these exercises in plagiarism for years....well and truely sucked in....(and obviously not very widely read..:)

btw..why didn't you righties versed in the vernacular not pick up on shonky from maxim..?...didn't some of it seem familiar...or..shock /horror..you all do it all the time..?...going by the pooh-poohing by the usual suspects..a bit of plagiarism with your fish and chips goes down a treat..eh..?

methinks it could be a good idea for maxim to pack their tent and steal away into that long night....any credibility they may have had is in tatters...(..it's called 'doing a maxim'..outrageous stealing of others ideas/writings, and claiming them as your own..)

btw adolf...i did a masters..it is ingrained in me to provide references/sources whenever applicable...(that's why i source every story i do..:)

btw adolf..not questioning your right to write what you like...just commenting on what you write..:)


10/20/2005 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

phil, wat about that woman who signed a painting? Any credibility left?? Has quit???

And how about all the other convicts in this cabinet????

10/20/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wounder when AL will havet o step in here and save the Sir Humphreys clowns yet again

10/20/2005 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anonymour, If I were you I wouldn't hang around too long woundering.

10/20/2005 08:24:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Anon. We are not claiming Phil as a Sir Humphrey's clown. We are not going to save him either. I suspect he is beyond redemption.

But, nice side-compliment. I'm sure AL appreciates that a mere comment from AL will save any clowns within a 100 blog radius. Re-read his Doone posts, it'll make you feel better.

Rob, thanks for the 4. Probably the 3 was about right, but maybe a point for the undercurrent of righteous anger?

I also forget to mention I enjoyed Ms Vile's "No rights reserved. Really. I don't give a damn." But I note she came perilously close to having to reference Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. Really, the cheek.

10/20/2005 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger maksimovich said...

Plagrism Today nine to noon moved into its second day of the maxim institute and its plagarism.Bringing forth its usual selected band of nobodies to comment about plagrism and its issues on blogs etc.

Whilst researching its website for another link what appeared but this link http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/bulletins/radionz/200510210913/3857f961

I had already read this nearly identical article on the BBC here http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4358902.stm

Naughty naughty no reference provided and even claiming copyright,

10/21/2005 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger francis said...

It's the form language takes in expressing an idea that's at issue in plagiarism and lifting from press releases is an understood step in the custody chain of language, but one that usually involves citing source in some way (eg, according to Microsoft). Stealing the ideas expressed is an entirely different sort of dishonesty. The problem here seems to be mostly that they sold articles -- containing large blocks of unattributed language -- for publication. That is, they sold language they didn't own. Plagiarism in an academic setting seems to me a different thing because one important test of an author's grasp of an idea is the capable expression of it. Passing a thesis that's full of copied, unattributed text, for example, may mean that the author skated through without having satisfied the threshold of demonstrated comprehension. Of course, defending your thesis is supposed to take care of that, provided it is a rigorous defense.

10/21/2005 12:42:00 PM  

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