However, when you copy/use facts, you wade into hot water if you also copy the structure and the way those facts were originally expressed. The original TNW article shown here seems to step over that line with a barely masked copy of the original paragraphs.
What bothers me more, though, is that seemingly a CEO of a media organization has failed to do any damage control based around a genuine grievance (that wasn't even aggressively delivered). Saying things like "think it's pretty ridiculous that you're even getting the slightest bit annoyed about this", "needless to say, we'll be staying well clear of anything ur involved with in future for fear of ridiculous reaction" and using "u do realise that about 50% of all publications is content sourced from other publications right?" as a sort of defence is a horrible PR line for a proprietor to play, even if that's his honest opinion.
In fact, he said on twitter: " I don’t have any problem with you sharing my post. By all means! But the last two paragraphs were barely rewritten." (https://twitter.com/#!/endtwist/status/202089166975148033)
Sadly now, we should expect the classic "Oh crap, this story hit the top of HN, so here's a half-assed reactionary apology to try to save face" tactic that we've all seen before, which is incredibly lame.
Had he not been, for lack of a better term, such a defensive prick initially, and more upfront (or at least professional, you're the CEO for crying out loud) that would have been much better.
I learned this in my freshman year in college, this is so basic that an "editor" cannot claim ignorance of these rules.
Plagiarism In 1918
Looks awfully similar to Plagiarism in 2012.
Wonder if an average theft or rapist should be walking around with recent statistics of population being behind bars and why it should be ok to steal or rape.
(To be honest, I got this link from wikipedia :)
You would still have to cite your sources, even if you copy the data. And any annotations are not part of the dataset. These annotations would ble equivalent to the article text, which was copied pretty much word for word.
Here in Norway they would expel you from all higher education for a minimum of 12 months for such plagiarism.
This policy is good for customers (so they can avoid your products) good for investors (so they can avoid investing in your company) and good for prospective employees (so they can not).
 Not that brutal honesty is always a cop-out, mind you.
It obviously has some keen similarities to your situation (particularly in the "editor's response" department).
While I'm a fan of fair use (it's what makes the world wide web go round), I'm also a fan of attribution...and more importantly, of handling PR like someone who's the public face of a company. I think the responses here on HN show that most of us think similarly.
All I get from this comment is that you basically don't give a shit, which also means you really should not be an editor as that role is entirely about accepting responsibility for what gets published.
Have you been taking notes from the tabloids by any chance?
If you have you had better have the bank balance to back the attitude because that is the only way they get away with this kind of shit while still remaining in business.
TheNextWeb is infamous for plagiarizing images for that section. Take this article, for example: http://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2011/05/23/stylish-techno...
The image at the top of the article is taken from this Dustin Curtis blog post: http://www.dustincurtis.com/press_on.html (the filename of the image is even Screen-shot-2011-07-10-at-12.08.40-PM-520x245.png). There is no reference to Dustin Curtis's blog at all on the page, either.
It is ridiculous that they find repeatedly doing this to be acceptable.
You should credit @dexterous for screenshot used @ http://thenextweb.com/in/2012/05/03/indian-isps-reportedly-blocking-access-to-vimeo-and-some-torrent-sites/ Citation: http://twitpic.com/9gr7y9 https://twitter.com/#!/dexterous/status/198036547830947841
I did not see the tweet from Dhananjay, and never got an email or anything else about it. Now that I have seen it, I have credited my source, as I always attempt to do.
Compare that to zeedotme's ...
...which just feels sleazy.
If it does, and it really shouldn't have beyond a year ago (when we really clamped down on it with our authors)... we fix it.
If it ever does happen, I assure you that all it takes is one email to email@example.com and we'll have it resolved.
But I assure you that this "care free" image you might have of us when it comes to posting other peoples images just isn't reality.
> If it ever does happen, I assure you that all it takes is one email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll have it resolved.
I'm sure it does. But the point is that you should ensure through process and not through policy that you do not end up with other people's stuff on your site without attribution or compensation.
The fact that you'll take it down to avoid further damage is not enough to put you in the clear, this is not 'user generated content', these are people with who you have a relationship where you have them create works on your behalf.
One way in which you could do this - consult your local legal eagle - is to ask your authors to sign a release stating that they are the original creators of all the content they submit, and that they are within their rights to re-sell this content to you.
From his public "apology":
"The debate on paraphrasing, rewriting and quoting we should save for another post."
Zee: THAT'S THE PLAGIARISM PART.
That does not parse but I think you're confusing aggressively with actively and proactively with defensively.
All at once. And you look pretty silly in the process.
Just apologize to the guy, make sure you'll never do it again.
As long as you keep spinning this will make you look worse and worse.
It's obvious that you don't have a process in place because then this would not happen.
This was not unintentional, there is 0 chance of that.
Nobody copies a chunk of text like that unintentional, nobody behaves like you did in this thread and elsewhere unintentional.
The cover-up is worse than the crime, if you had been a responsible adult about this in the first place it would have gone away long ago.
It was dumb. Only you can stop it.
1) Don't do it;
2) If it occurs, fire the guy who did it;
3) Apologize and try to make it right;
4) Shut up.
You seem to find each one of those steps challenging.
Zee, everyone can see the online record, which shows you plagiarized Joshua Gross, publicly threatened him on Twitter, and then publicly denied plagiarizing him.
And you're still not apologizing?
I DO NOT think that down-voting relevant content we don't agree with is a good idea. Do you agree with me?
I understand that HN allows downvotes of disagreement, even though in this case it buries the most relevant information.
To stay on topic I can't believe the guy still hasn't apologized. Judging by his attitude and replies he's probably too busy self-rationalizing about how he's right and if everyone else wasn't an idiot we would all agree with him.
Downvoting also has the effect of lowering the comment's position relative to other replies. No matter the color, the comment will appear below someone who gets a higher score, even though I can't imagine a more relevant comment than from the guy this entire thread (and post) is really centered around.
Zee's 'punishment' shouldn't come in the form of mass downvoting and censorship. His punishment should be publicity. Let the community see what he has to say and judge his actions, not his comments.
Anyone who wants to read his words still can.
Also, according to pg, it is and always has been perfectly fine to downvote people for disagreement:
But I also feel that the main insights of your posts were not your own. They were that of the NY Times reporter Michael M. Grynbaum. That is, I feel the main insight of your post were two things: the doubling of tips, and the attribution of this to the buttons on the credit-card machine. Your contribution was to look up a few other stats to get the $144 million figure.
In fact it's not a secret at all since New Yorkers and those visiting the city are quite acquainted with the system, it's no secret, so I am not sure Mr. Grynbaum is a reasonable original source of information about the system, millions who have taken a
taxi are reasonable sources.
Worth mentioning is the article on the usability blog from which Mr. Gross hotlinked his image of the interface, dating back to February 2011:
Their reaction was similar to many others, that a design that forces a minimum tip of 20% is an annoying dodgy system for forcible shakedowns of hapless credit card customers, and sure to enrage many people.
GoodExperience's blog's conclusion was nearly the opposite of Mr. Gross's:
> The lesson: details matter. One change to one button in the interface changes the experience from delightful to annoying, leaving the rider feeling taken advantage of.
The cab customers are the victims here, they are in essence a captive audience who can not seek competition since the system has been dictated system wide by the same government that profits well from the system since it prevents drivers from underreporting tips.
Mr. Gross's original contribution was to point out that by looking at this from the viewpoint not of the customer, but of the business and the government, the system was a success as it has resulted in much profit for them.
Mr. Gross published this yesterday, on May 13, 2012. TheNextWeb published their "article" a few hours after Gross's article reached high on Hacker News. This is likely where Harrison and Zee became aware of it as it seems they are readers of HN. Harrison's article was then published today, May 14th.
None of the previous articles about the system bring up Mr. Gross's main points, that the design of the system has the advantage of increasing profits for the business.
Not stated but worth discussing is that it only works because there is a captive audience with no other choices who do not discover their tipping options are so limited until they go to pay at the end of the ride. These issues would make interesting discussions for even more articles. Perhaps TNW could have even written one. Instead they copied an article, stole it, because I have personally compared the articles word by word and found that it is a LIE to say TNW published original content or that the article was truly written by Harrison.
Under Fair Use I am now citing BOTH for comparison lest there be any doubt.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE BY JOSHUA GROSS:
> The average New York City taxi cab driver makes $90,747 in revenue per year. There are roughly 13,267 cabs in the city. In 2007, NYC forced cab drivers to begin taking credit cards, which involved installing a touch screen system for payment.
> During payment, the user is presented with three default buttons for tipping: 20%, 25%, and 30%. When cabs were cash only, the average tip was roughly 10%. After the introduction of this system, the tip percentage jumped to 22%.
HARRISON WEBER's ALLEGED ORIGINAL CONTENT, DEFENDED AS ORIGINAL BY ZEE KANE:
> The average New York City taxi driver makes $90,747 in gross revenue per year (less some hefty operating expenses). In 2007, NYC required cab drivers to begin accepting cards, which involved installing a touch screen system for payment in all ~13,267 cars.
> During payment, users are shown three default buttons for tipping: 20%, 25% and 30%. Back when cabs were cash-only, the average tip was around a modest 10%. But since this system was introduced system, the average tipping percentage jumped to 22%.
Who here will respond to this post and claim that Harrison Weber is not an unrepentant plagiarist and Zee Kane his belligerent defender? Speak now.
Although Mr Gross did not hotlink the image. Notice the images locations and file types are different.
At the end, Zee says he'll steer clear of the original author's work for fear of ridiculous accusations as if to say "you should be happy that we plagiarized you, now we'll punish you by never flattering you with another plagiarized article again".
He couldn't have made it any clearer that he was the author of the original after a complaint.
You can't even play devils advocate on this one. TNW is so deep into "wrong" territory that nothing short of removing the entire post and replacing it was an admission of plagiarism will redeem them in my eyes.
I'm making a separate point, that the contribution of the article in question is minor. And that, combined with the level of outrage, just makes me a bit uneasy.
Very insightful comment. I don't think they should delete it at this point though which would be covering up what they did at this point.
As far as what to do about this, word for word plagiarism that is barely altered so that it's technically not an exact word search isn't a mistake or momentary slip up by a paid author/journalist/blogger, it's overt plagiarism and fraud. There is absolutely no other thing to be done when it is found but to openly and publicly FIRE the fake "author" who stole another person's work, and issue a public apology to the true author.
That would have resolved it and enabled this company to save face and appear on the up and up.
The handling by the CEO was so abysmal and so wrong here though that it destroyed the entire reputation of the site. His continuing to trying to spin and lie is just an embarrassment to himself, his reputation is ruined.
As far as whoever owns this company, at this point the only thing they could possibly do to recover at all is to fire both the CEO and the plagiarist and issue a public, heartfelt, sincere apology.
Note that what I was concerned about was not respectful excerpting: for a time, they were scraping every HN comment related to their links back to their site, without permission/notification to authors, without threading, with NOFOLLOW.
To be fair, Huffington Post, Mashable, etc, do the same thing.
Zee from TNW here.
Someone has to explain to me exactly what we should have done differently here.
I honestly have absolutely no idea what we should have done differently here to illustrate an interesting fact with our readers and reference the original source (we did that twice in the article...even with his full name (a screenshot of which he conveniently didn't include in his post))...and still he comes out guns blazing like he wrote a full-on opinion piece and we decided to just copy/paste.
We work immensely had to product original content as well as link to original sources when deserved...this case was absolutely no different.
I'm honestly amazed that this is crawling up Hacker News quite frankly.
We need more naming and shaming.
Mr. Gross did original research and wrote an article of interest to people. Your person stole his research and content, initially without attribution according to him, and including "nearly word-for-word" citations. This is plagiarism and theft. When you were very politely called out about this by Mr. Gross, you did not apologize, instead you stated you would punish him by "staying well clear of anything ur involved with in future", and then lied by saying that his findings were not all original research, lied that your site was not copying his content, and in general justified your organization's wrong actions.
Now if you had apologized and handled it reasonably that would be one thing. But your insulting and unreasonable response to him shows what sort of person you and the people who work for you are. Liars and thieves. A proven fact as demonstrated by your outrageous, offensive and insulting comments towards Mr. Gross.
I'll give it a shot. What you should have done, in my opinion, is just provide a link alongside a one-line summary, along the lines of "Here's an article we found fascinating."
If the article you are writing is based on a single source, it's not an article-- it's a paraphrase.
so, which was this? It was more than a link, but it surely doesn't qualify as "original content" by any stretch of the imagination.
If they had bothered to paraphrase, it would have been much better. They didn't - they just copied.
I'm looking at this now: http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2012/05/14/how-3-simple-but...
You reproduced everything he said. If I saw your post only, I would assume that what I was reading were Harrison Weber's words paraphrasing Joshua Gross. Instead, it is what Gross said. And not even in quotations.
So what should you do? After the original text by Weber, post a title and a link to Gross' post. That's it.
Oh, and your Twitter response was laughably immature to me.
That is what put it over the top for me. The astonishingly lazy copying was bad enough, but feeling entitled about it is shocking.
Here's the thing -- people linked from sites like TNW report little to no traffic (which, of course, is wholly the intention of sites like TNW -- they don't want the eyeballs leaving). Quite the opposite, in fact, because this blogspam (is it anything but? Was there anything of value added?) steals traffic and linklove that would have gone to the usurped.
TNW: Drop the laughable notion that you're doing anyone a favour when you steal their content. It sells to no one. Good content will find its way atop the social news sites quickly, and all you're doing is getting in the way and trying to steal off some of the traffic of other people's work.
Feels like this guy is trolling every single one of us here - myself included - to get a reaction.
In other words, attribution does not save you from plagiarism.
I don't see him as a troll. I see him as a guy who posted something he put a lot of effort into and ended up having his work reposted without even being justly credited. He has every right to be upset and share his story, and people deserve to know this.
P.S. Just stop with the Tweets, it's embarrassing not only you, but the publication you represent.
Either the text should have been created independently, or it should have been made clear that it was a direct quote (fair use) from Gross.
You should have learned why this was wrong in high school.
Obviously you could have done more: reference him right from the start, not only after he made a stink about you copy-pasting his material verbatim. Timing matters, earlier is more.
This is unless he's lying that you did it only after the fact. Care to explain this point? Edit: I see you already did elsewhere in this tread.
Wow, just wow. This just crossed the bullshit horizon.
Completely despicable. Added TNW to my hosts file.
Completely frank and sincere feedback:
1. The two paragraphs taken from the source should have been block-quoted
2. The first paragraph of the story should have established source
3. The first link should have been to the source, not your own blog
4. The links used to backup the story should have been part of the blockquote or via'd
5. Misuse of 'via'. You didn't find the story 'via' Joshua, rather Joshua's post was the story
or options 2:
1. You realize that this is an interesting story for your audience, you check the license of the story and if it is permissible you republish it on your blog with Joshua as the author and a link back to the original
1. Have an editor check every post before it is published for fair attribution. It is common that a single person can miss an attribution in 1 out of 100 cases, but with two people checking that becomes 1 in 10,000.
2. Re-publish stories that you think may be interesting for your audience rather than re-blogging and wrapping them
3. Circulate something internally about standards of attribution and perhaps also publish a page about it on your blog with a contact email address if any problems arise.
4. Respond to criticism better, the customer is always right etc.
It is cases like this that cause the media to constantly deride blogs. I really think you should take a step back and re-evaluate your response to this, and I say that in all honesty, complete sincerity and with absolutely no disrespect (there are writers at TNW whose work I follow and enjoy and I have been a long time reader).
Keep in mind we're not paying for TNW - we're not "the customer".
(Having said that, without rewarding this poor behaviour with any more pageviews than necessary, it's not clear to me who _is_ paying TNW - I wonder if that 'cause their advertising roster is empty, or just 'cause they've geo-targeted me as being from the wrong side of the planet for their advertisers?)
You answered your own question.
Also, your reaction to the original author via your public tweets was incredibly unprofessional. If you want to respond with such toxic language, you should so do via a private email. You're the face, the vision, the voice of TNW and I now associate your rude remarks with TNW as a whole.
Zee, let me tell you something. When you lie, do not lie in a way that can be disproven by math. I mean, it was easy, so easy for me to take five minutes to plug in the article text to a difference calculator and find the result. And here's the outcome:
There is a 58.632778264680105% difference between Unwieldy's article and TheNextWeb's (41.367221735319895.% similar).
If you remove the intro from TheNextWeb's article, there is a 28.213166144200624% difference between Unwieldy's article and TheNextWeb's (71.78683385579937.% similar).
First, here are the articles I compared (text only, line breaks removed): http://notes.unwieldy.net/post/23049725899/plagiarism and http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2012/05/14/how-3-simple-but...
Here's the code I used: http://ideone.com/BdNk2 (Java)
Here's the code I used to calculate the Levenshtein distance: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Algorithm_Implementation/String...
And here's the technique I used to calculate the Levenshtein difference percentage (thanks to Alex Martelli): http://stackoverflow.com/questions/3106994/algorithm-to-calc...
Now, what could you have done? You could actually admit there was no way you could produce "original content" from copying the original article unless you did actual research beyond what Joshua Gross found. You could merely post a link to the article and say, "This is cool. Check this out." And third, you could be nice on Twitter to the author you shamelessly ripped off. My god, when I can show 41% of your article to be the same as another, the least you should do is be 41% classy about it.
Nice work on the distance calculation, I think you've just figured out a way to create a blogspam detector, if an article is linked from a newer article and there is a > X% (with X somewhere in the neighbourhood of 45%) or so similarity then it is blogspam.
Exactly, and the algorithm used is, as I said, attributed to Levenshtein. Expressing it as a ratio is hardly novel.
As for the implementation, Alex Martelli credit's Stavros Korokithakis, although Lev implementations are 2-a-penny, and this isn't a particularly good one (sorry Stavros).
I cited Levenshtein by name in my original comment. I'm guessing you didn't read everything what I wrote, because I don't understand why you would think there's an issue otherwise.
> Expressing it as a ratio is hardly novel.
The whole reason I linked to Alex Martelli's post is because it's his work, not mine, novel or otherwise. I just cited the resourced I used.
This is just another one of those, "A young CEO with too much balls and not enough brains shoots his mouth off, revealing to all that he is not a Good Person." Of course, CEOs not being Good People is nothing new, but the refusal to even try to pretend to be one is something that I think really angers people.
"I honestly absolutely no idea what we should have done differently"
"We work immensely had to product original content"
Writers write so much that their fear of shipping their writing is diminished through practice, so they write, ship, write, ship, write, ship. They're in creative mode, just putting words on the paper. They're busy, so they go quickly, so that they can get more done. They know that when it matters, they can copyedit—or have someone else proofread.
On the other hand, there are those of us who will spend an extra 5 minutes on every comment we post looking over it out of perfectionism or OCD or fear of the inevitable, "You sound like a moron" comment later in the thread.
I've taken to really admiring the type-type-type get a million emails/comments/tweets/posts out a day style.
Move fast and break things. Edit later.
I think when you have such a high profile and mass visibility, the bar for quality is raised higher (or should be), even in the context of speed posting and scoops. Your product influences a generation that is sadly forgetting and ignoring the value of proper grammar.
What if time("go quickly... get more done") + time(fixing "[broken] things") > time("spend an extra 5 minutes")?
> I've taken to really admiring the type-type-type get a million emails/comments/tweets/posts out a day style.
I can't tolerate this style. In my experience, the type-type-type individuals often express their ideas in unclear ways.
Measure twice, cut once. I proudly spent 6 minutes writing this reply.
"Move fast and break things. Edit later." Perfect.
The prolbem ocrcus wehn exprsesd tghins are had to undrestnad, or the idaes pooryl tghought out.
I'm not saying people won't notice there's something wrong with what you wrote. They will. But they'll be able to understand you perfectly despite that.
Ironically, you can't edit posts on Facebook.
I prescribe a copy of Strunk and White with a healthy dose of proofreading.
1) You post an article which includes several facts that are taken directly from Joshua's article. No credit is given to the original author.
2) Joshua publicly calls you out on this.
3) You quickly edit in a credit and a link to the original article.
4) With the awareness that future readers will see this credit and assume that Joshua is making an unfounded complaint, you send a series of aggressive tweets attacking him for bringing this issue up.
Now, it's possible that this isn't an accurate timeline, and now would be a good time for you to clarify what happened. But understand that the issue here isn't (entirely) the fact that you paraphrased another person's article; it's that it looks like you didn't give him credit, acted very deceptively to conceal that fact and save face, and that you did so in a particularly childish way.
Since you asked:
Ask the original author if it would be ok to include his contribution in your derived work.
> I honestly  absolutely no idea what we should have done differently here to illustrate an interesting fact with our readers and reference the original source (we did that twice in the article...even with his full name (a screenshot of which he conveniently didn't include in his post))...and still he comes out guns blazing like he wrote a full-on opinion piece and we decided to just copy/paste.
Crediting someone does not automatically give you the right to copy their work without their permission. That's a misplaced sense of entitlement, and one I would definitely not accept from a site with the visibility of TNW.
Would it be ok with you if I copied TNW and linked back to your pages to credit you? No? Why not? Where would you draw the line of what is acceptable and what is not?
Oh, and you did just copy/paste.
> We work immensely ha[r]d to product original content
So don't cut-and-paste interesting bits you find on the web.
> I'm honestly amazed that this is crawling up Hacker News quite frankly.
The Next Web is featured on HN quite frequently, so it is logical that any criticism of your website would feature here as well. And I wouldn't call it crawling, you've got top billing.
I'm honestly amazed that you did this, and how utterly wrong your stance is. For a person associated with a publication I would expect a much higher level of knowledge of things like 'how to cite' and 'how to attribute' and maybe a dash of copyright 101. How hard is it to ask someone if you can use their stuff? Just ask, worst case they'll say no and then you can always simply link to them to make your point. It's not like he's suing you for $125K per copy, he's just upset that you didn't have the common courtesy to ask.
The fact that people usually are not upset and that people don't care does not change a thing with respect to what's right or not and asking is the normal thing to do.
I've had my content cut-and-pasted so often that I no longer care but it seems to me that if you want to write original content you should simply write rather than try to pick up which bits are trending on certain websites to re-package those for a larger audience. Besides the fact that it does not say much for how you produce your content it also shows that you don't even bother to do your own fact checking. You could easily be set up to parrot incorrect data like this.
Do your own homework, write your own text supported by facts that you have researched yourself and cite your sources. That is original content.
I never understood the appeal of the TNW. Of the articles that did make it to the HN front page that I've seen, I've always thought the quality of the TNW's content was quite low. So I guess what's transpired today is not much of a surprise to me.
Funny that such basics have to be taught to a CEO of a technology blog.
The board should vote him out _immediately_
One of your employees fucked up in the first place, and then you made it worse by not admitting what happened was wrong and apologizing. Had you done so, that would have been the end of it. But now here you are.
Being an observant in this web-publishing business for a short while, and speaking only from limited experience, I've witnessed some unfavorable twitter posts in regards to content and how an editorial team treats them. They look into the problem and validate, devise a response through consensus that they deem adequate and one person on the team reaches out and tries to make right.
In Zee's case, it appears that he decided that he "had this one" and went the bully route. That's too bad because since he picked such a great Twitter handle, this clown is going to be hard to forget.
As for credit - one of you is lying. He explicitly claims no link back was provided in te original post, while you explicitly claim there was. So... Which is it?
When I wrote a post that LifeHacker was interested in posting, they asked first about "republishing". When I said they could link with an excerpt but not do a whole-sale repost, they respected my decision.
That being said, I don't think this particular article is that egregious. TNW nearly doubled the word count, so it's not a one-liner + copy/paste job. It's certainly not as bad as other sites I've seen that will masquerade as if the author originally posted the story to their site or not link at all.
As others have said, you should have either copied the paragraphs exactly and put them in quotes (with attribution), or you should have written up an entirely original rundown using only the facts to guide you.
What's amazing is that you don't understand why people would find this to be shady, unethical behavior.
Edit. Oi, I'm not saying TNW is in the right, people. Just pointing out something that their CEO seems to have missed.
I agree, that would have been better.
However, calling us out for plagiarism does feel far too extreme when the updated piece clearly states the source of the facts. The original piece only included links without a name and that I agree is 100% wrong. I hadn't seen that original piece before we were called out on twitter and my reactions were clearly based on immediate emotions...never a good time to reply.
Again, will put all this into a single post soon.
If you as CEO have so little common sense that you don't even know what plagiarism is, then you need to step down quickly before you open your company up to lawsuits against people who actuallY DO have the money and the time to pursue a suit.
Your threats afterward made things worse - much worse. Not understanding plagiarism (go look up the dictionary, or Wikipedia already!) whilst being an edito of a publication just makes this bad thing horrendous.
Make a full apology. Don't do it again.
In this case, it's not like there was a ton of content in the first place, but by copying all of it (including the picture) you essentially gave the reader no reason to go back to the original source.
If you're an aggregator, then the thing to bring to your readers' attentions is the link to the original blog post. That way you drive traffic to the original content. For good examples of what this looks like, see Hacker News or Techmeme, or any of John Gruber's link posts on Daring Fireball.
If you're a publication, and it seems to me that you're positioning yourself that way, then write your own original stuff. You can still play off stories like this, but the way to do it is to extend the story with your own original reporting. Interview cab drivers about it. Dig out the story of how those buttons got into that interface. Who decided to put them there? Who build the software? Who designed the interface? In other words, add value.
For me, it's caught red-handed and trying to stay out of legal hot water. If I thought highly of you, I'd wish you best of luck.
"I honestly absolutely no idea…"
"work immensely had to product"
At any rate, I don't see any reason to expect perfect prose in an informal context like a comment thread. As long as you're understandable, what do you gain from spending more time on nit-picky details?
Slow down just a bit and read it over before you post. You'll still make mistakes, but not in every other post.
I don't require perfection, just competence. If you don't care enough about your output to make it easily understandable (I don't have to put effort into deciphering your words), why should I care about it?
Nobody's perfect. I make mistakes like this all the time, and I'm a professional editor. It's not incompetence — I simply don't have the time to carefully reread, spellcheck and grammar-check everything I write to make sure it's all flawless. And I know many intelligent people who make more mistakes than I do. So when I see somebody get called on a typo, but it's perfectly clear what they were saying in spite of the typo, I find it a bit petty.
I guess I hold myself to a higher standard than you do. I have old-fashioned ideas. Writers should be competent enough in the fundamentals that even their informal remarks meet a certain standard of composition. When you are a good writer, you put the same level of care into your work regardless of the purpose. Quite frankly, a writer who thinks, "The editor will catch it," doesn't deserve to be paid for the job. It's bad craft.
I go by Michele -- with one L. It is my actual middle name. People routinely misspell it with two L's. Sometimes they realize it and apologize for the error. I have found that how someone reacts to being told it is one L says a lot about their character. Decent people are quick to offer sincere apologies. Assholes are quick to use it as a new excuse to piss all over me and make fun of me.
What should have been done differently is the original article read, notes taken, and then observations made and the original article linked to. Had someone re-written this from a blank screen, it would not have ended up so structurally similar and looked plagiarized.
For example, .NET magazine covered one of our blog posts:
We were very happy they did this, and they did it in a very upfront and honest way. I didn't get that same feeling from your coverage of the OP's original article.
Blogs quote other blogs all the time. But they make it look like a quote. Usually indented, offset, quoted, in italics, etc - with a prominent link to the source article. It's a small formatting detail but it has huge implications - it sends a clear signal that is immune to any plagiarism claims - "this is not our content but, dear reader, we still think it's worth your attention".
Also the twitter response is pitiful. Even if you're convinced that you've done nothing wrong that does nothing to change the fact that the original author feels slighted. Telling him that he's shouldn't feel aggrieved does nothing to fix the situation.
A simple apology along with an edit to the TNW article to clear up any attribution issues would have solved a small problem and prevented it from exploding into a mini-scandal.
But even so, in no case whatsoever behave like you did on twitter. That was not only unprofessional but full-on juvenile. Just look at what you wrote on twitter vs. what he wrote.
hey Zee no worries about it! Most psychos don't see anything wrong with what they did; it is the judge who puts them behind bars for a life (or gives electric chair) who is the bad guy!
Hopefully your stupid behavior will get enough publicity that soon you will share CEO Thompson's fate.
Obviously there are things your writer (Harrison Weber) could have done differently:
1) include the attribution and link at the outset
2) either provide true quotes or true rewrites, rather than slight paraphrases of the original text
And you yourself could have behaved differently as well:
3) when challenged, be friendly, even if you are (or appear to be) in the right. Summarize what you're seeing and then ask a question, instead of making accusations or insulting Joshua.
If your first tweet had instead said "we cited you as a source, which is standard procedure. Is there something else that's bothering you?" and then you waited for a response, you'd have given Joshua an opportunity to clarify his stance regarding the ninja edit, and you'd have given yourself an opportunity to apologize on behalf of your writer for the initial mistake.
Even if you had been right and everything had been sourced correctly from the start, a friendly stance and a few kind words would have done wonders. Consider this exchange: "...is there something else that's bothering you?" "Your wording in paragraph X is very similar to mine" "I've turned it into a direct quote. Does that resolve the issue?" With the issue resolved and no insults thrown around, Joshua would have had no reason to escalate, and instead of reading about plagiarism, the HN audience might be reading an article about conflict resolution, with your behavior put forth as a shining positive example.
Since he had the screenshots, your posts all come off as dishonest (which they obviously are).
Your attempt to bully the original author on Twitter looks bad too.
I think every comment you make is digging a deeper hole for you. Odds are you will be forced to resign over this.
> Zee Kane: "he [Mr. Gross] doesn't have screenshots of the whole article…You don't that's pretty sly?"
It is clear this is highly disingenuous argument and a false implication that Mr. Gross's screenshots misrepresent the situation. This is a carefully constructed and extremely dishonest (because it's false) attempt to attack Mr. Gross's credibility, which is blatantly being done in bad faith.
In addition to this attack, elsewhere on this thread here at HN, Mr. Zane, after all this went down and he knows what really happened, accuses Mr. Gross of being a troll:
> Zee Kane: "Feels like this guy [Mr. Gross] is trolling every single one of us here - myself included - to get a reaction."
This leads one to speculate whether what he then calls an "apology", posted as a bit.ly link at http://bit.ly/JxoWae which then redirects to an obscure Google doc link rather than on his own web site, is sincere.
See how that gets the users to clickthrough?
Instead of taking the premise of a popular article to raise pageviews on your site. It should have never said "by HARRISON WEBER"
Rewriting an article on a proven subject doesn't count as producing original content.
Well, besides writing an original content or asking the original author for permission to republish the article:
1. Don't copy an article word for word. Change the words and the structure.
2. Once caught, don't back-paddle and be defensive. Apologize.
This may be an indicator that you're in the wrong. Just a thought.
C'mon, it's never been pointed out that you're kind of a douche? Seriously, never?
1) Person writes about something out of passion and posts it for free (the blog carries no ads)
2) Person who gets paid to write reads it, has no record of ever writing about that topic before, and then does his/her own take -- hitting all the same key points (including using quotes from others that were in the original post) making him/her look like a thinker.
3) Original person is never cited, never acknowledged, while paid person merrily collects paycheck for "work."
Having experienced it firsthand, I at least know several people never to take seriously as "thinkers" ever again.
Didn't we conclude yesterday that there was a fundamental flaw in the original author's assumptions in how tips get reported and preliminary evidence suggests Taxi drivers are now making less?
Now that a major tech publication has picked up the story it may legitimately be cited as fact in a Wikipedia article.
Now that a major tech publication has picked up the story it will probably also go as an unquestioned anecdote in a thousand VC pitches.
1) Find (false) fact on Wikipedia.
2) Include fact in your important paper (journal, etc)
3) Fact is found on wikipedia to be false, and is removed
4) Fact is later found in your journal, and is then added to Wikipedia with a reference to your important findings.
5) Fact cannot be removed because it was been referenced from a journal
6) Since the fact is attributed to your journal, it is only relevant to document what your journal says. Wikipedia article gets updated to reflect the fact your journal is wrong.
It's sad to see HN starting to vote up AOL, Gawker etc crap, and it's sad to see other blogs adopting that model because it works so well.
I would never allow a post at interchangeproject.org to have that sloppy of citations, nor would I allow someone to write there very long if this is what they consider proper attribution. Is it plagiarism? I don't know about that, but the attribution in that post is appalling.
The post is so close to the original that it should have just been one giant block quote. That's not journalism.
This is unfortunately a way of life for many of the larger tech sites, and will be until they adapt or suffer their inevitable faith.
For every one person who linked up my Android vs Condom post (which went hyper-viral), 10 more stole the images and put in a tiny gray on white text link somewhere at the bottom of the post. And these weren't no name sites, they were big 200K+ reader sorta sites.
There are a small number of respectable people who link to a site with the genuine intention of sending traffic its way (Daringfireball would be one of them). The remainder do their absolute best to hide it, as you noted, some only do it when called out.
Let me get this straight: you're telling us the lesson you've learned is to not respond when emotional? You're posting this as a read-only Google Docs? As a CEO of a major tech publication? Seriously? Wow.
Wow, after all the drama you still don't get it. Lesson learned should have been: do not copy/paste, especially to such a degree where a majority of your "content" is actually not yours.
Yeah, well, after reading his responses here, I wouldn't go with that word, but rather with another one that starts with in - and ends with competent.
As for the comment "The debate on paraphrasing, rewriting and quoting we should save for another post" shows a remarkable level of cluelessness. That is the substance of the matter!!!
I can't even say that the title is not an attempt at dissembling. Making the title "Plagiarism?" indicates that you don't believe you plagiarised.
This is the worst non-apology apology I've ever seen.
And you learned the wrong lesson.
TheNextWeb usually has plenty of good, timely posts and it'd be a shame to consider it sullied so I, and hopefully others, hope some good can come out of this drama long term. (I've been in the role of editor and got the blame for sloppy fact-checking by one of my charges; it definitely helped me get my eye back on the ball :-))
I think you learned a hard lesson here, but it's one that many of us had to learn the hard way. It's good to see an apology.
After reading the response I feel he was avoiding giving a proper apology. Only thing he apologizes is that he didn't have all the information at first, which is a kind of non-apology.
Edit: oops. it appears Joshua's original article does credit the image (via subtle link "title") and links it back to the source article. However, that is a pretty subtle way to cite a source, IMO. The TNW article gives no credit for the image at all.
All of that said, I tweeted them about my article  (nothing accusative, just a sort of "hey, check out my similar article from eight months ago for a little more insight." They tweeted back something equally civil and added a link to their article  within a minute.
Anyway, that's a great way to handle such a situation, in my opinion.
Make it public on front page of TNW.com
Nobody likes plagiarism, but an interesting nugget emerged this week. Poynter reported on a Fast Company blogger who said that he meant to steal from someone else when he was accused of plagiarism.
Author Josh Linkner was busted for stealing the opening lines of a blog post by Chris Dixon. Now, Linkner did respond on Twitter and moves were made to amend the ‘mistake’, but the comment he posted to explain/justify the non-attributed use of someone else’s text sounded a little…schoolboy-ish – he said a friend had sent him the excerpt. So let’s assume a friend did send him the excerpt…why wasn’t it attributed to him?
We’ll let you decide what really happened…"
Not the same thing as what happened here but I can relate to the situation. I think it is generally getting tough to avoid, given the sheer volume of material going up on the web.
See? Fixed. Easy.
Would that have been fair use? While a significant minority of people would say "No", I'm in the majority that would say "Yes".
But hey -- I once blogged something only to have Mashable post the same news, taking credit for it as original research (but without plagiarizing the wording). I think that behavior was worse. Pete Cashmore promised me he'd fix it, then didn't follow through.
The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism associations and individual print, broadcast, and online news organizations.
The primary themes common to most codes of journalistic standards and ethics are the following:
-Accuracy and standards for factual reporting
-Slander and libel considerations
-Harm limitation principle
And to think they did this without having to be told and without finding it necessary to insult the author--quite a contrast.
To SEO Experts:
Should they have given the original author a 'canonical' link from that page? Would that have helped matters SEO wise?
Avert PR crisis.
Is it that hard people?