Plagiarism doesn't work

Just how hard is it to use quotes? How hard is it to provide attribution to sources? It is clearly very hard indeed! A writer at The Next Web copied a post from a relatively unknown blogger and got caught. Worse, TNW quietly edited the post and then denied that the original had failed to credit the author. After all, one editor pointed out, it linked to the original -- a link tucked amid the text of a sentence a few paragraphs in. Also, is that tilde thing already the fig leaf of choice for self-deluding plagiarists, just as God intended?


  1. What’s with the new set of names for punctuation I’ve been seeing lately? It looks to me like the “via” is what we’ve always called the ’tilde’. Just this morning I was watching the ‘HAK5’  podcast and the speaker kept saying ‘tack’ instead of ‘dash’.

    1. The curator’s code is an attempt to solidify an informal social norm (vias and hat tips) so that it becomes a matter of propriety. 

      The problem it that it turns minor achievements (such as being first to aggregate someone else’s work) into “dibs” — a form of cultural capital that others are expected to credit.

      I love the honor system for vias and hat tips, but formalizing it just makes it very easy to game and creates an incentive to avoid ethical aggregation techniques (quotes, blockquotes, named attribution) in favor of these easily-gamed little icons. 

      In this case, though, I think it’s just a traditional tilde mark, not intended to show which of the links in the text is to the original post.

  2. I don’t think that’s a “via symbol” in the linked screenshot. It’s a tilde, used to indicate an approximation (because the mathematical symbol for approximation, ≈, is harder to type). The plagiarizer here has used it to replace “roughly” in the original. That’s just what the tilde looks like in that font.

    I’d never heard of a “via symbol” before. Turns out it’s from, which defines ᔥ as “via”, for direct discovery, and ↬ as “hat tip”, for indirect discovery. ~ remains “tilde” for “hey, this looks kind of like a fancy dash” or “I mean approximately, but don’t want to look up the unicode for that”.

    1. Oh, in fact, you can see the difference between tilde and via: from left to right, a tilde goes up-down-up, and “via” goes down-up-down.

    2. I also assume tildes in that context mean “approximately” or “circa” or what have you. It’s pretty common in engineering, where we are lazy mathematicians and we play fast and loose with the facts.

    3. I also assume tildes in that context mean “approximately” or “circa” or what have you. It’s pretty common in engineering, where we are lazy mathematicians and we play fast and loose with the facts.

  3. this is one of those tempests in a teapot which could have been resolved in 2 minutes with an “oh sorry” and a correction but instead got flared up into this shitstorm.

      1. In a totally unshocking development, the kind of ‘CEO’ who would use that meathead-with-a-shit-eating-grin as his twitter mugshot…

      2. I’ve had Twitter interactions with Zee Kane where he’s acted EXACTLY this way. He’s a total asshat; it firmly placed TNW in the list of sites that, if I end up on them, I get pissed and close the tab.

        1. I’ve also called them out on not properly crediting sources before, and got abuse in return.

  4. It’s good to see that the New Web is honoring the standard Way New Media ethical guideline of what to do when one of your writers commits plagiarism, which is, “Deny everything, come up with a new definition of ‘plagiarism’ that is carefully drawn to exclude what you did, throw a temper tantrum, and threaten never to link to the aggrieved party again.” 

  5. That’s some weak sauce.

    I will admit I do not understand plagiarism, not even a little bit. How does is not make the “writer” feel bad and scared from that point onward?

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