Talk:Wikinews investigates claim McCain plagiarized speech from Wikipedia

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OR notes[edit]

Above listed primary source will be referred to in the article. Cirt (talk) 03:48, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Also, additional OR pending which will be added and noted here soon. Cirt (talk) 03:48, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
I interviewed the user who blew the whistle, Killing Vector. I also e-mailed Jay walsh for his take, and got his quotes. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 00:39, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Verification of some sort? Was there an email made to Scoop? Or could part of the text of the email(s) be posted to the talk page? Cirt (talk) 00:42, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
OOps...forgot to scoop them...will do now. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 01:50, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Is there anything wrong with it?[edit]

His use seems to be within Wikipedia:Text of the GNU Free Documentation License. To call it plagiarism is a strong charge that implies that he is passing it off as his own original work, and typically applies to academia and journalists, not speechmakers.

I think it is very interesting and even news-worthy if part of his speech is from Wikipedia, but I don't think it amounts to either plagiarism or copyright issues. --SVTCobra 21:18, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

It's certainly a copyright violation, not matter what. Modifications requires "D.' Preserve all the copyright notices of the Document." and "E.' Add an appropriate copyright notice for your modifications adjacent to the other copyright notices." I'm sure McCain didn't add at the end "some text contained within in this speach is a modified version of wikipeda 'page x'." I'm also sure he didn't comply with: "H. Include an unaltered copy of this License." Then again, maybe he included the license with the speech. I wasn't there so I don't know for sure. —Calebrw (talk) 01:28, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
Eh, all of that only applies if you claim copyright of the modified work. Has McCain done so? I doubt it. --SVTCobra 02:59, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
My bad. —Calebrw (talk) 15:43, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Its a miniscule quote, if it even is from W. If it is from W, it would fall under fair use. It's too far-fetched, sorry. -- 00:42, 23 August 2008 (UTC)


I do not believe that Wikipedia's licence requires attribution. Ours does, and the differences in our licenses is why we can't copy from one another. --SVTCobra 03:05, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

looks like a molehill, slowly being disguised as a mountain. --SVTCobra 03:08, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
You might be right here. —Calebrw (talk) 15:43, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
I honestly don't understand why we can't copy from wikipedia. It seems to me that based on our licenses, we should be able to copy from them (without attribution), but they shouldn't be able to copy from us (unless with attribution). So why can't we use things like templates from wikipedia? Gopher65talk 16:17, 20 August 2008 (UTC)
The GFDL certainly does. Both verbatim and modified distribution requires you to include the copyright notice. I'm however doubtful whether the GFDL even covers public performance--+Deprifry+ 22:59, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

Peer review[edit]

Common knowledge[edit]

Why has someone not pointed out that the issues McCain is discussing are considered "common knowledge", and therefore the only possible claim to plagiarism here is actually one of a straightforward copyright violation for copying the exact same language. For more information on plagiarism and common knowledge, visit the Yale University website, among others: [1]. Frankly, it shows a severe lack of understanding of what plagiarism is to call the second example given in this article as plagiarism. 01:29, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

No, I'm afraid the lack of understanding is yours. Something being 'common knowledge' is not an automatic 'out' to charges of plagiarism. One form of plagiarism is falsely claiming that new research or synthesis of little known information is one's own work. Obviously, things which are already 'common knowledge' could never be plagiarized in that manner. However, copying the organization and/or style of presentation of ANY sort of information, even common knowledge, is also plagiarism. This is explained here on the same website you cited. Note that, in the examples cited, even rewriting the passage and citing the source are not sufficient to avoid plagiarism. Copying even little things like the order of presentation or a few turns of phrase is plagiarism if the materials copied are not clearly distinguished from the writer's original work. The second example on that page, labelled plagiarism by Yale, shows exactly the sort of exactly matching phrases interspersed with reworded sections all in the same general order as seen in McCain's speech.
As another example, the University of Virginia recently expelled two students for plagiarism of this kind from Wikipedia. Both had rewritten the material. One of them cited Wikipedia. However, they followed the presentation order of the information, used some of the same phrases, did not attribute all such passages to Wikipedia... and so they were expelled. --CBDunkerson (talk) 12:37, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
There's a distinct difference between "peripheral and subordinate systems of the mind/brain" or "must be accomplished by the relatively peripheral systems of the brain" or "where conscious thought and experience take place" and "regained its indepenedence", "one of the", or "marked by". If you can't tell the difference between common simple expressions and the complex and highly unusual phrases given in the plagiarism example, you're likely to find plagiarism everywhere. (I mean, there's probably only 1-2 texts in the entire world that use the expression "peripheral and subordinate systems of the mind/brain"). Compare "peripheral+and+subordinate+systems+of+the+mind-brain"& to [2] or even [3]. 23:28, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
You are taking the 'common simple expressions' bit too far. Yes, the appearance of the same common expression in two different works may be coincidence rather than plagiarism. However, the appearance of two pages of verbatim common expressions in works with purportedly different authors would clearly be plagiarism, NOT a coincidence. McCain's speech falls in between these two extremes. It has alot more than one expression in common, some of them (e.g. 'one of the ... first ... to adopt Christianity as an official religion') aren't really all that common, and has large amounts of the same information (and even words) just slightly reshuffled.
For example, in the sentence below from McCain's speech I have bolded the words which appear with the same meaning/purpose in the corresponding passage from Wikipedia:

"After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922."

I.E. eighteen out of the twenty-two words in that sentence match the Wikipedia entry;

"After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922..."

That is either minor reshuffling and condensing, of the sort one would expect from a good copyeditor, of the phrases from Wikipedia or an extraordinary coincidence. Couple it with similarly reshuffled and/or slightly alterred wording in the 'one of the first to adopt Christianity', 'regained its independence in 1991', and other passages and it adds up to a level of coincidence that just doesn't seem credible to me. McCain's speechwriter(s) 'just happened' to cover the same facts, in the same general order, with alot of the same words and phrases? Coincidence exists and the point at which it stretches credulity is a judgment call, but this is well past the point that I believe most academic institutions would call it plagiarism. --CBDunkerson (talk) 12:18, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia tunnel view[edit]

The article suffers from tunnel view focused on Wikipedia. Wikinews did not "investigate", merely reported the Wikipedia editor's claim.

  • During investigation the reporter should have noticed the fact that the Wikipedia Georgia article does not refer to Georgia as having converted to Christianity. "...Colchis and Iberia. The latter, one of the first countries to adopt Christianity as an official religion early in the 4th century, subsequently provided a nucleus..." Inferring that Iberia's laws were very significant to modern Georgia requires much more information. This is like saying "California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas"[4] (actually referring to Pre-Columbian California) or that the United States was "the first permanent Spanish settlement"[5] (actually referring to St. Augustine, Florida).
  • Investigation should have included searching more widely for McCain's phrasing. Because the CIA and State Department country summaries are often used as sources, a search of ".gov" sites should have been done. That quickly reveals other similar sources: "Georgia adopted Christianity, the second nation in the world to do so officially"[6], "enjoyed a brief period of independence"[7][8], "regained its independence in 1991"[9], "marked by rampant cronyism, corruption, and mismanagement".[10]
  • Notice also that McCain's phrase "Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922" is not directly shown in the Wikipedia article. The Red Army invaded in 1921. The Soviet Union was formed in 1922, but that was a political event and the Wikipedia article's phrasing does not indicate if the Red Army was still wandering around Georgia forcing them to join; it probably was doing so but McCain's phrasing is either poorly plagiarized or constructed from deeper understanding.

I've moved the article to Develop status until a better investigation is performed. -- SEWilco (talk) 17:22, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

These are the claims and you can look up the revisions. But this has been published for days now and to take it to develop because you don't agree with the findings is not an actionable. This is what the editor observed and that cannot change. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 17:53, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Also, the speech switched a few words around that was noted. There is no difference from copying a WP article for a school report then switching a few words. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 17:55, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Plagerism is a concept for academic and journalistic works, not speeches. --SVTCobra 18:16, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with you, these issues should be addressed before returning to publish. —Calebrw (talk) 17:56, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
well whatever. I have no time to make changes to something that was reviewed and approved. The link to his speech is in the sources, take a look at that and compare to WP. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 17:58, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Not to mention...look at edits from July 24 and onward. They are all there. Also sent the mails through scoop so all the accredited reporters that check that address can see them as well. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:07, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe you have to. I believe that someone should. However, the person who originally posted this would be in a position to do so. That's fair reporting, at least the way I see it in terms of Wikinews. As of now, I'm failing NPOV based on these concerns.
A. I think you missed the point of the article. This was more about the claimed plagiarization. If you want to prove he didn't - go for it. That's a new article. B. I think that pulling this from {{publish}} after such a long period of time (especially after it was properly reviewed) was a very poor maneuver. You could have (and should have) posted first before yanking it. C. Of course it it "tunnel view"'d. Everything always is, you can't possibly cover every aspect of every story. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 18:12, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with point "C" here. A discussion would have been a better move. Calebrw (talk) 18:18, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
Even when limiting the "investigation" to the text in the Wikipedia article, it is relevant that one of the phrases does not refer to Georgia. Either the information that the Christianity laws applied to Georgia came from another source, or careless plagiarism took place which happened to be correct. But the Wikipedia article doesn't show that this Iberian act is relevant to modern Georgia. The omission of the context of the Christianity phrase is an error. The omission of external sources reflects that at least the headline is erroneous in referring to the interview of an accuser as being an investigation. -- SEWilco (talk) 15:25, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Peer Review 2[edit]

I am sorry. But I don't see how you can possibly assert this as POV. If you want to add every aspect that could possibly relate to this article then be my guest. But the point is this: McCain and Wikipedia. There is no other POV. I did what I did as any journalist would do and contacted the proper people for their proper views. If they chose not to respond to that, then there is nothing I or anyone else can do about it. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 19:44, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
ive republished this. you reviewed it to be good enough to pub, so bringing it back raises serious questions about your first review. also the claim of NPOV for this article is lame to say the least and fixing it would a) be very hard to do, b) break the limit on stories and would just be a stupid precedence to start. --MarkTalk to me 19:51, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
I will submit to the group consensus here. At the least I feel the title should be changed. It's not really an investigation. It's more like: Wikipedia editor claims McCain plagiarized Wikipedia or something better written but not along the same lines. —Calebrw (talk) 03:40, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
"Verifiability" may be true only that the facts in the article are verifiable. But although the Christianity phrase is in the Wikipedia article the context shows that phrase is not directly applicable to Georgia. Widening the search to .gov sites shows similar phrasing, so although the phrasing is verifiable there is weak relevance of verifiability to the facts. The investigator should do wider searches and report results rather than echoing one source. I stumbled across a Wikipedia preference for multiple sources, but now can't find it. -- SEWilco (talk) 15:35, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
I did the searh the argument here is WP. And based on my investigation, that is what I found. They are similar very similar...but regardless of who put what somewhere else, the question here is Wikipedia. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:25, 27 August 2008 (UTC)