European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

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European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Meldrick Lewis » Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:48 pm

How it's done:
1) Change the obvious name to something more obscure
2) Change British Isles to Britain, and British to UK
3) Garble the language when you get around to it
4) Insert a citation, which you may or may not remember to keep forever (it's there for now)

An example of plagiarism in action (identical or similar text bolded):
Wikipedia: Wisent
About 2000 years ago, wisent lived throughout most of Europe - from Britain in the west, to Siberia in the east, and from Spain in the south, to Sweden in the north. Wisent lived not only in forests but also roamed grasslands.

In Western Europe, wisent became extinct by the 11th century, except in the Ardennes, where they lasted into the 14th century. The last wisent in Transylvania died in 1790.

In the east, wisent were legally the property of the Polish kings, Lithuanian grand dukes and Russian czars. King Sigismund I of Poland instituted the death penalty for poaching a wisent in the mid-16th century. Despite these measures, and others, the wisent population continued to decline over the following four centuries. By the 17th century, the last remaining herds of bison could be found in protected game reserves in the Białowieża Forest of Poland. Thanks to protection measures, the bison number increased to 1,898 by the middle of 19th century. However, in 1862, a rebellion in the Białowieża region resulted in the bison herd being virtually decimated. There were about 380 animals left by the end of the 19th century, and this number increased again, with 785 animals being recorded in 1915. Unfortunately, these bison became victims of the Great War, when German troops occupying Białowieża killed about 600 of the animals for meat, hides, and horns. A German scientist brought to the attention of army officers that the animals were facing imminent extinction, but, at the very end of the war, retreating German soldiers shot all but 9 wisent[1].

Nearly 4 years later, 54 wisent were recorded in zoos and private holdings, and scientists and ecologists from Sweden, Germany, the UK, and Poland decided to create the Society for the Protection of the European Bison. However, the last wild wisent in Poland was killed in 1919, and the last wild wisent in the world was killed by poachers in 1927, in the Western Caucasus. [1] By later that year fewer than 50 remained, all in zoos. In 1929, Poland bought 2 cows from Sweden, and a bull from Germany. Wisent returned to the Białowieża Forest, but only within breeding stations. The first calf was born in the following year.


World Wildlife Fund Panda.org
Some 2,000 years ago, the European bison (Bison bonasus) roamed the vast temperate, deciduous foreststhat stretched from the British Isles through most of Europe and into Siberia. Excessive hunting, urbanization of the countryside, and clearing of forests for agriculture dramatically reduced bison populations over the centuries.
In the 17th century, the last remaining herds of bison could be found in protected hunting reserves in the forest of Bialowieza (Poland). Thanks to protection measures, the bison number increased to 1,898 in the middle of 19th century. However, in 1862, a rebellion in the Bialowieza region resulted in the bison herd being decimated. There were about 380 animals left by the end of the 19th century, but this number increased again, and 785 animals were recorded in 1915.
Victims of World War I
Unfortunately, these bison became victims of World War I, with German troops occupying Bialowieza killing 600 of the animals for meat, hides, and horns. A German scientist brought to the attention of army officers that the animals were facing imminent extinction, but at the very end of the war, retreating German soldiers shot all but 9 bison. The end of the European bison in the wild occurred in 1919, when a poacher shot the last individual.

Nearly 4 years later, 54 bison were recorded in zoos and private holdings, and Swedish, German, British, and Polish scientists decided to create the Society for the Protection of the European Bison. In 1929, Poland bought 2 cows from Sweden and a bull from Germany. Bison returned to the Bialowieza forest but remained in breeding stations. The first calf was born in the following year.

Reviving bison populations
By the beginning of World War II, the number of bison had increased to 30 in Poland and 35 in German breeding stations. Polish foresters managed to convince Russian officials to protect the bison. Russians posted signs in the Bialowieza forest prohibiting the killing of bison. Offenders would be sentenced to death. When Germany took over the area, they maintained the protection measures. At the end of the war 24 bison had survived in Poland and 12 in Germany.
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Emperor » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:05 am

Good post. I've alerted the people on Wikipedia Review.

I think we need more of this type of commentary around here.
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby andy » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:53 pm

You do realise that the plagiarism was removed well before you posted to Wikipedia Review? And also that the plagiarism was not by a "Wikpedian" but an anonymous user. Could have been Meldrick. Could have been YOU!
The password for this account was posted publicly on bugmenot.com. Emperor, this site's anonymous owner, has failed to take action, so I have personally done so and changed this account's password. I have kept the password in a file on my computer. -Jonas
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Zagalejo » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:28 pm

Actually, no. I removed the plagiarized section after seeing Emperor's post at the Wikipedia Review. I had never edited or even read the Wisent article before then.
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Emperor » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:01 pm

Besides, anonymous users are Wikipedians too. If the "community" wants to take credit for the good stuff then surely they should also take responsibility for this incident.
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Meldrick Lewis » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:26 pm

andy wrote:You do realise that the plagiarism was removed well before you posted to Wikipedia Review? And also that the plagiarism was not by a "Wikpedian" but an anonymous user. Could have been Meldrick. Could have been YOU!


Your attack is pretty thin, friend Andy. Who are YOU anyway?
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby andy » Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:04 pm

Emperor wrote:Besides, anonymous users are Wikipedians too. If the "community" wants to take credit for the good stuff then surely they should also take responsibility for this incident.

The "community" doesn't take credit for anything, or at least the majority of its members don't try. Most people would recognise a "Wikipedian" as somebody who regularly contributes to Wikipedia. The anon who added the plagiarism made no other edits under the same IP.

I am not drawing any conclusions or making any attacks but it is true that a lot more people have a personal or financial interest in the public disgrace of Wikipedia than have an interest in Wikipedia's success. If you're trying to make some feeble argument that Wikipedia is bad, you'll have to do better than a drive-by act of plagiarism. Every baseless rant like this just undermines the integrity of any reasonable criticisms you have.

By the way, the pmwiki here is strictly commiting plagiarism by distributing GFDL content without a copyright notice. The difference is that the emperor of this site has no intention of fixing it.
The password for this account was posted publicly on bugmenot.com. Emperor, this site's anonymous owner, has failed to take action, so I have personally done so and changed this account's password. I have kept the password in a file on my computer. -Jonas
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Emperor » Sat Jun 21, 2008 2:50 pm

andy wrote:
Emperor wrote:Besides, anonymous users are Wikipedians too. If the "community" wants to take credit for the good stuff then surely they should also take responsibility for this incident.

The "community" doesn't take credit for anything, or at least the majority of its members don't try. Most people would recognise a "Wikipedian" as somebody who regularly contributes to Wikipedia. The anon who added the plagiarism made no other edits under the same IP.

I am not drawing any conclusions or making any attacks but it is true that a lot more people have a personal or financial interest in the public disgrace of Wikipedia than have an interest in Wikipedia's success. If you're trying to make some feeble argument that Wikipedia is bad, you'll have to do better than a drive-by act of plagiarism. Every baseless rant like this just undermines the integrity of any reasonable criticisms you have.

By the way, the pmwiki here is strictly commiting plagiarism by distributing GFDL content without a copyright notice. The difference is that the emperor of this site has no intention of fixing it.


Andy, I think you have the wrong idea about this place. To my knowledge, the articles within the PmWiki that are GFDL comply with the terms of the license. If I'm wrong, please point out specific cases and I will look into them. Note that the majority of the PmWiki is not GFDL. See the Terms of Service for details.

I also think you just don't get how serious this problem is for Wikipedia. Meldrick's example is not "drive-by" or not "strict". It's pure and simple plagiarism, as good or as bad as anyone else's. Besides, everyone knows that those anonymous IP's you scorn so much are the real engine behind Wikipedia's success.
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby Meldrick Lewis » Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:32 pm

Baseless rant? No one at Wikipedia, here, or at Wikipedia Review has contested the basefulness of my "rant".
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Re: European Bison = Wisent = Plagiarism

Postby andy » Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:04 pm

Emperor wrote:If I'm wrong, please point out specific cases and I will look into them. Note that the majority of the PmWiki is not GFDL. See the Terms of Service for details.

From your own terms of service: "You may not copy, modify, reproduce, republish, post, transmit or distribute in any way any material from this site including the underlying code and software, save as authorized by this agreement."

A clumsy in-article disclaimer (which indeed I did not see) is no use when covered by this blanket whole-site rights-claim.
Emperor wrote:I also think you just don't get how serious this problem is for Wikipedia. Meldrick's example is not "drive-by" ... It's pure and simple plagiarism, as good or as bad as anyone else's.

In fairness you really haven't explained very well why this is such a big problem for Wikipedia. All this uncovers is a single act of plagiarism which was displayed on the site for three months. That act is no longer a problem in itself for Wikipedia, just like all the journalists who have tried pinching from Wikipedia and got their fingers burned (usually fired) didn't get their papers closed down or even into that much disrepute. Since you continue to withhold your methodology I have no way of knowing if this is a common problem (by the way, a bot does heuristic web searches for plagiarism on all new articles) or if the edit in question was systematic (not unless they systematically changed IPs as well), staged by someone who wants Wikipedia to be burned for plagiarism, or even that the anon knew what they were doing.
Emperor wrote:or not "strict"

I never said your find was not strictly plagiarism; I was just demonstrating that you don't exactly have the tightest mastery of copyright and IP law yourself.

By the way, if you need help with your project, how about resizing your images server-side so I don't have to download a 3000px-wide image to see a 300px thumbnail. The photo of the liberty ship is also a copyrighted photo that requires attribution. I'll allow you to check the rest.
Meldrick Lewis wrote:Baseless rant? No one at Wikipedia, here, or at Wikipedia Review has contested the basefulness of my "rant".

I believe I did. Would you like me to provide you with a quote?
The password for this account was posted publicly on bugmenot.com. Emperor, this site's anonymous owner, has failed to take action, so I have personally done so and changed this account's password. I have kept the password in a file on my computer. -Jonas
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