Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Flames Game Day

Canucks @ Flames, 730PM MT, RSN West

I'm excited for this game tonight, but I want to roll off on a tangent first. In case you missed it, there was a bit of an ethics fooferaw this weekend surrounding this post by Jason Gregor at OilersNation.

The gist is that for a day or so after it went up (~10AM Friday), the material quoted from SI.com was not in blockquotes, nor was there a link to the SI.com piece, nor was there any indication at all that the quoted material was written by someone else. Eventually this "oversight" was rectified (~Saturday afternoon); a link was added, and the quotes were blockquoted.

In the intervening 24+ hours, though, ...some strange stuff in the comments. Most notably, Mr. Gregor betraying either considerable confusion about what was actually published under his name at the top of the page, or a complete lack of understanding of what plagiarism is. Beginning with #73:
I should state that none of those ideas where mine. Apparently someone thinks I was trying to take credit for them. I researched those on the web and took the ideas from a few different sites. I copied and pasted them and then took out some words that didn’t add to the general idea.

Here is one of the links…

Once again I never claimed these were my ideas…and should of included a link, but these ideas were all from a team’s website originally that have been copied and pasted many times over.

We go down the line a bit. Dennis gives him a bit of a hard time, and Mike points out -- correctly, as the piece was formatted at the time -- that it was "a textbook example of plagiarism", and 'sycamore' in #94 responds to Gregor's initial defense with
Jason, unless Gennaro Filice copied and pasted his story from some other common source, you have clearly plagiarized his words, and made no attempt to attribute them to the proper source. It’s no defence to say “I never claimed these were my ideas”.

Gregor returns to... clarify?... in #97:
Dennis, never once did I take those promotion ideas and claim they were mine. The writer from si.com actually took the words from press releases from the teams themselves, so they weren’t his original ideas either. Did he quote the press release? No.
As for not quoting si.com…Let’s get serious. I never claimed the ideas to be mine, and the ideas were never the original thought of the si.com writer to begin with.

Show me where I took the thoughts, or ideas of another and claimed them to be my own. That is the true definition of plagiarize.

Set aside for a moment that this issue was eventually resolved, if you can call it that. Gregor's two comments illustrate -- and I don't know any kinder way to read them -- that he doesn't actually know what plagiarism is. For the record, it's not just stealing someone's ideas. In practice, it's rarely stealing someone's ideas. It's
the copying of another person's ideas, text, or other creative work, and presenting it as one's own

Find any definition you want, and it'll refer to the "words", "text", "writing", "literary composition", etc. of someone else. If my professor comes up with a particularly elegant explanation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and I then use it without being quite clear that it's not my elegant explanation, then that's plagiarism. The fact that the Second Law itself wasn't my prof's idea -- or the fact that it's a fricking law of nature -- makes no difference, because the explanation is my prof's original work. Likewise, if I posted a recap of Saturday's big Flames win that was written by Jason Gregor and allowed this site's readers to believe that it was my recap, that would be plagiarism -- even if it was a boring "then Nystrom scored on a two-on-one" piece that had no particular new ideas or insights.

Also, Gregor twice implies that Gennaro Filice (the author of the SI.com piece) "took the words... copied and pasted" from press releases to write his own article. He's a millimetre away from claiming Felice is a plagiarist, although (per the previous two paragraphs) it would appear that Gregor doesn't really understand what he's accusing Filice of. If he did, this would be an extremely serious thing to do, and probably ill-advised given that there doesn't appear to be any evidence of it.

So in #98, Gregor references the now-added blockquotes. But not only does he fail to acknowledge that they had just been added, he implies that they've been there all along!
If you notice the font of the promotions is different font than my actual words. It was in GREY to seperate that they weren’t my words. I have never used someone else’s ideas and CLAIMED them as my own.

Somewhere around there he also backs off on his original "Let's get serious", who-cares-if-I- credited-SI.com take and acknowledges that said credit was both correct and important. Which is a positive step, I suppose. I mean, this goes to the essence of non-fiction writing; nobody's making things up, so the entire value of it is in what you have written: the words. And you either come up with your own, or give proper credit when you use someone else's.

The final mea culpa/resolution of this was that Gregor had emailed his piece to an ON editor. The SI.com quotes were in a different font/size, indicating that Gregor wished to be clear that they were from elsewhere (this was confirmed by the editor). He did not include the link to the SI.com article from which the quotes came, for which he has apologized, and this has been corrected.

Tyler -- after giving Gregor some righteous hell in the comments -- says he's willing to take the explanation at face value. I guess I am too, although I think it's fair to say that this is an extremely charitable position given Gregor's initial denials and explanations. A few final thoughts on this:
  1. The Radio & Television Arts program at NAIT needs to do a much better job of teaching plagiarism. Plagiarism = career death in any writing or journalism field, so if there's only two things that such a program should be drilling into its students, it's What plagiarism is, and Don't do it.
  2. Get Gregor an account to actually post his own stuff. Using a blog editor is exactly as complicated as using email. Write, format, send.
  3. If you're going to write on the internet, and you still want to reserve the right to be pissy about the ethical failings of other people who write on the internet, you should probably be doubly (triply?) careful about how you go about your business. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. [source]
As for the ol' ballgame tonight, I'm a bit concerned. Phoenix is a lousy team, and up until the Saturday game, the Flames had been going through a pretty poor stretch. They really need something to happen with the 4th line; in the early season it was a distinct team strength, but Boyd/Roy/Nystrom have been getting regularly pwned ever since they've been an everyday crew. Call it

Calgary 3 (Iginla x2, Conroy)
Vancouver 2 (Sundin and, as always (seemingly), Salo)

Go Flames.


3-1 canucks, after phaneuf scores in the last minute of play to spoil the shut out. Kesler, Wellwood, and Sundin the other way.

On the ethics issue--we might add that there is a difference between using text that is largely accepted as general knowledge or proverbial ("people in glass houses..."), vs using text that is considered authored and therefore of the individual. It's the latter that we are touchy about. What's also interesting is how the line between journalism and blogging is once again blurred, since we are applying the standards of the former to the latter. Except in the case of rumour--see Eklund.

Off-topic, somewhat, but you might find this entertaining also. And telling.

What's also interesting is how the line between journalism and blogging is once again blurred, since we are applying the standards of the former to the latter.

Entirely appropriately, in this case. In fact, bloggers (or anyone writing in the web medium at all) are generally much better about attribution, because hyperlinks are super-convenient and there are no space limitations.

Also, I've only been reading and writing blogs for about 6 years, but I have *never once* heard anyone suggest that (since it's "only blogging") using someone else's writing without attribution is remotely acceptable. Plagiarism is really not a journalism issue; it's a writing issue.

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. [source]

The hilarity of this cannot be overstated.

Also, good write-up Matt. Although your conclusion is certainly charitable, writing about it on your own very popular blog so that more people will know about it is probably less so. I approve of this balance.

Entirely appropriately, in this case.

Didn't mean to suggest otherwise. And I entirely agree with your description, and I also expect bloggers to cite their sources, including hyperlink. Just you mentioned journalism (plagiarism = death of career), and I think this is another instance where we take our cue from that kind of writing. But maybe you're right, it's more general than just journalism.

(I don't know if the Flames are that good on the forecheck, or if the Canucks aren't with it with passing. Canucks lucky to be tied. Luongo is started to play better though.)

Kipper just made his three best saves of the year on the same Canucks power play. Leg, glove, paddle.


I hate kipper.

What a great game this has been.

A three point game.

Oiler fans are weeping.



Come on folks, cheer with me! Woooooooooooo!

Kipper was unbelievable, and until the shoot-out, outplayed Luongo (Bourque's goal, I'm especially thinking about). Funny how little bouncers went in.

I haven't looked yet at the 5v5 stats, but it seemed like Calgary pwned Vancouver overall. Constantly in Vancouver's break out passing lanes, and moving the puck quickly. I hadn't seen them in a while, but this is a very solid team. Vancouver got lucky. In games like this it also seems that part of the "luck" is when the ref decides to call the many borderline interference, holding, etc.

I hate all your asshole teams.

Also, plagiarism is career death in the sciences, too, and it's something that's beaten into our skulls with every undergraduate course. So is making shit up, which more than a few "real" "journalists" do on a semi-regular basis, but that's a whole other kettle of fish.

Ok, I admit it, I'm not really sure how to find the Corsi, Fenwick, etc. numbers for 5v5 play, for one game. I went to timeonice, where I get the match ups (although the old graphs are gone), and then behindthenet gives me team for the season. But is there an easy way to see match ups for one game in terms of Corsi, Fenwick, etc? Or does someone have a link for where I can have this explained to me? Thanks.


Except substitute the 5-digit number for the game you want to look at for 20001

Frankly, we should stop this whole concept that the ex-(or failed) jock doing sports is even remotely close to a "journalist".
They are more akin to the talking heads on Entertainment Tonight or announcers on wrestling.
They review and preview entertainment - and professional sport is entertainment.
The only time sports "journalism" and "real" journalism blur is when the business of sport is being dissected.
But when you're showing highlights or sharing opinions about the game, you're not a journalist.

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