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How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?

by liverpole (Monsignor)
on Oct 07, 2006 at 01:15 UTC ( #576774=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

This morning I was chagrined and astonished to discover that 2 people at Perlmonks, jesuashok and madtoperl, have been flagrantly involved in many instances of plagiarism.

It was already clear that madtoperl had made quite a few submissions to the Perl Poetry section which were not his own, and recently jesuashok began emulating this dishonerable practice as well, for which I was very direct in admonishing him.

But now it has to come to my attention that both of them have been stealing other people's questions as well!  This is something I find patently offensive, as do a number of other monks, from the messages I've been getting both in the chatterbox and privately.  What's more, I don't know which I found more disrespectful, the verbatim, word-for-word copying of other people's work which jesuashok practices, as if he couldn't be bothered to change the wording (references: node 542441, node 526642, node 539378, node 542988, node 542220, node 544852, node 542744, node 543989, node 542227, and node 544769), or the sneaky, deceitful minor rewrites which madtoperl engages in to attempt to cover his tracks, such as changing variable names or slight alterations in wording (references: node 551569 and node 543062).

Both of these monks have been called out for their plagiarism, and have staunchly denied any wrongdoing, even when presented with irrefutable evidence to the contrary.  It would be one thing, I suppose, to be caught in the act of committing intellectual fraud, and to back away sheepishly, or to show signs of contrition and come clean.   Sadly, however, the opposite has been true in both cases. For example, jesuashok responded to "I guess the same is the copy of c program which i saw already somewhere." with an unrepentant "if you see this "C" program somewhere please let me know. It is my own effort. help If you can, otherwise shut.", and madtoperl, when confronted with "Same poem found here too." desperately maintained his charade with "Hi, That was also posted by me.".

It seems this would be an apropos time to pose the question to you, my brethren:  how should plagiarism be handled here at Perlmonks?   I will be patient, and listen to what others think about this situation, but I feel very strongly that something must be done.   I've attempted to take a step back and look at the facts dispassionately, even to the point of asking myself "am I blowing this out of proportion?"   Yet, from all the responses I've heard from my fellow monks, there is a fair consensus that this cannot be tolerated.

For me, GrandFather's quote sums it up quite nicely:

"I think that plagiarised nodes that have garnered a high rep are a ma +jor affront and demean the efforts of genuinely helpful people around PM"

And to list some of the reasons that I find this plagiarism so distasteful:

  1. It is disrespectful to this community that I've come to love
  2. It lowers the standards by which Perlmonks will, unavoidably, be judged
  3. It is demeaning, both those authors whose work has been stolen, and to those authors at Perlmonks who take pride in the commitment to the quality of their questions, answers and Perl code
  4. It is frustrating to have Perlmonks forced to be associated with a practice which is both unethical and illegal

I await your thoughts on how best to handle this problem.


s''(q.S:$/9=(T1';s;(..)(..);$..=substr+crypt($1,$2),2,3;eg;print$..$/

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Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by jcoxen (Deacon) on Oct 07, 2006 at 01:43 UTC
    If...

    • the evidence is irrefutable
    • it is not the result of a frame-up
    • there is a consensus of Monks of high rank (rank to be determined)

    I would recommend...

    • the offenders lose all accumulated rank and XP
    • their accounts be deactivated for a minimum of 30 days
    • that the offenders be shunned (not allowed to post) for 90 days

    Basically, strip them of everything and make them start over scratch. If they reform and behave themselves, welcome them back into the fold. If no remorse is shown or if there is a repeat offense, cancel their accounts.

    Just my opinion...

    Jack

      Seconded in every detail.


      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
      I generally don't really care about the copying of code/posts as long as the content is interesting (and prefererably attributed)... but... as perlmonks is more or less a finite resource of feedback & help for the general public and the posters mentioned also have a tendency to do "drive by posting" - i.e. post stuff they quite obviously don't understand and/or aren't interested in - I would have to agree.

      As far as the specific sanctions, I would say just disable the accounts. It's probably as effective and a lot less work, since anyone can start a fresh account to get around any other sanction.

      Also, a tip to anyone engaging in this kind of useless posting (if you want to get away with it): using "perl" as part of your name makes you look clueless. Perl is what this board is about. Adding the word to your name doesn't add any information.

      If the three conditions you outlined were met, I would recommend:

      • posting a link within the thread to the original source
      • dropping the node rep to 0 if it were positive (or leaving it as-is if it were negative)
      • assessing a 10 XP penalty to the OP
      • appending "(plagiarised)" to the title of the node (not the whole thread) (yes, I know it is currently possible for the OP to edit it)

      I think it is important to target only those nodes that were plagiarised - not every post ever written by the OP. This would specifically discourage the negative behavior and make the Monastery's response feel less like an unrestrained personal attack. It may also make it less likely that the OP simply create a new account and continue the behavior under a new nick. If a significant pattern of plagiarism was found (as in this case), then a graded progression of consequences (including locking out/deactivating the OP's account) could be considered.

      Finally, I agree with what Joost said: reposting interesting questions or answers from other sources is (in general) fine "as long as the content is interesting (and prefererably attributed)" (emphasis mine).

      Just my $0.02

        "I think it is important to target only those nodes that were plagiarised - not every post ever written by the OP."

        In principle, yes. But.....

        Given that it's quite evident that they've been doing this as an attempt to accumulate XP, then I think the most appropriate response is to take away from them what they seem to desire most - their precious XP. Not in one fell swoop by an act of the god's - but bit by bit by the community as a whole, as we demonstate to them that we simply will not tolerate this sort of behaviour.

        Your $0.02, and I raise you $0.02 ;)

        Node rep / XP penalty calc:
        After node has been 'considered' plagiarised:
        Node Rep = - Abs(Node Rep) Author XP -= Abs(Node Rep)
        Any future votes for the node bring down the node rep.
      jcoxen++,

      Very good suggestions; I wouldn't have a problem with any of them.

      I also want to strongly applaud your first "if":  [if] the evidence is irrefutable.

      In the case of jesuashok and madtoperl, the evidence is irrefutable, as anyone who reads any of the pirated material will quickly see.  But I'm glad you make the point, because it might not always be so obvious, and I would hate for anyone innocent to be unjustly accused of plagiarism, just because something they posted was coincidentally close to existing code or commentary, or because they had reposted their own work here at Perlmonks.

      Ironically, this is exactly what jesuashok accused TwistedRaisin of doing, in this thread in the Perl Poetry section, saying "I found this same poem in twistedraisin".   Clearly, of course, it's the same author in both cases, but such a fact might not always be so obvious, and even if we are quick to suspect plagiarism, we should be slow and methodical before accusing, lest we falsely condemn.

      As far as code is concerned, it's very easy to coincidentally write similar or even identical code, especially if the code fragment is short, contains common/standard variable names, etc.  We shouldn't assume a subroutine has been pilfered, for example, just because it bears the same name as the original.

      So I would urge caution in looking for plagiarism.  SamCG was appropriately careful in the way he handled his concerns about madtoperl's first poetry submission, asking simply "It's very remniscent of listen a lovely poem by Sharon Hopkins. Have you read it?"

      Let's all be equally careful not to falsely accuse.


      s''(q.S:$/9=(T1';s;(..)(..);$..=substr+crypt($1,$2),2,3;eg;print$..$/
          Basically, strip them of everything and make them start over scratch.

      I'd add one more thing: reap the node and mark in the comments about the reaping that it was because of plagiarism.

      The stocks and pillary might not be a bad idea as well! :-D


      Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
      Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
      I disagree quite strongly. You have to remember that XP for users is not important. Votes for nodes *are* important. If plagiarised nodes have got good votes, then that is an indication that the nodes are good. They should keep their votes, so that other users can see "ooh, lots of + votes, I'll pay attention to this good advice". Doesn't matter if it was copied, it's still good content.

      I suggest that if you think a node is plagiarised and if you can be bothered, notify the author it was copied from. They can then post a note in the thread pointing out where it was copied from if they care. Getting heavy will be pointless as they can just create new accounts and will probably whine and bitch and generally annoy people.

      As for the suggestion that others have made that they've probably done this to get a good reputation - well, it hasn't worked. I'd not heard of either of 'em until this thread started and I'm sure I'll have forgotten their names in a few minutes. At least for me, posters' reputations here depend not just on what they post here, but also on their behaviour and posts in other places.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by chargrill (Parson) on Oct 07, 2006 at 03:01 UTC

      Are they different people?


      DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
      ++chargrill,

      For your excellent sleuthing skills!  I'll be honest, it hadn't yet occurred to me that this was such a concerted effort by these two characters.  But now it's making a lot more sense.

      Grandfather, they may or may not be the same person.  There's a fair amount of evidence I've seen to actually suggest they are separate individuals, named "Anthony Jesu Ashok and "Regan P." (although either or both could be pseudonyms), and both from Chennai, India.  But whether they are the same, or just working together, they are committing fraud, and flouting the rules of Perlmonks.  I, for one, won't ever be approving anything either of them write, at least in the absence of some act of contrition.

      Furthermore, I'm in complete agreement with creamygoodness later in this thread:  I'm ++ voting anyone that correctly identifies any case of plagiarism (as well as -- voting the OP).

      Now if you'll excuse me, there's a number of chargrill's nodes I need to ++ ...


      s''(q.S:$/9=(T1';s;(..)(..);$..=substr+crypt($1,$2),2,3;eg;print$..$/
        If you tell the PM-terruhrists what methods you are going to use to smoke them out, then they will know what to prepare for to beat you!

        What's to stop a clever plagiarist from doing this:

        1) set up fake accounts, scrape for and then repost questions with high XP, and then from other fake accounts, scrape the answers and reposts them

        2) then from the account they actually want to accumulate high XP, send you and your cohorts a message pointing out the the obviously plagiarized posts

        3) XP PROFIT!

        But in all seriousness, perhaps any new posts should be scanned for similarity to previous posts. I recall a few months back seeing a snippet or a meditation about a writing a text plagiarism detection module, I think it was by Ovid?

        You could also add something to the XP scoring so that posts more similar to other posts don't get as much XP. And then also take into account the number of replies, and the similarity compared to all of those replies. Genuinely interesting posts tend to have many unique replies.

        Ultimately I think this is an unintended consequence of the recent XP scale changes. One might think it's a huge disincentive to cheaters and participants to make a saint require 10,000 XP and then adding a whole heirarchy of levels higher than saint with XP levels that are impossible to attain. But perhaps the opposite occured--since high XP is now such an impossible attainment, it became valuable enough to cheat for!
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by GrandFather (Cardinal) on Oct 07, 2006 at 03:08 UTC

    Excellent work liverpole. It may help to relieve the angst to -- all the plagiarised nodes. That in itself sends a message to the perpetrators. This thread in itself is another excellent heads up both to these two monks, and to any others who may be tempted into the same behaviour in the future.

    A number of suggestions were made in the CB. Those I recall that seem to me appropriate and likely to be moderately effective are:

    • down vote the nodes to signal that this is not acceptable behaviour
    • have janitors mark the nodes as plagiarised with and editorial note at the top and bottom of the node
    • leave unapproved any future nodes posted by the perpertators (for some unspecified time)
    • add the perpertators' names to a "shunning wall"
    • remove FP status of any plagiarised nodes that have been FP'd
    • do not consider the nodes for reaping - that hides the problem
    • do not 'ban' the perpetrators - better to encourage reform than force them to resurface under a different guise.

    Only the "shunning wall" would need any alteration to the site and probably it isn't worth worrying about. It would allow the approval checkbox to be disabled for nodes posted by shunned monks though. Something to ponder anyway, even though I'd vote against its implementation myself.

    There was some discussion of a need for "rules" to cover this sort of situation. I don't see a need for that nor for intervention from the gods. The PM community has the power to shun and ignore such members and in many communities that is an awsome power indeed. Here we also have the power to take away some of the XP we have given in the past and that may be even more effective than shunning when one considers that the likely motivation for such posts in the first place is to gain in reputation among the community - and XP is a reflection of that.

    (Yes, yes, I know XP is only a game and doesn't matter, but some people don't understand that so well ;). )


    DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel

      Seconded. Regarding the "shunning wall" and the approval disabling, I like it for two reasons:

      • Without it, those monks who become Friars in the future and are not aware of this problem would unwittingly approve and/or frontpage nodes by "shunned" monks, so something should be done to prevent this; if not this feature, some explicit mention of the issue in, for example, How do I moderate?, could be appropriate.
      • More importantly, jesuashok has enough power to approve (his own) nodes. If a decision is made not to approve offenders' posts, some technical restriction must be implemented.

      --
      David Serrano

        Technically, one cannot approve or front-page one's own nodes. However, if one is working in concert with another, it's obviously possible to see how one account can approve, front-page, upvote another, etc. Approval can be withdrawn by janitors, though, and anyone who suspects behaviour as outlined above is advised to give the gods and/or janitors a heads-up. (janitors as a user-group can be messaged the same way you'd message another Monk.)

        planetscape

        I'm sure there are enough interested janitors to keep an eye on the nodes and unapprove them if need be.

        Adding a janitorial edit note to the node indicating why it shouldn't be approved should generally be sufficient, although the OP can re-edit to remove such a note. The node can be reaped if need be, but that doesn't give the perp a chance to redeem himself - we should at least allow that chance.


        DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by McDarren (Abbot) on Oct 07, 2006 at 04:37 UTC
    This is truly gob-smacking.

    Like many others I'm sure, I've suspected for a while that those two were up to a bit of funny business. But after following a few of the references that you've given.... well, I don't know what to say....

    I encourage everybody who reads liverpole's post to follow a few of the links, and see for yourself how irrefutable the evidence is. And then go to here and here, and then... well, I'm sure you know what to do next.

    Nice work liverpole, for pulling all this together.

    Cheers,
    Darren :)

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by Argel (Prior) on Oct 07, 2006 at 06:09 UTC
    As reprehensible as plagiarism is I think the real focus should be on what moral, ethical, and legal obligations learning of it imposes on Perl Monks. I certainly do not think continuing to host these nodes is appropriate. I'd suggest making a backup of all of the evidence and then disabling the account and reaping the node.
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by hossman (Prior) on Oct 07, 2006 at 07:22 UTC
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by shmem (Canon) on Oct 07, 2006 at 09:03 UTC
    I await your thoughts on how best to handle this problem.
    well, I think the best way is the way we're doing it... appending writeups that mark OPs or answers as plagiarized, janitors (e.g. planetscape) unapprove OPs and nodes get downvoted.

    In the future I'll respond to new posts of these monks with the line

    CAUTION: OP content may be plagiarized.
    if they are suspicious and at that moment it hasn't already been done.

    As for stripping them of XP or removing reputation from their nodes - I think it's not worth the effort. The post's content (often) is valuable, albeit stolen; so the credit goes to the original source's poster, may they be a monk or not. And a note that marks them as plagiarized sheds the right light upon the posters.

    What could be the motivation for their unethical behaviour? Brag before others (see "Monks i have met" on jesuashok's homenode) about their XP gained at perlmonks? What else1? Well, then they have already gotten their punishment - their lying was made public, and XP gained by unhonest ways is nothing you can brag with, if the dishonesty is evident. Let their XP as it is - it's worthless to them, and meaningless to us.

    <update>
    One suggestion, though - the offending nodes should not only be disapproved (if root), but marked as PLAGIAT in the title. That would not only make them show up prominently in Perl Monks User Search, but also help brave liverpole++, chargrill++, hossmann++ and others in hunting them down and keeping track ... ;-)
    </update>

    <update2> 1) see Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism? </update2>

    --shmem

    _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                  /\_¯/(q    /
    ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
    ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by Gavin (Canon) on Oct 07, 2006 at 09:41 UTC
    It seems very clear cut from liverpole's detailed investigation that both have been "cheating" for quite some time.

    Would a simpler method of justice not be for the Community to down vote all their posts for a period of time.
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by syphilis (Canon) on Oct 07, 2006 at 09:45 UTC
    I'm always mindful of cultural differences in issues like this. (That's not quite true ... I should say that I try to be mindful of cultural differences ... and that I don't always succeed.)

    Here, in this great land of Oz, the early white settlers would quite readily shoot the natives for stealing their sheep and cattle. Yet the aborigines were not thieves. They were merely doing what they had always done - which was to live off the land. And whatever was "on the land" was, to them, to be lived off - be it kangaroos and possums ... or sheep and cattle.

    I'd be interested to hear an Indian/Asian perspective on the alleged sins of madtoperl/jesuashok. Perhaps we already have. (I don't know the ethnic/cultural backgrounds of most of the participants in this thread.) I'm currently inclined to think that Indian culture and standards are different to the western viewpoint ... to just what extent, I'm unsure.

    In any case, I'd like to be able to get some measure on the extent of those differences before I reach a judgement. This is, after all, a multicultural forum ... not a British, or Australian, or American, or even a "Western", forum.

    Cheers,
    Rob
      You make a valid point, but:

      Had jesuashok or madtoperl answered "yes, it's copied from there. So what?" it would be a different picture, but with their answers "if you see this "C" program somewhere please let me know. It is my own effort. help If you can, otherwise shut." and "Hi, That was also posted by me" they are lying to us in the face of evidence.

      The "stealing" may not be seen as such, but then, why the lies? Is lying condoned in Indian/Asian cultures?

      --shmem

      _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                    /\_¯/(q    /
      ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
      ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}
        Is lying condoned in Indian/Asian cultures?

        I can't give an answer to that question. There are probably Indian perlmonks who can answer that question ... but then there's the issue of whether they would be prepared to truthfully answer that question.

        I can tell you that I worked in Indonesia (Bali, to be precise - which is a Hindu community, by majority) for a few months, and that lying (in order to "save face") was perfectly acceptable, frequently practiced, and never admitted.

        Cheers,
        Rob
      Hi,

      I am posting anonymously because I do not have an account on perlmonks. I am basically a lurker on perlmonks and sometimes contribute as a anonymous user.

      I am from India and I find this plagiarism as disgusting as you folks. This is definitely not acceptable behaviour in Indian culture.

      Also, it is not correct(IMHO) that this be treated as Asian/Indian, British or American cultural differences. Perlmonks is a global multicultural forum. Some basic behavioural/ethical standards are expected from the people visiting and using these forums irrespective of differences of culture/ethinicity/etc. Plagiarism is definitely not expected behaviour for a perlmonk.

      Regarding the "shunning wall" idea. Will it work? If the perpetrators were clever enough to rig up a scheme to gain XP, whats stopping them form discarding the old account and starting afresh with two new accounts?

      Regards,
      Mahesh

      "mindful of cultural differences"

      yes, that's important, of course. but it *can* lead to a wrong way of tolerance.
      i like perlmonks, because it is a community of perl programmers - it's not german, it's not english (well except for the language), it's not japanese, etc.

      and the community lives with its members and also with the discussion of its members. a community has some rules, and even if they are not written down anywhere, they exist.

      anyone who participates in discussion can bring in their own suggestions. if you have valid points, you can just say them here.
      but if everybody in this thread says, plagiarism is not acceptable for them, why should it suddenly be accepted only because there are monks who are practicing it but not joining this discussion?

        a community has some rules, and even if they are not written down anywhere, they exist

        If my Indonesian experience taught me anything, it's that the unwritten rules that (you and) I see are not necessarily seen by people from other cultures. (That's probably the only point I'm trying to make.)

        Cheers,
        Rob
      I agree with you on the cultural differences observation. I was going to make the same point until I read your node. Many Americans just don't realize that plagiarism is viewed differently in other parts of the world. In fact, I have been told that in some countries, plagiarism is expected in certain situations, especially academic ones. (Teachers will get upset if you do *not* plagiarize.) When I was first told this, I was surprised. I guess it is a hard thing to accept when you have been told since childhood that plagarism is wrong. The world is an interesting place. The more you explore it, the more you learn about yourself and your own beliefs.

        I think sight of what "plagerism" means is being lost here.

        If

        Teachers will get upset if you do *not* plagiarize.

        This implies that the pupil is expected to quote from one or more, known (how else would the teacher know that the work was not original?), authoratative sources.

        Quoting from authoratative sources does not fall under the definition of plagerism, the essence of which can be summed up by:

        Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words or work of another.

        If the teacher is expecting it to happen, then when it does, they will know it has, because they will recognise the source. There is no deception or misrepresentation involved and therefore the term plagerism does not apply. Even if the reference is uncited, how can it be plagerism if the teacher is expecting it?


        Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
        Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
        "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
        In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by g0n (Priest) on Oct 07, 2006 at 10:09 UTC
    ++ to various posters in this thread who have put in a good deal of work identifying the problem.

    I wholeheartedly second syphillis's call for someone to comment from an Indian/Asian cultural perspective - there is no full consensus in western culture on what constitutes plagiarism and/or copyright theft, look at the current debates on music/film downloading & fair use for an example - so there could be cultural differences that we are overlooking.

    Taking the assumption that this is nothing more than cynical plagiarism for the purpose of gaining XP, perhaps the gods and/or pmdev could implement a mechanism for changing the nodetype of a node to a non rep-bearing nodetype, preventing anyone from voting on it, and perhaps also locking the node from OP edits.

    Once plagiarism was proven removing the nodes accumulated rep from the posters XP would render the exercise pointless, with a slight disincentive since not every node ++ results in XP++

    This approach would also allow the temporary suspension of voting on a node if it was under suspicion but not necessarily proven to be plagiarised.

    Of course, that assumes that the problem is serious enough to warrant making changes to the site. Otherwise unapproval and -- should be enough to cover it. After all, few site regulars can be unaware of the suspicions that have surrounded madtoperl for quite some time.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    "If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists in treating another human being as a thing."
    John Brunner, "The Shockwave Rider".

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by wfsp (Abbot) on Oct 07, 2006 at 10:27 UTC
    I think liverpole has done the hard work for us. ++ to him for that.

    All we need do is reply to any further posts from these two urging caution and a link back to this thread. I wouldn't want to give them the satisfaction of putting us to a lot of trouble.

    Leave everything as it is but be vigilant.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by zentara (Archbishop) on Oct 07, 2006 at 11:39 UTC
    Good stuff has been said, but my perspective is to treat them like lying children, instead of taking pro-active action against them. Just let everyone know about them, post responses which indicate plagiarism, and recommend people don't answer them and downvote them.

    I mean, why get so upset over it? Do you want to get an ulcer by constantly watching their posts then digging for the plagiarized source?

    I propose actively ignoring them, and hope they go away. If they know they can agitate us, they will. And that could get ugly if they sign up for a bunch of phony accounts and just start plastering the nodes with junk..... then the janitors will be forced to take very undemocratic action, like summarily deleting nodes.


    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. Cogito ergo sum a bum
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by jimt (Chaplain) on Oct 07, 2006 at 12:19 UTC

    You are walking in the land of perlmonks. You come to a fork in the road. One path leads you to the capital city, the other path leads you deep into treacherous woods and certain death. Two monks are standing at the fork in the road, one always lies, one always tells the truth.

    You can ask only one monk only one question. How do you determine the correct road to take?

    Solution:

    You ask the monk standing on the left, "If I were to ask him which way to go, what would he say?" The monk on the left replies, "That you should take the path to the right."

    You start to walk off down the path to the left, but before you go, the monk on the right volunteers, "Dear monk, I would tell you that he would tell you that you should take the path to the right."

    You pause and face him. "He answered my question first, and that's what he told me."

    "Yes," replies the monk on the right, "That was also me answering your question".

    You beat the monk on the right with your clue-by-four, thank the one on the left, and continue to the capital city.

    [ed: removed the spoiler tag, since in retrospect I thought it spoiled the joke.]

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by xdg (Monsignor) on Oct 07, 2006 at 13:38 UTC

    Great work. Two comments on the post and various comments so far:

    • Evidence needs to be posted to plagiarised nodes. This is critical for transparency on all sides.
    • We should not encourage mass down-voting of unrelated nodes -- only the plagiarised ones. Punish the node, not the person.

    -xdg

    Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

      Monks should punish the node, gods should punish the person.
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by creamygoodness (Curate) on Oct 07, 2006 at 14:08 UTC

    ++ to liverpole for making it easy and fun to spend all my votes today. :)

    This is bizarre. If jesuashok's home node is genuine, and it looks like it is, we know where he works and what he looks like.

    The only rationale must be to accumulate XP. It's not like VzjaGRA spam, where there's a direct financial incentive to continue the behavior. So I don't think we'll have an ongoing problem now that it's been detected. It's galling, though, to think of all the hours people have spent answering these plagiarized nodes, duplicating effort expended elsewhere.

    For anybody playing the XP game: if you uncover a plagiarized node and present evidence, I'll upvote you.

    --
    Marvin Humphrey
    Rectangular Research ― http://www.rectangular.com
      If jesuashok's home node is genuine, and it looks like it is...

      That gave me the idea to google for "Vallent Systems". Hmmm...

      Update: Come to think of it, maybe it's just another of jesuashok's spelling mistakes. :-)

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by lin0 (Curate) on Oct 07, 2006 at 16:30 UTC

    First, I have to thank liverpole for the excellent job he did uncovering the problem. Now, answering the original question, here are my 2 cents:

    1. We have to decide on the rules to follow from now on to avoid seeing this kind of behaviour in the future
    2. We have to decide what to do in cases when plagiarism was uncovered but that happened prior to the publication of the rules (this would be the case of madtoperl and jeshuashok)

    Regarding to 1, I agree with several of the ideas mentioned in this thread, in particular:

    I suggest we:

    • Post a link within the thread to the original source (as suggested originally by bobf)
    • Drop the node rep to 0 if it were positive (or leaving it as-is if it were negative) (as suggested originally by bobf)
    • Assess a 10 XP penalty to the Ofender (as suggested originally by bobf)
    • Deactivate the offender account for a minimum of 30 days (as suggested originally by jcoxen)
    • Withdraw the offender's right to post for 90 days (as suggested originally by jcoxen)

    Regarding to 2, we have to study each situation on a case by case basis. In any case, we have to be firm enough to show our disapproval of this type of behaviours but flexible enough to account for cultural differences that might have caused a misunderstanding of what vroom tells us Perl Monks is about:

    • An attempt to make learning Perl as non-intimidating and easy to use as possible.
    • A place for individuals to polish, improve, and showcase their Perl skills.
    • A community which allows everyone to grow and learn from one another.

    If you noticed, I cited other people's ideas whenever I used them. This brings me to the last comment I wanted to make: We need to write a set of guidelines on when and why we need to cite other people's work and how to properly do it.

    Cheers!

    lin0
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by Tanktalus (Canon) on Oct 07, 2006 at 16:30 UTC

    <cheek style="planted-firmly: tongue">

    I dunno, I think jesuashok and madtoperl and liverpole are all the same person. First, he sets up a legitimate account (jesuashok). But he finds it difficult to garner the reputation he firmly believes he deserves. So he sets up a new account (liverpole) with a different strategy (i.e., helpful ;->). Things are going good, but he notices certain other monks (tlm, GrandFather) passing him on the XP chart effortlessly. So he comes upon a great new idea. He embarks on his most devious XP whoring yet. He scours the web looking for things to plagiarise. But, to distract attention, he does so as jesuashok rather than liverpole. And then, a brand new idea to deepen the plot. Creating a third account (madtoperl), he uses the two to feed off each other. And then, one day, in early October, he decides to cash in. He goes through all his old posts, reveals where he plagiarised them all from, but now posts as liverpole. Jackpot! Everything he posts gets bunches of ++'s, and his XP shoots through the roof!

    Well executed, liverpole, jesuashok, madtoperl, whoever you are. Well executed.

    </cheek>

    :-)

      I am speechless with laughter.

      ++Tanktalus!


      s''(q.S:$/9=(T1';s;(..)(..);$..=substr+crypt($1,$2),2,3;eg;print$..$/
      rofl Tanktalus, you could easily replace Mel Gibson in the follow-up of the Conspiracy Theory... ;)
      :-S
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by lima1 (Curate) on Oct 07, 2006 at 16:36 UTC
    OMG...some people have too much free time. He probably then had enough time to write some automated voting scripts. I think we should try too fix these cheating possibilities (multiple accounts, voting scripts, add some functionality to check some posting phrases with google before approval), make sure that these people don't have enough XP to moderate and then ignore them. I hate it when such idiots get too much attention.
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by mkirank (Chaplain) on Oct 07, 2006 at 17:11 UTC
    This has been very Entertaining for me :-)
    I would'nt have commented here but some monks brought in Asian and Hinduism in between so here are my comments
    Unlike most of you , I have met jesuashok in person,I Worked with him for around 3 months before he moved to a different company.

    My opinion about him as I remember (this was 2 years ago).
    At that time he was a bit Immature (still has some learning to do on this :-) ) but he would spend around 12-14 hours in the office to take care of the project
    at that time he was new to perl
    He was the youngest member of the team and was *always* ridiculed ..

    Now answering some questions on this thread before I comment on the Issue
    shmem
    Brag before others (see "Monks i have met" on jesuashok homenode) about their XP gained at perlmonks
    I cannot talk for the others on that list but though I consider my perl skills as average , I have been to YAPC::2005 and I have met a lot of talented people there and I can differentiate between their perl skills based on their work and someone who gains XP here
    If you have not been to a YAPC you should,Its an amazing experience ...
    syphilis
    I'm always mindful of cultural differences in issues like this. (That's not quite true ... I should say that I try to be mindful of cultural differences ... and that I don't always succeed.)
    You succeded on this node but IMHO you failed when u said,
    I can't give an answer to that question. There are probably Indian perlmonks who can answer that question ... but then there's the issue of whether they would be prepared to truthfully answer that question.
    I have read about the racial tension in Australia and I think it is written from that angle in mind, I may be wrong but that is what it feels to me when you say "prepared to truthfully answer"
    I am not aware of what constitutes plagiarism but I dont think I will do what jesuashok did to gain XP and it is not cool
    I can tell you that I worked in Indonesia (Bali, to be precise - which is a Hindu community, by majority) for a few months, and that lying (in order to "save face") was perfectly acceptable, frequently practiced, and never admitted
    what is the total population of the Hindu community there and how many people did you meet , of that how many told you this was acceptable ? .. you can use words cleverly (like majority ,acceptable ..)
    Why did u have to bring in Asian/Hindu into this ?
    Is'nt it the same world over , I read about one australian cricketer who lied and then was caught (not once)
    and there are many leaders who have lied (still are) and have been caught all around the world ...the point is people lie everywhere it dosen't depend on where they are from and what religion they are .. Most of us have heard about Karma (XP) .. Karma is a concept in hinduism .

    Now on the Issue in perlmonks
    IMHO
    The person did this to gain XP as a community we can reduce his XP to 0 ...That is his real photo and he has been mocked up by enough people , These should be enough and the account can be dismissed if this continues in the future.
    I do not know the Law's in other countries but in India if you are caught cheating in school you are failed in that particular test (you will be able to take the test again next time)...As it says in the Perlmonks FAQ this is
    A community which allows everyone to grow and learn from one another.
    Lets not make it a racial or religion Issue and Instead focus on learning .
      Why did u have to bring in Asian/Hindu into this ?

      Because he was concerned and sensitive to the issues you are worrying at him about? He was relating his experiences with a much different culture from his own. And since Indonesia is by far Islamic, he had to qualify that Bali is majority Hindu (92%), which is the reason he wondered whether it might indicate anything about Indian attitudes. He was asking whether there was a difference there, as he had found in Bali. I can find nothing wrong with what he said. I do worry about your rapid-fire questions on this one point.

      Believe me, there is real confusion and real consternation about the mismatch between the rather simple concept of plagiarism and the behavior of students from some cultures. It is not so much the rates or percentages (whatever they are) that is so distressing, it is the blank look on their faces when you bring the evidence to their attention. (The guilty yelling from other cultures is not necessarily preferable, no) Thus the legitimate query, is (undetected) plagiarism the norm, or at least unacknowledged, in some cultures? Which brings us back to the confusion as to how to handle it here at PM, a multi-cultural meeting place.

      Is lying condoned in Indian/Asian cultures?

      I can't give an answer to that question. There are probably Indian perlmonks who can answer that question ... but then there's the issue of whether they would be prepared to truthfully answer that question.

      While I cannot speak for syphilis, nor would I presume to, I would like to take a stab at clarifying what I think he meant.

      Given the context of his post, that of being a reply in a thread discussing the probable wrongdoings of certain PerlMonks members from one particular geographic region, wherein there is a degree of uncertainty regarding cultural norms and mores between that geographic region and another from which the "majority" of members hail, it is hard to say how members from that geographic region would respond when asked: "So, do you think the actions of your fellow countrymen, which we have been condemning in this thread, are wrong?"

      It's akin to the Catch-22 or "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" sort of question that is "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

      Clearly, that last question is of the form demanding a yes or no answer. But if you answer "Yes," then it implies you were beating your wife at some point and were therefore in the wrong at that time.

      If you say "No," you may well mean, "No, I have never beaten my wife," but the questioner has set it up in such a way that for them, "No" means, "No, I haven't stopped beating my wife." Or in other words, you are wrong now.

      So, you are in effect wrong no matter how you answer, whether or not you ever were in fact guilty of spousal abuse.

      The word "lying," generally, in English, already carries connotations of wrongdoing. Therefore, to say, "Yes, lying is condoned," is in effect saying, "Yeah, we know it's wrong, and we do it anyway."

      Or at least the one giving an afirmative answer may be concerned that that is how an affirmative answer will sound to the questioner.

      OTOH, it is entirely possible that an affirmative answer to that question: "Is lying condoned?" might well mean more along the lines of: "Under certain circumstances, when telling the truth may cause more pain, damage, or acrimony, it may instead be better to tell a small untruth, a 'white lie,' in the interests of the greater good."

      In the current context of this thread, it would be very difficult IMHO for a person, from the same geographic region as the two Monks being discussed above, perhaps lacking a facility with the English language, and being probably equally as perplexed by the finer points of Western culture and custom as Westerners are of Indian or Hindu culture, to adequately articulate an answer that sounds a great deal like, and may be artificially simplified to mean, "Yes, we condone wrongful behaviour."

      I believe it was precisely this careful distinction that syphilis was attempting to make.

      planetscape
        it is hard to say how members from that geographic region would respond when asked

        That, in a nutshell, is all I was trying to get at. Sorry if it got misconstrued as something more sinister.

        Cheers,
        Rob
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by dimar (Curate) on Oct 07, 2006 at 20:04 UTC
    Some points to consider:

    "Plagiarism" is a technical term which implies an authoritative conclusion based on known facts evaluated in the context of widely recognized institutional norms. Although such a conclusion may be justifiable in this particular circumstance, one is well-advised to consider less accusatory language when suitable. Such language might include terms as "non-attributed sources" or "duplicated content", especially when a question about 'plagiarism' is directed at the conduct of a specific person, instead of just a hypothetical question that does not actually name any names.

    Duplicated, non-attributed content does not necessarily justify a conclusion of 'plagiarism' (e.g., perhaps someone was framed, or the original author gave consent, or the original author is not in actuality the one who first published the material). This is another reason why *conclusions* are a lot more slippery than emotionally detached recounting of known facts.

    Incidents like this, however unfavorable, can also be considered *helpful reminders* if you use them to sharpen your critical thinking skills and your personal level of awareness:

    • never assume a one-to-one correspondence between username and physical entity
    • anything that can be produced by humans can be counterfeited by humans
    • sometimes trust is less about keeping people honest, and more about making really big lies either too unprofitable to tell, or too expensive to uncover
    • there is nothing new under the Sun
    • there is no spoon

    =oQDlNWYsBHI5JXZ2VGIulGIlJXYgQkUPxEIlhGdgY2bgMXZ5VGIlhGV
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by richill (Monk) on Oct 07, 2006 at 21:35 UTC
    I dont know what does anyone have to gain by plagiarism, if as i understand it is only reputation points, then naming and shaming will work.

    It's daft copying though

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by Marza (Vicar) on Oct 08, 2006 at 00:35 UTC

    All I can say after reading all this is "wow."

    Maybe I am missing a point because I don't make a living off writing Perl. Maybe I just don't care. Maybe I might be even flattered if somebody was "stealing" my code. I don't know because I don't think it has ever happened to me.

    Can you prove they intentionally did it? It's one thing to declare it's your code and it's another to say "this might help you" It could be some people just don't get html and linking ;)

    Are we to scream at them and label them with the scarlet letter "P"

    Why not simply inform them about the proper use of references? Even in the professional world, people don't get that.

    In the greater scheme of things; who cares if a node was assumed to be plagiarized? What is lost? Reputation? XP?

    Reputation is not lost because somebody plagiarized your node. Your reputation comes from giving good answers.

    The very fact you post here opens the door to you being plagiarized. How many people come to this site and take coding examples and use it at work or school as their own? Face it people you are probably plagiarized all the time.

    For those of you wagging your fingers. Have you ever used code from the many Perl books to solve a problem at work? Did you give credit to the author?

    I thought we were supposed to be about helping the world of Perl? I think this site would loose something if we set up "node police" to make sure all nodes are honest.

    This whole concern seems (to me) to revolve around XP again. In the greater scheme of things, XP on the Perl Monks means NOTHING. I can't buy coffee with it. The girls don't find me hotter because I am a Vicar and I know there are people levels below me that are superior coders.

    Ok, you can -- away now!

      My position is that I don't really care about people copying code and answers from wherever. I'd like to see them provide a reference to the originator, but I don't mind if they forget or don't think it's worth it.

      What I do mind is people copying questions that they don't understand at all (and I don't mean they don't understand what the answer is, I mean they don't even know what the question is and they wouldn't know what to do with the answer) and then pretend it's their serious question. That pisses me off because it takes time and resources from people who could be helping people with actual questions.

      And in this case, it's pretty obviously intentional. Before this thread was started both guys had been repeatedly repremanded over a couple of months by various posters on their copy & pasting behaviour. They just ignore it or lie about it and hope nobody else notices.

        Ok. If they were approached about it and ignored it. Bounce them! They are obviously not here to learn anything. Labels of plagerism is not going to work. We should have a rule about plagerism and then we have grounds to toss those that offend them.

        I just don't want to see this site turned into "Is that orginal work or did he steal it?"

      planetscape's reply makes the case very well. There is a crossover between real life™ and life in the Monastery. I was rather surprised, and a little flattered, to receive an email soliciting for a programmer for a significant Perl programing contract which must have come through my association with PerlMonks. It looks like XP can be traded on for the sort of coupons that buy coffee or the right sort of car to attract girls.

      Not that it is the XP in and of itself that is important. Just like money, XP is an indicator. And just like money, what XP indicates may be completely bogus depending on how it was obtained. I guess you might say - we don't want to devalue XP. Although really what we are saying is we don't want to devalue PerlMonks.


      DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel

      Well, I think that saying, in effect, "everyone does it" misses the point. Yes, plagiarism is commonplace. It can even be flattering ("imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", that sort of thing). However, that avoids the question of whether plagiarism is to be tolerated, and if not, what is to be done about it.

      My guess would be that most of the code that someone steals is considered "free" as in speech, available to everyone, much as Perl itself is. In that respect, you do have a valid point - if it's freely given away, why complain when someone takes it?

      In my opinion, the answer is that the taking is done without proper "thanks", so to speak. It's one thing to take examples out of a book or from Perl Monks, without attribution, to use in programs you write. You probably couldn't find the proper attribution if you tried; and who tries? It's another matter entirely to take a whole program published elsewhere, copy it verbatim or with only cosmetic changes, and present it as your own. It's dishonest. I suppose I could take the Perl language source code, remove Larry's name, and replace it with my own. As far as I know that would be legal, maybe even within the license - but would it be right?

      XP on Perl Monks has whatever a person gives it. To you, since it can't buy coffee or impress the ladies, it means nothing. Me, I have the opposite problem - the ladies are only after me because of my XP. It's a curse, I tell you... but I digress. To some people, XP here is really important, worth cheating for.

      I don't see that anyone wants to set up the Node Police. I think that some people were thinking of offering some 'encouragement' to everyone to keep it honest, by providing for sanctions if they did plagiarize.

      Still, maybe the best solution is to point out the instances where posted code or text appears elsewhere, indicating where that material may be found. Let the community decide if it's plagiarism, and if so, whether to downvote or otherwise comment. Perhaps peer pressure alone will be enough to discourage dishonest behavior.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by planetscape (Canon) on Oct 08, 2006 at 02:38 UTC

    My take on why this is a Big Deal™...

    I have been quite puzzled today by the reactions of some people here in this thread or in the CB, who do not seem to quite understand why the rest of us are so troubled by the idea that some Monks here may have plagiarized at least some of their nodes.

    The easy answer, of course, is that I have, or would like to believe that I have, written material that's "worth" stealing. I write prose and even the occasional poem (in English, or a close approximation) as well as various dialects of code, and while several critiques by other writers may not agree, I do think at least some of my material meets that criteria. And I will say that as a writer of other media beside code, the thought of someone posting sans attribution the Perl Poetry of another bothers me more than the idea of borrowing snippets of code, or reposting questions perhaps while seeking further clarification of answers already known.

    But there's more to this issue than just the worth one assigns the fruits of one's own labor.

    I believe the issues related to compounding one's guilt by lying when confronted with conclusive evidence have already been well-covered elsewhere. So what else is there?

    We all "know" XP is "just a game." Believe me, I got far more upset the other day when my pinball game locked up on me as I was on my way to a record high score than I ever will about the vagaries of a few ++'s and --'s on my node reps or my XP.

    But, right or wrong, XP does matter to some. Here's why.

    I remember very vividly the day one Monk here (who shall remain nameless) related to me his surprise that a prospective employer viewed his homenode here, and remarked upon not only his XP but also the quality, number, and location (i.e., SoPW, Meditations, Poetry, etc.) of his writeups. The Monk was astonished that the employer (who later did hire him, incidentally) would look at that sort of thing, and actually consider it when making a hiring decision.

    Like it or not, for good or ill, whether that was the original or ongoing intent of the Powers That Be, PerlMonks' "record" of its users matters to some.

    If prospective employers are looking at that data while making hiring decisions, we may well scoff and think the joke is on them.

    But it really is on them, and in a much more sinister way, when the record of a PerlMonks user is distorted by deceit and artifice, as it has apparently been done by some.

    The Monks who plagiarized, "borrowed," or merely erred by omission to credit those whose work they appropriated, cheated not only themselves, the original authors, the Monks who replied and/or voted, and the community in general... but they cheated their employers if they gained work, raises, advancement, etc. by virtue of their record here on PerlMonks.

    That's why this is, to me at least, a Big Deal™.

    planetscape
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Oct 08, 2006 at 07:31 UTC

    It seems to me that the proper response is to:

    • Remove the offending material from the nodes.
    • Remove all XP gained from the posts from the posters.
    • Revoke node approval priveleges for a period of time (if removing the XP does not do so).

    I don't see the point of a suspension or ban; it's really not worth the effort to devise a system that ties accounts to user identities so strongly that someone cannot sign up again for a new account and start over.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by johngg (Abbot) on Oct 08, 2006 at 17:53 UTC
    ++ liverpole for bringing this distasteful matter into the open. ++ chargrill for the extra detective work. I find on reading the nodes that I upvoted several of them which is doubly annoying as, having cast my vote already, I can't downvote them as I would have had I known they were ripped off. Thus, IMHO, for every +ve vote two should be taken away.

    "Keep pouring your downvotes"

    Cheers,

    JohnGG

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by hossman (Prior) on Oct 08, 2006 at 21:04 UTC
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by tweetiepooh (Friar) on Oct 09, 2006 at 10:30 UTC
    The Bible talks about convicted thieves paying back multiples of what they stole. They were also expected to stop stealing.

    Why not punish theft nodes by downing the posters XP a multiple of any gained votes on stolen nodes? This should come after proper warnings and possibly using some form of jury. Thus the punishment will outway possible gains.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by shmem (Canon) on Oct 09, 2006 at 11:01 UTC

    Maybe it's not all that bad. Or bad in another sense. Let's step back.

    Without comments of jesuashok we can only speculate about why he did

    • rip bug reports from p5p
    • lift questions and answers from elsewhere
    • ask for explanation or advice regarding those bugs and questions
    • answer questions with lifted answers

    all without mentioning the original authors or even telling it's third party material.

    Was it for "gaining XP" ? Or something else?

    We have cases in which jesuashok and madtoperl blatantly claimed autorship for alien work, in the Perl Poetry section, a behaviour which might be a pityful attempt to save face.

    However, the plagiarized posts in the SoPW section might have another background - i came accross a comment from jpeg in the thread close ARGV inside a while, which can give a clue: that might all be just for Perl Exercises with a - to say it in a kind manner - very sloppy notion of authorship, copyright and academic standards.

    In that node jesuashok says he's trainer to a team of 7 perl coders with very little background. I guess that not having the expertise needed to be a perl trainer, he sought and seeks questions and answers in whatever way to get fodder for his classes.

    Up to now, I can't see any post (other than the incriminated one in Perl Poetry) in which he explicitly claims authorship for the content; it's rather implicit by his omission of source citation. The intent to plagiarize can only be assumed, and is questionable in the light of Perl Exercises, combined with the comments about jesuashok from mkirank. Note, I don't condone plagiarism, but I'm seeking an explanation and want to be fair.

    Anyways, it's time he showed up and wrote something...

    --shmem

    _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                  /\_¯/(q    /
    ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
    ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}

      If it is a the case that jesuashok was doing this to aid in his teaching program then it implies that he's not overly bright. He would get answers much better suited to his purpose (and questions too) if he noted in each case where the material came from and why the answers it had received already were not appropriate to his purpose.

      The fact that there are a good number of plagiarised questions asked by madtoperl and answered by jesuashok mitigates against that being the motive however. Current thinking puts the two of them as workmates or similarly close associates in some fashion. Surely if they can coordinate enough to post and answer questions in synchrony, they can communicate well enough to not need to engage in behaviour that they ought to know was not approved by this community - they had both bumped against this particular behaviour standard in the past after all.

      They both showed up yesterday. Neither wrote something or turned up in the CB.


      DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by tmiklas (Hermit) on Oct 09, 2006 at 11:39 UTC

    ++ for many posts here (yes - all my daily votes went out).

    I've stated my point on plagiarism issue long time ago in my other node in other discussion. Plagiarism is a desease for which there's no cure :-(

    UPDATE:
    ... but I believe that if anybody reads this node will know what to do with plagiarised posts that may appear later here. We all should remember that it's very easy to post a question, but to post a GOOD QUESTION is much harder (not mentioning a good response).

    Greetz, Tom.
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by halley (Prior) on Oct 09, 2006 at 14:13 UTC

    The Bible talks about convicted thieves paying back multiples of what they stole.

    I think we already have enough moral high-horse-ism going on in this thread. The Bible also talks about selling your daughter into slavery in other countries, and stoning people for heresy, so maybe let's just not bring another confused moralistic argument into it. If you wanted to bring up the idea of treble punitive damages, just go ahead and do so directly.

    Personally, I think this whole thread is a lot of hullabaloo over very little. Let's look at the real costs:

    • Some unimaginative twit got some extra XP
      maybe this will help the twit get a local job as a perl guru; the rest of perlmonks keeps saying this mythical number is not important, but apparently it really chaps our collective hides
    • Someone else's question or poem got posted twice
      Man, the roof will cave in if somebody doesn't get their proper attribution, right? And it was a COMPLETE waste of time for everyone to expend some brain energy trying to comprehend the question and think of a solution and post their thoughts in response. Well, except now somebody else with a similar problem has more grist for their google search mill.

    Some people just need to release a little steam every now and then, and look at social issues with a bit of detachment and perspective.

    In the end, I do commend liverpole for his detective work, it can be a challenge and a bit of extra legwork. I also think it's right that the twits have been exposed and confronted. My all-time highest-ranked node is when I do a bit of searching around for the "evil" perpetrated by Wassercrats. Big whup. I kinda wish it weren't, since I would like to be remembered more for, oh, I dunno, the Perl I have contributed. Let's not lose sight and go back to mob psychology about the episode here.

    --
    [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

      I think the costs are more significant than that. A lot of talented people spent a lot of time thinking hard, finding solutions, crafting answers, testing code, and posting their responses, when there wasn't actually any need for them to do so. The plagiarized posts often seem like good topics, and on some level it's sort of nice to have a local archive of answers. But since those questions were already answered at least once before elsewhere on the web, duplicating that effort is of limited value. (Especially since searching PerlMonks is more difficult than it ought to be.)

      That's a lot of hours frittered away, and for what? A couple fools got inflated PerlMonks XP? It's a real boggle that these two would so cavalierly waste our precious time and expertise for something so trivial.

      --
      Marvin Humphrey
      Rectangular Research ― http://www.rectangular.com

        If it's a waste of people's time to think about Perl and type their thoughts, then why is it here? Just because the twit didn't have a genuine need doesn't mean that the question itself has no value to the community as a whole, nor the outsider who searches.

        Searching perlmonks directly is rarely the avenue a newcomer takes. They've never heard of perlmonks until they google for "perl matching balanced text" and gotten a couple hits here. And as you say, searching is harder than it should be; more ways to phrase a solution is more ways to find it with a global deep search like google, et al. How do you measure the number of people who find their answers and leave satisfied without ever signing up or replying to a node?

        --
        [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

      Personally, I think this whole thread is a lot of hullabaloo over very little.

      ...

      I also think it's right that the twits have been exposed and confronted.

      There.

      That's what this hullabaloo is about, nothing else: a strong reaction of the community, er, of the many people who do post to this fabulous site and help each other. It's the way to confront them, and the only way: a root note with many follow-ups, where many expend some brain energy trying to comprehend the question and think of a solution and post their thoughts in response.

      A weak node without many follow-ups, perhaps some words in the chatterbox, /msg'ing them - that would not have them confronted, let alone exposed.

      Let's look at the real costs:
      • Some unimaginative twit got some extra XP
      • Someone else's question or poem got posted twice

      No, these are not the real costs, and you know that. Clicking ++ or -- doesn't cost anything, and an extra node in the database - bleh. No, the real costs are, as liverpole exposed in the OP:

      1. It is disrespectful to this community that I've come to love
        as demerphq expressed in another context: somebody just shits in your bed and doesn't give a damn about you
      2. It lowers the standards by which Perlmonks will, unavoidably, be judged
        huh? they condone posting questions answered elsewhere, stolen stuff, and even reward the poster? (with XP, the "currency" here)
      3. It is demeaning, both those authors whose work has been stolen, and to those authors at Perlmonks who take pride in the commitment to the quality of their questions, answers and Perl code
        Haha! look at those pavlow dogs, I throw them a question and they answer! what fun!
      4. It is frustrating to have Perlmonks forced to be associated with a practice which is both unethical and illegal

      And the biggest cost IMHO - another seed of mistrust and off-topic distraction whilst regarding questions and answers - akin to the suspicion towards posts asking us to do their homework.

      --shmem

      _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                    /\_¯/(q    /
      ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
      ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by spiritway (Vicar) on Oct 09, 2006 at 22:13 UTC

    There are so many thoughtful, intelligent comments in this thread, I am reluctant to add my own... but I'll force myself.

    First, the idea that this may be a cultural thing only goes so far. Some cultural expectations are acceptable; others are not. In some cultures, widows were burned on their husbands' funeral pyres. Should we who are not of that culture, support or accept this? I don't believe so. Sensitivity to other cultures is fine, necessary in this connected world; but allowing this sensitivity to dictate what must be the culture at Perl Monks is not.

    liverpole has done us a great service by bringing this to our attention. Plagiarism is a problem, not just because of any moral issues, but because it has legal repercussions for all those involved. If material is copyrighted, Perl Monks could be sued for copyright infringement (theoretically; the risk is probably very small). However, this is the sort of thing that needs to be considered.

    One problem I see is that material taken from elsewhere may actually belong to the person who posts it here. It is possible for someone to use an different handle on a different newsgroup or Website. It would be unfortunate to punish someone for posting his or her own material in more than one place. And yet... how do we know it's theirs?

    One possible solution is to edit suspicious nodes and add a line that says, "taken from <link to wherever>", or "Originally posted by <name> at <link>", or words to that effect. It would alert others to the possibility of fraud, without actually condemning them for it. Each Monk could decide for him/herself.

    Another problem is that, although we now have several clear instances of copying, most likely we haven't even scratched the surface. The Internet is a big place, and all you have to do is make a few cosmetic changes, scramble the order of words a bit, and it's nearly impossible to find the original work. We likely are missing plenty of other stolen work. That being the case, I feel it is important to make it clear that plagiarism is not tolerated here, and also to make the penalty serious enough to give someone pause. The chances of getting caught are remote; the consequences should be more than a light slap on the wrist.

    Removing XP and tagging stolen work is probably a good idea. I believe there may be a legal obligation to remove known plagiarized works, but IANAL, so don't quote me. Just keep that thought in mind.

    I am inclined to block a miscreant from posting for a certain length of time, in those cases where there is no room for doubt. You misuse your privileges, you lose them for a while. They can still read; they can post anonymously and reap all the benefits of Perl Monks. They just won't get any XP, which I suppose is the main reason someone would plagiarize here.

    Of course, anyone can create a new ID in moments, but so what? That would mean they'd have to start from scratch. If they want to play sock puppets by upvoting their own nodes from another account, let them. Chances are they'll still get busted eventually.

    For nodes that aren't so clear, I suppose we need to let the community speak. Despite occasional glitches, the XP system does seem to have a regulating effect on what goes on here. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.

    Finally, liverpole, I definitely don't think you're blowing this out of proportion. We are a community. What our individual members do, reflects on all of us - more so, if we remain silent in the face of plagiarism or other misconduct.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by Argel (Prior) on Oct 10, 2006 at 00:43 UTC
    There are really two issues here. The one everyone seems to be discussing are the moral and ethical ramifications and what to do about the palgiarism. What everyone seems to be avoiding are the legal issues of copyright infringement. Slapping "plagiarized" onto these nodes does not negate the copyright issues. And just downvoting these nodes most certainly does not.

    Even if Perl Monks is not legally bound to remove the offending nodes (until asked to by the copyright holder) it certainly is the ethical thing to do. At least that's the kind of response I would expect from a reputable site if they discovered they were hosting illegal copies of my computer artwork (or Perl poetry if I ever got around to writing some).

    With that said, there is merit to keeping an archive of these nodes for future reference. A compromise might be to assign a special plagiarized attribute to the offending nodes and then only allow Friars on up to search for these (and searching for that attribute would be off by default of course).

      Aha? Keeping an archive of material which is possibly infringing copyright is not copyright infringing? But C&P of freely published material without any copyright remark is copyright infringent?

      You've got funny ideas.

      --shmem

      _($_=" "x(1<<5)."?\n".q·/)Oo.  G°\        /
                                    /\_¯/(q    /
      ----------------------------  \__(m.====·.(_("always off the crowd"))."·
      ");sub _{s./.($e="'Itrs `mnsgdq Gdbj O`qkdq")=~y/"-y/#-z/;$e.e && print}
        That's why I called it a compromise. The point is to make it not readily or normally available but still allow higher ranking Monks to use it as a reference. Maybe only Janitors should have access? I'm just throwing ideas out because I know some people think it could be useful to have an archive to cross-reference new posts with.

      Alleged copies. A reply noting the allegation and pointing toward the evidence is the best solution. If any copyright holders care to notify PerlMonks (probably via The Perl Foundation, though "/msg gods ..." might give a faster response) of their own claims of unauthorized copying (and request of specific desired action to address the alleged violation), then action will be taken to respond to such claims.

      IMO, PerlMonks administrators should not be in the business of judging evidence trying to determine the legal status of contributions, nor of trying to second-guess the desires of alleged copyright holders.

      If you are concerned about some copyright holders, then feel free to contact them, notify them of your suspicions of unauthorized copying, and invite them to contact the site admins if they wish action taken regarding the (allegedly) copied material.

      I see more value in preserving the accurate record of the (alleged) infringement and even of links to (alleged) copyright violations (such as on-line copies of Perl books) for the possible benefit of copyright holders hoping to investigate any violations over trying to second-guess alleged wishes of alleged owners.

      The documentation of the allegations has more moral value in my book then trying to pretend that it didn't happen or that the linked-to material does not exist.

      And I believe that site admins attempting to determine legal status and take action based on their guesses actually opens up the site to more potential for legal troubles than does a laissez faire policy.

      - tye        

        The question in my mind is what does copyright law have to say on this? We certainly have some very, very strong evidence that copyright infringement has occured. By continuing to host it does that make Perl Monks an accomplice or guilty as well? Why is it everyone wants to pretend this issue does not exist? It's the proverbial elephant in the room!

        Personally, I'd be curious to hear what some of our published authors such as TheDamian and merlyn think about all of this.This likely hits closer to home with them and they are likely to give better advice being more familiar (in theory) with copyright law. chromatic has already said the offending material should be removed in node 576948.

Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by wulvrine (Friar) on Oct 11, 2006 at 14:04 UTC
    Incredible post liverpole, You are to be commended.
    I would have to completely agree with jcoxen!
    They are playing games to garner XP, remove it. If they grow up and become adults then fine, but I think the 'reset button' should be used to remove any benifits gained by stealing/lying. Anyone can make a mistake, or forget to quote, but these two are constantly doing it, including doing it to boost each others points. It's Blatant, it's Appalling, and it's Dubious. Gives us all a bad feeling.

    Tanktalus, you have definitely given me food for thought! hmmmmm!!! I wonder..

    *update::spelling mistakes*

    s&&VALKYRIE &&& print $_^q|!4 =+;' *|
Re: How should Perlmonks deal with Plagiarism?
by jesuashok (Curate) on Sep 18, 2013 at 08:47 UTC
    Hi All -

    I really have not read this forum till today and while doing a search I have come across this. I am glad that I see this today and I am realizing myself how stupid I was those days (I am sure I have changed myself better). I have not been active in this great forum for the last 6+ years and recently asked few questions though. But, I promise you all that I won't do like this anytime in here or in any social network where people really put their valuable times.

    Please accept my sincere apologies.



    i m possible

      Please accept my sincere apologies.

      I accept on behalf of perlmonks :)

      We get older, we get wiser, maybe visit dentist about wisdom teeth :)

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