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Author Topic: Plagiarism vs honest mistakes: BAN or nuance?  (Read 264 times)
LoyceV
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September 03, 2018, 12:40:43 PM
 #1

The reason I opened it is no longer valid.
It could still be worth discussing the general case, so I'll leave this thread open a bit longer. I'll lock this thread soon.



First: ~ I've got many accounts banned for plagiarism, and none of them will be missed.
But what about users who make honest mistakes?

TL;DR: he's guilty!
I'll start with a short time line:
August 11: Hero Member SHAWN-MIDWAYS gave me 5 Merit for a post which among others says: "any self respecting university has zero tolerance for plagiarism".
August 13: SHAWN-MIDWAYS committed plagiarism.
August 20: the plagiarism gets reported.
August 22: Newbie Shawn_Alter opens a thread to saying he believes other users edited their post to frame him for plagiarism. He wasn't framed.
September 1: Shawn_Alter sends me a PM asking if I can help him. He's sure it was a mistake quoting on his side, and shows an example of another mistake in a quote. He says he sometimes makes this mistake typing on a phone.
September 2: I told Shawn_Alter:

I do believe in rare occasions users commit plagiarism by mistake, and they're banned just like the spambots who do nothing else than copy/paste.  Especially on a phone editing quotes is very annoying. You could create a general thread about it in Meta, at the risk of being banned for ban evastion.

This subject has been on my mind for 2 days, because it doesn't feel like justice to ban someone for what could be a honest mistake. And that's why I open this topic.
Don't get me wrong: 99.9% of the users getting caught in plagiarism are guilty and should be banned. But imagine those 99.9% wouldn't exist, and we'd only have honest users on this forum. Without the massive plagiarism, I'm pretty sure nobody would get banned for an incidental mistake. He would get the benefit of the doubt.

Update: one thing has been bugging my mind: if he truely did this by accident, and his first reaction was that someone is framing him, that means he thinks he really typed that text. This is weird, how can he not remember he didn't type those 80 words, just 10 days later?


Related: allow me to show a (shortened) quote from myself:
~
Lack of sleep, worries and stress can temporarily cloud someone's judgement. I don't generally care for sob stories, but I do know it takes its toll on you in real life.

I'm always thinking: what if it happens to me someday? I must have embedded some images I found on Google in some of my old posts. The reference is in the URL, but not in the post.
Recently, I was typing jibberish and totally messing up quotes when I had a fever, and as a family with young kids and busy days I suffer from a continuous lack of sleep. I'd hate to lose access to my favourite forum if I ever mess up one way or another.
~
But the rules do allow exceptions:
NOTE: This is meant to serve as a reference/educational/informational thread, NOT a rock solid list of rules.
~
People who get caught copy and pasting should have their signature removed for a year or something. See if they stick around and contribute something worthwhile and if they do then they get it back. That way you can still contribute but you can't earn and having the signature removed for a year is better than indefinitely with a ban.
This will be a waste of time for a generic shitposter who commits plagiarism. But I'd be in favour of this as an exception for good posters who slipped once.
I found another failed quote from another user (please don't ban him Cheesy ). In this case it's more obvious it's a mistake, but it's one "[/quote]" away from being clear plagiarism.

For what it's worth: dealing with quotes and BBCode on a phone is terrible, and makes it easy to make mistakes. Snipping a quote and adding a link to one word (example) takes me a few minutes. It's easy to imagine you can make a mistake while doing this.

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September 03, 2018, 12:55:22 PM
 #2

I have previously made mistakes quoting posts, but it is usually when trying to trim down 4 or 5 embedded quotes, not when quoting a single post as in this case. Additionally, it is in general obviously meant to be a quote because I am then writing something in direct reply to the quote.

I agree with everything you've said, particularly about not punishing honest mistakes, but there are two things that are working against him here:

1 - There is no unclosed quote tag, or even bits of a tag, so after hitting "quote" he would have to have precisely deleted the before and after tags

2 - He added nothing of this own to the post, which you generally do after quoting someone


Edit:

Actually, looking at his post again, he's quoted someone else correctly first, before the alleged plagiarism underneath. Therefore, he can't possibly have misquoted the second post. It must have been a copy-paste job.


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September 03, 2018, 01:29:31 PM
 #3

In reference to my post (https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=4937282.msg44501150#msg44501150) in the thread from Shawn_alter you mentioned,
I don't believe him on the matter that he got framed from that two accounts for plagiarism, simply because the cached version from Google shows that the post
from Ini35 on August 12, 2018 was the same as his version from August 20, 2018. Plus the post from Ini35 wasn't modified on that date.

That's not a simple misquote.

But I get what you mean, we need to make sure to report only clear plags and double check for potential misquotes.

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September 03, 2018, 01:30:57 PM
 #4


2 - He added nothing of this own to the post, which you generally do after quoting someone

Im not against on what OP said but on Mr. SHAWN-MIDWAYS case its clear that he commited Plagiarism.

Nobody is perfect sometime's we all made a mistake like the second example you give on Mr. iasenko its obviously a mistake that is why he dont get banned.

Sometimes the reason for this cause is lack of sleep or if you already reading for a long time on your screen or especially when you are on your phone because its hard to select text on phone.

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September 03, 2018, 02:05:42 PM
Merited by LoyceV (1)
 #5

Cases should be taken on a case by case basis, but there should be few exceptions. I suspect this user just used that as a desperate excuse to try get out of the ban, but is this just a one off? Usually copy and pasters don't just do the one and have copied multiple posts and make a habit of it. When I used to search for them and I found one I'd try find another because if you find two or three cases then they don't really have a leg to stand on and if you can find another or more examples then this excuse would become less believable. People should really make sure they're quoting people properly in the first place though, but I fail to see how this was a misquote. If it was surely there would be some original material in there?

People who get caught copy and pasting should have their signature removed for a year or something. See if they stick around and contribute something worthwhile and if they do then they get it back. That way you can still contribute but you can't earn and having the signature removed for a year is better than indefinitely with a ban.
This will be a waste of time for a generic shitposter who commits plagiarism. But I'd be in favour of this as an exception for good posters who slipped once.

Maybe that's something we should do but only theymos can implement that. He has himself suggested signature bans/blacklists so hopefully they will happen whether on this forum or the new one. If people can redeem themselves by posting then I'm all for giving them a second change, but most will probably just abandon the account if they had to wait a year I reckon. Maybe make a handful of post in the meantime then try their luck after the sig ban duration expires.

I found another failed quote from another user (please don't ban him Cheesy ). In this case it's more obvious it's a mistake, but it's one "quote" away from being clear plagiarism.

But you can see his error there. I don't see the error in the other.



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September 03, 2018, 02:26:39 PM
 #6

All valid comments, thanks Smiley I've added this to the OP:
Update: one thing has been bugging my mind: if he truely did this by accident, and his first reaction was that someone is framing him, that means he thinks he really typed that text. This is weird, how can he not remember he didn't type those 80 words, just 10 days later?

People should really make sure they're quoting people properly in the first place though, but I fail to see how this was a misquote. If it was surely there would be some original material in there?
I did wonder about this too.

Quote
I suspect this user just used that as a desperate excuse to try get out of the ban, but is this just a one off? Usually copy and pasters don't just do the one and have copied multiple posts and make a habit of it. When I used to search for them and I found one I'd try find another because if you find two or three cases then they don't really have a leg to stand on and if you can find another or more examples then this excuse would become less believable.
And now I just feel plain stupid and naive! Am I turning soft? Sad I didn't search for this, but now that I did, I quickly found he copied this post from this post. And he's not the only one, let me get back to what I'm good at: getting users banned Cheesy
I'll edit the OP, as I still think this could be worth discussing in general.

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September 03, 2018, 02:46:37 PM
 #7

Its hard to believe his story, especially when he said that he misquoted and made a post, but you don't make a same mistake twice or perhaps more on the same day.

Loyce, not a lot of people here give others a benefit of the doubt, and you stood up for him and when he's guilty, you made the right choice. That's very ethical and professional of you.  Smiley And no, you're not turning soft.

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September 03, 2018, 04:26:30 PM
 #8

There's usually telltale signs if a user was misquoting (the odd [/quote] tag, context within the post, strange formatting) rather than plagiarizing. I mean adding "" isn't that difficult, even when typing on a phone. theymos even recently unbanned a user that he deemed to have only misquoted content rather than plagiarizing it:

OK, he's unbanned. He did post quotes without attribution, but I'm convinced that he wasn't doing this to pad his post count or anything like that, and he just failed to quote & attribute in the proper manner.

So if you make mistakes but your intentions weren't to profit off of other people's hard work, the possibility of getting your account unbanned isn't completely out of the question.


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September 03, 2018, 10:11:43 PM
 #9

I have previously made mistakes quoting posts, but it is usually when trying to trim down 4 or 5 embedded quotes, not when quoting a single post as in this case. Additionally, it is in general obviously meant to be a quote because I am then writing something in direct reply to the quote.

I agree with everything you've said, particularly about not punishing honest mistakes, but there are two things that are working against him here:

1 - There is no unclosed quote tag, or even bits of a tag, so after hitting "quote" he would have to have precisely deleted the before and after tags

2 - He added nothing of this own to the post, which you generally do after quoting someone


Edit:

Actually, looking at his post again, he's quoted someone else correctly first, before the alleged plagiarism underneath. Therefore, he can't possibly have misquoted the second post. It must have been a copy-paste job.

If I remember correctly, then I was trying to copy paste lines in that post and answer that in a few quotes in different Chrome tabs since quoting each sentence in the same tab of the mobile display is a nightmare.

Long story short, I ended up posting the copy-pasting the initial content of the main post and didn't bother to look into it and closed the tab in which i wrote my content (I can't look it in any other way).



Its hard to believe his story, especially when he said that he misquoted and made a post, but you don't make a same mistake twice or perhaps more on the same day.


Making the same mistake twice or thrice a day is suspicious indeed.

Take the example of my case.

I posted *by mistake as I've said above and didn't bother to look into it.

After that, I made a similar but not same mistake but with "[/quote]" [https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=4870957.msg44203572#msg44203572]
I'll consider that a brain dead day for making that mistake.



Cases should be taken on a case by case basis, but there should be few exceptions. I suspect this user just used that as a desperate excuse to try get out of the ban, but is this just a one off?
Maybe or Maybe not I'll leave you to judge that.

Usually copy and pasters don't just do the one and have copied multiple posts and make a habit of it.
You can go through my post history and can manually check all the posts, If I'm found copy pasting another one then I'll leave the forum for good and stick with my IRL work.


So if you make mistakes but your intentions weren't to profit off of other people's hard work, the possibility of getting your account unbanned isn't completely out of the question.

Well, I was trying to profit off of the posts I made (Wouldn't lie on that), but by adding my content into it after quoting it, Which ended up very bad for me for the mistake I committed in this case for the first time.

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September 03, 2018, 10:24:38 PM
 #10

You can go through my post history and can manually check all the posts, If I'm found copy pasting another one then I'll leave the forum for good and stick with my IRL work.

You already have been found:

I didn't search for this, but now that I did, I quickly found he copied this post from this post.


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September 03, 2018, 10:38:48 PM
 #11

Generally speaking, someone should add some kind of response to a quote after they quote it. If someone copies what someone else says, responds, and the only thing missing is the [ quote] BB code, this should be at worst treated as a minor infraction (only because it can make reading their post confusing), as it is not plagiarism in a sense that they are finding content, copying it and solely using said content for their own post. This means that someone should be adding a thought in response to a quote. If someone adds a word or a sentence in the middle of the quote, this is trying to pass off the quote as their own and is unacceptable.

I would be especially forgiving when someone is trying to remove a portion of a "quote pyramid" as this is easy to mess up, provided they respond in some way to the quote they incorrectly quoted. 

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September 05, 2018, 06:51:33 AM
 #12

Despite how your instance turned out. I tried my hand at lenience, mostly because it appeared to be an omission of facts. Here the user clearly uses quotation marks, but does not cite the source of the quotes. I gave them a response in the next post, but could not review their post history due to language barriers.

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September 05, 2018, 07:13:35 AM
 #13

Omg, I didn't even see that I had failed in quoting Lafu's post. What a mess.
What I try to do often is to take away the text not relevant to my comment, but most of the time I do it from the phone and and I just delete the previous comments, leaving the last one.

I can see now that people can make a mistake while quoting, but those a quite rare cases.
Most ot the time while reporting plagiarism, I see clearly copy/pastes.

I'll pay more attention when quotes are involved.

Just one thing, if the abusers start to put "[/quote]" in their plagiarism posts isn't this a way to escape the ban?

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September 05, 2018, 08:44:08 AM
 #14

Just one thing, if the abusers start to put "
" in their plagiarism posts isn't this a way to escape the ban?
[/quote]
If they do that in many posts, it will just become easier to spot their plagiarism.

Quote
Omg, I didn't even see that I had failed in quoting Lafu's post. What a mess.
And with that, this thread is now locked. Case closed.

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