Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Questionable Origin

Over at the Stabbed Up blog the author, Stabs, makes a serious accusation:

Well that looks familiar...
A few days ago I posted a summary of a battle I was in on Reddit.
Yesterday a rewritten version appeared uncredited on TMC.

A snarky comment, that I appear to have written my first TMC article, was censored.
Ho hum.
Since TheMitanni.com purports to be a serious video game news site, I felt it was worth looking into this article of questionable origin to see if Stabs had a case or if he was suffering from delusions of grandeur.

I went to the reddit post and the article in question and copied the text to Notepad++ to compare them side by side. A read-through of both at once revealed some startling similarities. While I realize that two reports of the same battle will describe the same events in the same order, I was struck by the similar beats of the texts and the order of subjects in the sentences.

Take a look, Stab's post on the left and the article on the right:
Click for full size.
I highlighted the paragraphs that describe the same events. Notice that in the majority of them the events are described in different words but the same way. It has the appearance that someone took the reddit post and fleshed it out with a few changes, more words, and a few extra sections on the countering of fleet doctrines.

It could be coincidence because after all the events in a battle are fixed and there are only so many ways to describe such a sequence of events. But my gut reaction as a long time writer of this blog, writer for EON Magazine, and writer/editor for the old EVE Tribune website is that this is at best a case of the TMC article writer being heavily inspired by the reddit post by Stabs, and at worst an unattributed steal of the framework for the article.

My recommendation to the editors at TMC is that they review this case themselves and implement policy's to discourage heavy borrowing of other people's work without attribution or permission. EDIT: If they have not done so already, which they probably have to be fair.


  1. Goons rule half the galaxy with tyranny and slavery
    Goons go to highsec to perform pogroms
    Goons scam new players (you can't scam veterans)
    Goons insult and demean other players on every possible media

    Are you surprised that they steal articles?

  2. A little hard to tell in this case, events could be told in the same order because describing how the fight happened backwards wouldn't make much sense. I'd lean on the side of caution and suggest this is merely a coincidence at this point.

    1. Normally I'd agree, but even the order of subjects-verbs-objects in the sentences are eerily similar.

  3. Tbh I doubt the editors knew. Stealing from reddit is a quite common practice for modern professional journalists, there's a joke on /r/uk that the subreddit is tomorrow's Metro (a British newspaper with a reputation for publishing articles stolen off reddit).

    I was backup FC for the Bastion in this fight and would be more than happy to give interviews/permissions if any Eve writers want to ask us about our battles.

    Credit is nice though.

  4. There may have been more than one guilty site. I know of another site that has now given attribution.

  5. "Special thanks to Callduron of reddit for being a source of intel"

    There's a running joke in The Bastion that I'm a Test spy. I should have been more careful what I wished for, not sure that helps me.

    But thanks Foo, it's appreciated even if it does mean I end up back in the noob corp!

  6. It's not really stealing. Even if they took they did deliberately take the original post and then flesh it out. It's the way journalism works in the internet age. Any time a big breaking news story pops up and if you read about it on more than one news source you'll see it over and over. I've lost count of the number of essentially same stories I've read over the Ukraine flight. Paragraph to paragraph mostly the same, just with some reworking of sentences and possibly reordering them.

    I'm not sure if it's better or worse than what it used to be though. It used to be every news source printed one of two different versions of an article depending on which news wire they subscribed to. Either AP or Reuters. Back then the original author got credit and money, but now days new facts do occasionally filter into different versions.

    It's just the way news works now days.

    1. I strongly disagree, and if its widespread that does not make it acceptable.

      The framework of a written piece of work is a fundamental property of that piece of work. Stealing the whole thing or just stealing the framework doesn't matter, its still theft.