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In the media

Shapps requests WMUK data; professor's plagiarism demotion

Grant Shapps

In The Register, Andrew Orlowski reports that three weeks ago, Grant Shapps filed a request with Wikimedia UK (WMUK) under the Data Protection Act 1998 "for all data relating to him". Shapps is a UK politician who was accused of editing the Wikipedia articles of political rivals in a matter that led to the removal of CheckUser and Oversight tools from Richard Symonds (Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry), a WMUK employee, in an Arbitration case (see previous Signpost reports on the media coverage and Arbitration case).

D’Arcy Myers, chief executive of WMUK, told Orlowski that WMUK was "fufilling" Shapps' request and that "WMUK has not issued an apology to Mr. Shapps as the charity has not been involved with this issue." Orlowski wrote that he was "puzzled" by this response. Orlowski, a frequent critic of Wikipedia who has been reporting on the encyclopedia for at least a decade, outlined the separation between the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) and WMUK for his readers, but did not explain the distinction between Symonds' paid employment at WMUK as office and development manager, responsible for finances and reports, and his volunteer role on the encyclopedia as a functionary using checkuser and oversight tools. Orlowski did note instances where Symonds might have blurred those roles, writing that Symonds used a WMUK email address to communicate with The Guardian regarding Shapps, and claimed that Symonds "frequently" used his checkuser tool "on WMUK time". (July 13)

Plagiarism allegations lead to demotion for ASU professor

Professor Matthew Whitaker

The Arizona Republic reports that popular Arizona State University history professor Matthew C. Whitaker was demoted following an investigation into plagiarism accusations. Whitaker was demoted from full to associate professor and from director to co-director of ASU's Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. ASU's provost wrote that an "investigation identified significant issues with the content of" Whitaker's 2014 book, Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama.

Whitaker has been dogged with plagiarism allegations for years. His 2008 book African American Icons of Sport: Triumph, Courage, and Excellence contained material regarding Muhammad Ali and Serena and Venus Williams taken from Wikipedia. At the time, Whitaker blamed a freelance editor working from his outline and wrote "unfortunately and unknown to me, the freelance editor inserted verbatim sections from Wikipedia and other online sources without rewording them and without quotations or attribution." In 2012, a previous ASU investigation into this and other allegations concluded that Whitaker was not guilty of "systematic or substantial plagiarism". The Phoenix New Times reports that this conclusion was the subject of much controversy among bloggers, such as the anonymous author of the blog "The Cabinet of Plagiarism", and even some of his colleagues, one of whom resigned from a tenure and promotions committee in protest. (July 13)

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Re "Reselling Wikipedia": When do editors get their cut? Serious question. EllenCT (talk) 01:30, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]

"By clicking the "Save page" button, you agree to the Terms of Use and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL with the understanding that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient for CC BY-SA 3.0 attribution." -> CC-BY-SA 3.0: "You are free: to Share—to copy, distribute and transmit the work" -> ""Distribute" means to make available to the public the original and copies of the Work or Adaptation, as appropriate, through sale or other transfer of ownership". Serious answer. --PresN 02:12, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
It's legal, just unethical, given the price point. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 03:48, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
I fail to see how "charging too much" is in any way unethical, with the obvious exception being when someone is required to purchase something and there are no alternatives. Charging too much when the buyer can get the same thing elsewhere or can simply choose to do without isn't unethical. By the way, I have a Commodore 128 for sale, a bargain at $1000. Any takers? (smile) --Guy Macon (talk) 14:11, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Sure, if a customer knows that they can get the same information for free from Wikipedia, it is not unethical to charge whatever the market will bear. But deceiving the customer, or even just allowing him or her to think that the book is in some way different from free material, is unethical, bordering on fraud. Smallbones(smalltalk) 14:35, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
There is no legal or moral requirement that a seller must disclose that the same item is available elsewhere at a lower price, even if the lower price is "free" (ignoring the fact that Wikipedia does not provide content in printed form). (BTW, I am selling copies of Slackware Linux for $25. Any takers? (smile).) If they give proper attribution, that is enough. I would agree that they should provide attribution in the product listing, not just after you make the purchase and open the book. Not disclosing that information pre-sale would indeed border on fraud. --Guy Macon (talk)
Deliberately taking advantage of the ignorance of buyers is widely seen as unethical. Gamaliel (talk) 14:53, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
+!. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 06:13, 18 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
+1. It's basically the same as when Dell charged people to install Firefox. —George8211 / T 16:02, 20 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • "Freelance editor working from his outline" sounds more like ghostwriting than editing. Is it customary for university professors writing for academic publishers to employ ghostwriters? ~ Ningauble (talk) 16:07, 17 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
  • Hey, I did it. One of the last books I bought at Borders was "How Wikipedia Works" which is only a collection of articles. I learned; I enjoyed. Books are pleasant. Books are good. I agree with the girl in the excellent "Teens React to Encyclopedias" video; the loss of books is sad, though like her I mostly read glowing screens nowadays and a few people like to carry a non-glowing E-book. Price? Paid authors get only a tiny fraction of cover price; most the money goes for things that the Internet nowadays does quicker and cheaper and, except when I really want to read paper, better. Jim.henderson (talk) 16:03, 18 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]
The accessibility of material on Wikipedia to somebody more familiar with traditional media is certainly a problem. How would a reader of an article know that clicking on the "category" link would take them to related pages? And once in the category page it is not exactly easy to find and navigate to the material that is of interest. If done properly the books built from Wikipedia content can provide additional value to justify their cost by structuring and organising material in a way that suits other readers. QuiteUnusual (talk) 12:47, 21 July 2015 (UTC)[reply]


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