Plagiarism is awesome

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Plagiarism is awesome

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:18 am

"University of Minnesota Deep Bench Tournament 2006
Singles/Doubles: Iowa Packet
Questions by Iowa and Ezra"
10. When John Wilson asked who created her, she replied that she was plucked from a rose bush near a prison door. This led Governor Bellingham to order her removal from (*) her mother so she could be placed in a more Christian home, but Reverend Dimmesdale intervened without revealing her paternity. For 10 points, name this illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne in Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
answer: Pearl
"Theme Packet with Toss-Ups by Jon C. Pennington with Help on Bonuses by Seth Teitler" from 2001 Berkeley Western Invitational Tournament

http://quizbowl.stanford.edu/archive/berk01/Jon.doc
9. When John Wilson asked about who created her, she replied that she was plucked from a rose bush near a prison door. This led Governor Bellingham to order her removal from* her mother so she could be placed in a more Christian home, but Reverend Dimmesdale intervened without revealing his own paternity. FTP, name this illegitimate daughter of Hester Prynne in Hawthorne’s the Scarlet Letter.
Pearl

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Post by The Time Keeper » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:20 am

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAM

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:50 am

Did you just randomly start googling tossups from Deep Bench?

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Post by grapesmoker » Thu Nov 16, 2006 1:58 am

Bruce wrote:Did you just randomly start googling tossups from Deep Bench?
Having seen this one instance, I'm tempted to do so, but my eyes mysteriously start bleeding every time I try to read a Deep Bench packet.

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Post by ezra » Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:25 am

Matt-

Thank you for catching this evidently plagiarised question. If you find any other evidence of plagiarism in the Deep Bench set, please email me or make another post. I didn't check submitted questions against the Stanford archive- perhaps I should have. Anyway, I have contacted Iowa and we will try to talk to the person responsible.

By the way, as a tournament director I don't really appreciate people trading around copies of a set that they don't own. When we're ready to make the questions public, we'll post them to the Stanford archive. Before then, the questions belong to the teams that either attended, purchased questions, or wrote freelance packets in exchange for the question set.

Thank you,

Ezra Lyon

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Post by ezra » Fri Nov 17, 2006 1:41 pm

The Pearl question was lifted from a packet that Iowa read in practice a few years ago. The person who submitted the question has claimed that they thought the packet was written inhouse by Iowa. Anyway, Jack at Iowa has talked to the person responsible and we all hope this doesn't happen again.

Ezra Lyon

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Post by Matthew D » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:55 pm

Not to barge in on this but even if was an inhouse packet, why would you submit it to a tournament? I don't see the logic in using someone's elses work on something.

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Post by grapesmoker » Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:12 pm

Matthew D wrote:Not to barge in on this but even if was an inhouse packet, why would you submit it to a tournament? I don't see the logic in using someone's elses work on something.
Well, if it's an inhouse packet that you wrote then there should be no problem as long as it's blind to everyone who is playing.

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Post by Matthew D » Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:40 pm

That I can understand if it were one that your wrote...

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Post by Ray » Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:49 am

So how did this happen, again? Matt Weiner just started Googling every question at Deep Bench until he came across a repeat? Did he really have nothing better to do? Was he busy Googling all those questions when he should have been editing ACF Fall? What gives?

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Post by Rothlover » Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:02 am

Ray wrote:So how did this happen, again? Matt Weiner just started Googling every question at Deep Bench until he came across a repeat? Did he really have nothing better to do? Was he busy Googling all those questions when he should have been editing ACF Fall? What gives?
Everyone was busy ruining quizbowl with their negative energy in the chatroom while playing a DB packet for the express purpose of being all "non ACF nats packets suck," when Leo got up from his 40 and poker match to say "I think that Pearl clue sounds lifted," whereupon a simple google search was executed, and, lo and behold, the liftedness of the q was confirmed. We then cackled about how awesome it is to expose people's mistakes while sacrificing a Chicago freshman to the God of Pyramidiality. All of this is true.



Note: none of this is true except for there being a packet being read, whereupon Leo recognized a clue. Oh, and we actually burned Brian Rostron in effigy instead of the Chicago freshman. Otherwise, all true.

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Post by theMoMA » Sat Nov 18, 2006 9:19 pm

It is unreasonable to expect the tournament editor to catch plagiarized questions. Aside from specifically remembering the exact question, the editor would have to search for every single tossup (and presumably bonus) in the Archive or elsewhere. Let's not forget that this doesn't rule out plagiarism of NAQT (not on the net), ACF (not in searchable format), or most other spoiled/copyrighted questions outside of the Archive.

Since it's so impractical to catch question-lifters, it seems like the biggest safeguard against plagiarism is to create and maintain an ethic against it. And I don't think the tone of the original post is conducive to those ends, because it seems to blame the tournament for the problem and not the true source, the individual question-writer.

It's not fair to blame anyone besides the person who lifted the question for the plagiarism. Not only is it nearly impossible for the tournament director to catch the frauds, but blaming him for this inability only fosters an atmosphere where the plagiarists get off the hook. Seems like everyone's so intent on maligning a particular tournament that they forget who the true miscreants are.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:04 pm

On the contrary, it is unreasonable to expect me to know whether Iowa or Minnesota was responsible for this act when I have no special knowledge of anyone at those teams and no means to investigate. I posted what I found without commentary, and it led to the true malefactor being outed. Whining about tones and agendas is just dumb when there wasn't a single word in the post besides the bare facts identifying each question.

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Post by theMoMA » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:48 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:On the contrary, it is unreasonable to expect me to know whether Iowa or Minnesota was responsible for this act when I have no special knowledge of anyone at those teams and no means to investigate. I posted what I found without commentary, and it led to the true malefactor being outed. Whining about tones and agendas is just dumb when there wasn't a single word in the post besides the bare facts identifying each question.
So when you don't know all the facts, post to allow ridicule? Right. You know how to contact Ezra and the Iowa team. This is clearly a problem of attending teams submitting plagiarized questions, a problem that is nearly impossible to prevent at any team-submission tournament. And you could have found that out in a few hours and sent a strong message to the individuals responsible that such action is irresponsible and detrimental to the game. Instead we are sitting stuck on whether or not Deep Bench packets cause retinal bleeding.

There was no need to drag Deep Bench through the mud because the copying was in a team-submitted packet, a nearly unpreventable problem not exclusive to Deep Bench by any means. It's no coincidence that two of the first three responses blame the tournament, not the plagiarist. I'm not saying that blaming the tournament was the intent, but it was definately the result.

So here's a message for everyone, and not just Matt: Next time this problem comes up -- and it will -- question whether it's because we use plagiarism to take cheap shots at tournaments we don't like instead of holding question-lifters accountable for their actions.

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Post by ktour84 » Sun Nov 19, 2006 12:27 am

The Iowa/Ezra packet at Deep Bench was just one example of plagarism being called out. A suggestion to editors of future Deep Benches, put in a warning against plagarism from older packets and online sources like wikipedia similar to this year's ACF Fall and have a penalty for teams whose packets are suspected of plagarism in the editing process.
IMPORTANT PACKET DON’TS

We have two new rules for packet submission this year that all teams should take careful note of.

1) Wikipedia rule: It is the considered opinion of the ACF Fall 2006 editors that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for meeting the stringent standards of factual accuracy which quizbowl questions must maintain. Therefore, we will not accept any questions written out of Wikipedia. If we find questions in your packet that are obviously written from a Wikipedia article, you will be asked to rewrite those particular questions from more reliable sources, and your packet will not be counted as submitted until the rewrites are complete. Using Wikipedia as a starting point for a question is ok, but it cannot be your only source, and all information gleaned from any Wikipedia article must be cross-checked with an established source. If you are having trouble finding good places to look up information for questions, please contact any of the editors and we will be happy to help you.

2) Plagiarism and recycling rule: Plagiarism of any kind in your packet submissions for this tournament is absolutely unnacceptable. In general, anything that is considered plagiarism for coursework at your school will be considered plagiarism in your submitted packet. In particular, note that our concept of plagiarism includes but is not limited to:
-Lifting wording directly from Wikipedia, Britannica, or any encyclopedia, webpage, book, or other reference source without attribution
-Taking questions or parts of questions from previously existing quizbowl packets

Teams caught plagiarizing will have their packets rejected and will not be given the opportunity to write a replacement. Possible actions which we may take against such teams may include but are not limited to:
-publicly identifying them
-barring such teams from playing ACF Fall 2006
-charging such teams significant financial penalties in order to play ACF Fall 2006

Just don’t do it.

While less serious than plagiarism, the following practices are also prohibited, and will result in your packet being rejected and your team being required to write a replacement if they wish to receive credit for a packet submission.
-Resubmitting questions that were previously submitted to an ACF event, even if they were not used
-Resubmitting questions that were previously submitted to ANY tournament, even if they were not used. You do not know who may have assisted the editors of other tournaments you submitted to, and cannot guarantee that the people who saw your questions are not playing in ACF Fall 2006.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Nov 19, 2006 6:47 pm

theMoMA wrote:So here's a message for everyone, and not just Matt: Next time this problem comes up -- and it will -- question whether it's because we use plagiarism to take cheap shots at tournaments we don't like instead of holding question-lifters accountable for their actions.
What the fuck are you talking about?

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Post by The Time Keeper » Sun Nov 19, 2006 6:50 pm

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:
theMoMA wrote:So here's a message for everyone, and not just Matt: Next time this problem comes up -- and it will -- question whether it's because we use plagiarism to take cheap shots at tournaments we don't like instead of holding question-lifters accountable for their actions.
What the fuck are you talking about?
Pointing out that plagarism occured was clearly just a front for an uncalled for and quite vicious personal attack on Minnesota or Deep Bench or theMoMa or whatever the hell.

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Post by Matthew D » Sun Nov 19, 2006 6:50 pm

Hey guy you might want to watch the language a bit...

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Post by Rothlover » Sun Nov 19, 2006 6:57 pm

What language?

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Post by Matthew D » Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:00 pm

Nevermind.. aparently I am the only one that objects to the use of the particular adjective that Kit so kindly used in his post, even when it was not necessary..

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Nov 19, 2006 7:12 pm

Does it offend your sense of quizbowl aesthetics?

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Post by Matthew D » Sun Nov 19, 2006 8:17 pm

No it offends my sense of word usage in a public forum..but to each there own, just remember, this is also a place that is visited by high school.

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Post by grapesmoker » Sun Nov 19, 2006 10:05 pm

theMoMA wrote:So when you don't know all the facts, post to allow ridicule? Right. You know how to contact Ezra and the Iowa team. This is clearly a problem of attending teams submitting plagiarized questions, a problem that is nearly impossible to prevent at any team-submission tournament. And you could have found that out in a few hours and sent a strong message to the individuals responsible that such action is irresponsible and detrimental to the game. Instead we are sitting stuck on whether or not Deep Bench packets cause retinal bleeding.
We're stuck on no such thing, since I've already confirmed the retinal bleeding for you. What do you want, pictures?

Seriously though, it's not particularly important to me who is involved or what school they are from. Question plagiarism is a serious offense, about as serious as one can get in quizbowl outside of actively cheating at the game. When instances of :chip: plagiarism occur, people bring it to light because it's a despicable practice. While I'm willing to believe that whoever submitted that question genuinely thought that it was a house-written tossup, at some point, someone at Iowa (or elsewhere) incorporated that question into a set without proper attribution. That's just not acceptable.
There was no need to drag Deep Bench through the mud because the copying was in a team-submitted packet, a nearly unpreventable problem not exclusive to Deep Bench by any means. It's no coincidence that two of the first three responses blame the tournament, not the plagiarist. I'm not saying that blaming the tournament was the intent, but it was definately the result.
In principle I would agree that there's no need to blame the tournament.

In practice, Deep Bench was clearly a most lazily written and edited tournament; very little effort seems to have gone into any of the packets on either end of the submission chain. It is quite conceivable to me that a tournament whose packets feature multiple crappy questions written with what look like slightly paraphrased quotes from Wikipedia is exactly the kind of tournament where I would expect to find plagiarized material.

Furthermore, the notion that plagiarism is unpreventable, while probably technically true, does not appear to reflect the reality of the situation. In fact, it is quite rare in quizbowl, although it has happened on occasion. Most people have the good sense not to do stupid things like plagiarize Wikipedia or other packets. When someone does so, I think it's perfectly acceptable to make that information public in order to shame them into refraining from such actions in the future.

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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:06 pm

Sorry to further hijack this thread with this nonsense, but this is the college area. I agree that we should "keep it clean" in the HS forums, but if HS students wander into the college area, they wander into discussions intended for college students where they may see "inappropriate" things. Personally, I think theMoMA's idiocy is more offensive than a word commonly said by most high schoolers outside of Scottsboro, Alabama...

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Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:38 pm

Matthew D wrote:Hey guy you might want to watch the language a bit...
As noted already and stated in the forums rules, the college area is given more freedom to write things that might not be acceptable in the high school areas. The moderation team is watching the forums for any inappropriate material each day. In short, we have it under control.

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Post by theMoMA » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:37 am

When instances of :chip: plagiarism occur, people bring it to light because it's a despicable practice. While I'm willing to believe that whoever submitted that question genuinely thought that it was a house-written tossup, at some point, someone at Iowa (or elsewhere) incorporated that question into a set without proper attribution. That's just not acceptable.
This is exactly the right attitude to take. My main problem with the way we're discussing this is that we're getting away from who the culprit is here.
When someone [plagiarizes], I think it's perfectly acceptable to make that information public in order to shame them into refraining from such actions in the future.
I agree 100%. Right away I said that one important function of the quiz bowl community is to foster a strong ethic against plagiarism and academic dishonesty. However, I believe that focusing attention on the tournament and not the question-lifter works against that end, because it places the responsibility for plagiarism in the hands of the tournament editor and lets the individual plagiarist divert accountability.

I'm not accusing Matt of a nefarious plot to smear Deep Bench. I'm merely stating that by posting the incomplete information, his post fostered a blame-the-tournament approach. As it is, it's unclear who is being shamed, Deep Bench/Ezra or the team that lifted the question. Deep Bench (which I'm not going to defend because I have never played it) may be the worst tournament in the world, but let's discuss that apart from the far more serious business of plagiarism.

There is plenty of Deep Bench smearing going on in this thread and it's the wrong place for it. Take your problems with Deep Bench to another thread (there was a Deep Bench predictions thread in the discussion section) so we can rightfully and wholeheartedly admonish the act of plagiarism instead of place blame on tournaments we dislike.

The attitude of this thread seems to be something along the lines of: Yes, plagiarism is bad, now let's get back to how horrible Deep Bench is.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Nov 20, 2006 3:04 am

theMoMA wrote:I'm not accusing Matt of a nefarious plot to smear Deep Bench
That's exactly what you are doing, Captain Backpedal.

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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Paradox » Mon Nov 20, 2006 1:37 pm

Plagiarism should always be exposed when it is found. It serves no good to keep instances of it secret, as that just allows the problem to continue unchecked. Matt's actions outed a plagiarist to his teammates (not the community) and now that person's teammates know to keep a tighter rein on him/her. The community knows now that we all have to be diligent with our younger teammates (or those inexperienced as writers) to prevent future instances. Making this into charges of a smear campaign and so forth 1) misses the point and 2) provides a disincentive for others to expose future plagiarism. Get over the fact that it's Weiner publishing it and see the forest from the dang tree people!

P.S. Matt, I have a fairly juicy example of plagiarism I recently found in a company that I would like you to look at.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Nov 20, 2006 2:48 pm

allythin wrote:P.S. Matt, I have a fairly juicy example of plagiarism I recently found in a company that I would like you to look at.
Whoa, :w-hat:? I assume this is relevant to quizbowl, otherwise you wouldn't be posting it here. Care to share your knowledge with us?

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Plagiarism issues

Post by Your Genial Quizmaster » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:57 am

2006 seems to be the year of plagiarism in quizbowl. After finding only one clear-cut case in all the tournaments I edited from 1997-2005, I found demonstrable examples of plagiarism in four different packets from four different schools in 2006.

Three had questions lifted word-for-word, or virtually so, from Wikipedia -- so ineptly that they left the hyperlinks intact. (I should add that there have been other instances where a hyperlink to Wikipedia or another source was left in a question, but in those cases I followed the links and found that the questions were sufficiently rephrased and/or used other sources as well. Usually it was just someone copying and pasting a difficult spelling.) The fourth, from a new team, involved questions lifted straight out of the Stanford Archive and an online ACF Fall set. It might have escaped detection except (a) one question contained an in-joke about Roger Bhan and (b) it just so happened that the round was being edited by Seth Kendall, who had written that question and two of the other purloined originals. Or as I put it, "Clearly God wanted that guy to get caught."

In all four cases, the plagiarism appeared in a brief stretch of consecutive questions, surrounded by questions that were... well, befitting the inexperience of the teams submitting them. In each case I contacted the team coach or captain privately, who was able to identify the culprit and deal with it internally. (I am told that the player who lifted from the archives denied it when challenged -- and was kicked off the team, with the blessing of the pissed-off teammates who had actually written their shares of the packet. One of the Wikipedes who had at least rearranged the text was penitent, pleaded ignorance, and asked for a second chance, which their coach chose to allow them. Another Wikipedophile had already quit their team before I found the problem. I don't know what happened to the fourth, but if the coach's reaction was any indication, you might check under the Meadowlands.)

The one area where I disagree with Matt is that he chose to take the issue straight to the court of public opinion, where I chose a private approach on first offense. Besides my penchant toward leniency, there's always the chance that the cause is more blunder than theft; it can happen. Once I mislabeled some questions, which led the true author to think that the author incorrectly credited had ripped him off. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I'd put the Deep Bench case in that category and let the blunderer off with a warning.

But Matt is under no obligation to take the same approach I did, and anyone who plagiarizes shouldn't be surprised if they get called out publicly.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:01 am

Yeah, I understand that there's no reason to needlessly make things public and I'm glad things worked out with your approach. But I have had to deal with plagiarism incidents for years on end now, including the private resolution of plagiarism in an ACF Fall submission last year which sparked the last discussion of this topic. In my own experience, the low-key approach has been tried and has failed, and I'm not going to give any more breaks to people or teams who still refuse to understand that all measures must be taken to prevent this.

The fact that Random Minnesota Person Who Refuses to Identify Himself is still trying to circle the wagons and downplay the impact of plagiarism by referring to it as a "cheapshot" that no one would care about in and of itself shows that people still just don't get it.

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Post by Nathan » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:15 pm

I don't understand the shots at Matt on this.

Not knowing who was responsible there's not much he could do privately.

I do think that when a QB neophyte makes such an error -- it is best dealt with among their own teammates -- it's not an unpardonable offense at that point -- but shaming their team to some extent is just -- it will encourage teams to train their rookies accordingly.

The explanation given in the current instance is plausible -- these things do happen. I "caught" one very prominent QB writer reusing his own questions in his own tournaments -- but I'm certain it wasn't intentional. He had a question database and failed to cross out questions that he had already used. I've probably done the same thing as well. This is probably even easier for a team to do.

But, the more public attention that is brought on even these innocent instances, the more circumspect question writers will be and the less they will occur.

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Post by First Chairman » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:29 pm

The next thing in IT for quiz bowl...

I know in academia (including my institution), we have gone ahead and purchased a subscription to a search-wise database program that identifies potential academic plagiarism in papers. I would hate to say this, but we may have to have some person(s) think about ways we can have a similar program to search for and identify plagiarism in submitted packets. The hard part is that most of us who are players will never have access to these anti-plagiarism detection programs.

I suppose if people thought it were worthwhile, I could upload all of the Stanford Archive (in my "spare time"... right) into this anti-plagiarism database.

I'm sorry to see that we might need to actually teach communication and thinking skills to quiz bowl players. Not to mention ethics.

I also think we determine proper investigative procedures if we were to pursue plagiarism accusations. We do have various protocols from honor courts in our schools, including the use of private inquiries before bringing forward any public questioning. We need to be careful to apply the same rules since we are probably less knowledgeable about judicial and civil rights than those honor courts are. Of course, we're not trying to expel a student from school due to a plagiarism accusation in quiz bowl, are we?

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Post by grapesmoker » Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:34 pm

E.T. Chuck wrote:The next thing in IT for quiz bowl...

I know in academia (including my institution), we have gone ahead and purchased a subscription to a search-wise database program that identifies potential academic plagiarism in papers. I would hate to say this, but we may have to have some person(s) think about ways we can have a similar program to search for and identify plagiarism in submitted packets. The hard part is that most of us who are players will never have access to these anti-plagiarism detection programs.

I suppose if people thought it were worthwhile, I could upload all of the Stanford Archive (in my "spare time"... right) into this anti-plagiarism database.

I'm sorry to see that we might need to actually teach communication and thinking skills to quiz bowl players. Not to mention ethics.

I also think we determine proper investigative procedures if we were to pursue plagiarism accusations. We do have various protocols from honor courts in our schools, including the use of private inquiries before bringing forward any public questioning. We need to be careful to apply the same rules since we are probably less knowledgeable about judicial and civil rights than those honor courts are. Of course, we're not trying to expel a student from school due to a plagiarism accusation in quiz bowl, are we?
As I wrote a while back, I was working on a question database. I hope to have much of the Stanford Archive uploaded by the new year, and will post about it when I do. This should give people the opportunity to easily check whether a question is plagiarized or not.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Nov 23, 2006 7:40 pm

Meh, I don't think the problem is really that widespread. Relatively few people are audacious enough to rip actual questions from other tournaments, at least very often. Much more common is the "plagiarism" from Wikipedia and stuff like that...and, even provided people aren't dumb enough to actually leave hyperlinks in questions, this is a lot easier to detect. Nothing quite like that alarm that goes off when you see a few choice esoteric/awkward phrases in a packet by Jackhole State C.

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Post by First Chairman » Thu Nov 23, 2006 8:29 pm

Understood... of course, I would not want to imply that "this happens all the time," but there is always a concern that even college term papers would use Wikipedia to pilfer some ideas too. I am sure it is not ever a deliberate attempt to be dishonest, but it should be clear that such practices are not encouraged.

TurnItIn also does a web-based search as well as access databases of papers that are submitted to various journals. I doubt we'd need to go that far.

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Post by theMoMA » Fri Nov 24, 2006 2:44 am

My main problem is that this thread is downplays plagiarism by lumping it in with things a tournament editor should take care of.

I really didn't mean to drag Matt into this, and actually I started off by saying that I was sure he didn't intend to talk about other Deep Bench problems on this thread.

All I'm saying is that there's a place to bash a tournament, and there's a place to correctly call out question-lifting, and I feel like lumping them together exacerbates the plagiarism problem.

We have agreed all along that academic integrity is a core principle of quiz bowl.

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