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Posts Tagged ‘Waldo Jaquith’

How VQR‘s Jaquith Found Anderson’s Plagiarism (Hint: It’s In Parentheses)

free.pngVirginia Quarterly Review blogger Waldo Jaquith made quite a stir with his discovery that portions of Wired editor Chris Anderson‘s new book “Free” were pulled from unattributed sources, namely Wikipedia. But we wondered, how did Jaquith happen upon Anderson’s plagiarized sections?

We tracked down Jaquith — as he was en route to a vacation in Virginia Beach — and asked him how he made the connection between “Free” and Wikipedia.

For Jaquith, it all started with a parenthetical. During the passage from “Free” in which Anderson describes the saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” Jaquith noticed that something was amiss. “It mentioned Crescent City and then, parenthetically, said New Orleans,” he said. “At first, I was thrown off. I thought that maybe that before it was called New Orleans it was called Crescent City and I was mad at myself for not knowing that.”

The reference needled at Jaquith so he did some research. His first stop: Wikipedia. To his surprise, the Wikipedia entry for New Orleans only mentioned Crescent City as a nickname. So he Googled the citation just as Anderson had written it in his book. That’s how he found an entry for explaining free lunch on Wikipedia.

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VQR Calls Wired‘s Anderson Out On Plagiarism

free.pngVirginia Quarterly Review blogger Waldo Jaquith has dug up passages from Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson‘s new book, “Free,” in which Anderson pulls chunks of text from Wikipedia entries, without attribution.

In addition to the allegations of plagiarism, it also seems like Anderson didn’t fact check some of the info pulled from the Web, as Jaquith explains: “Transcription errors are present in most of the quotes and citations within this Wikipedia entry, a result of contributors making mistakes while entering information from nineteenth-century newspaper articles. Those errors have been reproduced verbatim in ‘Free’.”

Anderson has refuted given an explanation for the plagiarism, saying that the publishing of the book was rushed and the mistakes came about because of the elimination of footnotes. But that doesn’t stop this whole situation from being incredibly ironic — especially because “Free” is a book about how companies can make money from giving away some products for free.

As our colleagues at BayNewser pointed out:

“It’s sort of like if Abbie Hoffman had claimed after the fact that he actually meant to suggest that people buy his book, but a last-minute publishing error led to some erroneous cover copy.”

Related: Wired‘s Anderson: “The Free Vs. Paid Debate Is Misunderstood.”

Also: Maureen Dowd Blames Plagiarism On A Friend