what goes around comes around?!

This blogging practice has meant paying more attention and even discovering a whole bunch of little infrastructures that serve as interfaces to the blogging world, and provide a whole different view of the web. Technorati for example, has taken on a different meaning since-the-blog, given that it links the writing we do on vksethno to other contexts and discussions. Having identified, via said interface, a blog that discussed virtual ethnography, I was a little puzzled when I found long passages that echoed our research programme at the VKS (need I say, without reference to it. Proper references just feed the ego, no problem there.) Clicking to the source, I came to a wikipedia entry, in which even more material could be found that had this ‘strong family resemblance’ to our texts. Looking at the discussion page for that entry, it turns out the original poster had been called to task for this. The whistle-blower has even embedded the google search into the wikipedia discussion page. The results of this search showed several hits on the VKS pages, identifying it as the ‘source’ of the wikipedia entry. The offending poster responded by ‘altering’ the material slightly (getting it wrong in the process, in my opinion) and claiming to have acknowledged all sources (the hyperlink to VKS is not properly implemented, however, and therefore not visible).

So, am I once-burned-twice-shy from this episode or is this a tale that shows that quality control does work on certain spaces of the web?


3 responses to “what goes around comes around?!

  1. Well, Anne, quality control on the Internet… I think you should change the Wikipedia entry and introduce the proper link to the VKS content. It is the good point of the Wikipedia.

    The discussion on the topic of plagiarism is from February 2006, so, is it enough when it is discovered more than a year later? anyway, I think it is not exactly a problem of ‘quality’ (I am pretty sure that the VKS content is of high quality 🙂 but of attribution.

    Now that you have open a blog, you will face this problem more than once. Just wait and you will see.

  2. Yet another interface that is present in the blogging world (as you should know) is the truth that linking to a blog, is often a quick way to get one to visit the source of said link. In short, sending someone to my blog through a link is to send me to your blog, through a number of channels (It’s the most impersonal Hello-I’m watching you, and you’re watching me), the most popular being Google Analytics or my preferred choice, the social aggregate MyBlogLog (www.mybloglog.com). Particularly, with a small personal Blog like my own, it is a simple and interesting task to see where and how many of my pageviews come from various sources.

    You should know that it was never my intention to not source you properly, as I could only obtain the information as it was available to me. I sourced various other papers, programs, and the Wiki page itself, all for a simple post that detailed how interested I was in Virtual Ethnography and similar studies. However, not knowing there was an attribution issue, am I to blame, or is it the open-source nature of a program like Wikipedia? I’d like to say Wikipedia, but I think a professor somewhere in the world kills a kitten every time someone seriously sources Wiki. Regardless, my apologies.

    The issue of quality control on the web is something that only you can enforce, though, and there are numerous ways to go about it. In the case of my post, it was as simple as leaving a comment to let me know the situation, or to direct any readers I might have to the true source, instead of something like … well, this. Fighting improper attribution and plagiarism on something like Wikipedia is a much larger beast, and I think it requires a more communal effort, or the system needs to be vastly altered altogether.

  3. Thanks for raising these points. Indeed, the issue underlying this episode and discussion may very well be the need to learn to engage with this arena of communication, where greater circulation of material and novel mechanisms of accountability pose different challenges than the print-on-paper and conference settings in which I have been trained and to which I am accustomed.

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