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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

Plagiarism Again

Update: The problem posts have been removed from the SQLTechConsulting site.

I ran across a note from Brent Ozar (blog | Twitter) on Plagiarism, Inspiration, and John Dunleavy yesterday, having missed what looks like an interesting Twitter discussion since I’m halfway around the world from where I usually am. However in reading this post, and the Twitter notes, I am actually shocked at someone defending an undefendable position.

It’s like having a child put their fingers in their ears, while closing their eyes and singing “la-la-la-la” in response to a parent.

John, dude, you’re wrong. You’re not syndicating, you’re not “helping others to learn”, you’re plagiarizing content from other sites. From other writers, and passing it along as your own content. Providing a link is not enough to give credit to someone else.

You can read Brent’s post to get some of the story, and I have had emails in the past with John, requesting that my content be removed from his site. Just so that it’s clear how I feel, a few examplse below of what I think is wrong.

Here’s a post from SQL Tech Consulting:

sqltech1

This post is “by John” (emphasis mine) and links to a note at MSSQLTips. That’s fine, and that’s a good example of writing your own  content and linking to others, though I think there ought to be some mention here of MSSQLTips.

Here’s another one:

sqltech2

This is also “by John”, but the content isn’t by John. This is actually content taken directly from the MS link for the download page. This is re-publication and reproduction of content, implying that it’s by John at SQL Tech Consulting.

It’s not.

This by someone at Microsoft, and this is a copyright violation. All the text of this post is not John’s work.

I link to articles from SQLServerCentral on other sites. I credit those sites, as shown below, only reproducing a small abstract with credit.

ssc_copy_1

SQL-Server-Performance links to my content in their newsletter, and next to every title it clearly says “SQLServerCentral”, so you are aware of who the publisher is. There is no mistake. What’s more, sql-server-performance doesn’t co-mingle my content with theirs, as shown below. Unlike SSWUG, who some people believe is mis-leading readers, they only show their published articles.

ssp-1

SQL Tech Consulting is violating copyright in re-producing content, and the lack of a citation is  plagiarism. It’s ethically wrong, and there is no defense. Not giving credit to the authors, or the publishers, is in-defensible. There’s no excuse. It’s not syndication, and as noted by many people, it’s not with permission. Even if it is, you must give credit, and note, “reprinted with permission.”

I’m not sure if SQL Tech Consulting doesn’t understand these concepts and wants to imply to current and potential customers that they have more knowledge than they have or if they just want to attract more business and think this will raise their search engine rating.

In either case, this type of behavior means it isn’t a company I’d hire.

Comments

Posted by Melton on 23 March 2010

I agree.

The Services page on his site also list "Partners" at the bottom as being Idera, Microsoft, and Red Gate.  Wonder if he plagiarised that too :)

Posted by aaron.bertrand on 23 March 2010

And I wonder if they know they are John's "partners."

Posted by jorge.segarra-rovira on 23 March 2010

It's really sad that this sort of thing keeps happening over and over. What makes it worse is that this individual has been warned time and time again (privately) and is still continuing this. At one point during his "defense" he tried claiming being younger than everyone else as cause for ignorance. If you're old enough to run a business (and obviously identify and read who/what are the best resources for SQL knowledge) you're old enough to know what's right and wrong and this is just plain wrong.

Posted by Steve Jones on 23 March 2010

I shall check on the partners as I can. Hadn't noticed that.

Posted by kkline on 23 March 2010

Unbelievable!  During the SSWUG discussion, I was thinking that we should pull people aside and quietly point out their "mistake".  Now, I'm beginning to believe that a public flogging is the only way to nip this problem in the bud.

And definitely with with Aaron on his point! I bet that Microsoft, Red Gate, and Idera don't even know they're "partners".  It's another way to falsely build credibility.

Posted by Glenn Berry on 23 March 2010

I agree, there is no defense or excuse for plagarism. John Dunleavy does not have a leg to stand on here.

Posted by Lynn Pettis on 23 March 2010

I took a look at a few posts that came across Twitter today that actually reference the SQLTech site.  I have to agree, John Dunleavy needs to go through everyone of his blog posts and properly attribute many of the posts he links to other peoples work.  Just as one example is this one: Automating Database maintenance in SQL 2005 Express

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 23 March 2010

Kids put their fingers in their eyes and sing lalalala?  Or is that ears?

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 23 March 2010

Absolutely in-defensible.  I would keep away from them.  It doesn't do anybody any good to plagiarize content.  In the end, they will be the ones hurting from it.

Posted by Pedro Perfeito on 23 March 2010

Why people goes to plagiarism!?

Doesnt have imagination to write own subjects!?

Regards and thanks fro alerting this stuff!

Pedro

Posted by Brent Ozar on 23 March 2010

Just to hammer the point home - I agree with Kevin Kline that the way to start is by having a private discussion with the author first.  I have had several private discussions with this particular copy/paste artist over the last few months.  We had to escalate it to Twitter, and then to our blogs to get him to stop.  I truly wish he would have heeded my requests to stop stealing material earlier, but this was one of those cases where he just refused to stop until the chorus got loud enough.  Truly sad, because this kind of thing will follow him for a long time.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 March 2010

Pingback from  The Internet Millionaire System Blog  » Blog Archive   » how can i use the wealth of information on the internet and still guard against plagiarism?

Posted by Gethyn Ellis on 24 March 2010

The problem with public floggings of this nature and I agree that sometimes they are the only course of action to get someone to take heed, is that they bring undue publicity to the guilty party. I bet that the person in question now has many more twitter followers, hundreds more inbound links to his 'work' and his site, a huge boost in visitor numbers, and when this has died down in few weeks time he will reap the rewards of the increased SEO value his site will have...You could argue that he has indirectly achieved his objective of more eyeballs on his site with this little escapade.

Posted by Steve Jones on 24 March 2010

Gethyn,

I do agree that we might have raised the profile, but for every person that might stumble on this site because of the SEO change, there are likely people that find Brent's post and realize that John is not only behaving improperly, but that he might not be the person to hire.

Posted by Anonymous on 24 March 2010

Having gone to an academic magnet school, I have quite a few friends who are teaching at the university

Posted by John Dunleavy on 26 March 2010

I do not want to act like I am defending plagiarism, because there is no excuse for it.  I also understand that I made a mistake here and some earlier ones as well with the RSS feed.  But I think there is a big difference between failure to use attribution and the act of plagiarism in itself.  You make me out to be a criminal here.  I think that’s a bit harsh and kind of hypocritical given our occupations.  We are coders ...and let's not pretend we haven't used someone else’s code without asking them before.  Are you saying you never cut and pasted some code and you always attribute the original coder?  Come on man.   I am not an author, and I was pointing people to information to learn.  The fact that WP puts “POSTED BY” and not “WRITEN BY” is not trying to pawn off the work as my own especially when there is a link clearly showing the author.  It’s going to take some kind of moron to believe that it was my article if it’s a Microsoft article that gets popped up etc and the first thing they read is written by whatever author.  Keep in mind I agree my methods were flawed and I agree I needed to change the articles, and I did, but you really have to relax on calling someone criminal and discounting my company and ethics for this.  (And I pasted this to Brento's post too.)

Posted by chrisleonard on 27 March 2010

John, it sounds like you've had plenty of time to clean up your act.  If you know you've made a mistake, fix everything and apologize to everyone you've stolen from.  Most importantly, start acting like a responsible adult and stop making excuses for your behavior.  No matter what you say, you are responsible for all of this.

Everybody else, my vote is that this is criminal activity and if it is not amended then action should be taken to legally shut down John's site.  This is not hard to do when the problems are so obvious.  He would be able to start up on another domain name, but at least it would get rid of any SEO karma he's building up through this incident.

Posted by Steve Jones on 1 April 2010

John has actually removed the posting, and I meant to post a note to that effect earlier. I'll edit the post to reflect that.

However, there's a huge difference between using someone else's code and reposting it as your own work. It is criminal, and it is plagiarism. It's a fundamental concept taught in high school and college in the US.

You can't blame this on WP, or anyone else. Without posting an attribution, you are plagiarizing, violating copyright, and fundamentally attempting to help yourself. Regardless of helping others, you are furthering your own business. That makes me suspect of your ethics and your skills.

Even posting a note or link to the original is not enough. I trust that is clear now.

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