Skip to main content

Chris Anderson’s Free Contains Apparent Plagiarism


[clock] 6-MINUTE READ PUBLISHED: June 23, 2009

FreeIn the course of reading Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price (Hyperion, $26.99), for a review in an upcoming issue of VQR, we have discovered almost a dozen passages that are reproduced nearly verbatim from uncredited sources. These instances were identified after a cursory investigation, after I checked by hand several dozen suspect passages in the whole of the 274-page book. This was not an exhaustive search, since I don’t have access to an electronic version of the book. Most of the passages, but not all, come from Wikipedia. Anderson is the author of the best-selling 2006 book The Long Tail and is the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. The official publication date for Free is July 7.

Examples of the passages in question follow. The words and phrases that are found in both Free and the apparent original source are highlighted. Note that narrowest possible criteria are employed here, with only identical words highlighted; Anderson’s substitution of the word “on” for “about,” for instance, would result in no highlighting of that word. (Click on an image thumbnail to see the full-sized version.)

“Free Lunch”

Comparative Graphic

Occupying the bulk of pages 41–42, Anderson here explains the origin of the phrase “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” writing about the nineteenth- century phenomenon of saloons offering free lunches with the purchase of alcohol. The great majority of this text exists phrase for phrase on the Wikipedia entry “Free Lunch,” including a block quote and several quotes from contemporary newspaper accounts.

Much of the text in question—though not all of it—was originally written by Wikipedia contributor Dpbsmith (Dan Smith) between November 19 and November 26, 2006.

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. That includes citing an 1875 New York Times article as having been published in 1872 and omitting words and phrases from quotations. (Disclosure: I contributed to this Wikipedia entry two years ago, but my tiny modification is not included within Free.)

“Usury”

Comparative Graphic

On page 37 Anderson explains the Catholic Church’s historical stance on usury, with 65 consecutive words—the great majority of the description—that are identical to the Wikipedia entry titled “Usury.” The passage in question was originally written by Wikipedia contributor “Ewawer” on March 24, 2008.

“Benjamin T. Babbitt”

Comparative Graphic

Little-known soap marketer Benjamin Babbitt is described on pages 42–43 in language that is nearly identical to that contained within the “Benjamin T. Babbitt” Wikipedia entry. This passage was written by Wikipedia contributor “Josette” (Josette Pieniazek) on September 9, 2008.

“Learning Curve”

Comparative Graphic

Anderson explains the concept of a learning curve on page 82, using language substantially identical to that in the “Experience curve effects” Wikipedia entry. Much of this text was originally written by “MyDogAteGodsHat” (Paul Gallienne) on September 19, 2003, though it has undergone significant revision in the past six years at the hands of many different contributors.

“There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch”

Comparative Graphic

Here Anderson explains the economic concept that there is no such thing as a free lunch, using phrases that are virtually identical to those that appear on the “TANSTAAFL” Wikipedia entry.

This passage was written by a series of different Wikipedia contributors over the course of several years, including “Stormwriter” on November 6, 2002, an anonymous individual on September 19, 2004, “Smallbones” on May 28, 2006, and an anonymous individual on July 22, 2006.

“Salt as Currency”

This is an instance of text within Free that is strikingly similar to already-published text from a source other than Wikipedia. This explanation of salt (on pages 50-51) as a once-valuable commodity is found in a work originally published on Professor Petr Beckmann’s “Access to Energy” bulletin board system, and now archived on a website dedicated to his work. This essay is undated, with no author noted, but the BBS ceased to exist in 1993, so the work is certainly from prior to that date and probably written by Beckmann.

“Bakelite Logo”

Comparative Graphic

Another example of text that appears in a non-Wikipedia source, this brief passage is also found in Heather Rogers’s Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage (New Press, $23.95), published in 2005. The book was excerpted by The Brooklyn Rail the same year with the title “A Brief History of Plastic.” It is found on page 51 of Free.

Though reproducing words or original ideas from any uncredited source is widely defined as plagiarism, using text from Wikipedia presents an even more significant problem than reproducing traditional copyrighted text. Under Wikipedia’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license, Anderson would be required to credit all contributors to the quoted passages, license his modifications under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, note that the original work has been modified, and provide the text of or a link to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Anderson has not done any of these things in Free.

Anderson responded personally to a request for comments about how this unattributed text came to appear in his book, providing the following remarks by e-mail:

All those are my screwups after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to find a good citation format for web sources…

This all came about once we collapsed the notes into the copy. I had the original sources footnoted, but once we lost the footnotes at the 11th hour, I went through the document and redid all the attributions, in three groups:

  • Long passages of direct quotes (indent, with source)
  • Intellectual debts, phrases and other credit due (author credited inline, as with Michael Pollan)
  • In the case of source material without an individual author to credit (as in the case of Wikipedia), do a write-through.

Obviously in my rush at the end I missed a few of that last category, which is bad. As you’ll note, these are mostly on the margins of the book’s focus, mostly on historical asides, but that’s no excuse. I should have had a better process to make sure the write-through covered all the text that was not directly sourced.

I think what we’ll do is publish those notes after all, online as they should have been to begin with. That way the links are live and we don’t have to wrestle with how to freeze them in time, which is what threw me in the first place.

Look for a full review of Free in the Fall issue of VQR.

5:15 p.m. update: Hyperion has provided us with the following statement.

We are completely satisfied with Chris Anderson’s response. It was an unfortunate mistake, and we are working with the author to correct these errors both in the electronic edition before it posts, and in all future editions of the book.

Hyperion says that they intend to have the notes online by the time that the book is published.

118 Comments

Jacob Silverman's picture
Waldo, Is your copy an advance copy, or is it the same as what is expected to appear in stores?
+1
+3
-1
Waldo Jaquith's picture
Good question. Though I’d started off reading an advance copy, Hyperion was kind enough to provide us with a final copy of the book, which I compared against the advance copy to ensure that the quotes here reflect the published edition.
+1
+2
-1
Joshua Alawin's picture
Joshua Alawin · 5 years ago
At least Anderson took it like a man and owned up quickly. Given his long record of support for open-source communities of all types, I’m even finding it hard to fault him for relying on Wikipedia as a source—though I agree (with him) that he should have given credit. If you think about it, the guy has let the Internet write his material for a long time. Check what he did with The Long Tail: basically let his community do his reporting. Every time I try to get pissed about that, I just end up thinking, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” The man is smart enough to stand on the shoulders of the Web; we could all take a note from that.
+1
0
-1
Jacob Silverman's picture
Joshua, I think you’re far too forgiving. He plagiarized from multiple Wikipedia pages and more than one book. He wasn’t using brief quotations or summarizing ideas in order to comment upon them – he copied large chunks of pages nearly verbatim and without attribution. Just because the material came from the web (and not all of it did, apparently) or from a collaborative forum like Wikipedia doesn’t make the act acceptable. Calling Wikipedia “open-source” is misleading; it has clear licenses associated with it that, as Waldo outlines above, have guidelines for how material may be used and attributed. And despite its usefulness, Wikipedia wouldn’t suffice as a source for a high-school English paper, so why would the veiled use of the site be acceptable for a nonfiction book by a prominent commentator? Those who are at the vanguard of online media, who are trying to fashion new ways of assessing intellectual property, like Anderson, have a special responsibility to act ethically and responsibly. It seems he did not. It’s nice that he’s “owned up,” but he only did so when he got caught. Saying he couldn’t settle on a citation method is a sad excuse. Does Hyperion not have the resources to help with that?
+1
+2
-1
Nima's picture
Nima · 5 years ago
While it’s clear you found passages that were plagiarized – which is never acceptable – I think you’ve also grossly over exaggerated what was done. Basically, you went nuts with the highlighter. For example, in the “Learning Curve” section you mark: “In the late 1960s … the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) … curve” as plagiarism. What? You’re saying he plagiarized the date, the name of the people involved, and the name of the topic he’s talking about from another paragraph dealing with that same date, same group, and same topic? Clearly, the middle paragraph in the “Learning Curve” section was appropriated without proper attribution, but the first and last highlighted sections are pretty flimsy (given that you’re claiming the name of the topic, in quotes, and the word “was” constitutes plagiarism in the first paragraph, I think “flimsy” is a generous description). This seems to be the case in many of the sections you cited as plagiarized. I think it’s important to bring plagiarism to light, but it’s also important to be honest about what the problem passages are. Using the name of a guy that discovered something is not plagiarism, and it’s unfair to claim that it is.
+1
+3
-1
JQP's picture
JQP · 5 years ago
Did anyone bother to check if the original contributors to Wikipedia plagiarized themselves??
+1
-3
-1
Waldo Jaquith's picture
While it’s clear you found passages that were plagiarized — which is never acceptable — I think you’ve also grossly over exaggerated what was done. Basically, you went nuts with the highlighter.
I never claimed—and would not claim—that the highlighted passages are all plagiarized, but instead pointedly wrote: The words and phrases that are found in both Free and the apparent original source are highlighted. It’s not within my knowledge or abilities to ascertain how many of these words qualify as “plagiarism”—VQR is simply providing the passages with the identical portions highlighted. You are no doubt correct that the use of the word “Babbitt” when writing about Benjamin T. Babbitt is inevitable, not plagiarism, but it is a word that appears in the same context in both texts nonetheless.
For example, in the “Learning Curve” section you mark: “In the late 1960s … the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) … curve” as plagiarism. What? You’re saying he plagiarized the date, the name of the people involved, and the name of the topic he’s talking about from another paragraph dealing with that same date, same group, and same topic?
That is a case of the plagiarism of ideas, a different sort of plagiarism (and some would say more serious) than plagiarizing words. Wikipedia contributors came up with the idea of juxtaposing the concept of the “learning curve” and a management consulting group who applied that concept to business, connecting the dots between a concept and the who furthered it. Another good example of that is the Babbitt entry. Author Josette Pieniazek’s research allowed her to connect several seemingly unrelated topics: Benjamin Babbitt, street cars, the etymology of a popular phrase, and the name of a character in a book. That’s a set of four facts that it would likely take a fair bit of research to connect. God bless Josette Pieniazek, she did the legwork necessary to connect those dots. Those might only be four basic facts, but anybody using those owes its author a credit for doing the work to assemble them into a meaningful collection that serves to illuminate the otherwise dry character of Benjamin Babbitt. While we’re on the topic of plagiarism in the form of ideas, I must note that I did not find any evidence that Chris Anderson’s thesis contained any plagiarized ideas. That’s an important point. All ideas that form of the core the book are credited, and his own thesis that he builds upon that showed no signs of being anybody’s but his own.
Did anyone bother to check if the original contributors to Wikipedia plagiarized themselves??
I did not find any evidence that the Wikipedia passages were plagiarized, though that search was tangential to what I was looking for, which was evidence that the passages in question had been published prior to the Free. Many of these passages have been modified in small ways, gradually, over the course of months or years, so it can be difficult to verify that sort of thing.
+1
+6
-1
junior's picture
junior · 5 years ago
You got your 15 min of fame, now go back to your irrelevance.
+1
+2
-1
John's picture
John · 5 years ago
I don’t find it surprising. Someone once told me that the Long Tail article Chris wrote, which turned into his book, was part of a conversation that person brought to Anderson. You never know how true that kind of stuff is, but not crediting sources, stealing people’s work, etc. is not cool, period, and it speaks volumes for anybody who does it.
+1
-1
-1
JK's picture
JK · 5 years ago
Regardless of the textual copying, I’m somewhat more concerned that Chris Anderson used Wikipedia as a primary source. Sounds like something an undergraduate pulls the night before a paper’s due…
+1
+2
-1
Nima's picture
Nima · 5 years ago
I never claimed—and would not claim—that the highlighted passages are all plagiarized, but instead pointedly wrote: The words and phrases that are found in both Free and the apparent original source are highlighted. It’s not within my knowledge or abilities to ascertain how many of these words qualify as “plagiarism”—VQR is simply providing the passages with the identical portions highlighted.
In an article about plagiarism in which you characterize plagiarism as the use of the same words and language you’re saying we shouldn’t take your highlighting of the words as anything more than you just highlighting words? That’s B.S., and I think you know that. The correct thing to do is only highlight and show the areas that you think are actually plagiarized, otherwise don’t accuse Anderson of plagiarism. You can’t have it both ways. Either allege plagiarism and correctly note what you believe to be lifted, or do not.
+1
-1
-1
D's picture
D · 5 years ago
Don’t care. Don’t care. Don’t care. This is more of the same garbage from academics discovering plagiarism and making a big stink where it isn’t due. Take a fine-tooth comb to any recent publication and start googling. I bet you find a lot more than this. Furthermore, how can you be so sure the wikipedia entries weren’t lifted from a prior source? His response was more than enough to convince me of his honest intentions. Please find something else to do with your blog besides starting witch hunts for harmless stuff like this. -D
+1
-4
-1
D's picture
D · 5 years ago
One more thing: Did you ever consider that this may have been the result of his publisher’s wish to not include Wikipedia citations?
+1
0
-1
ChrEliz's picture
ChrEliz · 5 years ago
It’s interesting to see some people getting emotional and ticked off about this. When I see posts that are so defensive and upset with the people who are pointing out this kind of infraction, I generally dismiss the comments and halfheartedly wonder if those commenters are just friends or family of the book author in question. Not that it matters, and not that I care, but folks should realize that when they come to a blog like this and write snippy or defensive or insulting posts, they don’t come across as credible to casual readers like myself. That’s a lot of plagiarizing that he may have committed. Wow. Maybe to make amends, he could just donate all or at least most of his after-tax earnings on the book to Wikipedia.  ; ) That would be an interesting twist and would add to the irony of the whole story, but in a positive way. Hee!
+1
+5
-1
Sam Deeks's picture
Copying chunks of Wikipedia into text that you present as your own intellectual thought process is completely different from forgetting a citation or two. It seems that Anderson is either unwilling to admit he’s plagiarising or (more depressingly) unable to see it as a problem in the first place. I was a university lecturer between 1994 - 2004. In that time, I witnessed a cultural change that went along with the explosion of the internet from students knowing that copy from books was plagiarism to students not seeming to know that cutting and pasting (or even buying!) from the internet was. Why would they? Kids in UK junior schools are taught that ‘research’ is going online and typing a word in Google. ‘Presenting a research project’ is simply printing that out and carrying it to school. I quit lecturing in 2004 because the University I worked for was systematically reducing the intellectual demands on its’ students. I found numerous students plagiarising in exactly the same way as Chris Anderson has done. Guess what the University did? That’s right - nothing. Because to do anything would risk losing the student and their funding or - worse - increasing their demands on the system. Lose. Lose. Maybe Chris Anderson is simply writing for that generation?
+1
+2
-1
Edward Champion's picture
Don’t care. Don’t care. Don’t care. This is more of the same garbage from academics discovering plagiarism and making a big stink where it isn’t due. Take a fine-tooth comb to any recent publication and start googling. I bet you find a lot more than this. Okay, to look at this from another perspective, remember how upset people were when e Baum’s World took funny Flash videos from other websites – little animations and the like that people made with passion and love – and profited from sharing these videos? The geeks went after Eric Bauman with pitchforks. What makes Chris Anderson’s appropriation of content – with the intention of profiting off of it through book sales and related speaker fees – any different? The fact remains that both here, and with the findings at my site, Anderson hoped to pass other peoples’ ideas as his own. He didn’t go to the trouble of rephrasing the content – in some cases he lifted whole paragraphs. He simply changed a few words here, but it was not enough for a proper paraphrase. This is hardly garbage. Other people have sacrificed time and money to do the research. And Anderson thinks nothing of it.
+1
-3
-1
Major Loon's picture
Major Loon · 5 years ago
Wikipedia, as any researcher worth their salt knows, has unique URL’s for every edit in every article. Anyone can reference the unique URL for the specific page that they use as their source and it will not change. Even when the article is subsequently edited, the citation will bring up the original page. If the citation line is missing from the left side column, the researchers can invoke the history tab at the top of the page and cite the top entry for a unique URL. In other words, excuses about failing to include proper citations because of Wikipedia constant changes is poppycock. It only works for plagiarists who don’t understand the basics or for blowhards who are trying to obscure their own lack of integrity. The excuses that the dog ate my homework or I lost the citations before the book was published are equally incredible.
+1
-1
-1
Jackson Landers's picture
To those who are trying to characterize the amount of plagarized text in this book as just a few incidental paragraphs, that is not the case. Also note that the plagarism was not restricted to Wikipedia entries. The ‘author’ also lifted material directly from other sources. This is scarier than most examples of plagarism that have come to light in recent years. Chris Anderson worked as an editor at Science magazine and as a reporter for Nature before becoming editor of Wired. This guy was responsible for the content of serious, respected scientific journals and he claims that he has no idea how to use footnotes. To have had someone on their staff who is so cavalier in his use and attribution of sources and ideas calls into question the legitimacy of every article he wrote and every scientific paper that he edited. In short, Anderson’s reckless behavior is an affront not only to journalistic ethics but also damaging to our faith all of the science that he was involved in either conducting or representing. Everything that he has presented as scientific fact in the past must now be reviewed or discarded.
+1
-2
-1
Does Chris Anderson think we're all fucking stupid?'s picture
Does Chris Ande... · 5 years ago
This is complete bullshit and Anderson is going to get a pass because he’s a cool ‘futurist,’ the editor of Wired, and every wanna-be, hanger-on in the world new-media, publishing, web 2.0, etc is going to obsequiously apologize for him to ride his nuts. This book is a **product** whose core assertion that the future price of other products will be zero, or near zero, and producers will make money in another way. Why isn’t the fucking book free, Chris? Why isn’t Wired free? Because you don’t believe your bullshit (in this case someone elses that you pass off as yours) Let’s also consider that this **product** which bears Anderson’s name and for which he was and will be compensated is taking words directly from Wikipedia w/o citation, as well as other sources We’re seriously supposed to fucking pay for this? …I mean, I thought the future was free ?!?! I’ve simply had it with ‘social media experts’ and internet charlatans. With this stunt, I count Anderson as cheif among them.
+1
-4
-1
Waldo Jaquith's picture
In an article about plagiarism in which you characterize plagiarism as the use of the same words and language you’re saying we shouldn’t take your highlighting of the words as anything more than you just highlighting words? That’s B.S., and I think you know that. The correct thing to do is only highlight and show the areas that you think are actually plagiarized, otherwise don’t accuse Anderson of plagiarism. You can’t have it both ways. Either allege plagiarism and correctly note what you believe to be lifted, or do not.
Perhaps I’m not making myself clear, so here’s another example. Your response to me is hostile and a bit angry. If I were writing an article about “hostile and a little bit angry” comments I’ve received on this blog recently, this one would be included. But what words specifically qualify as hostile and a little bit angry? Well, “B.S.,” though that’s clearly context-dependent. Other than that, it’s tough to cite individual words…and yet your comment is quite clearly hostile and a bit angry, when taken as a whole. For instance, writing “that’s B.S., and I think you know that” implies bad intention on my part, which is a terrible thing to accuse me of. But none of those words, individually, are freighted with that. I’d have a tough time knowing which words to highlight, and yet here we are. Is writing the name” Sinclair Lewis” inherently, in all circumstances, plagiarism? Of course not. Is it plagiarism in this instance? Maybe, for the reasons that I’ve explained. But VQR’s self-assigned role here is simply to illustrate which words and phrases appear in both sources in the same context. Finally, note that “plagiarism” is an existential matter, after a point. When two dozen consecutive words appear in a work that have appeared in a prior work, then those words have almost certainly been plagiarized. Given that Mr. Anderson has said that’s what happened here, the fact that plagiarism occurred is not up for debate. (Given that no sane person would do such a thing willingly—and Chris Anderson is clearly a sane man—I cannot see that intent is up for debate, either.) The only question, then, is the academic one of which words and phrases are plagiarized. You feel that less words than those highlighted are plagiarized, and that’s absolutely a reasonable opinion. There’s no doubt that some of these words would have appeared no matter what; which ones, however, are up for debate.
+1
-3
-1
Matthew Gabriele's picture
Matthew Gabriele · 5 years ago
Tell you what, his excuse wouldn’t fly in my classroom. That’s plagiarism.
+1
+4
-1
Trevor's picture
At first the writer in me cringed at Anderson’s plagiarism. How crude! But after some reflection my general feeling is ‘who cares!’ Plagiarizing a few hundred words doesn’t matter to me. Copying isn’t what it used to be. The whole world is a mashup and I think we’re better off for it. He definitely should have acknowledged the sources, but lifting words means nothing to me now. If Anderson stole the idea or nucleus for his work … well that’s a different story. I don’t believe that’s the case here. This is a tempest in a teapot. And Sam, while I never lifted a sentence in university, I don’t blame the students who do. Instead I blame schools and professors that foist redundant and decades-old writing assignments on bored undergrads. If you wanted your students to submit original thinking, you should have asked them for papers that required originality. Universities are about as innovative as GM.
+1
-5
-1
Chris Anderson's picture
Chris Anderson here. It’s been very interesting reading these comments, especially those on how properly to deal with Wikipedia citation. As I mentioned, I had intended to atttribute them with a footnote, as per Creative Commons, but my editors were concerned about the moving nature of the entries and wanted a time stamp. That just seemed archaic, so at the minute we killed the notes altogether and set out to do a write-through instead. Obviously I did a poor job of that in those final days of editing, and I’m really sick about my omissions. As mentioned above, the ebook will be corrected before publication and we’ll also have those original notes online by pub date. And for those who are wondering how I can charge for a book called Free, I won’t be, at least not for the bit forms. The digital editions will all be free in one way or another, either for a limited period of time (ebooks) or unlimited for certain versions (unabridged audiobook).
+1
0
-1
Edward Champion's picture
Not good enough, Chris. If notes were such an issue, and you were paraphrasing Wikipedia, why then didn’t you indicate that in your book? Even accounting for the fool’s weight that Wikipedia has in even the most generalized research situation, surely an “according to Wikipedia” would have solved the problem. Except that if you actually copped to the fact that you cadged from Wikipedia, you’d be a laughing stock, wouldn’t you? Your “expertise” – that country bumpkin approach to slinging conceptual generalizations around – would be called into question, wouldn’t it? And let’s also consider the way in which you openly reproduced paragraphs from Kevin Kelly and Derek Sivers, among others, with scant modifications. Avoiding plagiarism doesn’t just mean proper citation of the sources. It also means properly paraphrasing the ideas. A proper paraphrase means that you don’t quote whole phrases (or even whole paragraphs) and claim them to be yours (even with a citation). The fact is that you often “paraphrase” the source long BEFORE you even acknowledge the source. And it misleads the reader into thinking that YOU’RE the one who came up with these ideas. This is an outrage. With so many years of journalistic experience, you should no better than to pull so many amateurish moves. The editorial team at Hyperion should have possessed enough scrutiny to discover all this while the book was in production. You see, Chris, if you were to pull this in a freshman comp class, you would be disciplined. But you clearly think nothing of this. Time stamps or proper attribution is “archaic” by your standards. Well, if it’s so archaic, why then did your sorry ass mess with the “archaic” dead tree format? There are standards here, Chris, that you have violated. And you will go on to collect your lucrative advance and speaking fees, while GOOD AND HONEST journalists who ACTUALLY KNOW HOW TO CITE AND PARAPHRASE sit on Skid Row.
+1
+4
-1
Kate Malay's picture
Waldo, we didn’t meet from my cvillain.com days, shame. Tangential way I came to this piece, but glad for it–sounds like you devoted a lot of your time to researching this, and as always, it’s a very well written piece. I also want to congratulate you for cvillenews.com being a C-VILLE top 25 indicator of being a local in Charlottesville. I agree. What does junior know…
+1
+2
-1
Chris Anderson's picture
Edward, I have no problem citing Wikipedia. As you will know from my many tributes to it, both in the Long Tail and elsewhere, I think it’s a very valid reference source (not the only one, to be sure, and one should always look to the original material as well if it’s available) and fully worth being cited and quoted. Are you actually arguing that nobody should ever cite Wikipedia, even quoting it? Indeed, I was so okay with it that we were going to blockquote the Wikipedia exceprts, but sadly couldn’t agree on a citation form. So we left the internal quotes, where Wikipedia citied a NYT article, for instance, because those were correctly attributed, and then I endeavored to write through the rest in my own words. I clearly did a crappy job of that second part in a few instances, and I’m very sorry about that. In the corrected ebooks you’ll see that we just cite Wikipeda as we should have all along, and the notes give URLs, etc. Where I don’t rewrite in my own words, we quote. This is my fault, but it does raise a question about what the right form for citing Wikipedia in a book is. I think what we eventually settled on–a reference in the text, and a URL in online notes, seems okay for now, but it doesn’t solve the changing source material problem. It will be interesting to see how the mainstream book industry (as opposed to the academic press) figures this out. BTW, Edward, I see you went into my online hard drive backup, which was accidentally left unsecured, and posted some files. Did you enjoy reading my private letters to my wife and children? Did it ever feel wrong?
+1
-4
-1
David Gerard's picture
As a general note on the topic, here’s a page on how to cite Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_Wikipedia The page lets you cite any article - go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Cite and entering “Chris Anderson (writer)”. This will then generate citation text for the latest revision of the article on Chris Anderson, with a stable URL for that particular revision. We spend our time nerdily writing an encyclopedia so people will use it, and quoting with correct attribution is absolutely encouraged. With due caution :-)
+1
+2
-1

Pages

Recommended Reading