The sincerest form of flattery…

… probably isn’t copying without attribution. Someone named Will Choi has apparently copied without attribution my essay about Shirky’s Law. (All links given a “nofollow” tag.) I’ve had this kind of copying done by spammers before, many times, but it’s a little more annoying to see on someone’s personal blog.


  1. Sent him a message regarding this… I can’t understand such blatant plagiarism. The things people will do for ad revenue never cease to amaze me.

  2. Haha, I checked his blog and followed what came after the copy and paste job: a few glorious pictures that made my day!

    By the way, your notes on Google technology are very nice. Also is the fact that they come with the python code included! Thanks!

  3. I agree its irritating and I also noticed that Mr. Choi is apparently setting up a pattern for repeating this behavior with the Cut&Paste tag, but it is kind of fascinating at the same time. I mean this is pretty close to the same problem/panacea that all digital information faces right? Its just that now its about the words of a scientist rather than music or videos. In both cases, the creators of the media really do want it distributed as widely as possible – just so long as they continue to get some kind of credit for it. Had he prefaced the post with ‘Michael Nielsen wrote..” would you have been upset that he copied your entire essay and thus potentially gained add revenue directly from your labor? My guess is probably not – because you would still get the credit for the ideas – which I believe is how you get ‘paid’. In fact, perhaps the best thing that could happen to a blogger is to have their material cut and pasted all over the internet – just as long as there is attribution somewhere. Even without attribution however, I suspect that the people whose opinion matters will likely not be confused about sources unless the cutting/pasting is done by another party of equivalent prior authority. I’d be concerned (and exhilarated for you) if Clay Shirky was trying to steal your words but little Willy Choi?

  4. Benjamin,

    Those are definitely interesting questions that you raise. As you say, with a link and attribution somewhere, it’d be fine by me. As it is, there is still value – I’m glad the ideas get out there! – but it’s also a little annoying.

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