Copywrong 2011

I grumble a lot about Yahoo! Answers, but I continue to hang out there, generally confining myself to subjects I know something about, motivated by the fact that there are lots of people even dumber than I am.

Which is why this is so dispiriting:

A growing number of college presidents and faculty are concerned about student plagiarism in the Internet age. But the questions raised by this analysis go beyond ethics. Wouldn’t professors be disheartened to learn that a significant share of students are harvesting their facts not from an old-fashioned encyclopedia but from Yahoo Answers?

Y!A, apparently, is second only to Wikipedia as a source of, um, “borrowed content,” despite this:

On this site … accuracy is determined by a popular vote. Fact and opinion dwell side by side.

Disclosure: I got a Best Answer this week for something I answered a year ago; the answer turned out to be wrong after all — the company changed its plans — but it’s too late to do anything about it now.

(Via Fark.)


  1. Nicole »

    5 November 2011 · 2:32 pm

    “harvesting their facts not from an old-fashioned encyclopedia but from Yahoo Answers? ”

    The source of the information is simply a matter of an evolving world. The accuracy (and most importantly – believed accuracy) is the depressing factor. Where a student researches should be of little consequence. If they are out right plagiarizing, that is of course a matter of concern (and there is no denying that the internet makes it faster to copy someone else’s work but you could always write straight out of the encylopedia). That they believe popular vote determines accuracy is likewise of concern.

    But the source of the information determines not the originality of the information.

  2. CGHill »

    5 November 2011 · 2:37 pm

    I admit to having lifted a few things from Britannica when I was younger, but I also worked on developing a modest talent for rewriting stuff, so the hammer (perhaps Maxwell’s silver one, it being about that time of the century) never came down on my head.

  3. Nicole »

    5 November 2011 · 7:31 pm

    Same here. I lifted a lot, and I’m sure the teachers expected it from us, but yeah, if you creatively rewrote, you didn’t get snagged.

  4. Lynn »

    7 November 2011 · 8:56 am

    I was briefly fascinated by Yahoo! Answers but as soon as I found out they weren’t going to allow me to be snarky about other people’s spelling and grammar that seemed to take all the fun out of it.

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