Forums: Helping Hand > Plagiarism and deletion policy

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Hi there. I had some thoughts about the FR Wiki's policy on deleting plagiarised pages. That is, I think we should stop. I'm wholly against plagiarism, obviously, but I don't we need to bother all deleting pages that contain plagiarised history. For reference, the policy: Forgotten Realms Wiki:Plagiarism.

It's a fine policy, but I've seen how it can be problematic in practice. Procampur and Tsurlagol were originally plagiarised before I began rewriting and developing them, but as per the policy, they needed to be deleted and recreated. So User:Cronje and I made back-up pages for my original and new work, I waited until they were deleted and and reinstated fresh, then published the new pages. Another case was Shar, which was formerly an original work (AFAIK), then someone added plagiarised information and it had to be deleted and remade as before, but lost its history.

The current deletion and recreation process loses the revision history, which loses all record of editors' work ("Who wrote this?") and makes it impossible for an editor to investigate the prior history if they need to ("What happened to this citation?"). Plus, editors lose credit for their work. Is it possible for an administrator to restore revision history as well, or to undo the edit and selectively remove history?

It's relatively a lot of effort, and a bad way to vandalise the wiki: stick some plagiarised material on Drizzt, then watch an admin waste some time deleting it and remaking it, with history wiped.

I don't think we need to go to these lengths. Anyone who wants to pirate a sourcebook won't be scouring an article history on the off-chance they find something, they can just download it. Few users will even look at the history, only fussy editors. In the history, it's effectively buried and forgotten. Total deletion is also not a policy I've seen on other wikis, such as Memory Beta, where plagiarised text is simply undone, removed, or rewritten.

I'm fine with deleting a fresh page that only contains plagiarised material (e.g., -6400 DR), whether from a newbie or some old cruft: nothing is lost by losing it. But if it contains/contained original work as well (e.g., the latest revision to Lantan), I think it would be better to simply undo it, remove the offending text, or rewrite it. In addition, information that is freely available online, such as in a web enhancement, is fairly safe to simply undo or cut.

BadCatMan (talk) 13:48, July 15, 2012 (UTC)

The problem isn't necessarily with cheapskates looking for Realms source material and finding our wiki (though I'm not sure I agree about it not being an issue). The real problem is the lawyers at Wizards of the Coast perceiving it as a problem and suing us over it. While writing articles in our own words doesn't necessarily protect us from being sued over copyright infringement (history is rife with authors' lawyers suing fan sites - look at the early history of J.K. Rowling's fan fiction writers), but it will make that less likely.
Cronje (talkcontribs) 15:02, July 15, 2012 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for fixing my post, I was wondering why it wouldn't work.

To clarify: I entirely agree that we should get rid of plagiarised material. I just want to discuss and adjust the way we handle its removal.

BadCatMan (talk) 15:17, July 15, 2012 (UTC)

I like this idea, and if this policy works for other wikis then I think we should consider it. The trouble is, one policy does not fit all wikis. We have to assess the risk of litigation for our wiki regardless of what other wikis get away with. If Wizards aggressively protects their copyrights and frequently threatens alleged infringers, then the risk is higher that we lose everything. However, if they see the value of fan-generated sites and realize that resources like this only increase interest and therefore sales, then they may tolerate a little plagiarism living on in the history as long as they see we are actively discouraging it and correcting it as we find it.
Moviesign (talk) 15:18, July 15, 2012 (UTC)

Glister was another problem; part of it was original, the rest was copied.

Has WotC been a problem about that sort of thing? I know sites like Crystal Keep (?) were cut back, but they showed all the crunch. Anyway, I've been researching plagiarism policies at other wikias, and will get back when I have good list of examples.

BadCatMan (talk) 14:00, July 22, 2012 (UTC)

Okay, I'm back and I bear copyright and plagiarism policies! :D I went through some bigger, more developed wikias that I had bookmarked. My other haunt, Memory Beta, simply follows Memory Alpha (both Star Trek-based); the policies are discussed here and here. In these, it's encouraged to simply remove or rewrite the plagiarised/copyright infringing text. It's stated that the history isn't easily accessible to general readers, and that maintaining the rest of the revision history is desired. Only pages where the entire content is plagiarised should be deleted. Apparently, it's possible for administrators, designated agents and/or developers to selectively remove history of offending content.

The great Star Wars Wookieepedia has much the same policy, here.

The big one, Wikipedia, has more legalese: here. Again, they say to simply remove the offending text, or delete the page if the entirety of it is copied.

So, (fortunately for me) it's just what I said above. Like the bigger wikis, we can simply undo, remove or rewrite offending material from existing pages, or delete pages that only contain offending material. We don't have to delete and restore otherwise good pages. On the off-chance someone complains, there must be a way of removing it from the history.

BadCatMan (talk) 08:07, July 30, 2012 (UTC)

So, any thoughts on this? Looking at all these other wikis and Wikipedia itself, it should be safe for us to simply remove offending content, rather than go for full page removal.
BadCatMan (talk) 01:34, September 19, 2012 (UTC)

Personally, I will follow the wiki policy... if it changes... I'll change... since I do not have the power to delete pages... I will continue to place a deletion tag... of course, if we just rewrite or remove plagiarized material... well, that is something I can do :) Of course, vandals can still just undo... and poof, their copied work returns... if you look at Category:Articles nominated for deletion, I have bagged a fair amount copied pages... and many of them are entire pages of plagiarism. I definitely think profanity added to pages should be deleted... not that I don't swear, but to protect the young people who visit this wiki :)
Darkwynters (talk) 01:50, September 19, 2012 (UTC)

I know, I've put deletion tags on copied pages myself as per policy. The FRW has had a serious problem of unchecked plagiarism we need to fight against and clean up. I just think we can make it a little easier on ourselves to handle. And we'll continue to fight the good fight against vandals, as we always must.
BadCatMan (talk) 02:08, September 19, 2012 (UTC)

Any thoughts about this? I know I'm much more willing to rewrite an existing page than I am to create a new one, with all the article formating and code.
BadCatMan (talk) 11:41, October 2, 2012 (UTC)

I recently learned (from you, actually, so thanks!) that I can restore specific deleted page revisions after an article has been deleted. As long as the article's history contains a clean copy, I can now restore that single revision, so edit to your heart's content. :)
Cronje (talkcontribs) 18:55, October 2, 2012 (UTC)

So, Cronje, we can rewrite the page, but just keep the Deletion tag... and you can pick to restore the current page, thus removing the old copyright material from the history... correct?
Darkwynters (talk) 19:44, October 2, 2012 (UTC)

Cronje (talkcontribs) 20:51, October 2, 2012 (UTC)

Great! Does that include pages created with copied material, such that the very first version of the page would contain the material?
BadCatMan (talk) 08:19, October 3, 2012 (UTC)

So long as one revision is clean, I've learned, I can delete the page and restore the clean revision(s).
Cronje (talkcontribs) 08:25, October 3, 2012 (UTC)

Okay, for a test, I've rewritten -11300 DR and -11400 DR. The current versions are clean.
BadCatMan (talk) 02:22, October 4, 2012 (UTC)

Deleted, restored, deletion tag removed.
14:02, October 4, 2012 (UTC)

Good job with this and I think there has been a very productive solution reached. My issue is that if there is a copyright claim, even against something buried in the history, it's still going to be a valid claim, and it could serve to undermine all the hard work and dedication we've put into the wiki, so I think the simplest solution that solves this issue, which I believe is what you've reached, is, in my view, the most favourable!
Fw190a8 13:36, October 5, 2012 (UTC)

Well, it's certainly easier to rewrite and restore than it is to recreate from scratch, so it's a big improvement. I've begun work fixing the copied pages we've already found, now easier and quicker with the admin powers. After faffing about page deletion and selective restoration, I couldn't find a way to restore old revisions that didn't preserve older material as well. Maybe I shouldn't worry about it, especially simple formatting adjustments, but I'm fussy like that.

Still, I believe we can get away with doing what the rest of Wikia and Wikipedia itself do, as I described above, namely to simply rewrite and forget about the revision history. That will make it easier still for any user to rewrite an article, preserve a history, and skip the deletion/restoration procedure. But given the extent of the problem here, I can accept a hardline approach against it.

BadCatMan (talk) 02:50, October 6, 2012 (UTC)

To rewrite or not to rewrite[edit source]

I've been going to copied pages, removing and rewriting the copied material, then deleting and restoring the clean pages as agreed upon. But... AARGH! It's a time-consuming process, essentially making new articles from scratch, and a bad way to spend more time working on everything else but what interests me. There are so many copied pages as well: there are well over 2600 Category:Years pages that need to be checked, now all the Vilhon Reach material that Darkwynters turned up, and there's bound to be much more. It'll take ages to get through, and will leave us with offending material for a long time to come, still there even with Deletion tags on them.

So, would it be okay all round to just delete these pages out of hand, provided they only contain copied material? Then we'd only need to rewrite and save those mingled with properly rewritten material.

This is pretty much what we were doing before. So, I guess I'm just looking for an excuse to give up. :)

--BadCatMan (talk) 08:21, October 12, 2012 (UTC)

Instead of deleting the purely plagiarized pages, can you replace the content with a template that says something like "This page removed due to plagiarism and/or copyright violation. Please rewrite this page according to the policies of this wiki." and have the template add the page to a "needs rewrite" category. This would ensure that the deleted pages do not pass out of memory, links to the pages would still work, and the total page count of the wiki would not take a big hit. If you'd rather the links turn red, then I'd say just put links to the deleted pages in a list and add a link to this list on the main page, asking folks to help rewrite their favorite pages. What do you think, sirs?
Moviesign (talk) 12:38, October 12, 2012 (UTC)

I agree with both BadCat and Movie... I think we need a new Plagiarism template because it would be easy to separate the vandalized pages from the "pages need rewriting"... but I also agree with just deleting copied pages...
Darkwynters (talk) 15:28, October 12, 2012 (UTC)

I'm in favour of putting them in a list somewhere for interested users to rewrite and rehabilitate. User:Ijkay has done a good job on that. If no-one's interested in touching them, they should probably be deleted after a while.

I'll try to make a Template:Plagiarism and associated category for this purpose, and begin updating our known copied pages.

BadCatMan (talk) 04:11, October 13, 2012 (UTC)

Alright, I've made the template (I copied the Deletion template, ironically enough). The pages will appear in Category:Plagiarized articles. They'll also still appear in Category:Articles nominated for deletion since they are still, officially, nominated for deletion by virtue of being copied.

If you have any suggestions, let me know.

BadCatMan (talk) 04:54, October 13, 2012 (UTC)

Excellent work, BadCat :)
Darkwynters (talk) 05:08, October 13, 2012 (UTC)

A small change: to more distinguish the plagiarised articles from those to be deleted for other reasons (faulty, vandalism, homebrew), I made "Plagiarized articles" a sub-category of "Articles nominated for deletion" and stopped the template putting such articles in that category automatically.
BadCatMan (talk) 07:51, October 13, 2012 (UTC)

To delete or not to delete[edit source]

Since Category:Plagiarized articles is growing large, I was wondering if we should decide on a deletion protocol to handle it better and reduce workloads. Obviously, we want to keep and rehabilitate some, but also delete the offending material. I was thinking we should decide on some criteria for what is kept for rehabilitation, and what is deleted out of hand. Something like:
  • No known relation to setting — automatic deletion
  • Known relation to setting, or is taken from setting material — keep for rehabilitation
  • Purely copied — automatic deletion
  • Partially copied, partially original — keep for rehabilitation.

That's half going back to what we were doing before. What do you think?

BadCatMan (talk) 11:46, November 24, 2012 (UTC)

BadCat... I completely agree... love it... anyone else?
Darkwynters (talk) 17:09, November 24, 2012 (UTC)

I was asking if anyone wanted to make some specific criteria of my above suggestions: number 2 and 3 above are contradictory.

Anyway, since Category:Plagiarized articles has grown to two pages, I've begun deleting the plagiarised monster manual filler creatures that have no specific or likely Realms connection.

BadCatMan (talk) 03:39, December 9, 2012 (UTC)

BadCat, you have my vote :) I wish FW would log on and create a policy :( FWWWWWW!!!!! We need you!!!
Darkwynters (talk) 05:52, December 9, 2012 (UTC)

Yup, that's a good way of doing things. Wish I had more time online but I'm pretty much back to the whole hour-and-a-half a week deal I had at the beginning of the year.
-hashtalk 10:54, July 16, 2013 (UTC)
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