But apparently not everyone does. Take those fellows who run the Sierra Madre Patch for instance. They don't know it. Or at least they don't know it yet. But I suspect this lacunae in their internet consciousness is about to be filled with an object lesson in the consequences of the imperfect cover-up. As taught by Professor Eric Maundry, Master of all things Internet.
Yesterday we posted an article called "Does Patch Plagiarize Itself?" In it we discussed the troubling revelation that one Patch freelance writer, Justin Chapman, had lifted without accreditation the writing of another Patch freelancer, Bill Peters. And in the offending passages it was done almost word for word.
Here is a recap of how we broke it down in yesterday's post:
On November 19 of 2010, Patch writer Bill Peters dutifully wrote up a status report on the Canyon Zone Advisory Committee. Entitled Joint Session to Look at One Size Fits All Canyon Zone Plan, it is a workmanlike effort which accurately details some of the concerns at that moment in time.
On March 23rd of this year, Justin Chapman, who has been a subject of controversy here due to his absurd claim that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association was in agreement with the City of Sierra Madre's Prop 218 water rate increase process, typed up a piece of purloined prose entitled Canyon Area of Sierra Madre Now Zoned R-C.
Allow me to cite two instances where Justin Chapman ripped of Bill Peters.
Peters (Paragraph 4): In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking that for the completion of a draft that would apply only within the canyon zone.
Chapman (Paragraph 8): In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking for the completion of a draft that would apply within the canyon zone.
Now I gave a second example of Justin Chapman's unaccredited misappropriations, but for the sake of brevity I am going to just reprint the one seen above. If you wish to review the entire article just scroll down to yesterday's post and have at it.
So here is where it gets pretty wild. Sometime yesterday afternoon the solons at the Sierra Madre Patch changed Chapman's article in such a way that it was no longer the lovely textbook example of plagiarism it was before they tampered with it.
And if you click here you will be able to see the article as it is now written. Gone are the things that I point to above, and in their place you will be able to see the following:
As stated in a Nov. 19, 2010 article by Patch contributor Bill Peters - "In 2008, canyon residents, frustrated with city building codes and zone requirements that they did not feel they could accommodate, were instrumental in opening the discussion for standards asking for the completion of a draft that would apply only within the canyon zone."
Of course, this change was made almost 15 hours after I had posted my article early yesterday morning. Obviously the Patchies had read my article by then and, horrified that they had been caught in so compromising a position, attempted to cover-up their crimes against journalism.
And since my only proof of plagiarism having been committed was the link to the offending article on the Sierra Madre Patch site, my case was tenuous at best. All they had to do was change it and my entire premise would be rendered laughable.
Which they did. So I guess I am doomed to wear the mantle of shame for the rest of my living days. Right?
Well, not exactly. No, maybe not even a little bit.
Remember I kicked this article off by saying nothing really disappears on the internet? Well, at least not right away. And Chapman's article still exists in its original plagiarized state if you know where to look. And that place is called Google Cache. There you can find things like this in its pristine original condition. Google Cache takes a screen shot of everything that shows up on the internet the day it appears. And if someone should later change the content of their little written piece for whatever reason, you can go there to reference it in its unadulterated form.
Here you can find Justin Chapman's article, Canyon Area of Sierra Madre Now Zoned R-C as it was originally posted. Plagiarism and all. All you have to do is click here.
Oh, the shame. The shame of it all.
So this leaves us with one more question to ponder today. Which is worse, plagiarizing someone else's work, or attempting to cover up that plagiarism by altering your words after you've been caught?
My opinion is that, while both are bad, the latter would be the worse of the two. Why? Because it not only gave the ever vigilant Sierra Madre Tattler yet one more opportunity to depants the poor fool, it also shows that all involved in these shenanigans are dumb enough to think they can cover up the evidence.
Which shows a certain lack of sophistication, to say the very least.