Aggregation is plagiarism

This argument has been going on for a long time and I always find it interesting.

  • Hardik Panjwani

    I am tempted to say that aggregation without citation is plagiarism and what places like Gawker or HuffPo do is simply tasteless. In contrast places like the loop, DF, kottke etc. add value to aggregation because they clearly cite and sometimes add a line or two supporting or denying the premise of a story.

    The main problem is that the publishing business has become too strongly dependent on ad revenue and what would simply be a faux pas is hurting the bottom line of those doing the work.

    A part of the problem is the outlandish digital subscription prices that the publications demand and then still serve me with ads. This differentiates them negatively from an aggregator and allows aggregators to proliferate. If NYT say offered a multiple tiered access, I think it this would go a long way towards solving the problem.

    A tier I like makes content free to read and works on limitations on comments and ads: 1) Free, can only read comments posted by others, high ad rate 2) $4.99 a month, can read and vote on comments posted by others, medium ad rate 3) $14.99 a month, can read and vote on others comments, post own comments, low ad rate. 4) $49.99 a month, can read and vote on others comments, post own comments, ad free.

    • The issue is, according to an article on Blind Five Year Old, is “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.”

      So, it doesn’t make economic sense to build a revenue model on access to comments. My personal experience with reading internet comments on larger sites is if only 1% of the users is creating comments, 99% of those are thugs in their harsh and non-contributative comments.

      I find myself getting more annoyed at reading comments on popular sites (tech and politics are the most notorious). Especially if it’s an interesting subject that I would love to see great discourse on that expands my knowledge of it. Alas, most comments break down by the third comment into a turf war.

      • Hardik Panjwani

        Agreed. The primary earner is still ads, I think the publications should stop fighting that battle because its lost and simply make content free. Maybe tack on an extra monthly charge for exclusive op-eds and put just that behind a pay wall under ‘conversation with experts’ or something. Getty is already doing so with a huge chunk of its images. (

        The multiple tier model is cleanly hedging the bets on ads and comments as they are the two revenue drivers in the publishing industry. The pageview metric used to charge for ads is not clean as comments are used to inflate the metric. Soon enough someone will catch on to that and demand a cleaner metric or even lower ad prices.

        Also, if there is an ad bubble and it collapses (two big ifs), there is already something else in place that can be expanded upon. If the ad market does not collapse, the quality of conversation will improve slightly and there will be a little more money in it for the publishers.

        In the last few weeks everyone became an expert on Ukraine. That is what the future of news and conversation is going to look like. The publishers need to pivot and position themselves to take advantage of that.

  • SV650

    Through my university years, quotation with citation was expected. As the sciences are usually based on prior work, knowledge is gained through reading, interpreting and forming conclusions based on such study. While quoting or paraphrasing whole articles even with citation is tantamount to plagiarism, I would also agree that a short teaser quote, with commentary and citation is fair game. Even mores if it causes me to make the jump.