Further Comment On Intellectual Appropriation, Attribution Of Credit & Privilege

Commenter Bijan Parsia made an important point in our discussion of intellectual appropriation and attribution about the role of good faith all of this:

One thing to remember is that *good faith* is critical: One shouldn’t let the idea of better than due diligence prevent one from doing work (or posting), but if one makes an attribution mistake it helps to apologize and try to rectify (as you did in your case).

This requirement of good faith also pertains to the manner in which one becomes aware of a failure of attribution. And it is exactly why RandomObserver’s “gotcha” game–trolling around a blog or other body of work solely for the purpose of looking for unintentional failures of attribution–is a complete load of fucking horseshit, and does not merit response.

It is trivial to go around intentionally looking for innocent failures of attribution and find them. When innocent failures manifest themselves through the natural process of good-faith intellectual dialogue–as they did in the anecdote I related in my post–then courtesy, honesty, and practicality demand acknowledgment. Bullshit rhetorical gotcha games like RandomOberserver’s do not.

The main reason for this is that it is a total waste of fucking time and effort for people to add attributions to an existing work if the innocent absence of those attributions isn’t relevant to anyone other than some asshole playing a game.


  1. larue says

    There are SO many more important things fucked up in our lives to rant and rail and attribute. Methinks, this one, was NOT one of them and was as said, a pissant attempt for some kind of delusional self claimed sense of propriety far beyond the egression itself.


    My Oakland A’s are playing good ball, and we got Frank Thomas back for some pop. Wish we could get Barry Bonds, too. *G*

    Poor Gyro’s, playing great ball, but Barry Zito apparently just don’t have what ever it was his first few seasons with Oakland.

    I really like him, too, as a player, work ethic, and a bit of a Zen multiculturists which ya don’t often get in pro baseball cept in the movies.

    But unless he turns it around FAST, and wins 20 this year, it looks like the best thing for him to do is walk away and be proud of what he DID do so well.

    N that’s just my fuckin opinion and I don’t gotta back it up with squat. *G*

  2. says

    Yup. I did two brief stints as a high school teacher, and had to teach (and in some cases, sadly bust) plenty of kids on citation and plagiarism. Colleges sometimes deal with the same issues a bit differently, but at our school, intent and good faith were key factors. Asking a student to show his or her work, notes, etc. was also a standard followup to work that raised flags, and I know some colleges that handle the issue the same way (I’ll also note that previous research is generally more clearcut in math and the sciences than in the Humanities, but that’s a longer discussion).

    When it comes to politics and the blogosphere, it’s only natural that people will have similar reactions to the same events. And in some cases, people will develop similar theories independently. The basic liberal blogosphere critique of the MSM is not a copyrighted idea, nor is calling BS on a particular incident. The same BS can also be dissected and rebutted in many different ways. However, cribbing someone’s more detailed theory or specific language without attribution ain’t cool (I’ve seen that more often from commenters), and it’s both good form and earns style points either to note in the post or in an update that someone else has/had similar or related thoughts. Your earlier post about Digby updating a post with a link to a Krugman piece based on reader comments is a perfect example of how it’s done. Of course Digby came up with her thoughts on her own, but with that link, she gave Krugman a shout-out and kept the dialogue going.

  3. says

    Greetings all members,

    I would just like to say hello and let you know that I’m happy to be a member – been a lurker long enough :)

    Hope to contribute some and gain some knowledge along the way….


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