Signs of Triviality

Opinions, mostly my own, on the importance of being and other things.
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An abbreviated, incomplete guide to help you decide whether or not you're plagiarizing

November 23rd, 2015

If your assignment is to write the opening to a novel, and...

...you google "opening to a novel", follow the first link to StackOverflow and find an answer that begins with

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents..."

...and you copy and paste this into a new document and submit that as your work, then you are plagiarizing.


...and you manually type the words "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents..." all by yourself, and submit that as your work, then you are plagiarizing.


...and you write

"It was not day, and there was little light. It was windy. Water fell from the sky, rapidly..."

...then you are plagiarizing.


...and you google some more, and it takes you a really long time to sift through all the stuff you find, and you don't understand most of it, and you read some more, and you follow links even more than one degree away from both Google and StackOverflow, and you write

"It was a dark and stormy night. Call me Ishmael. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. The rain fell in torrents..."

...then you are plagiarizing.


...and you read all about expired copyrights and the public domain and then you submit

"Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing."

...then you are plagiarizing.


...and you remember that in class you talked about how amazing the opening sentence to Gabriel García Márquez's 100 Years of Solitude was, and you read the whole book and enjoyed it and you fully grasp the brilliance of the narrative arc his opening sentence creates all by itself, and then you submit

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

...then you are plagiarizing. (Though good for you.)


Writing software is no different.[[Citation needed]]

November 23rd, 2015


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