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Acknowledging a mistake

These types of posts are never easy to write, and I hope I won’t ever have to do it again.

I became aware Tuesday this site may have hosted plagiarized content, when Mike Payne of Detroit Bad Boys created this post. He compared his Detroit Bad Boys bio (on the left side of their site) to Steve Kays’ bio on PistonPowered:

Mike Payne is a hopeless NBA addict and Detroit Pistons fan who doesn’t actually believe other sports exist.

Steve Kays is an NBA addict, writer, podcaster, and Detroit Pistons fan who doesn’t actually believe other sports exist.

I take any allegations about the integrity of our content extremely seriously, and I immediately began investigating. I started by talking to Mike and Steve to figure out, the best I could, what happened.

As Steve explained, he had written the rest of his bio then read the “Detroit Pistons fan who doesn’t actually believe other sports exist” portion of Mike’s bio. He liked that line, didn’t really think about the need to credit it and said if someone borrowed part of his bio, he’d feel flattered. He also said he regretted not thinking through the importance of crediting Mike and realized he had made an error.

I appreciate Steve’s openness, but I’m more impressed with his swift actions to correct his mistake. He apologized publicly to Mike and changed his bio here, at his own site and on MLive.

Patrick, Graham and I independently reviewed Steve’s work here and on other sites. None of us found any other examples of Steve improperly using other people’s words or ideas. In fact, while I can’t speak for Patrick and Graham, I found the opposite. I saw a long track record of Steve consistently and carefully attributing when appropriate.

I believe this was an isolated mistake, and I don’t believe he’ll ever make a similar mistake again. Still, it was a mistake that should have consequences. Steve will represent his own site, DetroitBasketball.net, in our annual Pistons roundtable, which begins today, but he won’t write for PistonPowered for the rest of the regular season.

I realize this may make it more difficult for some of you to trust Steve’s work, and I completely understand that. For those of you who feel that way, I ask you to consider the context. Steve made a mistake, but we all make mistakes. It shouldn’t tarnish his reputation as a writer beyond repair. As someone who has reviewed this incident extremely earnestly, I believe Steve deserves a second chance at regaining your trust. I hope you’ll join me in granting him that.

And I don’t say that to brush this error under the rug. I take plagiarism extremely seriously, and I think you deserved an explanation about what happened. We will never simply delete the offending portion of stolen content on this site and move on. We will continue to be as transparent as possible about our processes.

I’m sorry this happened, and we’ll attempt to ensure nothing similar happens in the future. If you have any questions, you can reach me at danfeld11@gmail.com.

7 Comments

  • Mar 14, 201110:26 am
    by @DetroitBuckets

    Reply

    Mountains out of molehills.
    This is/should be, a non-issue. He repeated a witty line. Like we all do on a daily basis. It was for his bio, not an article or story. Clearly not an offense that deserves the plagiarism label.
    I can appreciate all party’s involved being up front and owning things, but this non-issue isn’t deserving all the chatter it’s receiving.

  • Mar 14, 20112:07 pm
    by Mike Payne

    Reply

    I’m kind of sorry this got as much focus as it did, but I’m glad that Steve’s work in article form and commentary has been found to be in good standing.  He’ll be a solid addition to PistonPowered in the summer and the season ahead, assuming he sticks around.
     
    I said this on DetroitBadBoys, which sums up my feelings on the matter:
     
    It’s one thing if a guy takes a line or a unique idea and replicates it in the form of an article without credit, but s–t, it’s a lot easier to talk about basketball than it is to talk about ourselves. I imagine he was looking for inspiration when he was writing his own bio and lifted the line. Yeah, it sucks, it was a bad decision, but in a way its more flattering than hurtful.
     
    It was big of Steve to admit to the lifting and apologize, and I’m confident the mistake doesn’t reflect on his value as a writer about sports.  I am with @DetroitBuckets that this isn’t deserving of the chatter it’s receiving, although I do respect PistonPowered for being up front with its readers.  The sooner this item is off the front page, the better for Steve, myself, PistonPowered etc.  In fact, I’m going to remove the content over at DetroitBadBoys now.  I’m not asking you to do the same here, but only to say that I’ll do my part to put the issue to bed and move forward.

  • Mar 14, 20112:25 pm
    by Jakob Eich

    Reply

    The German Secretary of Defense plagiarized in over 62 instances on his dissertation. He didn’t cheat anyone, he used a line in his bio, I forgive him!

  • Mar 14, 20113:54 pm
    by Oracle

    Reply

    Describing yourself the same way you’ve heard others describe themselves (even if it’s “published” online) is not plagiarism.  The copying of someone else’s thoughts in your work without credit… this wasn’t even on his work, but a description of himself.  I.E. How many democrats describe themselves as “pragmatic progressives” since Obama coined the term?  How many of them cite him for it?  Complete non-issue.

  • Mar 15, 20115:43 pm
    by Kris Willis

    Reply

    In my opinion this is the biggest example of an overreaction I have ever seen. It isn’t like he copy and pasted an article. It was his bio. Steve’s work stands for itself as does his integrity.

  • Mar 15, 201110:26 pm
    by Andrea

    Reply

    *Sarcasm alert* anybody?

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