More plagiarism investigation

Googling the first sentence of the Medium Blue article (“Many businesses recognize that search engines can bring volumes of highly targeted prospects to their website, typically at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.”) produces 468 results, of which Medium Blue is the second in the list. The results include the following:

I plugged the sentence in to Google and told it not to look for “Buresh” (-Buresh) and got 459 results. Then I added the keyword “Buresh” (+Buresh) and got 54 results. I also searched for various years (2003, 2002, 2001, & 2000); the earliest example of the article I could find was that first Google result, which is dated January 2003. Searching on the last sentence of the article only brought up two results, both credited to Buresh. The first few sentences of the article were reproduced far, far more often than the later parts of the article.

Googling the first sentence of the Able Webs article (“Search engines are the vehicles that drive potential customers to your websites.”) produced 508 results, with Able Webs sixth. The results include the following:

  • Add #363 – Search Engine Keywords Selection — Ta da! Presto! Open Sesame! The first result in Google for this sentence is from the SAME COMPANY NEWSLETTER that published the article we read on Medium Blue. The author is given as “Rajkumar,” and the date is October 2005.

The same newsletter has published the same article twice, in other words. Literally in other words — but not that other. Searching on the sentence plus “Rajkumar” produced only 4 results.

Most of the class thought that Able Webs plagiarized Medium Blue; I think that “the wisdom of crowds” has proven to be real wisdom yet again. I am confident that Scott Buresh was the one who actually wrote the article, the one that appeared on Medium Blue, way back in 2003. Of course, there might be other versions of the thing floating around that I haven’t found yet! Feel free to research it yourself.

Also, Dylan’s question led to an interesting experiment: in my version of MS Word, there’s a feature called “Compare Documents” under Tools –> Track Changes –> Compare Documents. I made Word docs out of both sites, compared them, and lo and behold — MS Word can’t tell that one of them is plagiarized. It sees them as completely different from one another, even though the similarities are very obvious to all of us.

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