Wiki hates plagiarism


Silvana Koch-Mehrin, now ex vice president of the European Parliament, had never the reputation of being the most studious of her parliamentary group (CC-BY-SA, Muffinmampfer)

In Germany the media report about a wave of politicians losing their PhD degrees and public offices. Anonymous plagiarism fighters use wikis to unravel academic fraud.

It started in February with Guttenplag Wiki, founded by User:PlagDoc to examine the plagiarism a law professor had seen in the PhD thesis of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. On March 1st, Guttenberg resigned as German minister of defense.

User:Goalgetter then wanted to examine some other PhD thesises, but User:PlagDoc refused. So User:Goalgetter founded a new wiki, also at wikia.com, called VroniPlag. The object of interest was the thesis of Veronica Saß, the daughter of the former Bavarian prime minister Stoiber. The university of Konstanz now seized her degree. By the way, the hint to have a look at Saß’ thesis came from a Konstanz IP.

The next succes of VroniPlag was to bring down the political career of Silvana Koch-Mehrin, vice president of the European Parliament (of the liberal parliamentary group). She decided to remain a member of parliament, but withdrew as vice president and as member of the highest organ of her national party, the liberal FDP.

Another German liberal European MP on the list of VroniPlag is Jorgo Chatzimarkakis. Ironically, Chatzimarkakis on his own web site says that he wants to fight for intellectual property and against the stealing of knowledge. Matthias Pröfrock, a state representative for the Christian Democrats in Baden-Württemberg, chose not to use his degree until further examination of his former university of Tübingen.

User:Goalgetter described himself in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine as an independent entrepreneur with a lot of conservative clients who might disapprove his anti-plagiarism actions. Also plagiarism hunters linked to universities are afraid that they might suffer negative consequences should their activism become public. User:Goalgetter said that until February he did not have anything against Guttenberg or his Christian Social politics, he thought he was fresh and accurate and was deceived like most others.  Then minister Guttenberg was outed as a fraud but admitted nothing. “We are the physicians of society. We see the flaws in the sick system, we must unravel them to make society become a better one.”

But who will go to the prestigious Grimme Awards for VroniPlag and possibly accept an award? The VroniPlaggers are not unanimous, some suggested that Wikia-collaborator (and Wikipedian) Tim Barthel should attend. User:Goalsetter himself would like the group to go with baseball caps and sunglasses.

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