A wiki way to unravel plagiarism


Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg (picture: zu Guttenberg, Bundestag office, CC-BY-SA)

Karl-Theodor Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg is well-known to Wikipedians since the “Falscher Wilhelm” case of February 2009. When the Christian Social politician became federal minister in Germany, someone added an additional first name (Wilhelm) in zu Guttenberg’s Wikipedia article. Magazine Der SPIEGEL took over the ‘wrong Wilhelm’, and subsequently Wikipedia quoted from Der SPIEGEL to prove that Wilhelm was indeed another name of the minister.


Since Thursday (February 15th) zu Guttenberg, minister of defense since late 2009, is accused of plagiarism. His PhD thesis of 2006 seems to show striking similarities with newspapers articles and other texts. Famous plagiarism hunter and Wikipedian Debora Weber-Wulff complains about unreferenced one-by-one-copies in zu Guttenberg’s thesis.

Wikia hosts now a new wiki, the GuttenPlag Wiki. Volunteers collaborate to find and expose more and more parts of the thesis that were obviously not written by zu Guttenberg but taken over unreferenced.

Zu Guttenberg is the most popular politician in Germany. His Wikipedia article (in German)  has been viewed on Wednesday 44,900 times, compared to 1,600 views the previous day. A similar page view career made the article ‘Plagiat’, from 438 to 6,200 views.