Hello and welcome to a special episode of Raise Your Standards. Today I want to talk to you about an incident that happened last week involving plagiarism and the steps that are being taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Last week I was alerted to the fact that a fellow writer here at MTGDeckTecks, Roope Keskitalo, appeared to have plagiarized an article written by professional player and writer for mtgmintcard.com, Immanuel Gerschenson. Initially I was skeptical, but after comparing Roope’s article from February 7th and Immanuel’s article also from February 7th, it became quite clear that a substantial portion of the article was extremely similar. While the words used weren’t exactly the same, the ideas that those words were expressing were the same, and even in the same order within the paragraphs.
So, wanting to make sure I understood what plagiarism meant, I looked it up in the dictionary. What I found was that plagiarism is defined as “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.” After seeing this definition, it was clear to me that plagiarism had happened.
Many people, though, may not understand that plagiarizing extends past simply copying someone’s work word for word. It also extends to the ideas behind those words. Perhaps that’s why Roope wasn’t aware that he was plagiarizing? While I can’t say for sure, I sincerely don’t believe there was any malice intended in this act. I was told that by giving Immanuel credit for the deck in his article, he believed that he could restate the sideboarding rationale from Immanuel’s article as well without crediting him again. So, it does sound like he knew the ideas he was presenting were Immanuel’s, but he failed to realize that he needed to give Immanuel credit for each piece of information he used in his article instead of making it appear that it was his own.
With the knowledge that this act of plagiarism had occurred, I contacted the owner of MTGDeckTechs. I let him know what I had been told and what I had found during my own research. He assured me that he would look into the matter further and handle things. With that, I assumed the situation would be under control, Roope would no longer be writing for MTGDeckTechs, and an apology would be issued to Immanuel Gerschenson. However, my assumptions were incorrect.
While an apology was issued to both Immanuel and mtgmintcard.com, Roope’s punishment for his infraction was different than I had imagined. I found out in a very roundabout way that Roope was going to be given a short suspension from writing in addition to having to submit his articles for review a few days earlier than usual to allow our editor the time needed to review each article for originality.
I also found out that this would lead another writer from MTGDeckTechs, Forrest Winstead, to resign, as he felt that the actions of Roope could tarnish his reputation as a writer. I fully support Forrest in his decision to stand up for his principles, even though it meant ending a project we were working on together that was in the works that I think would have been very cool. I also came very close to resigning as a writer as well. The reason I didn’t was because I was allowed to write this article to fill everyone in on all of the details of this incident and to try to distance myself from Roope as a content creator.
There is one very important thing I would like each of you to take away from this article and that is that each writer here at MTGDeckTechs is their own, unique individual and the actions of one should not be held against the rest of them. For me personally, you have my word that I believe plagiarism is one of the worst things a writer can do. Not only is it disrespectful to a fellow writer, but also to the audience who is expecting to hear a different individual’s point of view, not the exact same things another writer previously said.
You also have my word that I will always strive to bring you content that is completely my own. While the decklists I provide are others, they will always be credited for them. The thoughts regarding card selection and usage will always be my own. Taking credit for someone else’s ideas or words is something I will never do. I’m hopeful that the actions of others will not tarnish my reputation as a writer in your eyes.