To play: shuffle excuses, print them out, distribute to friends. Obviously, this is more Bing than Bingo, but it should provide for some entertainment while we wait to see how many of these regurgitated excuses we’ll hear from Doug Wilson before the dust settles. We’ve heard many of them from him before.
Thanks in no small part to Rachel Miller’s academic skills, we know that Doug Wilson has his name on the cover of at least four works (nine volumes in total, given that all six volumes of the Omnibus have his name on the cover) that contain plagiarism. In this latest instance, he is featured as an author and, perhaps more importantly, as an editor. Named editors are (in theory if not in practice) responsible for overseeing the compilation of text into a workable volume, and checking all the text for potential plagiarism. This includes sidebars and captions — in some cases, involves writing or directing the sidebars or captions, where applicable. “Editor” in this sense does not mean copyeditor, although it should involve some measure of that also — it means quality control overseer; editors are hired for their domain expertise and ability to get the best. And to do this, they should (in theory, if not in practice) oversee the final work and OK it for publication. As the managing editor for my magazine, I sign off on individual pages for publication. And I also oversee running corrections if we make a mistake, which we’ve been known to do.
So far, Doug Wilson’s response has shown a profound lack of awareness of his responsibility as an editor. Which means there are two options: either he has no idea what editors of academic volumes actually do, and has no business being one — or that he does have an idea, and is unwilling to take responsibility for his failings, which means he has no business being an editor or a pastor.
As to one of the points he raised about using open-source information in the copied Omnibus text: It is true that it is not uncommon to use open-source information to create glossaries, captions and so on. The problem is not using open-source information; it lies in acting as if this open-source information is proprietary; your own intellectual property. This is true even if you went to a lot of trouble to format and combine the information. For example: our magazine publishes a localization-industry glossary compiled with the help of any number of crowdsourced and open-source sites — and individual contributors. However, 1. we note that we used other sources, 2. nobody is listed as an author, and 3. we don’t sell it. It’s free online to everyone.
People create free, open-source information so it can be shared by everyone, not profited from by a few. Taking open-source data and changing a couple of lines, and then selling it, would be a little like stealing from the collection plate for personal use. Which, come to think of it, Doug Wilson doesn’t seem to have a problem with either.