Plagiarism in Zoska's Agony guide

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User Info: TestaALT

TestaALT
3 months ago#1
I submitted a problem report, but I wanted to know what everyone here thought. I had played Agony and am a longtime fan of Larryn Bell, who Zoska seemingly plagiarized. This is what I wrote in the problem report:

"The endings section appears to be plagiarized from Larryn Bell's endings guide on Prima Guides. The endings are in the exact same order, and some are only slightly reworded. This is the original document:

https://www.primagames.com/games/agony/tips/agony-ending-guide-how-unlock-all-7-endings

This is Zoska's guide:

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/191965-agony/faqs/75976/how-to-unlock-all-endings

Ending 1:

Bell: "Complete the game and defeat the final boss."

Zoska: "Finish the game and defeat the final boss."

Only one word is changed.

Ending 2:

Bell: "Kill 70 characters and reach the Cathedral on Level 4."

Zoska: "Kill at least 70 enemies and get to the Cathedral on the fourth level."

A few words are changed. It is actually "characters," not enemies as Zoska reworded.

Ending 5:

Bell: "Find four Angels and reach the end of Level 2."

Zoska: "Find the 4 Angels and complete chapter 2."

Again, just a few words are changed. "Chapter" becomes "level," "reach" becomes "complete," and "four" is "4."

Ending 7:

Bell: "Unlock Evil and Succubus Endings, access the Cathedral basement, and collect Garments of Adam."

Zoska: "Unlock the Evil and Succubus endings, gain access to the Cathedral basement, and collect all Garments of Adam."

This is pretty much the same sentence again.

Ending 3 is perhaps the most egregious:

Bell: "This ending is a bit tedious compared to the other endings in Agony. To unlock the Madman Ending, you must make your way to the Mushroom Mind. Once you reach it, you must stand still without moving for five minutes straight. Keep your hands off your keyboard, mouse, or controller to ensure you don’t accidentally move during the five minutes. Doing this will also unlock the I Found a Job achievement/trophy."

Zoska: "Sit still for 5 minutes in the Mushroom Wind. Arguably the most tedious task in the game. Once in the Mushroom Wind, you'll have to sit there without moving, not even your camera. Just sit and get away from the computer/console and return in 5 minutes."

Plagiarism is when someone takes one's idea as their own. Even slight rewording is considered plagiarism. The whole idea of the ending being "tedious" for Zoska is cause for concern. Each sentence covers the same information."

User Info: TestaALT

TestaALT
3 months ago#2
To add, I teach college composition classes, and this would be considered plagiarism if it were an essay handed into me. Simply changing a few words is not enough.

User Info: Kratos15354

Kratos15354
3 months ago#3
It's a single sentence description of how to do something, how different do you expect it to be?

User Info: TestaALT

TestaALT
3 months ago#4
Please remove me from the queue for the Agony bounty. I do not want to stand to benefit from revealing a plagiarist.

I have browsed through some of Zoska's other guides, and I do not see any more plagiarism. It is somewhat disconcerting, however, looking through their guides because they appear to be mainly summaries of missions with very little or no strategy. A few months ago, admins accused Codebreaker of not putting enough information in his guides, and yet Zoska has fulfilled several bounties with seemingly the bare minimum.

I am not trying to cause another horror_spooky situation in which an author stops writing because of a witch hunt from others, but I think there must be a standard of fairness. If one author is not granted a lock for clear lack of content in his or her guides, this should be the case for all authors. For example, take a look at Zoska's Extinction guide:

https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/pc/210731-extinction/faqs/75788/chapter-5

While Extinction is a short, quickly made game, there should be more than one short paragraph per mission. It reads more like the appendix section of a guide rather than a full-fledged walkthrough. If I recall, the bounty for this was $250, but it only looks like a few hours of work was put into the guide.

Authors -- especially those who are being paid -- should strive for comprehensive, complete guides, not just write the least amount possible for some quick cash. This was always a risk with the bounty system, and it would be a real shame to see GameFAQs only have one short, skeleton guide per game because of the bounty system.

User Info: firedemon 2600

firedemon 2600
3 months ago#5
How many different ways can you even say "Complete the game and defeat the final boss."? Really sounds like you're grasping at straws here.
<<<Submerged in dirt but it was never enough to quell the fire in the back of my lungs>>>

User Info: Uta

Uta
3 months ago#6
Excerpt from GameFAQ's Copyright and Plagiarism Policy
you could get the hit points for the enemies in a game from the official strategy guide for that game and post them in your own guide in your own format. These are facts, and not protected by copyright. However, if you were to copy the guide's strategy on how to beat the boss, that would be a copyright infringement, as you are copying their creative work.


Descibing 5 minutes of effort as tedious does imply that Zoska sourced his information from the Primaguide, but that doesn't mean it's plagiarism. For starters, how to unlock the ending is FACT, and therefore falls under "Fair-Use". Him describing it as tedious could simply be a case of like-mindedness or coincidence.

I can't begin to imagine a school that would call that plagiarism. If I had a professor try to fail me because of a single-line similarity and the word tedious, I would sue the s*** out of them. This sounds more like a personal vendetta, in your own words a "Witch Hunt", because you're dissatisfied with the quality of their work.
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

User Info: assassin17

assassin17
3 months ago#7
Ending 1:

Bell: "Complete the game and defeat the final boss."

Zoska: "Finish the game and defeat the final boss."

Only one word is changed.

and the similarities continue in the elaborations, even if the word *quantity* diverges (emphasis added):

Bell: "... As long as you haven’t gone out of your way to meet the requirements of any other endings, then you should get the Normal Ending. ..."

Zoska: "This is the default ending and will trigger if you haven't met the requirements for any of the other endings."

the respondents here would have us believe that using "you haven't" AND "meet the requirements" (with only verb tense changed) followed by "[preposition] any other endings" (albeit with two small words added before "other") is a happy little coincidence. EIGHT of the same words in the same order in the same sentence. yet done entirely independently! uh huh.

that second quoted phrase is especially suspect to me. same root verb, same noun. why not "fulfilled the criteria" or "accomplished the prerequisites" or "done what was necessary for", etc, etc? but nope; they somehow took the same essential path to conveying things. could be genetic predisposition; maybe they're cousins without knowing it?

it seems pretty clear to me that Zoska has repeated and condensed Bell's description, along with minor tweaks.

subtler than other lift-jobs, and requiring more effort (why not just start from scratch?), but it's still there.

-----

If I had a professor try to fail me because of a single-line similarity and the word tedious, I would sue the s*** out of them.

first, that professor/instructor would have their actions reviewed by college administrators, many teachers themselves. next, by a judge, who's pored through pages of case law to digest the meaning of sentences. i'd get a nice laugh from watching literate people who revere the written word swat your lawsuit away.
''Attacks are the best attack.'' -- RedDemon's strategy for the 2nd to last boss in FF3us -- http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/file/final_fantasy_iii_boss.txt

User Info: Uta

Uta
3 months ago#8
The similarity exists because he's reporting on Facts. I already said he probably lifted the info from Prima, but that doesn't make it plagiarism. It just makes it uninspired.

The absolute worst thing that would need to be changed about this guide is to say "I got some of the game's ending data from Prima" somewhere in the credits / intro page.
You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

User Info: SBAllen

SBAllen
3 months ago#9
Calling this "plagiarism" and striking this guide from the site for it would set a very dangerous precedent for what a guide is and isn't allowed to do without the risk of being pulled from the site. As mentioned already, facts about a game can't be copyrighted, only presentation. This information is pretty hard to present in a different manner than the original if that were the place it was sourced from. As suggested above, at worst a mention in the credits of the guide seems sufficient here assuming we aren't just dealing with coincidence, which is equally likely considering the material.
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User Info: assassin17

assassin17
3 months ago#10
Calling this "plagiarism" and striking this guide from the site for it would set a very dangerous precedent for what a guide is and isn't allowed to do without the risk of being pulled from the site.

what about striking the ending section and replacing it with a hyperlink to the Prima work?

assuming we aren't just dealing with coincidence, which is equally likely considering the material.

equally likely, as in a 50% chance this sentence was conjured up independently:

TestaALT posted...
Bell: "Unlock Evil and Succubus Endings, access the Cathedral basement, and collect Garments of Adam."

Zoska: "Unlock the Evil and Succubus endings, gain access to the Cathedral basement, and collect all Garments of Adam."

?

i would say the chances of accidentally duplicating that *single* sentence are significantly under 50%. but when you consider that TestaALT provided FIVE passages, and i gave one (where eight words in a sentence are copied in the same relative order), the overall probability plummets closer to 2%.
''Attacks are the best attack.'' -- RedDemon's strategy for the 2nd to last boss in FF3us -- http://db.gamefaqs.com/console/snes/file/final_fantasy_iii_boss.txt
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