Research, Research, And More Research

Well, the title doesn’t tell the whole story. You have to actually read the research. And that’s a place where a lot of reporters fall down. Let’s take a look at some examples.

First, the absolutely wonderful Cooks Source Scandal. When Monica Gaudio contacted Cooks Source, who identified herself as Judith Griggs about her article being plagiarized, part of the response was:

We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”

Note the bold italic. This part got reported. What didn’t get reported was this written by Nick Mamatas:

Funnier to me is the implication that Griggs thought the obsolete spellings from the recipes Monica quoted were signs that the piece “was in very bad need of editing.”

So there are a lot of people out there, who think that Monica’s article was edited by Cooks Source, and well, it was in a very limited way. But it was generally reported that there had been a rewrite, and there wasn’t.

The Cooks Source saga was admittedly a hard one to track. It started off slow on Wednesday, and snowballed when @neilhimself tweeted it to his 1.5 million followers, including me. But still, if you went back to the sources you saw things like this. I did. Most didn’t.

Second, let’s look at my article Server Operating System Market Share – Lies, Lies, And More Lies. Specifically let’s look at one sentence:

In Q1 2010, Windows Server was installed on 75.3 percent of the servers sold worldwide.

The sentence is very definitive. But the 75.3 percent figure is no where in the IDC Press Release she is supposed to be quoting. In fact the word ‘Microsoft’ appears only once, and the word ‘Windows’ appears three times, in this one section:

Microsoft Windows server demand was positively impacted by the accelerating x86 server market, as hardware revenue increased 33.6% and unit shipments increased 28.3% year over year. Quarterly revenue of $5.1 billion for Windows servers represented 48.9% of overall quarterly factory revenue. This is the highest percentage of server hardware revenue that Windows servers have ever represented.

No where in the IDC Press Release did it mention that Windows was installed on 75.3 percent of servers sold worldwide. So where did Mary Jane get this number? So far, no one knows, probably because it’s the weekend. But others picked up on her numbers without confirming them.

Wikipedia quotes Mary Jane’s numbers as gospel in the OS Market Share/Servers entry. I noticed this when I was doing some research for another article, and since I have a horse in this race so to speak, I didn’t make any changes, instead I left a message on their discussion board:

Server Market Share Figures are Wrong

I did some research on the numbers that Mary Jane Foley printed, and they aren’t right, specifically her numbers do not match the IDC Press Release. I wrote it up on my site, and was looking for information here for another article, and noticed that you are still using her numbers. I’d suggest that someone look into this, since obviously, I’m an interested party, and shouldn’t make the changes myself. Link is here (http://madhatter.ca/2010/11/06/server-operating-system-market-share-lies-lies-and-more-lies/). BTW, good work on the entry, I use Wikipedia as a reference all of the time. I do contribute, but not to the areas I write about. — UrbanTerrorist (talk) 04:54, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Conclusions? Well, you can’t trust anything you find in any media. You need to do some research yourself, because no matter how careful some of us are, others just repeat whatever they’ve heard, and all too often it’s wrong. Even those of us who try to be accurate make mistakes.

Regards

Wayne Borean

Monday November 8, 2010

PS: It appears that Cooks Source maybe now on their third FaceBook page. Or maybe it’s a fake. Who knows?

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