April 13, 2015

"FiveThirtyEight founder and statistics guru Nate Silver has accused Ezra Klein's Vox.com of stealing other people's charts without attribution."

"'Yo, @voxdotcom: Y'all should probably stop stealing people's charts without proper attribution,' he tweeted Monday. 'You do this all the time, to 538 & others.'"

59 comments:

Big Mike said...

Does anybody read either of them enough to notice?

Jason said...

There's no adult supervision there. I've seen their staff pics. It's all 30 something wunderkinds. They don't even think about "intellectual property rights," and probably don't have a rights and permissions editor on the payroll.

Hope their E&O and liability insurance is paid up.

Jason said...

"Vox Routinely Swipes Other Peoples' Intellectual Property Without Permission or Attribution. Here's Why That's A Good Thing."

Drago said...

Jason: "It's all 30 something wunderkinds."

Thank you.

Jason: "They don't even think about "intellectual property rights,..."

Some do. Others not so much.

deepelemblues said...

Hey yo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDWcXX76sp4

Fen said...

13 Reasons Why We Stole From FiveThirtyEight

VOX Just Stole From Us, But They Never Expected This!

Did VOX Plagiarize? The Answer Will Surprise You!

John Lynch said...

This is something that goes back the beginning of blogging. I thought the rules were clear by now- if you use it, link to the original source.

It's such an old rule that I can't believe Vox doesn't know it. They are intentionally driving up their own traffic at the expense of others.

PB said...

Journalism? Standards? At this point, what difference does it make?

Anonymous said...

How would they recognize old rules of the internet?

They are barely out of kindergarten.

Anonymous said...

Vox reminds me of kids that never grow up. At a certain age, maybe 15, you think you're smarter than your parents.

But then, after 20-something, you realize how stupid you were in your teens and that your parents really did know better.

Being a Democrat means never having to suffer that slight.

garage mahal said...

Maybe Vox stole a chart on secret routers.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Not to %^#* his ass or anything by my lack of strong condemnation, but this Silver fella's jib isn't repulsive.

Sebastian said...

But, but, don't good intentions and well-crafted words count for something?

KK Kraska said...

Jeff Bezos was right not to bankroll Klein/Vox based on the impact and profitability of explanatory (propaganda) journo-listism. At least so far.

AJ Lynch said...

Little girly men having a slap fight- Titus will get turned on.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe Vox stole a chart on secret routers.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!"

You mean servers and emails? Nah, Vox hasn't covered Hil-liar-y, Benghazi or the IRS scandal much.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

When I was in Pueblo and headed North, a junkie transient was singing "Highway to Hell" by ACDC.

Just the chorus.

I don't know if that all he knew, or all he wanted to share.

I don't done guess I ever will.

MadisonMan said...

I make imagery all the time for blogs I submit to -- and I've learned, long ago, to embed identifying info in the image, so even if the person swiping the image doesn't attribute, the image itself does.

Drago said...

garage mahal: "Maybe Vox stole a chart on secret routers."

Are you hoping for residuals?

Why would an IT person from Minnesota who longs to perform some IT work for the Castro brothers even care about this subject?

Sam L. said...

Sebastian, what well-crafted words and good intentions do you refer to, or is that snark that I suspect I
see?

Be said...

Kids Today.

SteveR said...

Ctrl C and Ctrl V are dangerous.

pm317 said...

They follow their idol, Obama who is the first plagiarist president. Plagiarism, what plagiarism?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The more I enjoy my free Netflix, the more Imiss The Larry Sanders Show.

It starred Gary Shandling.

It was, and has ever remained, my favorite TV show, with cause more great than others want you to know.

And was Dennis Miller ever on it? I remember before Netflix took off The Larry Sanders Show I kept hoping Larry would tell Dennis "no drama more Joe 'pitch fine' Dirt" and we all laugh harmony-jealous rings of joy.

CWJ said...

KK Kraska wrote -

"Jeff Bezos was right not to bankroll Klein/Vox based on the impact and profitability of explanatory (propaganda) journo-listism. At least so far."

Yep. You got that one right. I think people were willing to support Klein right up to the point that real money was involved. He tried to cash in on his 15 minutes, but Bezos could read a watch. That Klein went forward anyway just shows either his cluelessness or the belief that stupid money would follow him eventually.

Or as I and others have noted, they are children with child appropriate skills.

Michael K said...

I wouldn't know if they both exploded.

Henry said...

Disney wins.

rhhardin said...

When you get much older, there's more pleasure in giving credit than taking it in any case.

Lem said...

If it's an explainer it's not an apology.

What do you want? A duel?

That's why there is never a resolution to anything. No one pays a price for anything anymore.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

,I shifted three years ago for those whom don't create.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

,I shifted three years ago for those whom don't create.

Lem said...

I just tweeted Rh's comment for which I take full credit.

docweasel said...

I"m sure there's a reasonable voxsplanation.

BlogDog said...

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Fareed Zakaria, Joe Biden and Jayson Blair could not be reached for comment.

retired said...

Property rights are so bourgeouis
it's all relative
no honor among progressives.

Sebastian said...

@Sam L:

My respect for Klein et al. couldn't be kleiner.

n.n said...

As a matter of philosophical principle, there can be only one Marxist. The rest are serfs spread through the diversity serving the minority. Everyone hopes to be a leader, but most are merely servants of the "State".

Danno said...

Ezra should be ashamed. He should probably kill himself. Ezra, please be a man and refer to Althouse' earlier post today.

Beldar said...

I'm not very interested in the spats between Trotsky and Lenin.

deepelemblues said...

I think that deep down Ezra is still the same guy who smoked weed and played X-Box all day.

Until he straightened himself out and achieved the dream of being another interchangeable, indistinguishable Beltway liberal columnist.

But, man, like, charts should be free, ya know? They're like the sunset. You can't copyright the sunset, man.

Bay Area Guy said...

This is a nerd war writ large. However, to be fair, Silver, albeit a liberal dude, does like sports and can play it fair on politics. On the other hand, Ezra is purely a leftist millennial who dreams of running for office one day as a Democrat.

Brando said...

"This is a nerd war writ large. However, to be fair, Silver, albeit a liberal dude, does like sports and can play it fair on politics. On the other hand, Ezra is purely a leftist millennial who dreams of running for office one day as a Democrat."

Is Nate Silver actually a liberal? I recall reading some article where he expressed disinterest in politics, in that he was really just a numbers guy, and if he had to pick a side he said he was more libertarian than anything. I don't really see a political slant in anything I've read of his.

Klein of course is a leftist hack masquerading as a numbers guy. His "wonkishness" seems to be "here's why the numbers always support the talking points of the Left".

Brando said...

"He tried to cash in on his 15 minutes, but Bezos could read a watch."

I read that in my Robert Evans voice. Did I agree to bankroll Ezra Klein? You bet I didn't.

Saint Croix said...

Nate Silver is interesting because he tries very hard to be objective. That's what we want in journalists--we want facts, we want information, we want truth. We don't want bias, distortion, or lies. His complaint about Vox ("thief!") is part of a larger complaint that Silver has about journalism in general. It's untrustworthy.

People who know the history of Ezra Klein and JournoList have a great antipathy towards him and what he did. It's not journalism, but propaganda. Klein wanted large numbers of liberal/leftist journalists to collaborate and work together, so they all had the same narrative. It's the antithesis of good journalism. That's why it was done in secret, and why Klein abandoned the project when it leaked out into the wider public.

To me, Vox is embarrassing. Look at the article. What really burned Silver's ass is that the people at Vox, like leeches sucking on his leg, took his article and attempted a lazy, stupid, ridiculous hit piece. "Unlike Hillary Clinton, the entire GOP field is either obscure or unpopular." What is that? What kind of headline is that? We have liberal commentators on Althouse who aren't that stupid. You're getting paid? For that?

Saint Croix said...

Nate Silver's article at FiveThirtyEight is far better. I can read Silver. But of course he has his own bias, too. And it pops out, later in the article.

The third factor is a candidate’s ideology as measured on a left-right scale. “Extreme” candidates (like Barry Goldwater) suffer an electoral penalty, while moderate ones (like Dwight Eisenhower) usually perform well.

That analysis is very weak. Dwight Eisenhower was not elected because he was a moderate Republican, but because he won World War II (duh!) And dragging out Barry Goldwater as a right-wing loser is fair. If you don't mind that your analysis is 50 years out of date.

What's bad about SIlver's journalism is that all he does is horse race stuff. If we're in the 19th century, he would be advocating the Republicans should nominate a moderate on slavery. And he would be dismissive of all those hot-tempered bad journalists who were churning out abolitionist propaganda as "extremists." But those guys were right! And the moderate position was appalling and evil.

Brando said...

"If we're in the 19th century, he would be advocating the Republicans should nominate a moderate on slavery. And he would be dismissive of all those hot-tempered bad journalists who were churning out abolitionist propaganda as "extremists." But those guys were right! And the moderate position was appalling and evil."

Lincoln was a "moderate" on slavery as far as Republicans go--he only wanted to prevent the spread of slavery, not total abolition as many of his rivals wanted. And had it not been for the Democrats imploding in 1860, Lincoln still may not have won.

But I don't read Silver as so much saying "you should do this because it is right" but rather "you should do this if you want to win". If he's wrong in his analysis, that's one thing, but we often have to take compromises on what's right in order to win (particularly if losing gets you a far worse outcome--a "moderate" on slavery may seem like a loathesome compromise, but if the only viable alternative is a pro-slavery extremist it makes sense to accept a stalemate instead of a loss).

I agree Ike is a poor example of "moderates win" because his war hero status (as well as friendly, calm demeanor) had much more to do with his victories than his political positions. And Goldwater's lack of smoothness and poor political instincts may have had more to do with his loss (not to mention JFK's murder, the state of the economy, and LBJ's incumbency) had more to do with his loss than his "extreme" positions.

Simon said...

HuffPo did much the same thing when it started, IIRC, and they survived. So Vox is going to try.

Personally, I resent their cheapening the good name of a great line of guitar amps.

Saint Croix said...

Lincoln was a "moderate" on slavery as far as Republicans go--he only wanted to prevent the spread of slavery, not total abolition as many of his rivals wanted.

Right! William Seward was the "radical" who wanted to free the slaves. Lincoln ran as a moderate. While he was "personally opposed" to slavery, he did not run as an abolitionist.

Lincoln is a very good example of what's wrong with Silver's site. Silver would advocate that the Republicans nominate Lincoln, the perceived moderate, and avoid Seward, the "radical."

So here is a big problem...

Silver's approach avoids the whole issue of slavery, who believes what, and why. He skips it. It's irrelevant. Vote for the guy labeled "moderate" and do not vote for the guy labeled "radical." It's idiotic. The words are meaningless until you put them in context, and you can't put them in context without discussing the substance of their views.

I don't read Silver as so much saying "you should do this because it is right" but rather "you should do this if you want to win."

Yes, he's like DIck Morris that way. He wants to run a poll and find what's popular. But what's popular might be appalling. A good journalist focuses on what is true, not what is popular.

I suspect he's avoiding the deeper issues because he can't find any objectivity. How do you quantify it? How do you measure it? You can't put it on a scale. So he just omits it. Read his article and you have no idea what Hillary thinks about an unborn child. Is that baby a person? Is she property? What is her status?

Read Silvery's site, and we have no idea what Hillary thinks, or the Republicans think. No idea at all.

Henry said...

I suspect he's avoiding the deeper issues because he can't find any objectivity. How do you quantify it? How do you measure it? You can't put it on a scale. So he just omits it.

That's the point, isn't it. There are a boatload of people (like Ezra Klein for example) who can't wait to tell you the answer to all the deeper issues. Blah blah blah blah.

Silver and 538 are after something different that is just as important. 538 is trying to define the premises for the debate.

I mostly read the sports columns and I admit that they can be slight, especially compared to some of the more analytically-inclined writers at Grantland and ESPN who are better at extrapolating from the data and tend to be punchier writers. But a constrained and dry analysis that defines something as simple as "this assumption isn't validated by the data" can undercut a towering battlement of rhetoric.

Given a modern-level of polling data there's no reason why Silver wouldn't have nailed the 1860 election. Lincoln would have polled well in the North where the electoral votes were there for him to win.

Brando said...

"Yes, he's like DIck Morris that way. He wants to run a poll and find what's popular. But what's popular might be appalling. A good journalist focuses on what is true, not what is popular."

That may be, but I generally read Silver for his numbers and analysis--he doesn't seem to opine on "this person's policy would be good for America" but rather "this person has X% chance of winning and this person is definitely not going to win because it's statistically impossible to gain X points in Y days". He reads more like a sports analyst than a political pundit.

Saint Croix said...

There are a boatload of people (like Ezra Klein for example) who can't wait to tell you the answer to all the deeper issues.

The problem with Vox is not that it's opinionated, the problem is that there is no sharp analysis. It's flabby and stupid. Is Republican name recognition vis-a-vis Hillary relevant in 2015? I can't get over the stupidity of that headline. "the entire GOP field is either obscure or unpopular."

Silver is pissed because his data is being used by stupid people to make stupid arguments. "No need to have a 2016 election, Hillary is the obvious winner, 538 has a graph." But he's the one who decided it was time to start quantifying name recognition and popularity now. Yglesias wants to call the election now, because he's an idiot. But it's Nate Silver who is leading him down the Path of Stupidity.

Why not spend a little brain energy finding ways to analyze the merits of candidates, proposals, etc? The obsession with the horse race (who's winning?) dominates that site. And that is a very bad trend in journalism that's been going on for a long time. It's a corruption, and 538 is not fixing that problem, but making it worse.

kentuckyliz said...

Free tips. Embed attribution in the chart itself. Watermark it. You're welcome.

Saint Croix said...

Given a modern-level of polling data there's no reason why Silver wouldn't have nailed the 1860 election.

Is that how smart journalists in 1860 should have been spending their time?

Henry said...

And that is a very bad trend in journalism that's been going on for a long time. It's a corruption, and 538 is not fixing that problem, but making it worse.

That's a fair criticism, but it's more of a philosophical complaint than a methodological one.

I prefer historical analysis more than predictive, but like car crashes and junk food, people seem to like predictions. Silver does them better than most. I don't blame him for doing them.

Henry said...

Is that how smart journalists in 1860 should have been spending their time?

What were smart journalists doing in 1860? In the aggregate I haven't any idea. Horace Greeley supported Abraham Lincoln in 1860 out of personal spite toward William Seward.

Drago said...

Saint Croix: "To me, Vox is embarrassing. Look at the article. What really burned Silver's ass is that the people at Vox, like leeches sucking on his leg, took his article and attempted a lazy, stupid, ridiculous hit piece. "Unlike Hillary Clinton, the entire GOP field is either obscure or unpopular." What is that? What kind of headline is that? We have liberal commentators on Althouse who aren't that stupid. You're getting paid? For that"

The unfortunate reality thus far for VOX is that they simply do not wield sufficient "heft" (longevity/ seriousness/ accuracy etc) to hire and retain "journalists" who are more experienced and, lets face it, simply good at what they do.

There is enough money on hand but no "big name" is going to come aboard at this point.

The real long problem for the Voxies is this: given what is happening at VOX right now and for the foreseeable future in terms of content and the hilarious mistakes (based in ignorance of the relevant subject matter) and the clear lack of honesty and integrity, it's quite possible that VOX will never get "over the hump" in getting better journalists to jump ship.

Ever.

In fact, I think that's likely.

Matthew Sablan said...

Eh, why should we hold Vox to that high of a standard when we're willing to let Biden be VP? The elites have demonstrated -- between people like Biden and Zakaria getting passes -- that plagiarism isn't that big a deal to them. So, I doubt they'll start caring when Nate Silver is the one being hurt.

Henry said...

So, I doubt they'll start caring when Nate Silver is the one being hurt.

538 is owned by ESPN who is owned by Disney. No one beats Disney on intellectual property law.

Think of Nate Silver's tweet as him walking softly. Disney is the big stick.

mikee said...

Hey, that old concept of the Trademark, the Copyright, the Patent, Intellectual Property, isn't that about as old as the Constitution - over 100 years? - and therefore of no modern use?

Ezra Klein has bigger problems than intellectual property theft, copyright infringement, and non-attribution of stolen charts.