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Old 08-09-2016, 03:41 PM   #1
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Plagiarism on ActiveCaptain

Last year I discovered striking similarities between information on ActiveCaptain (the information posted by "Kayley" specifically) and information in Exploring Southeast Alaska. I sent Jeff Siegel (ActiveCaptain owner) a message on Trawler Forum and he defended the information.

I’m in Alaska again, using both Exploring Southeast Alaska and ActiveCaptain pretty much every day. And again I’m struck by the similarities.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, so to speak. Yes, I previously worked for the publisher of Exploring Southeast Alaska, but I don’t anymore. I have no financial interest in the company. And I actually like ActiveCaptain and I’m a huge believer in crowd-sourced data.

But plagiarism isn’t cool, and ActiveCaptain in Alaska is filled with plagiarism. The authors of Exploring Southeast Alaska spent a lot of time and money putting the book together. They own the material.

Here are three examples. Think I’m cherry picking the most egregious examples? Nope, these three destinations are listed sequentially in Exploring Southeast Alaska.

From ActiveCaptain:

“When entering Flynn Cove stay well north of Harry Island and the rocks and shoals on the west side before turning south. Pass a grassy islet and a 200 yard long reef awash on a 12-foot tide. Once past the reef, favor the notheast shore avoiding a ledge awash on a 15-foot tide. You can anchor toward the head of the bay being careful to monitor your depth sounder.”

From Exploring Southeast Alaska:

“When entering the cove, stay well north of Harry Island and the rocks and shoals on its west side before turning south. Pass a grassy islet and a 200-yard-long reef awash on a 12-foot tide. Once past the reef, favor the northeast shore avoiding a ledge awash on a 15-foot tide. You can anchor toward the head of the bay being careful to monitor your depth sounder.”

The example in Excursion Inlet is perhaps more blatant. Despite there being an ActiveCaptain marker at both Sawmill Bay and the public dock (they’re a couple miles apart), Kayley’s review describes both of them in the Sawmill Bay entry, exactly as the Douglass book does.

From ActiveCaptain:

“Excursion Inlet, is a scenic cruising destination. It was cut long ago by glaciers. Although too deep for convenient anchoring, Sawmill Bay will fulfill this requirement. The area around the dock and cannery were used as a prisoner-of-war camp for Germans in WWII. Thus there is a real feel to recent history here. Although many of our cruiser friends report that it is still possible to moor at the Cannery Town docks, we highly recommend you forego this and anchor in the western arm of the inlet which is named Sawmill Bay on the chart.”

From Exploring Southeast Alaska:

“Excursion Inlet, which was cut out of the towering peaks by glaciers long ago, is too deep for convenient anchoring. However, fair shelter at reasonable depths can be found in the eastern bight of Sawmill Bay. The area around the dock and cannery were used as a prisoner-of-war camp for Germans in World War II. Cruisers have reported that it is possible to moor at the Cannery Town docks. The western arm of the inlet is called Sawmill Bay.”

The “Dinghy Dock Access” feature of ActiveCaptain for Sawmill Bay makes me question whether the author has actually ever been here. It says:

There is a dock in the east arm. It may be possible to moor at the Cannery town docks but the docks themselves are in an advance state of disrepair. Do not depend or plan on them.”

The reality is, there is NO dock in the east arm, nor has there been a dock in the east arm in recent memory. The only public dock in Excursion Inlet is at “Cannery town,” and while it is not in great shape, it’s not really in an “advance state of disrepair” either. Both pleasure boats and commercial boats use it regularly and safely.

Here’s another example…

From ActiveCaptain:

“Pleasant Island Cove is a convenient anchorage with easy access by radar in poor visibility. The large flat, 9 feet to 12 feet, east of Icy Passage spit is well protected from most summer winds and is out of the westerly chop sometimes found off Gustavus. There is room here for quite a few boats. It is recommended to anchor immediately east of the lone tree on the spit. This location also helps avoid the numerous crab pot floats. Contrary to the Coast Pilot #8 information, the bottom is hard blue-gray clay packed with clam shells, not mud. This makes setting your anchor difficult. You must set it slowly or it will break out before burrying itself. The last of the flood tide flows west and there are currents to 2 knots on spring tides.”

From Exploring Southeast Alaska:

“Pleasant Island Cove is a convenient anchorage with easy access by radar. The large flat, 1-1/2 to 2 fathoms, east of Icy Passage spit is well protected from most summer winds and is out of the westerly chop sometimes found off Gustavus. There is room here for quite a few boats. We prefer to anchor immediately east of the lone tree on the spit, avoiding the numerous crab pot floats. We have found the bottom to be hard blue-grey clay packed with clam shells, not mud, as mentioned in the Coast Pilot. This makes setting your anchor difficult—you must set it slowly or it will break out before burying itself. The last of the flood tide flows west, and we have measured currents to 2 knots on spring tides.”

I sent these examples and several others to Jeff. He responded saying the similarities are "uncomfortable," and suggested they might both be copied from the Coast Pilot (they're not).

Is this more widespread than just SE Alaska? Am I being overly sensitive to this?
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:52 PM   #2
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Easy to see Trump's speechwriter has an AC account.
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Old 08-09-2016, 03:53 PM   #3
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That is egregious!

No, you are not being overly sensitive. When that sort of thing is brought to the attention of AC (Jeff that is you!), it should be deleted and the "Captain" who posted it should be suspended.
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Old 08-09-2016, 04:09 PM   #4
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When that sort of thing is brought to the attention of AC (Jeff that is you!), it should be deleted and the "Captain" (or his kids) who posted it should be suspended.
Could be others...
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Old 08-09-2016, 04:13 PM   #5
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easy to see trump's speechwriter has an ac account.


lol....:d
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:22 PM   #6
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Is this more widespread than just SE Alaska?
No idea, but I kind of doubt it.

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Am I being overly sensitive to this?
Definitely not. Intellectual property protection is important.

I am sure that Jeffrey is uncomfortable with this. His livelihood is based on intellectual property. I would imagine in a crowd sourced information environment, it would be very difficult to control or police this type of thing.

Any idea how Wikipedia deals with protection of copyrighted material? I would assume they would face the same issues.
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:34 PM   #7
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While I don't have any examples in front of me, I have seen similar descriptions in AC and Waggoners.
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:35 PM   #8
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Please refrain from expressing your political agenda on this forum. The forum is reserved for marine related material only.....
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Old 08-09-2016, 06:38 PM   #9
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Please refrain from expressing your political agenda on this forum. The forum is reserved for marine related material only.....
uh... what?
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Old 08-09-2016, 07:06 PM   #10
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Please refrain from expressing your political agenda on this forum. The forum is reserved for marine related material only.....


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Old 08-09-2016, 07:50 PM   #11
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Sam,

I am at the 99% level of confidence that Kayley hasn't been to a lot of places where he has posted ratings. For example, in 2014 he post ratings of Kendrick Bay but makes no mentions of the active mining operation called Bokan Mountain at the head of the west arm. We were in there in 2014 and there was a floating man camp and a lot of helicopter operations moving drilling rigs around. We were also in Moira Sound, the Niblack anchorage where he posted and at the time there was another floating camp and a mining operation that had just recently been shut down due to low gold prices. He makes no mention of it.

The final thing is he apparently sees goats where aren't any. There are only a couple of islands in SE with mountain goat populations (Baranof and Revillagigedo) but he seems to see goats everywhere. He also gets his bears confused. Black and brown bears don't overlap very often because the brown ones tend to eat the black ones.

I wish AC would come up with something other than a ratings system. I would really like to submit updates they could post to locations. You can do that in the ratings, but with updates, they can screen them before they are posted and ask for clarification.

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Old 08-09-2016, 08:05 PM   #12
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Please refrain from expressing your political agenda on this forum. The forum is reserved for marine related material only.....
It was a joke son, a joke. Relax!
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Old 08-09-2016, 08:18 PM   #13
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As a retired professor, I would say that all the alleged plagiarizer would have to have done is put a footnote after the borrowed material to attribute credit.
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Old 08-09-2016, 08:44 PM   #14
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Definitely not. Intellectual property protection is important.

I am sure that Jeffrey is uncomfortable with this. His livelihood is based on intellectual property. I would imagine in a crowd sourced information environment, it would be very difficult to control or police this type of thing.

Any idea how Wikipedia deals with protection of copyrighted material? I would assume they would face the same issues.
This is the heart of the issue, really. When I pointed this out to Jeff a year ago he didn't take action. And when I provided even more examples a few weeks ago he still refused to take action. His unwillingness to do anything about this blatant copyright violation doesn't make me very eager to contribute to or use ActiveCaptain.

To be honest, I think Tom is right. Kayley hasn't been to the places she writes about. Her reviews are mostly copied from other sources, with some comments about how prolific the wildlife is. Her profile has no info on her boat and I've yet to meet another cruiser who knows who she is. Given how small the cruising boat scene is up here (especially among the year-after-year crowd), that alone is surprising.

Jeff, care to comment?
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:00 PM   #15
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The new Ashley Madison?
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:08 PM   #16
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I hate to see yet another thread attacking AC or Jeffrey.

Again, I am not entirely sure how sites like AC can best deal with this.
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:23 PM   #17
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As a retired professor, I would say that all the alleged plagiarizer would have to have done is put a footnote after the borrowed material to attribute credit.
Attribution fixes plagiarism, but not copyright infringement (if either is happening).
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:48 PM   #18
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As a retired professor, I would say that all the alleged plagiarizer would have to have done is put a footnote after the borrowed material to attribute credit.
As a practicing lawyer, I would say that attributing plagiarism is not a solution to copyright infringement . That said, as I understood the issue, AC only allows others to post what they want. If the "poster" has plagiarized from somewhere else, I don't see how AC is to blame, let alone liable, until they have actual notice from the copyright owner and an opportunity to remove the offending text.

The one to criticise is the one who posts the plagiarized text, not AC. How are they supposed to vet every report they receive?
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Old 08-09-2016, 09:50 PM   #19
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I hate to see yet another thread attacking AC or Jeffrey.

Again, I am not entirely sure how sites like AC can best deal with this.
They can remove text when they are notified that it violates someone else's copyright. Umtil then, there isn't anything they can or should do.
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Old 08-09-2016, 10:19 PM   #20
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I hate to see yet another thread attacking AC or Jeffrey....
Don`t be concerned, AC loves being talked about, controversy is publicity.
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