Chris Anderson’s Free! Borrows From Wikipedia

Filed as Features on June 24, 2009 3:03 pm

Wired editor Chris Anderson is soon to launch his latest book/theory, following up on The Long Tail, titled Free!. There’s definitely nothing wrong with his ideas if you ask me, and you can read them for yourself on Wired, but the book seems a bit, well rushed perhaps?

First there was the WordPress incident, where Anderson probably was making the famous mixup. He should know better, and a technical reviewer should have caught that.

Now there’s copy-pasting from Wikipedia.

Fast Company found the Virginia Quarterly Review blog post detailing how Anderson copy-pasted an entry from the Free lunch entry on Wikipedia, and illustrates it with side by side comparisons. Just look at all that yellow text marking the similarities!

It doesn’t stop there. Obviously, Anderson has been relying a lot on Wikipedia, because the VQR blog post finds a bunch of these. Sure, the title is Free!, but that doesn’t mean the author shouldn’t actually write some words of his own, no matter how many examples there are.

The real problem, however, is that the references are lacking. That’s right, the source aren’t cited, a huge mistake of course. And Fast Company found this from Anderson:

All those are my screwups after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to find a good citation format for web sources…

This all came about once we collapsed the notes into the copy. I had the original sources footnoted, but once we lost the footnotes at the 11th hour… Obviously in my rush at the end I missed a few of that last category, which is bad.

And also the following, about how to solve this, since it seems as if the book won’t get pushed back because of this.

I think what we’ll do is publish those notes after all, online as they should have been to begin with. That way the links are live and we don’t have to wrestle with how to freeze them in time, which is what threw me in the first place.

Naturally, this is on Techmeme and Gawker is having a field day. Go figure.

Free! is due July 7, and will be available for free in the formats that allow it (digital), and will cost you money in print if you prefer dead trees. It is, after all, the freemium model in essence.

Hat tip: Jonas Lejon of

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  1. By rikin posted on June 24, 2009 at 11:17 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I thought ‘borrowed’ meant to give back at a later point. Seeing that this is practically impossible maybe Mr. Anderson should give a nice donation to Wikipedia for all their efforts that led to him publishing this new book.


  2. Chris Anderson on the Wikipedia Controversy | The Blog HeraldJune 25, 2009 at 3:20 pm

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