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Featured The Horror! Crossword Plagiarism Scandal!

Discussion in 'Stuff' started by SneakyDave, Mar 9, 2016.

  1. SneakyDave

    SneakyDave Solid Mean
    Staff Member

    Dec 8, 2011
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    When I was a kid, a neighbor gave me his collection of about 50 Reader's Digest magazines from the early 1950's. As I read through them, I stumbled upon the reader submitted jokes in the magazine, and realized that even the current edition magazine rewards reader submissions with cash for jokes.

    I thought I could make a mint, resubmitting the 1950's jokes that were clearly good enough to be printed then, for the current publication. Unfortunately, the 25 I sent in were never accepted, or at least I never received any money or them.

    Anyway, that same tactic appears to be happening in the crossword world, with claims that (at least) one crossword editor has been lifting others, and his own work, for USAToday and other newspapers.


    A Plagiarism Scandal Is Unfolding In The Crossword World

    A group of eagle-eyed puzzlers, using digital tools, has uncovered a pattern of copying in the professional crossword-puzzle world that has led to accusations of plagiarism and false identity.

    Since 1999, Timothy Parker, editor of one of the nation’s most widely syndicated crosswords, has edited more than 60 individual puzzles that copy elements from New York Times puzzles, often with pseudonyms for bylines, a new database has helped reveal. The puzzles in question repeated themes, answers, grids and clues from Times puzzles published years earlier. Hundreds more of the puzzles edited by Parker are nearly verbatim copies of previous puzzles that Parker also edited. Most of those have been republished under fake author names.

    Nearly all this replication was found in two crosswords series edited by Parker: the USA Today Crossword and the syndicated Universal Crossword. (The copyright to both puzzles is held by Universal Uclick, which grew out of the former Universal Press Syndicate and calls itself “the leading distributor of daily puzzle and word games.”) USA Today is one of the country’s highest-circulation newspapers, and the Universal Crossword is syndicated to hundreds of newspapers and websites.

    On Friday, a publicity coordinator for Universal Uclick, Julie Halper, said the company declined to comment on the allegations. FiveThirtyEight reached out to USA Today for comment several times but received no response.

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