Acknowledging a mistake

These types of posts are never easy to write, and I hope I won’t ever have to do it again.

I became aware Tuesday this site may have hosted plagiarized content, when Mike Payne of Detroit Bad Boys created this post. He compared his Detroit Bad Boys bio (on the left side of their site) to Steve Kays’ bio on PistonPowered:

Mike Payne is a hopeless NBA addict and Detroit Pistons fan who doesn’t actually believe other sports exist.

Steve Kays is an NBA addict, writer, podcaster, and Detroit Pistons fan who doesn’t actually believe other sports exist.

I take any allegations about the integrity of our content extremely seriously, and I immediately began investigating. I started by talking to Mike and Steve to figure out, the best I could, what happened.

As Steve explained, he had written the rest of his bio then read the “Detroit Pistons fan who doesn’t actually believe other sports exist” portion of Mike’s bio. He liked that line, didn’t really think about the need to credit it and said if someone borrowed part of his bio, he’d feel flattered. He also said he regretted not thinking through the importance of crediting Mike and realized he had made an error.

I appreciate Steve’s openness, but I’m more impressed with his swift actions to correct his mistake. He apologized publicly to Mike and changed his bio here, at his own site and on MLive.

Patrick, Graham and I independently reviewed Steve’s work here and on other sites. None of us found any other examples of Steve improperly using other people’s words or ideas. In fact, while I can’t speak for Patrick and Graham, I found the opposite. I saw a long track record of Steve consistently and carefully attributing when appropriate.

I believe this was an isolated mistake, and I don’t believe he’ll ever make a similar mistake again. Still, it was a mistake that should have consequences. Steve will represent his own site, DetroitBasketball.net, in our annual Pistons roundtable, which begins today, but he won’t write for PistonPowered for the rest of the regular season.

I realize this may make it more difficult for some of you to trust Steve’s work, and I completely understand that. For those of you who feel that way, I ask you to consider the context. Steve made a mistake, but we all make mistakes. It shouldn’t tarnish his reputation as a writer beyond repair. As someone who has reviewed this incident extremely earnestly, I believe Steve deserves a second chance at regaining your trust. I hope you’ll join me in granting him that.

And I don’t say that to brush this error under the rug. I take plagiarism extremely seriously, and I think you deserved an explanation about what happened. We will never simply delete the offending portion of stolen content on this site and move on. We will continue to be as transparent as possible about our processes.

I’m sorry this happened, and we’ll attempt to ensure nothing similar happens in the future. If you have any questions, you can reach me at [email protected].

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