Thursday, January 8, 2009

More on Quote Mining

Interesting Blog post over on Palladium-Item, Mining for Quotes, by RationalPortion.

The most interesting part is how to tell if you are reading quote-mined nuggets:

  1. Is the quote being used in a way that incriminates the source of the quote? (i.e. An outspoken supporter of 2nd Amendment rights being quoted as saying something against gun ownership)
  2. The usage of an ellipsis in the middle of the quote (i.e. "Despite what researchers learned of the links between cancer and smoking ... cancer was not caused by cigarette smoking alone.")
  3. "Broken quotes" -- quotes which are split into smaller pieces and arranged like Frankenstein's monster, held together with narrative. (i.e. Senator Clinton said that she supports "withdrawing from Iraq" as quickly as possible because "Iran is a dangerous threat to be reckoned with.")
  4. Poor or absent citation of source. Attributing the quote to someone by name, but not specifying the specific source of the quote.
Excellent rules of thumb for those of us constantly battling anyone who quote mines, especially those who quote-mine out of context. If you find me violating any of these, please bring it to my attention. Now I'm going to have to go back through all my blog posts and see if i missed linking to the original source!

Basic bottom line stuff, because I tend to be a bottom-line kind of guy. Just because someone puts quotes around it doesn't mean it's actually a valid quote and it doesn't mean they are using within the context of the source. So I mean this, don't even take my word for it! When I, or anyone else quote someone, go to the source material and check it out for yourself! Read the quote in context, read what the Author was trying to get across, get a handle on the meaning and intentions of the words -- then you will have reached an understanding.

And of course when you catch someone quote-mining, call them on it! Don't let them get away with it!


  1. Thanks for the feature, Ted!

    Glad to have you on the PI too!