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Friday, May 14, 2010

Shhh. Be vewwy, vewwy quiet

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Several things conspired to push “The Electronic Investor” out of the pages of Barron’s for most of the month of April. 

EI is one of the few columns written by freelancers (Yours Truly as well as Mike Hogan), so when ad pages are short, or a feature written by a salaried staffer goes long, we are the usual page to eliminate for that week.  It’s been a problem several times, especially in mid-April when I had a column that had a time limit on it due to some pricing specials that the companies I was going to feature were running.  When that column was pushed a week later, it wouldn’t have been printed until the specials had expired. 

Then while I was trying to come up with a replacement column a week later, I had some scary health issues to deal with that kept me out of my office.  After that, we had another week delay due to an editorial decision.  Finally, Mike had a column run on May 3, and I returned after 5 weeks of invisibility on May 10. 

I should have published the column that had the special pricing in it here, but spent entirely too much time getting poked and prodded by doctors and other evil creatures that week to focus on it.  My apologies for letting that opportunity pass by. 

With any luck, we won’t have any more of those delays ever again ... but it’s hard to predict. 

Posted by twcarey on 05/14 at 03:40 PM
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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Plagiarized!

Every January, I send a huge survey out to the online brokers who will be reviewed for that year’s Barron’s Online Broker Review.  This year, I sent an enormous Excel spreadsheet out to about two dozen brokers on January 20. 

A little more than a week ago, a different publication sent out their survey, which will be published in their June issue.  From what other brokers have told me, in past years, this particular reporter has used a Word document that the respondents fill in. But this year, he switched it up and is using Excel.  That’s not a problem, but what he did when switching to Excel borders on unethical, and possibly illegal.

This other publication’s survey is quite a bit shorter than mine, but more than half of the questions asked are lifted directly from my survey.  By “directly” I mean, “copied word for word.”

I think that if some other writer is using my survey as a base document that the LEAST he could do is re-word the questions he’s stealing from me.  I do not think it’s a strange coincidence that we both ask this exact question:

“Average # STOCK Retail Trades per Day, quarter ending 12/31/2009”

His survey includes my caps, and the same time frame.  Even more damning, further down his survey contains this question, which is an exact copy of a question that I’ve been asking for a few years now:

“Is a real-time quote available before the trade is placed?  Does the quote appear when a ticker symbol is entered in the trading screen, or does the customer have to enter it elsewhere on the site?”

His survey also copies, word for word, a series of questions I ask about SIPC coverage and limits.  His survey has a lot of questions I don’t ask, mostly about mutual funds and managed accounts, but those are details that Barron’s readers have not asked me to consider in my 15 years of writing this story.  But there is just one section of his survey that has original questions—all the rest are either directly copied from mine, or only lightly edited. 

A lawyer friend tells me that there are copyright issues involved here, and I’m trying to decide what to do next.  This week I’m finishing up the 15th Annual Review of Online Brokers for Barron’s, which will be in print in the March 15 issue, so I don’t have a lot of free time. 

I’ve found many of my articles reproduced without permission here and there on the web; usually a request to the webmaster to take down the article does the trick.  But this time a source document of mine that has never been published in public is being used.  Maybe the other writer thought I wouldn’t find out about it?  I just cannot imagine a universe where someone would think this is OK. 

OK ... back to work! 

Posted by twcarey on 03/06 at 10:01 AM
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Follow me on Twitter

While putting together my April 20 column (http://online.barrons.com/article/SB124000827803230455.html, will be posted here on Saturday), I finally started Tweeting myself.  I haven’t turned into an addict ... yet ... but have turned up some ideas for future columns just by poking around. 

So if you’d like to follow my updates about my column, website, volleyball addiction, or my training for this summer’s Senior Olympics, you can find me at twitter.com/twcarey. 

Posted by twcarey on 04/21 at 03:39 PM
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