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Critic finds evidence of plagiarism in many Wikipedia entries

NEW YORK - A critic of an online encyclopedia written and edited by its users has identified dozens of biographical articles that appear to contain passages lifted from other sites, prompting its administrators to delete several pending a review.

Daniel Brandt found the examples of suspected plagiarism at Wikipedia using a program he created to run a few sentences from about 12,000 articles against Google Inc.'s search engine. He removed matches in which another site appeared to be copying from Wikipedia, rather than the other way around, and examples in which material is in the public domain and was properly attributed.

Brandt ended with a list of 142 articles, which he brought to Wikipedia's attention.

The site's founder, Jimmy Wales, acknowledged that plagiarized passages do

occasionally slip in, but he dismissed Brandt's findings as

exaggerated.

Wikipedia allows anyone to post, edit and even delete items regardless of expertise and leaves it to other users to catch factual errors and other problems, including plagiarism.

Although plagiarism and copyright infringement are common among sites with user-generated content, Brandt said Wikipedia must be held to a higher standard, a point with which Wales agreed.

''They present it as an encyclopedia,'' Brandt said Friday. ''They go around claiming it's almost as good as Britannica. They are trying to be mainstream respectable."