But what was once a sharp boundary is now a diffuse continuum, with a myriad of publication venues with different focus and different degrees of stringency.Quite a few papers make it through peer review even though they really shouldn't.Researchers go out and find out about what other people have done, and then they build on that so they don't have to reinvent the wheel.
Third, it's not really the publication venue either.It's true that most of us would trust a peer-reviewed paper in a good conference or journal more than something we find on a blog, and peer review has an important role to fulfill here.Some of us have academic degrees and fancy university jobs, and publish peer-reviewed papers in prestigious journals. Some (many) others publish bots, hacks, experimental games or apps on blogs, web pages or Twitter while having day jobs that have little to do with their digital creative endeavors. So what's the difference between researchers and tinkerers?This is a valid question to ask, given that there are quite a few things that can be - and are - done by both researchers and tinkerers.On a technical level, much of what we do is really not very different from tinkering.
Some of it is good code, some of it bad, but typically there is a good (or at least interesting) idea in there.
The guy didn't even know he was reinventing the wheel, and didn't care to look it up.
Which is fine, as it was probably not meant as research in the first place, and not sold as such. It is easy to miss that someone tackled the same problem as you (or had the same idea as you) last year, or 5 years ago, or 50.
People can do excellent research without a Ph D, and certainly not everything that a Ph D-holder does deserves to called research.
Second, it's not because research always is more principled or has a body of theory supporting it.
Let me list four differences, in order of decreasing importance: scholarship, testing, goals and persistence.