The Reality of Plagiarism

So… I’m not terribly happy to be writing this post, but this is something that all writers need to be passionate about not tolerating. There are awesome writers in the world, and awesome bloggers here on WordPress and other blogging sites. I love finding those people, because it’s like finding a new friend. The best bloggers have frequent content and connect well with their readers, but staying at that level of commitment takes a lot of work and hard-earned effort should not be ripped off.

Imagine my dismay when I found that one of the Pagan bloggers I have followed for a while, and quiet enjoyed reading, willfully plagiarized? The article in question was posted without any credit to the original author, and when I commented with just the link to the original article, the comment was deleted. That blogger knows she plagiarized and didn’t appreciate me pointing it out. It’s sad because now I question all the content on the blog.

There’s nothing wrong with re-blogging or re-posting as long as you have permission if needed and you give credit and/or a link back. That is a collaboration of ideas, and most writers are all for it! But plagiarism is different. Plagiarizing is ugly. It’s unethical and lazy and despicable. I write my own content, and I’ve had that content stolen before. It’s one of the worst feelings a writer can have. Stealing my words is like stealing my womb for your own use. It’s not going to fly.

Here is the original About.com article—one which I found in my Mabon research and incorporated into my own rituals. Some of you may have noticed I actually linked back to this article in the last post. Here is the plagiarized article.

Don’t plagiarize.

For the love of all writers,

~*Ayslyn

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About Ayslyn'sCorner

I am an eclectic Pagan bordering on atheist who has made her way through a number of different spiritual spaces. You might wonder what a person self-identifying as an atheist has to discuss in a religion/spiritual context – and, well, so do I. That’s one of the things I aim to explore on Ayslyn's Corner. Check out Ayslyn's Corner at http://www.ayslynscorner.wordpress.com Check out Invisible Ink Blog at http://www.whitneycarter.wordpress.com Check out wombs in rebellion at http://wombsinrebellion.wordpress.com/
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33 Responses to The Reality of Plagiarism

  1. Wow. That’s no exaggeration 😦 That’s pretty ballsy.

  2. H.E. ELLIS says:

    One of the ways that I have been lucky in blogworld is to have followers who enjoy what I write enough to do their own “spin” on a particular post of mine, linking their post back to me.

    I love when that happens because then I feel like part of a community, while they have the opportunity to take what I wrote and make it their own. It’s a win, win situation and negates the need for plagiarism.

    It’s a shame that others are more concerned with accolades than the beauty of shared art.

    • I very much agree on both counts. An idea that creates a spark for a community of people and is shared jointly is a beautiful, fun thing, and I don’t know any writer who doesn’t love to be a part of that. But that’s not what this is. 😦 May it serve as a deterrent that others not go down the same path.

  3. Carlette says:

    Plagiarism seems to be the acceptable thing. As a college professor I see it over and over and over again and every time I encounter I report the student although colleagues tend to overlook it. I painstakingly ask your permission to report your blogs and will continue to do so. I’m glad you called her out though – she knows what she did and she *should* be embarrassed.

  4. danbracewell says:

    Yes, this is pretty serious stuff. I knew a historian I used to work with back at the Museum of Florida History (Florida’s official history museum). I considered him a friend and a respectable person. He plagiarized another person’s book, a person who worked at another museum in Orlando. My friend lost all credibility as a historian, was fired, and the Museum of Florida History had some major damage control afterwards. I couldn’t believe he was so stupid. This blogger will eventually get what is coming to him/her.

    • I do hope karma catches up with this blogger, and you’ve pointed out that plagiarism has very serious real-world consequences in addition to hurting the original author. I’m surprised the article hasn’t been removed yet actually. Thanks for reading, Dan.

      • danbracewell says:

        In this case, the original author wasn’t hurt. I actually became friends with him shortly after all this mess happened. He was stunned more than anything else that another historian would have the audacity to do something like this. He took no monetary hit. In fact, his museum got some money and other favors from the Museum of Florida History because of what happened. In the end, it gave him a pretty good story to tell people. I think the person who plagiarizes is more likely to be hurt than anything else. People are going to find out. After that, the person’s rep is ruined.

  5. Michael Graeme says:

    Well spotted there Ayslyn, and surprising because otherwise I would have said that was a really good, attractive, and informative blog. But it also seems to be about selling stuff, rather than encouraging a community of discussion – I notice you can “like” the posts, but I couldn’t find comments on any of them, as if the author isn’t interested in nurturing discussion. It does make you wonder about their sources now. It’s like they’ve been skimming the net for content to make their site look less commercial. That’s really hard faced.

    I get plagiarised too, so I know it’s a problem. Now and then I find my stories (which I give away online) for sale on the kindle marketplace – sometimes under my name, sometimes under another. The first time that happened, it was creepy and really upsetting, but I’ve come to accept it now and I just have to vigilant. I think the thing to bear in mind here is that when we go online this way, we’re connecting to potentially tens of billions of people, so you’re going to find a few wrong-uns, but the really heartening thing I’ve learned is how universally friendly, decent and good spirited the vast majority of people are, all over the world.

    You we right to point this out.

  6. I love it when I’m asked if something I’ve written can be used elsewhere – especially if it’s going to help others with epilepsy. Having said that, I do ask for credit or a link-back, because I would never use somebody else’s work without permission. I also link to the original article if another blogger has inspired me to write something in a similar vein – and they always come along and thank me for the recognition.

    Another blogging friend was recently plagiarised elsewhere. She asked for the content to be removed and it was – but she never recieved an apology.

    To spend hours sometimes, turning your own blood sweat and tears into a blog post, only for someone to take moments to copy/paste and tweak some of the content is disgusting and upsetting to the original author. These people should be punished for their dispicable actions.

    I have been plagiarised on occasion, and have even had a folder of songs I’ve written (complete with chords and rhythm beats) stolen – but how to prove that the work, if it ever sees daylight, is originally mine?

    • I think the only real answer to your question is experience, as to how to prove an intellectual work is your own. After you’ve had something stolen, you learn to document what you do, to take screenshots and always be vigilant to copycats. I use Google alerts, and every couple of weeks search the web for my urls, names, and key words in my content to see who else is using them. You can’t prevent someone else from stealing, but you can be proactive in stopping it.

  7. I’ve gotten copied in the past and I was frustrated, irritated…. New media makes it possible for more writers to have a global voice but it always makes it easier for that voice to be copied without reserve. And, unfortunately, many non-writers do not understand or appreciate what it takes to write and to write well.

  8. FeyGirl says:

    Good for you for raising the point and calling out this blog… In a world of lazy / no research or writing skills, this is a sad fact. Writers, photographers, and artists can’t keep up with the rampant plagiarism — it’s become that commonplace. Pitiful.

    • Yes, plagiarism is common place. This has made me think about ways to nip the practice in the bud, even though many people have been trying for years. I’m feeling a grassroots movement coming on here!

  9. yepirategunn says:

    I just think you acted in exactly the right way by calling her up on this – and blogging about it. I don’t understand plagiarism. I am proud to quote somebody, or reblog, or refer to. It shows my commitment to extensive research. Maybe just laziness as well as the reasons defined just previously by Michael Grame.

    • I agree, thanks for the support. It appears the blogger has fixed the issue by adding that the article is from the About.com page, but that doesn’t change the way it was originally presented.

  10. Vaettr says:

    Would like to point out that the person has not deleted your comment and has actually replied to you and it has now credit to the original author. 🙂 But yes, you are right to object about it and write about it. ^^

  11. LC Aisling says:

    Plagiarism is very serious offence. Had just week ago someone, who offered my work under his name in a writer’s forum. Straight to my face. He took it from the blog I haven’t used for years, but that gave him no right to do so. He was dealt with, but it makes me think a lot on what to put and what not to put online.

    • I agree; I too am very careful what I post online and what I don’t. Generally, any manuscripts I plan on publishing will not go online for that very reason. Though, they say that the chances of an “amateur” writer being plagiarized is very small. So I guess that means we are both out of that phase since we’ve both been plagiarized!

      • LC Aisling says:

        For a small chance, it’s becoming too common for my taste. Especially if there is entire ocean inbetween. It is one thing for two people to think out similar ideas, which has happened and no one is protected against, but way different thing if you find exact copies of your text under someone else’s name.

  12. Dawn says:

    That’s awful! We really do have to be careful. I’ve had my content stolen too and reported it to Google. Google responds pretty fast. Do you have a way to notify the original author of the plagiarism? If so, send them this link – http://hubpages.com/learningcenter/how-to-file-a-dmca-complaint. I’ve also used this article to have a video deleted from youtube because someone used a photo of my dog to sell their stuff. Youtube responds quickly as well.

    • Dawn, for some odd reason WP marked your comment as Spam. :-/ I did notify the original author, but she has not responded. When I’ve tried to contact the Wicca About.com author in the past, she’s never responded either. It makes it difficult for me to keep the comment war going, if the author won’t stand up for herself, so I’ve let it go, and I’m not going back.

    • Oh, and probably the reason Google and YouTube respond quickly is because they are owned by the same people, if I’m not mistaken. But it is good to know that they respond when someone takes the time to contact them.

  13. Hah I thought it was a litle suspect that they were posting what seemed to be a dozen posts a day. With all the typing they must have been doing they couldn’t have had a lot of time to practice the craft, rather than just writing continuing. Now I can see how they managed to cut their corners, big time.
    Thanks for sharing, even though it’s a pretty difficult thing to have to say.
    Rowan
    x~x

    • Thanks for the support Rowan. I too had wondered how she/they were putting out material so quickly, especially considering the quality seemed very good. I might have gone on blindly being impressed if I hadn’t come across this one article and recognized it as being from another writer.

  14. Karli says:

    I know it’s been 2 years, but I just wanted you to know that the article seems to have been deleted.

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