You know I can turn into a proper she-devil when stirred properly. This little experiment of mine might shock you but I feel it’s the time to reveal the whole truth. I have been plagiarized. Many times over. I don’t search for the culprits because I don’t give a damn. I am of the opinion that if you publish something on the Internet sooner or later you might find a copy or two on somebody else’s site and no, your name or nick won’t feature on a prominent place. Deal with it or don’t publish anything at all. Plagiarists are like mosquitoes: you can deter some of them if you are lucky but you’ll never eliminate the problem.
Still after a while I grew curious what can actually be done to people who copy and paste from your blog without giving due credit or any credit at all. I had a huge problem with my research, though – my own laziness and a complete lack of any visceral feelings toward plagiarists were two effective stoppers. As I said earlier I really don’t mind whether anybody publishes my whole reviews, essays or particular sentences taken from them. It didn’t bode well for my project because I simply lacked motivation to push those people in any way, let alone threaten them in a serious manner.
Then a devilish thought crossed my mind and stuck there: what if I turned into a plagiarist myself and done a bit of first-hand research? What would happen to me and my blog? Would I be punished, ostracized, taken to court even? Would my blog be suspended, closed, made to disappear forever? Overall I wanted somebody to answer a simple question for me: what can be done online to teach you a lesson that ‘thou shalt not steal’ other people’s words without their permission?
I needed somebody motivated and irate. I needed an innocent victim. I am a rogue, I know. I admit that I’ve tried to bait several bloggers but nobody seemed to be inclined to raise the hell and hit the roof for me. They were as laidback as me and I feared my little experiment was turning into a complete disaster until one day I finally saw a light in the tunnel. I found a very nice blogger, Heather, and her blog which was named Obsessed With MyShelf . Very close to “obsessed with myself” don’t ya think? I didn’t doubt a blogger who calls so his or her more or less private place in the blogosphere would guard his or her reviews like dragons guard their hoards. I was fortunate enough to be proven right.
After publishing my review of Cecilia London’s delightful book ‘Dissident’ with some stolen paragraphs I got the following e-mail.
“My name is Heather and I run the blog Obsessed With Myshelf. I saw your review of Dissident by Cecilia London when she RT’d it and I’m really glad that you liked the book. I happened to love it too and love supporting new authors, like I’m sure you do.
However, I couldn’t help but notice that a couple of lines of your review were incredibly familiar to me…so much so that I went back and looked at my own review of Dissident and noticed that a couple of sentences from your review seem to come directly from my review.
My review: “Mostly, I’m in love with the fact that this book wasn’t dumbed down. It’s unapologetically an intellectual smut novel, which made me all warm in all the right places. There’s suspense, danger, anger, love, and (most importantly) delicious sex.”
Your review: “Mostly, I’m in love with the fact that this book wasn’t dumbed down that much. It’s unapologetically an intellectual smut novel, which made me all warm in all the right places. There’s suspense, danger, anger, love, and sex.”
My review: “I don’t even know what sub-genre to really put this book in, but if I had my way it’d be political dystopian intellectual smut. Sound enticing?”
Your review: “I don’t even know what sub-genre to put this book in, but if I had my way it’d be political dystopian smut. Sound enticing?”
If this is a coincidence, it’s a really really crazy one. I absolutely do not mind at all when people quote my reviews – I find it to be a huge honor. However, I really dislike when people take my words as their own. It’s not only inappropriate, but frankly, it’s plagiarism.
If you could please provide an explanation for this, I would appreciate it. In the alternative, please feel free to quote my review, or change the language to your own.
I love this community immensely and hope to only foster good relationships. I hope that this is just a crazy mistake of judgment and that we can move on from this.
I look forward to your response.
I have to say the quotes were not exactly accurate because I did edit my review slightly but apparently Heather was in such a hurry to contact me and inform about my malfeasance that she failed to notice it. I understand her zealotry and I don’t criticize her for it. Anyway after reading her mail I hooted and cheered – I knew I have struck gold, real pure gold: I found a blogger that truly cared and would react to my nefarious plans as I wished to but never had enough motivation. Now I would like to thank and apologize profusely to Heather and Ms. London whose review and book was cruelly used by me in that experiment. The choice was out of my control, and I am entirely to blame that I decided to follow my mad scheme through. So, blame me. Unfollow me. Call me names. My behaviour for those four-five days was deliberately despicable. Yes, I deserve punishment. Thank you.
Let’s return to my project. Before I started it I had thought about the whole premise long and hard; yes, it was premeditated as hell. As a result of these deliberations I decided to behave in the most infuriating and insufferable manner possible – so do not react at all. Whatever Heather (or anybody) would have thrown my way I was to keep mum. I didn’t want to cause more damage than it was planned. Accordingly, when people unfollowed me on Twitter and expressed their disgust I said nothing and waited. I admit it was the worst part. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long.
The second e-mail from Heather was written in a much more gung-ho in tone and very rightly so, taking into account my cheek combined with my lack of reaction:
I’m incredibly dissapointed that not only have you not responded to my email or edited your post but instead you are encouraging comments on your blog that complimented MY WORDS that you have used as our own.
Please be advised that if your post is not edited immediately that I intend to write my own blog post about your actions. Because I believe in giving credit where credit is due I will be quoting your blog extensively.
I also intend to review your blog host’s terms of service as I’m fairly certain that your actions are in violation thereto.
Again, I implore you to edit your post immediately. As you seem to respond quickly on social media and your blog, I will hold off on taking any action until 1pm EST today to allow you to do the right thing.
I don’t look forward to any of these actions and I don’t relish in writing this email but I cannot sit idly by while another person takes my words and uses them as her own.
I look forward to your cooperation.
Oh dreary, dreary me. I must give it to Heather: she can really sound intimidating, doing a much better job that I would have been able to do. ‘In violation thereto’ made me simply squeak in my boots! Legalese pure and simple! Still, like a real brazen hussy I did not answer at all and did not change my post any further.
Three people unfollowed me on Twitter (and I returned the favour but without any comment just in order to stay in my chosen role for the time being). Heather wrote her piece and her friend I guess sent me a very nice notification which you can admire below. So far two people liked her tweet, one of them being Ms London herself. One person criticizing me for my misdeed even somehow managed to follow me, making my poor head spinning a bit. So you want to follow a known plagiarist, a person who you are criticizing publicly? Ooookay, no problem, thanks I guess.
My blog wasn’t suspended or anihilated; during as many as four-five days, an eternity in digital era terms, I weren’t contacted by anybody from the host or asked any questions at all even though the plagiarized review was fully visible all the time and Heather did try to make a fuss, bless her. I got more hits than usual on the blog but it’s only understandable – people always want to see the misdeed with their own eyes. Nobody’s resigned my blog e-mail subscription (as on Sunday I mean). For some hours I even had more followers on Twitter than I had begun my experiment with. As much as I deserved it I wasn’t practically punished – I got off with just a very slight slap on the wrist. My conclusions?
You might despise plagiarists but they won’t disappear because of your hatred. You might feel they are filthy thieves but you can do little to prevent your blog content from being filched. You can always make a fuss, call them names, drag them through mud, but be prepared: few people would notice. Or care. Personally I won’t be changing my own laidback policy toward plagiarizers any time soon. I simply don’t see any point.
ETA: the cherry on the top of the cake. My notification board as on today – enjoy.