I've been wanting to write a post about this for a few months now, and finally I have found the time to write it with my friend Hawwa, who you might know from It Was Lovely Reading You. We co-wrote this post.
‘So, what is this post about,’ I hear you ask, "Donkeys?!" Nope. We started calling plagiarists 'plagiarising donkeys' and somehow it stuck. "What is this post really about, then?" Well, it’s something that has affected me and Hawwa a lot, as well as millions of other bloggers. Plagiarism. The word that sends shivers down every blogger's spine. The word that instills fear in the blogging community. The word that forms cracks through the blogosphere if the ‘news’ gets out like a mirror shattering into jagged pieces. Some bloggers don't seem to understand how devastating it is to be plagiarised, to have your hard work stolen with the click of a mouse. How hard is it, really, to write your own blog post? To use your own words, your own ideas, your own mind? It’s not. Plagiarism is lazy. You can’t take pride in it, and why would you want to use what someone else has worked on anyway?
You've seen that someone got a particularly high number of comments or views on a certain post, so you decide to copy the post in an attempt to get the same response. Guess what? According to Leonie Dawson, "You will never get to the same level of success by copying someone." That’s a fact.
Seriously, if you don’t have the brainpower to create your own ideas and posts, why are you blogging? To be a blogger you need to have the ability to handle pressure and stress when meeting review deadlines, you need to be able to gather inspiration of your own to write into blog posts, and you need to find your own ways of gaining readers and followers - you can't just steal someone else's...unless you have the morals of a warthog.
You think plagiarism is just when text is copied word-for-word? It also counts as plagiarism if you take someone's blog post idea without credit, or if you
take an extreme amount of 'inspiration' copy someone's blog design. Plagiarism is also when you copy and paste text and then re-word it ever so slightly. It's still blatantly obvious to the original writer that you have stolen it. Plagiarists: You understand legal action can be taken against you, right? Just saying. There's only so many second chances you'll receive before you go too far.
1) Don't panic.
You may be angry seeing how someone has shamelessly ‘’borrowed’’ your own ideas and opinions, and the worst thing you can do is to email them in a fit of rage. Calm down and assess the situation.
2) Make a word document.
Paste in the copied 'subject' (your own), and paste the plagiarised content underneath. Then, highlight the copied sentences in the original, and the plagiarised item (in the same colour). This means you can then send them proof of their actions if they try to deny it. (You can also highlight sentences that are ‘vaguely’ the same. Make sure this is in a different colour to the other highlighted sections.)
3) Now email them. Consider this a cease and desist letter; a legal document.
Be calm, rational, and explain the situation. Attach the word document, ask them to take the post down and/or ask them to change it. Then... wait for a reply.
Now, here is the part where you will grow restless and increasingly frustrated. Why? Because you don’t know when they’ll reply, or even if they’ll reply at all. If they have any shred of decency, they’ll reply sooner rather than later. But, here's the thing: they probably won't apologise, and they probably won't take any responsibility for it. A blogger I know was plagiarised a while ago, and the plagiarist tried to place the blame on someone else. It was a lame and transparent excuse. Another time, I was the one who was plagiarised, and this plagiarist completely denied it, even though, y’know, I have eyes. If a blogger contacts you because you have plagiarised them, the best thing you can do is apologise, take responsibility, and do what they ask of you.
We have both been blogging for a long time, so we have had plenty of time to observe why bloggers do things and when they usually do the said thing. For example, I (and many other bloggers, according to Twitter) have noticed that bloggers who plagiarise are usually the ‘newbies’. I have NOTHING against new book bloggers, and I know it's not all of them. And yes, sometimes the plagiarists are older, more established bloggers (that's when shock really ripples through the blogosphere). I suppose new book bloggers think they can get away with it. Maybe, they've just started reviewing books that have a deadline, and have a couple of books on the go. What do they do if they're stressed, don’t have time to write a review, or maybe they don’t know what to write? They read other people's reviews. They think 'Oh, that's a good sentence to include, I like that turn of phrase, I'm sure they won't notice if I use that paragraph as my own….' and with a click of their mouse, they've become a plagiarist.
Plagiarism is disrespectful. It is rude, it is lazy, it is illegal, and we do not need it in the blogging world, yet some people don't seem to be getting the message. You want to have a successful blog? Take time to think of your own ideas, because if you plagiarise from a blog you like, not only are you building a bad reputation for yourself, but you are also completely diminishing any chance you might have had at connecting with the blogger.
Please have a look at this post by Ashley at Nose Graze and this post by Kelly at Effortlessly Reading. Ashley's post will help you deal with plagiarists, while Kelly's perfectly sums up how me and Hawwa feel about plagiarism. Definitely worth a read!
Have you been plagiarised? How did you deal with it?