Plagiarism On The Internet

Plagiarism.  The dictionary defines it as the use or close imitation of language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.. [source]  But since the inception of the Internet, and more specifically, the emergence of weblogs, there has been an overly generous amount of wiggle room in how people choose (or don’t choose) to refer to things in their writing.

Knowing Better

It’s one thing to read someone else’s blog or to browse through the Internet and see something that you really find compelling and want to write about.  Heck, you may be thinking to yourself, “They say it so much better than I could even begin to, so I’ll just copy exactly what they have and call it a day.”

Wrong.

It still amazes me to come across a piece of information on one site, think to myself that it seems really familiar, and then realize later that the reason for this familiarity was because it was copied verbatim from another site.  It’s not that difficult to reference something.  Even if you’re unsure about the proper way to reference something on the Internet, referencing where you obtained a certain tidbit of information is MUCH better than not mentioning where you received your sudden knowledge.  It makes you look suspicious- like you’re hiding something.

Dealing with Plagiarism

Unfortunately, there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there waiting to bring you down simply because they’re too lazy to write content themselves.  If this is the case, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • Examine the content of what you have written and compare it word-by-word with the content in question.
  • Send a non-threatening email, politely asking the blogger or other culprit to kindly remove the article in question from their web site.
  • Conduct a “WhoIs” lookup based on the web domain name in order to find the registrar and/or name of the web hosting company so that a formal complaint about copied content can be wagered.

Have any other advice, stories or tips about plagiarism?  We’d love to hear them!

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