Bring out the Copycats
So four months have passed now since the inception of this blog. I’m still riding the ride, sometimes with struggles, but most of the time it’s pure joy. One thing that has increasingly come into my awareness is the ethics involved with a blog and having a web presence in general.
It really doesn’t matter what subjects or themes are associated with a site – it’s always important to do one’s homework and proper research. And to present that in a neat, responsible fashion. Yeah I know, it sounds like school. Well guess what, life IS school. I’m afraid that never ends either. But at least we can have more control over how we’re being schooled once we left that building – so to speak.
We can choose a book to learn about something, we can sleuth the endless trails of the internet or we can just pack our bags and go on a horizon expanding journey (literally). Exactly what happens then of course is barely under our control. But if one adopts a positive, open-minded mentality it’s easy to take a lesson with humor and joy. Let me give you an example of something that happened to me in these two months.
Ehhh, someone’s copying from me?
When I did some analysis as to where my pages where ranking in google I stumbled upon a text that was clearly taken from my post about necklace flash drives. Actually it was copying word by word, except that a few sentences had been left out. And for good reason because the copy turned out to be an ebay auction of a particular USB pendant – thus my mentioning of the varieties was undesirable. I’m not going to expose who this seller was but needless to say I was a little upset at first. I quickly realized though that I actually shouldn’t be.
First of all google was smart enough to still rank my text higher than the ebay-seller’s. It’s good to know the big G knows what it’s doing because even though duplicate content is rampant throughout the internet (with or without permission) the original should always be given priority.
Secondly, this showed me I must be doing something right. Because as we all know, “copying is the sincerest form of flattery”. That it happened with this particular post is quite mind boggling however because to me it really doesn’t reflect my best writing.
Thirdly, the seller didn’t do anything illegal because there’s no copyright on my posts and I would never make it a point to claim one. You see, I believe that copyright is an exaggerated, obsolete notion and we should move on to an ethical sharing spirit that is already quite dominant on the net (credit where credit´s due, which could be a simple “thank you”). So how ironic again that the universe showed me the flipside of the coin. It surely was interesting and after my initial reaction of silly possessiveness I just decided to drop the seller a quick note.
I pointed out to him/her that the copying actually didn’t bother me but that I sure would appreciate if he/she came up with something more original which really shouldn’t be that hard to do. I suggested that we both may actually suffer from such actions due to the duplicate content issue on google. So I put on a little pressure and also offered to feature the particular flash drive pendant he/she was selling – if the description was altered. After all I profit from these sellers and I’m guilty of doing a little copying myself. Because sometimes I take the images from listings and insert them into my posts. But since I make these as links to the same listings, I figure it’s a win-win situation. When I first asked sellers for permission they all reacted positively so nowadays I don’t bother anymore.
Well, I never got a reply from the seller which is too bad. I guess the person felt put on the spot or maybe just didn’t care. What matters is that after the auction ended my text never reappeared. On the other hand however, a second text of mine did appear. On another website.
It was actually a store and this time it was one of my page’s meta descriptions used as the very same on there. It was strange because it didn’t really reflect what the site was selling – yes it was a flash drive, but not that specific type. So I only scratched my head and I believe the description is gone now. All this left me wondering what else may be lurking out there that can be traced back to my blog….
But – I figure it’s best to let things like that go. Because like I wrote earlier, one can’t really control life anyway. To do so is pointless and puts you into a negative, undesirable state. Let the internet take care of things. As we can see with the recent Maureen Dowd scandal (NYT journalist copies from Josh Marshall’s blog), it works pretty well.
Now I’m curious. Does any of you ever experienced plagiarism? Of your blog or submitted articles? Just so that everyone knows, article directories like ezine are actually intended to be a bit like a free-for-all. Unless permission to redistribute is explicitly prohibited. It’s codex and common sense however to credit the original author of an article, best with the original signature links intact. But what if not? How would you react if you discovered someone just copied your writings without giving your credit or even pretending it’s his or hers? Share your perspectives.
p.s.: I got the cat pictures from someone, somewhere on google images.
Writing This Blog installments: