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Attribution and Plagiarism

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October 13th, 2006
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I have re-written this article many times and have come close to posting it but have backed away because I felt my thoughts were either too antagonistic (which I strive to avoid) or were just too self serving (which I strive to avoid as well). However, I feel too strongly about this topic for me to ignore it forever, so here is the gist of my thoughts.

I really like the word attribution and I find the lack of attribution disturbing. I bring this up because there are thousands of websites that absorb and regurgitate information published elsewhere for monetary gain without so much as a line stating where the original item was published. I used to have a major problem with them until I realized that there were just too many to deal with. There are lots of very good resources on how to deal with content theft. I applaud and support Lorelle and everyone conrcerned in their efforts.

I sincerely appreciate the effort of every one of you that has emailed me with information on yet another blog and/or “planet” site copying my content without pointing back to this blog and/or claiming the content to be their own. I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your efforts and your continued support.

Simply put, if you are going to use content from this blog, you are welcome to do so, but I would really like a link back or a disclaimer stating the source of your content. If you are going to use content you found on this blog, I would definitely appreciate a link back or just a small thank you on your post.
Bloggers are ego hogs. I know that is a blanket statement and probably not true in every case. However, I believe that almost every one of us, even the most secretive types, crave that extra attention and the pat on the back. I know I get tickled pink when someone mentions how much traffic they got from WeblogToolsCollection or how useful they found the content. Conversely, I take criticism seriously as well. I try to fashion changes, updates, posting habits, design, display and anything else I can to make this blog a better resource to you, my readers. I am also really disheartened when someone claims that I am trying to raise my link rank (add some other buzz word in SEO) by linking to an obscure bloggers’ post, which I frequently try to do.
If you find content somewhere that you post on your blog or website, please add a little link mentioning your source or where you saw it first. I really am stating the obvious when I say that it increases popularity, increases camaraderie and finally gives everyone the pat on their backs that they deserve and crave. I will be the first to admit that I forget to link back sometimes but I try very hard to make sure that I do not overlook that detail.

I really wish others would do the same.

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Comments

  1. Donncha O Caoimh (2 comments.) says:

    Those planet sites are really annoying, but it’s really something when they send a trackback or ping to my site because I linked to an archived post on my blog. I find that the blog search engines are a good way of monitoring those sites. Just setup a search for your domain and copy the rss feed into bloglines or your favourite reader.
    Recently I found that my thieving duck photo was used in an email being sent about! Thankfully snopes.com have linked back to the original post. Sometimes this theft of content it pays off when a popular site picks up the story and links back :)

  2. TechZ (11 comments.) says:

    Stealing information & content has become too easy. I haven’t been splogged (yet), but I’m sure many have and don’t even know it. It has been a huge problem for many bloggers from the recent slew of posts about ‘how to protect’ their content. I really don’t see how hard it is to just leave a link back to the original story.

  3. Paul Strauss (1 comments.) says:

    I often find information on other blogs that is interesting, and I sometimes will paraphrase or make mention of those articles. Do you think it’s enough that I do “via” links at the bottom of my articles (and sometime inline hyperlinks as well), or do you think that I need to do more. I certainly NEVER take credit for the originating article or copy and paste content, however, I often will report on stories that others have reported on prior to me.

  4. Andreas (19 comments.) says:

    I can bring a couple of good examples as well. Just imagine how fun it is to wake up a sunny day and read the morning e-mail just to find a message that says “Copyright Violator!!!”, telling me that I have stolen the design in [put any of my templates or themes here] from [put a random site here]. “This is a crime, and if you don’t delete the stolen design and write a public apology I will hand this over to [insert any agency or law firm here]!”. One american tech company gave me 24 hours to comply, or FBI would knock on my door. Yeah…

    But knowledge about the problem is a good step forward in preventing it in the future. Thanks for writing about it, i hope more people will do the same.

  5. dawn (1 comments.) says:

    I recently found some of my photography on a commercial site. They had, in effect, stolen it. It took 3 different emails and a threat to bring action against them to get them to even respond to me and then pay me for the usage (my photography isn’t Creative Commons and if it were, it wouldn’t be for commercial use).

    I think these reminders are always good ones. We all work really hard at what we do and it’s nice to get that acknowledgement.

  6. Crystal (4 comments.) says:

    Thankfully the only time I’ve ever found anything of mine used without my permission was several years ago when I stubled upon Fleshbot and noticed that their logo uses some artwork (pretty much safe for work) that I’d made a year or so earlier. After 1 nasty post on my blog and a somewhat more polite email, we got my name in their credit section. Oh, and some splog using a post where I mentioned a concrete patio, of all things.

  7. Reaper-X (2 comments.) says:

    if it’s for me, i always check their TOS first and see if i can copy some of their content first, but if they already said that you cant copy any part of their website, i always choose to give a direct link back without copying any aspect of their website

    But yes, i’ll appreciate if everyone can do something like give a link back and mention the author of that post first …

  8. Dana (1 comments.) says:

    First, absolutely first, you have to have a copyright notice on your site. While, technically, anything you write yourself is your own held copyright, if you don’t have a notice on your site stating that the material is copyrighted and the terms of quotation and usage, you are being neglegent in your duty to yourself.

    And you can’t combitch about having material stolen if you aren’t careful about stealing other people’s material! I’m sure everyone here links and backtracks to the sources they use, but you also need to be familiar with the copyright restrictions on the material you use, and the “fair use” standard from quoting from a copyrighted source.

    I haven’t noticed any of my material having been “splogged” — but maybe that’s because I just don’t get enough traffic for people to steal anything!

  9. Joseph Lindsay (2 comments.) says:

    Build a link in to each post. e.g. <p>This story originally published by <a href=”http://weblogtoolscollection.com/”>Weblog Tools Collection</a>. © Copyright blah blah…</p>

  10. greg (1 comments.) says:

    A plugin for your feed may help to combat the problem. This WP plugin automatically inserts a (customizable) copyright into your feed.

    While it won’t cure your woes, it can help in the battle.

  11. TigerTom (1 comments.) says:

    At the risk of being accused of self-promotion, this might help:

    http://www.tigertom.com/writes.....tent.shtml

  12. Michele (2 comments.) says:

    Splogs are annoying, but they’re automated. What really annoys me is the manual rip offs, such as the one that I had issues with in the last week



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] The following clip is from a post featured in the Weblog Tools Collection, dealing with the lack of attribution and problem of plaigiarism on the Web today. It’s something any even remotely successful site has to deal with at some point. As for me, I’ve only had to deal with it a couple of times, but most of the time the issues have been resolved without much confrontation. I really like the word attribution and I find the lack of attribution disturbing. I bring this up because there are thousands of websites that absorb and regurgitate information published elsewhere for monetary gain without so much as a line stating where the original item was published. I used to have a major problem with them until I realized that there were just too many to deal with. There are lots of very good resources on how to deal with content theft. I applaud and support Lorelle and everyone conrcerned in their efforts. […]

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