Plagiarism

This is my second blog. I used to blog under a different name until about six weeks ago. I had quite a few followers and some of them commented regularly. I followed their blogs in turn and we became friends, in a way. If you read this, you probably know what I’m talking about. This being the internet, I was aware that I didn’t see the whole picture. But as humans, we never do, so I decided to take things at face value.

Two women at a window, by  Murillo c.1655-1660 [public domain]

Two women at a window, by Murillo c.1655-1660
[public domain]

When a person from outside the WordPress community started to throw around accusations of plagiarism about one of the bloggers I knew, I didn’t know what to think. It was impossible to find out what was going on and within days, the blogger had disappeared. The abusive comments didn’t stop; I got three of them today.

Blogging has enchanted and inspired me. I love to read and write about philosophy and reading the comments of others is something I really enjoy. If I didn’t I’d probably have stopped blogging six weeks ago.

Today, I received another comment concerning plagiarism. This time it wasn’t a rant from an outsider, but a message from somebody who tried to warn me about a blog I referred to. I’ve since deleted the referral to what seemed to be a plagiarised article and I thought it was time to share my thoughts with you, the small group of people that reads this new blog.

I know the internet is not a safe, friendly bubble, but my experiences with blogging at WordPress have been great. To quit blogging just because there are people sending me silly comments and people who engage in plagiarism would mean to disregard all the positive experiences I’ve had up to now.

I’m not prepared to do that, yet.

PS: All comments on this blog are moderated in advance. Any comment that seems inappropriate will not appear in the comments section.

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33 thoughts on “Plagiarism

  1. I recently wanted to listen to a song on YouTube and was flabbergasted to find 162 ‘dislikes’ on it. It was a true classic love song, and I joked to my husband that I think some people are so unhappy in their lives, they run home to their computer after having what they deem as a ‘bad day’ and dislike all of the videos on YouTube.

    Often people will try and squelch your happiness because ‘misery loves company’. I am thrilled to see that you maintain your happiness in spite of them. I love your blog!

  2. I’m not really sure about what did happen…I’m one of those will o’ the wisp bloggers that reads a post, likes it, comments it and may never come by again and rarely go further into a person’s blog than what’s current. This said, I’m sorry that you had the awful experience of finding yourself in the middle of a fight that was not your own. I couldn’t say if the blog in question was plagerized or not, long winded at times, but for the rest, couldn’t say.
    Personally as you saw on my poem today, I’ve come into contact with one of those persons that can only be decribed as sick. He attacked a person who I esteem…then attacked others, I was new to the area so was not in the main of the fight, except for the fact that an air of disharmony had arisen and some people thought that I may have been in cohoots with the crazy guy. Long story short, he then faked his suicide and resurected two days ago. I’m going to take into consideration the moderation for every comment in future. I’ve unfollowed the people involved…but alas, that doesn’t mean I can block them, or rather I don’t know how to.
    All this just to share another reality, similar and maybe shoddier…but I’m not giving my blog up for anything. I’ve worked too hard and love what I’m doing, so I’ll just have to figure out how to protect my blog and myself. Thanks dear for sharing.

    • Thank you for your comment, Bastet! It was never my intention to ask people to decide on who is right and who is wrong. That’s one of the reasons I chose my words so carefully. I just wanted to write a post about the things that make blogging less fun, sometimes.
      I must say that the faked suicide you described is a very extreme case! I think you’ve done the right thing to unfollow the people involved. If I want to see bad news, I read the papers. When I’m blogging, I’m trying to look at the more positive aspects of life.
      Like you suggested, you can moderate every comment in advance. It’s a lot of work but it helps in these cases. Somebody told me that if you blacklist other WordPress-bloggers, you shouldn’t put down their numbers: these are not exclusive anymore so you might block the wrong person by mistake. It’s better to just put down their email addresses. You might have to do that several times if they use different ones.
      I hope we can soon leave all of this behind us and enjoy the reading and writing of a more inspiring kind! 🙂 Keep up the good work, Bastet!

  3. It is sad. I thought of moderating comments because I too get very hash person attacks. I have learn to separate what I write, with who I am. I chose to love and forgive and let them have their way those who wake-up each day with the aim of ridiculing those who think different.

    I am glad that you did not stop blogging. Keep blogging, because I not only enjoy reading your thoughts but edified and challenged to keep thinking differently.

    • Thank you for your comment, Prayson Daniel. I think we have different thoughts about many things, but that’s the point, isn’t it? If we were all 100% in agreement, there wouldn’t be a reason to blog about it. I’m sorry to hear that people see your writing as a reason to attack you as a person. That doesn’t make any sense to me.

  4. You can never be surprised by people’s endless capacity to behave to less than ideal ways. We’re people too of course, but some people are just a bit more willing to give things a little thought. The blogosphere is a strange domain, ubiquitous and invisible all at once. The only thing you can control is your own creative process – once you’ve hit ‘enter’ the apron strings are cut and anything might walk back in your door! Sorry to hear you had such an unpleasant experience.

    • Thank you for your comment, Dara. From what I’ve heard so far, these unpleasant experiences are far more common than I thought. It’s a real pity that all that energy gets diverted from doing more productive things. I don’t want to do that, so after this post I’ll be concerned with other stuff for a good long while. I agree with you that we can only control our own creative processes. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

  5. Hi there! It took me a few moments to realize that you had moved blogs. After reading the above, I don’t know what to say other than that I am sorry. I am not sure what happened, but anything to make you uproot yourself to a new space when the old one was so great, must have been serious, and I really am sorry that you’ve felt compelled to do it at all. I have faith that this new space will be as rich as the old, though, and I will be reading along. I am back home now, trying to get back into the regular writing/reading mode, but after a summer almost entirely away from screens of any kind, it might be a slow return!

    Again, I am not sure what happened, but I am sorry! Whatever the case, I have faith that you’re making the right decision to keep with it. I have always been amazed by how heartfelt and insightful the comments on your page are. You’re a great writer, a great thinker, and people love interacting with you.

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Johannes. I’m really happy to hear from people who followed my other blog. It’s nice that you’re back into blogging after your holidays. I’ve always liked your writing and your beautiful pictures and I’m curious to see what you’ll be writing about next.
      It’s a bit difficult to reply to this comment, because it might sound a bit boring to just exchange compliments, but in this case I guess it just can’t be helped. 🙂

  6. Pipteinpteron,
    Plagiarize is defined as 1. to take and pass off as one’s own (the ideas, writings, etc. of another). If we look at this deeply we find that the totality of our thoughts came from “another.” Every book we have ever read was written by someone else. Every idea we have came from outside of us through assimilation. So in essence every word we utter or write is “plagiarized” in an ultimate sense. The thoughts and ideas we express which are new and original to this world have so much revelatory value that we should not be upset at all, but joyous that others appreciate that value, and convey any new thoughts and ideas to others. This is called spiritual evolution.
    Thank you,
    Jerry

    • Thank you for sharing your opinion, Jerry. I guess it’s nigh on impossible for someone who has not followed this story from the beginning to grasp the details. I also think plagiarism comes in many flavours.

      • Pipteinpteron,
        Nice to meet you, by the way. Just visiting here for the first time. I have not followed this story. My comment was ultra-general. For example Abbie Hoffman, an activist from the Vietnam-era sixties, wrote a book with the title “Steal This Book.” Speaking strictly for myself, without comment on the situation of any other, it does not bother me one iota if someone plagiarizes me. I would be astonished, flattered and humbled that any thought or idea I may have expressed was considered worthy of plagiarizing. I agree with you that the WordPress experience is great. Onward and upward!
        Best thoughts,
        Jerry

        • Thank you for your comment, Jerry. I think it would be a good thing if publishing changed: I hope that in future many more people will be self-publishing and there will be much more information freely available on the internet. I really enjoy the Greek texts and the writings of Nietzsche and Emerson, to name just some of the stuff I often use. I agree with you that we’re often recycling the ideas of others and that there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But I’ve also seen how some people feel cheated, even robbed when somebody uses their texts without referring to them and I want to take that seriously, too. If you have a different view about this, it’s fine with me. It makes the discussion more interesting, so thank you!

  7. It’s amazing to me that anyone reads blogs so closely as to be able to identify these things – plagiarism and so on. After all, they’re not academic essays! I reckon these people should get a life.

  8. Hey lively, it feels bad to know it is harassment by some dimwits on the interweb that led you to start a new blog. It’s also sad that other people can’;t be taken at their words for failing to quote or reference the blogs or authors they are using their work.
    I moderated my comments in the beginning then gave it up.

  9. Hi Pipteipteron,

    There is no logic in this. I can understand that people who have been plagiarised are upset and if they embark on a campaign to force the offender “off the net”, I can still understand that. What puzzles me is that other bloggers like you and others are hardly accountable for this, in particular as we can’t be expected to check and vouch for every person we get in touch with. So why harass them?

    It was very upsetting that you felt forced to abandon a good blog with many interesting followers and an archive of great posts.

    I applaud your endurance and willingness to continue. Before I started here at WordPress I was active at another place until another user felt compelled to harass me to the point that it became a public risk for my job which at that time was very media sensitive. The reason? He felt that my comments were too intelligent. He managed to force me out as I couldn’t risk my company’s reputation, which he had found out after some digging.

    I hope that the harrassers work out that what they do is as bad as plagiarism: they are killing original content!

    Very sad.

    • Thank you for your comment, Genetic Fractals. I’m sad to hear about your previous experience. That is quite shocking!
      I also think that harassment is not a solution in these cases. If a person sends me an abusive comment, they shouldn’t expect me to take them seriously.
      I’ve never experienced being plagiarised myself (perhaps my English would have to be better) but I can imagine how a person would be angry about it. As for solutions: I do know that you can make a complaint to WordPress staff and they will act on it.

  10. Unlike Mordanicus, I don’t know if it’s best to talk about the issue in terms of “trolls”. The first blog pipteinpteron referred to (which was definitely a case of serial plagiarism) was run by someone who frequently talked about the success of his blog (indeed, his initial response to the accusation of plagiarism was to suggest his accuser was jealous of the success of his blog) and who clearly was (or at least acted) very proud of it. It seemed (to me) not like he was malicious but like he wanted a sense of accomplishment and wanted others to respect him, and could stomach the cognitive dissonance of achieving that only by stealing the work of others. But that’s not trolling—it’s just a very sad situation. Sadness, much more than anger or contempt, is what I feel for him. (I admit to feeling a bit of anger at first, but not at the plagiarism itself; rather, at my having been duped by him.)

    The second plagiarist (who may be the same person, I’m not sure) looks like a similar case.

    The initial accuser is, in some ways, the most unsavory character of the bunch—she was clearly morally in the right about the plagiarism, but this turned into a moral highhorsedness that she seems to have taken as giving her the right to bully and abuse others.

    Maybe this is haranguing over terms, but I do think that if we think in terms of “trolls” we’re more likely to feel contempt/disdain where it is perhaps not the right emotion.

    • Thank you for your comment, dyssebeia. I think this sums up how complex the whole thing has become. From my personal experience I’d like to say again that I’ve taken things at face value. If I read people’s articles I assume they wrote them, unless they tell me otherwise. If another blogger writes about their personal experience, I wouldn’t doubt them until somebody proved me wrong. I don’t see a viable alternative to this approach.

      I just can’t imagine googling bits of every blogpost I read to see where it might have been published before, so if I referred to something that has been plagiarised, I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

        • I feel compelled to add that the blogger (who shan’t be named, after all, we’re talking about a blog that doesn’t exist) you wrote about has been kind and helpful to me on quite a few occasions. I will therefore refrain from further comments about this person. It’s one of the reasons I started afresh.

  11. “To quit blogging just because there are people sending me silly comments and people who engage in plagiarism would mean to disregard all the positive experiences I’ve had up to now.”

    Good comment policy is a must for every blogger. Unfortunately there are lot of people on the internet who have nothing else to do, than to annoy other people. If you give in to those trolls, you will loose, so keep up the good work.

    To share one of my favourite quotes:

    “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

    • Thank you for your comment, Mordanicus. Republic of Lagrangia has one of the best and most original comment policies I’ve ever seen. (To be found at republicoflagrangia.org if you don’t mind me putting a link in.)
      And that is one of my favourite quotes, too. 🙂

      • I have been absent in activity on the web for a while, in a grief cycle, occasional writing my only contribution. That said, I did not know about this ugly business but I did notice you changed your username. Anyway, I’m back in the communication loop and am glad you switched lanes and kept going, dodging those who meant harm. The kind of conversation you create through your interests make the www a much richer place.

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