6 May 2007 - Madison, Wisconsin
There's a line in Good Will Hunting that I'll paraphrase. In a scene where the "townies" are having a bar encounter with the Ivy League rich kids, Matt Damon's character (Will) is exchanging some not-so-harmless banter with a clearly over-matched college kid . Will is laying it on about how the rich kid is trying to impress the ladies about the philosophies he learned this semester, then tells him what he'll be yapping about next year, and the next, etc like a parrot - the rich kid retorts that Will's kids will be serving HIS kids burgers in a few years.
Will replies with two classic lines, stating, "Yeah, but at least they won't be "un-original." And then says in the same breath, "You got a problem with that?"
Well, I got a problem with that. Plagiarism sucks. It's un-original. It hurts our community, our integrity as a public information source, our marketing efforts, and it hurts the rankings on AR and Localism of people producing legitimate blogs. I don't care if a guy writes mini-blogs or posts real estate listings (some are quite interesting), pictures, or movie posters for points. The AR point system is open and works well that way.
But direct plagiarism is a lie. And accepting comments or praise about a plagiarised blog is a worse lie. And responding to these comments as the blogger and author is...well, it's deplorable. And it's sad.
Jeff Turner recently posted a blog about this. There are laws, rules, and liability issues. Some people might not know what plaigerism is, but they sure know when something posted it isn't theirs. To take credit for such posts is a bit over the top.
Case in Point: I've found a Blogger that has posted over a dozen plagiarised blogs in the past few weeks. The blogs come directly from content pages and reports from ALAMODE XSites, word for word, graphic for graphic. Cut and Paste without reference or source. The ALAMODE End User Licensing Agreement allows for the use of this material only on their server. Unless ALAMODE owns Active Rain, this is not happening.
SO now, what to do.
- I could ignore (the best move), but I don't like to see people duped and spend most my radio time unspinning and de-hyping the garbage in our industry, so that won't work for me completely.
- I could FLAG the blogs - I did, 14 of them from one blogger in the past two weeks or so. Waited, pondered, and sought advice before doing even this. (BTW - No visible results from the FLAGS yet.)
- I could name the blogger or cite the blogs - would that be ugly enough for us all?
- I could blog the AR network and hope the subject blogger sees the post and adjusts. Benefit of the doubt stuff - could be an honest mistake. No harm no foul. Etc.
So what is my responsibility here?
Who are the victims?
Is this petty or important?
What would you do?
I really don't care if points are docked or if the offense is made public. What I want is for the blogs to be removed. They are lies. In the scheme of things, this means NOTHING. But in the AR community, it should mean SOMETHING - but what?
This blog may be a waste of time - even unpleasant and small - but at least it's "not un-original."
Of course now I have to go back and check all my stuff (hope it's OK - let me know what you find).