Did you hear the one about Obama?

Real Estate Agent with HER Realtors

Did you hear the one about Obama?

Urban Legend on ActiveRain

No not a joke about President Obama. Or Nancy Pelosi, former President Bush, former Vice President President Cheney or any politician but an interesting little tidbit... a well written story,  the kind of  1990s urban legend that was in your  email from 5 or 6 well meaning friends who wanted to share... "chain emails", urban legends, jokes, the sort of thing many used to learn how to "cut and paste" and SHARE back in the 90s.

The image above is an ActiveRain post that reads like the majority of the content on a blog called Attack Machine:

An Urban Legend but Illustrative Nonetheless  which says  "This urban legend came in an email. It still makes a good point." 

Do points make a difference...

The point is there are points for original content on the ActiveRain Network.  The post  Did you hear the one about ... is about jokes on ActiveRain.  ActiveRain does not give points to jokes, recipes, quotes....  You can tell a joke share a recipe but the majority of the content in the post is supposed to be original content.  There is a guideline that the majority of the post needs to be original to take the points.  There is a button to NOT take points if you are just sharing unoriginal content.  Your post gets the no point symbol.  A yellow dot with a red X.  Some call it the Kersplat.

Politics is allowed on ActiveRain

Do you like politics on ActiveRain?  Some really, really do.  Some "not so much."  Nothing wrong with that.

The same  urban legend that Attack Machine shared with his / her readers was shared on ActiveRain, the member did not take the Kersplat (acknowledging it is NOT your content but you have permission to share it.) 

Googling the six paragraphs on an ActiveRain post:

Results 1 - 10 of about 615 for "An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class". (0.32 seconds)

Results 1 - 10 of about 12,800 for "..." (0.43 seconds) second paragraph on ActiveRain word for word!

Results 1 - 10 of about 762 for "..." (0.35 seconds) third paragraph on ActiveRain word for word!

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,010 for "..." (0.39 seconds) fourth paragraph on ActiveRain word for word!

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,810 for "...". (0.33 seconds) fifth paragraph on ActiveRain word for word!

The last paragraph:

Results 1 - 10 of about 777 for "All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.". (0.33 seconds)

It took Google approximately 3 1/2 minutes to find hundreds of matches word for word for the six paragraphs shared by an ActiveRain member.

The same urban legend on Snopes.com Social Injustice. 

Points for urban legends?

Common?  Is a lot of the political stuff shared on ActiveRain just copy and paste?  Why?

Do you flag stuff like this?  Not necessarily the political stuff but when you recognize someone sharing a heart warming story that originated from one of the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' books, do you flag it?

The point is politics, jokes, recipes, quotes, urban legends are OK to share but they are pointless unless you flesh out the post.   ActiveRain oughta have a law against posting - a poll from long ago


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 02/26/2010 10:36 PM
ActiveRain Community
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Plagiarism and Content Theft for Fun and Profit!
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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Maureen * this post was originally put on a non-related group and I asked the writer to remove it which he did.

This is very good and I have re-blogged to several of the more active political sites....thank you.

Feb 26, 2010 10:39 PM #1
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

Unforunately no matter how often you flag someone who has stolen content from other websites it doesn't seem to make a difference. Most of us can name at least one Active Rain blogger who's content is 90% purloined from other sources.  No acknowledgement of the source, no kersplat and still their points climb.  Even worse they take the kudos for their content as if it is their own.  Arrrggghhh.

Feb 26, 2010 10:47 PM #2
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Wallace  I saw your Re-Blog and I appreciate you posting it to political groups... I think.   It is not meant to attack political groups or what they share with one another.  Then again the poll from 2007? 2008? was not meant to mean that I thought anything should be "Outlawed" on ActiveRain but some members got all bent out of shape that their free speech was under attack. 

It is not a free speech issue.


Feb 26, 2010 10:47 PM #3
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Cindy I think beause of those people you have to keep repeating this for new members. I hate to see new members who are confused because they see "everyone doing it"  but get bent out of shape when someone tells them it is against a guideline.  

I don't think most people  join ActiveRain to learn how to harvest good stories, jokes, recipes  to share they join it for real estate but then they see people sharing content that is not original and being rewared for it.  

No one says  "hey that sounds familar" in the comments.  They say "Great post thanks for sharing" or "We learn so much on ActiveRain."  A lot of the copy and paste on ActiveRain is good real estate content,  not the writers but they are sharing....   some with good attribution.

There are three separate issues all covered by a guideline:

Chicken Soup for the Soul type stories are common email forwards. They are posted on a lot of stand along blog sites now.  Many times there are Google ads slapped on them.  Is some of the political stuff copyrighted?  Who knows. 

It is up to the copyright holder to find their content.  Quoting from the guidelines:

  • Respect copyrights. Only upload content/images that you have the right to use (what you have paid for or own), and whose copyright rules allow for commercial use.


  • Do not plagiarize (copy and paste) content from another source, and publish it as your own. You must obtain expressed permission from the original source to republish, and give reference to such within the body of your post. Permission to re-print is NOT the same as permission to re-publish. This also applies to publishing other real estate listings that are not your own.

If the point of sharing is that it makes a good point, the ActiveRain member has thousands of sites on the Internet to link to... it is not like it is an obscure scholarly work... it is all over the Internet and now shared on ActiveRain because it is such a great story. 

The member could have used a link to the post on Attack Machine or any  of the other sites, shared a paragraph or two.  Written a paragraph or two about what the story means to him and that could make it majority original content.  The post on Attack Machine... a stand alone blog (no points, no competition) and he shared what the urban legend means to him.


Although the points are ingenious I think they are the root of MOST of the problems on ActiveRain.



Feb 26, 2010 11:12 PM #4
Gordon Lane - selling homes in Sacramento and Yolo Counties
Virtual Realty Group - Sacramento, CA


Thanks for taking the time to write about this issue. People dropping in generic comments for points are my particular irritant. The "Great post, thanks for sharing" comments that add nothing to the conversation and show no proof that the "commenter" even read the post. Sure, I could do that - drop 10 comments on Active Rain each morning and get my 250 points - but I wouldn't be contributing anything to the community. People who do that are shameless, I have no respect for them, and would *never* do business with them.

Feb 26, 2010 11:49 PM #5
Lori Cain
eXp Realty - Tulsa, OK
Midtown Tulsa Real Estate Top Producer

I don't really care if others want to copy/paste, plajorize or otherwise on Active Rain as long as they keep it in "Members Only" section. Consumers (and Google) see Active Rain as an authoritative site and expect good content here. If someone is just trying to get points, then they don't "GET the point" of posting on AR.

And, I agree with Gordon about the comments. Some days I get in three comments - other days I get in twenty - it just depends on my schedule.

Jeezzz - we're all adults and professionals. Why can't everybody just play by the rules and do what's right?

As far as posting political stuff . . . unless it deals with the real estate industry, go find a political blog!

Feb 26, 2010 11:57 PM #6
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Maureen,  I agree.  I've seen that one many times.  I love it but you shouldn't get points for it without adding to it somehow.  Also, you really should link to an original source or at least say how you came across it.

I have a friend who sends out many of these urban legends and political emails.  Unfortunately, many are filled with half truths or big omissions of critical information.  Many times I get ready to pass it on to someone but then I take a minute to look into it a little more and find out that it's really misleading.  I hate that.  The truth is usually crazy enought that you don't have to distort things.  Now, unless I see sources to back stuff up, I usually just ignore it.

As far as political stuff goes... until government stops intruding into my personal and financial life, I will feel that it is my duty to talk about it and maybe somehow persuade others in some fashion.  At least they won't be able to claim ignorance.  Government spending and deficits affect interest rates which affect real estate.  It's all connected so I think it is all fair game here at ActiveRain.  I think that when the government finally declares bankruptcy and we need a new monetary system, somehow I think that will affect all of us in real estate. 


Feb 27, 2010 12:17 AM #7
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

I rarely flag posts like this but I should.

Of course I get these all the time via email, from relatives, friends etc...

I always check them on Snoops and then if they are wrong send the link back to the sender. I never forward w/o checking.

No one should get points for copying content.

Feb 27, 2010 12:31 AM #8
Karen Hurst
Rhode Island Waterfront!

Be original!  All of the time! Period!   That is the point!     

I personally do not like political posts because so many times I read "misinformation" from people who have no idea what they are talking about and cannot back up their claims.  Those types of posts actually "scare me" because so many people believe it if its in print!  Reading the comments on these types of posts....well, it doesn't matter what I think. Suffice it to say, I do not think political posts bring in clients.

However, I feel any original post, if posted in the correct group or channel, that follows the AR guidelines should be accepted. There are times when a post has gone Kersplat, that in my opinion should have been accepted.  I also think that when a post gets the big X, an email should go out as to why.   Yes everyone should read the guidelines, but not everyone does and some people have left because of the X.   And just about everything is, in some way, related to Real Estate.

If a group moderator removes a post an email goes out within seconds. So the X factor should have the same rules with a simple explanation.

There also should be a couple more on the Kersplat team so this doesnt happen as often!



Feb 27, 2010 12:44 AM #9
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Gordon  The GPTFS and Robotic Point Pig comments (Patent Pending J. Philip Faranda's phrase)  really, really bug me... they always have and always will.  Cut and Paste content with GPTFS and Robotic Point Pig comments is all a lot of the RE industry sees when they look at AR, which is sad.  Even a lot of formerly active ActiveRain members will cite this as a reason they've decided not to participate.  Possibly just a handy  exuse... but you can NOT deny it's here.

Lori wrote: "I don't really care if others want to copy/paste, plajorize or otherwise on Active Rain as long as they keep it in "Members Only" section"

Now that's an interesting perspective.  If someone in your market was amassing points on Cut and Paste content and they were ranking above you but a big portion of their content was invisible  (Members Only) it would not bother you?   Do you think it would bother the average member?  New members?

Could AR enforce that?   It would really be pretty nice if a Kersplat made it Members Only from that point of view but... 

Would it make it more difficult for new members to understand the dynamics of blogging?


Tim at the very bottom of the Snopes article it says it comes from an older urban legend...  I think I must remember the old urban legend because believe me NO one forwards me urban legends anymore.  I am a such a total killjoy when it comes to forwarded email.  Jokes, urban legends, chain email.  And it's not because back in 1993 or 1994 I was doing it just like everyone else... and I remember who told me to cut it out...

I think those who want to talk politics on ActiveRain, Facebook, Linkedin,  via email, on any forum or on street corners should always have every right to do so.  Katerina in Florida had a great post a month or so ago about politics. I think at the time some were saying ActiveRain was not a good place for politics. If people enjoy sending and receiving urban legends, jokes and chain emails they should knock themselves out.   If they want to cut and paste jokes, urban legends, recipes take the Kersplat.

Points make ActiveRain different.

I could do things on my WordPress.org blog I can't do here because of points...

Missy  -  The hardest thing for me is when clients or SOI are into forwarding "good messages."

Karen -  I am not going to start posting politics personally.  I think some stuff gets Kersplats accidently.  Jeremy told me it does when he was an AR employee.

Feb 27, 2010 01:47 AM #10
John Novak
Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace - Las Vegas, NV
Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate

Until the AR Team makes fighting plagiarism the number one priority it's still going to continue. I would be curious to know how many posts get flagged per day or week. If they include the link to the original content, they should only take 1-2 minutes to process.

Feb 27, 2010 12:05 PM #11
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Wonder why don't they put a bounty on plagiarized content... give points for flagging it.  I can get 10 points for reporting spam but nothing for flagging unoriginal content and providing a link to the content online.


Feb 27, 2010 02:36 PM #12
Maggie Dokic | Miami, FL | 305.81.HOUSE (46873)
eXp Realty LLC - Miami, FL
GREEN, CDPE, SFR, Pinecrest | Palmetto Bay |

Maureen, I think you gave people too much credit.  80 percent never learned to copy and paste in the 90's.  All they did was forward the darn thing and in turn, disclose dozens of email addresses to those on their distribution lists.  Another pet peeve of mine.


Feb 27, 2010 10:11 PM #13
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Maureen, I love the point you made about putting a list of the amount of posts that are plagarized or cut and paste.  Three enough?  I saw one member with over six.   Obviously someone complained and they removed the points but the copied content was stil there and I can't imagine why after all those warnings they are not removed.

Many political posts (imho) are just meant to start something.  I steer clear.

Feb 27, 2010 11:43 PM #14
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Maggie We were talking about the email forwarders at breakfast this morning. 

Carole I don't think unless AR gets a DMCA from the owner of the content they will remove the content.  If it is copy and paste of another members post that may be different.  They just give a Kersplat, but just because someone has Kersplats does not mean it is plagiarism.  Just not original content.

 I steer clear of the political posts. I can not remember how I ever noticed this one.  Thanks to Wallace Re-Blogging this post it is posted in groups I never thought my content would be in:

Post is included in group: Tea Party
Post is included in group: Silent Majority
Post is included in group: Proud to be a Liberal
Post is included in group: Politics And Real Estate
Post is included in group: Fight Socialism: ActiveRain Economic Bailout Group



Feb 28, 2010 05:04 AM #15
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Many political copy and paster's on activerain believe the "end justifies the means" Members of the same political ideology condone and congratulate the copy and paster with encouraging comments.

I consider it political spam.

Mar 07, 2010 02:32 PM #16
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate


Mar 07, 2010 08:42 PM #17
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Maureen - there are few things I find more agonizingly annoying than the serial copy and pasters, and vanilla commenters.  Both types disregard the intent of the founders of the platform and the time and efforts of actual contributing members.  I also believe that claiming ignorance when selecting content as original, i.e. points-worthy, that one did not actually write is asinine excuse that should not work for anyone old enough to drive.  If the AR chose to clean house of what i will simply refer to as thieves - i think the rest of the members will learn rather quickly, but I digress.

As for politics - I dabble, I write my own content, i use sources and link to them.  I don't do it for brownie points, or to get business... I simply have something to say that I guess, at times, needs to be said. Strangely, i have gotten referrals from my political posts. Those were the unintended consequences of original thought :-)

Mar 21, 2010 06:50 AM #18
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Politics is like any other interest, no reason it does not belong here...

Unoriginal content ...I feel sorry for new  members who don't read the directions carefully and see "everyone doing it" and not taking no points... then again I hate the kersplat symbol.

Mar 21, 2010 09:51 AM #19
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