Plagiarism Must Stop - But What to Do?

By
Mortgage and Lending with On the Outside Lookin' In

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. I could name the blogger or cite the blogs - would that be ugly enough for us all?
  4. 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).

Art Blanchet

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Larry Morris

I also have written on this and have come across obvious instances. It is one thing to post permissable content and give credit. It's completely different to take copywrited material and present it in a manor that makes it appear as if it's yours. Even posting an article with credit is against copywrite rules. It's no different then taking a magazine to a copy machine. Trust me, I've done it and been called out by it's owner. He found my post on the internet.

I have an alamode site and the reason I don't post their articles is that they even tell me it's spam.

My solution? Do not let anyone post a blog until they have read a tutorial and taken a very short quiz.

May 07, 2007 08:38 AM #29
Rainmaker
72,936
Larry Morris
HomeServices Lending - Newberg, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073
I posted the above while I was logged out. Now I'm logged in.
May 07, 2007 08:40 AM #30
Rainer
47,172
Jeff Fulgham
T.U.P. Realty - Tupelo, MS
Broker E-Pro ABR

If ya aint got nothing to say dan't blog.

May 07, 2007 08:41 AM #31
Rainer
22,866
Allison Werner
To Be Announced - Middletown, NJ

Someone who is copying and pasting not only makes themselves look bad here, but also look bad to a consumer. If a consumer is looking at agent's profiles, and see their blog is all copied, hopefully they won't give the offender any business.

May 07, 2007 09:17 AM #32
Rainmaker
512,250
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan, NYC

Jeff Link wrote:

I have e-mailed about stolen content and nothing gets done. I guess it's alright to steal from someones profile and make a blog about it.

Did someone copy your profile and write a blog? I just clicked on your profile and it is blank. Did you take it down?

 Several years ago before I had a blog a new agent in my office copied my bullet points from my profile to her profile on our company website. I really liked her so I never said anything instead I changed my profile and made it even better. The way I look at it imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

May 07, 2007 09:25 AM #33
Rainer
53,549
Art Blanchet
On the Outside Lookin' In - Sebastian, FL
Stranger in a Warm Land

Larry Morris - Loan Officer, Sherwood Oregon

Larry.  You are correct - you need to be careful.  I cut/pasted a Tom Domin article about Tiger Woods investing in himself.  Tom had given me permission (I hung on to THAT email) and later thanked me in a separate email.  But I cited Tom as the author in the beginning of the post and never claimed it as mine.  My goal was to present something of interest AND to promote Tom.

I will say this - in my own opinion it was still a CHEAP post.  I had done nothing and got something. 

I believe I have since read that the best way to cite another's work is to intro it and provide a hyperlink to the original post or article.  That way you've shared, not copied, and the link to the other site helps his search engine rankings.

Thanks for commenting.

Wendy Forsyth

Thanks Wendy.  Glad your company does that for you.  If someone wants to track down 29,000 blogs they can figure out who I've written about, but no names were mentioned here, though the temptation was there for a few reasons.  I've owned websites that were templated and that allowed content reproduction.  I checked with mine (ALAMODE) - it is not one of them.  But that's not the entire point - it's the glory-grabbing that is worse. 

Remember Jessica Lynch from the War in Iraq?  The government and press wanted to paint her portrait as a heroic fighting machine.  Imagine the pressure she was under to just go along for the ride!!  She didn't.  She set the record straight, and the potential rewards sacrificed through her honesty (books, movies, jobs, public speaking, etc) far exceeded a few Active Rain points. 

I know I can do better, especially if I start with the small stuff.

Art

 

May 07, 2007 09:51 AM #34
Rainer
150,001
R. B. "Bob" Mitchell - Loan Officer Raleigh/Durham
Bank of England (NMLS#418481) - Raleigh, NC
Bob Mitchell (NMLS#1046286)

If somebody is just looking to boost their points, they can do what any number of other posters here do.  Write a 3 line post or talk about one of their listings or something else mundane.  Why do they steal other people's work?  I don't get it?

 

Bob Mitchell

ValueList 

May 07, 2007 10:09 AM #35
Rainer
122,017
Christy Powers
Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners - Pooler, GA
Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent
That is truly horrible. I don't understand why people do it. They haven't been able to fool many people here. You all have great eyes!
May 07, 2007 10:49 AM #36
Rainmaker
68,369
Jeff Link
Asheville, NC
"Your Asheville Real Estate Link"
Mitchell: Not mine but some one elses from the same area. Read Mark Phillips land rover blog post then read the bottom of Bill Kaminer's profile wow the both have the same writing style.
May 07, 2007 11:22 AM #37
Rainmaker
865,940
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Art... you know how I feel about this. The real question here is what do we do when the flags don't work, and they don't, and emails to the AR gang don't result in any action? The guidelines clearly state that we aren't to police ourselves, so, it seems to me, the only thing to do is call them out without being slanderous. The truth is it's own defense. Is it discipline to say, in a matter of fact way, the following posts were lifted directly from another site? That's not discipline... that's information. Just my opinion.

I'd love to see someone from AR chime in here.

May 07, 2007 11:28 AM #38
Rainer
53,549
Art Blanchet
On the Outside Lookin' In - Sebastian, FL
Stranger in a Warm Land

Jeff Turner

Jeff - I do know how you feel about this - and "feel" is the correct word.  It seems as though people want a place where there's fairness and openness somewhere outside the family cocoon, so we do feel strongly when disappointed or betrayed.  It's visceral.

I emailed AR and received a response that there would be changes in the FLAG system "next week."  There might be a longer lag than that, I guess - baby-sitting 29K might be a huge task and maybe the timetable was underestimated.  I think the 5-group post limit is an attempt to restore order and I see a tightening of group posting rules by some Founders.  Maybe more change is forthcoming.  I've been here less than two months and the membership is up over 45% in that period, so there could be a "so many blogs, so little time" situation AR is dealing with.

A few decades ago I knew a few Ham Radio guys.  They told me if they found an unlicensed Ham, they would track him down (triangulate?) and a bunch of them would show up in cars in front of his house and honk the horns until he took down his system.  They said it was quite effective. 

So you're idea of a simple "call out" sounds reasonable.  If it's not malicious, vicious, or slanderous, it might be that "informative" approach that's needed.  Perhaps a group entitled, "I'm Telling Mom!" would be a good source check as "comments" could be deleted.

Thanks.

Art

 

 

May 07, 2007 11:52 AM #39
Rainer
33,483
Aimee Ghimire
Phoenix Home Loan Expert (www.aimeeloans.com) - Phoenix, AZ

Art,

This is a serious issue in my mind. If AR doesn't take this seriously then it's credibility will be hampered. I think user generated content sites are great but plagiarism is its worst enemy. If AR doesn't take this seriously then its future is in doubt.

Thanks,
Shailesh

May 07, 2007 12:22 PM #40
Ambassador
529,066
Rich Jacobson
Keller Williams West Sound Realty - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker
Blogging even rhymes with flogging.
May 07, 2007 12:28 PM #41
Rainer
53,549
Art Blanchet
On the Outside Lookin' In - Sebastian, FL
Stranger in a Warm Land

Jeff Link "The Asheville Real Estate Guy"

Jeff - I checked that out - that was very interesting. 

Maybe they were twins separated at birth?

Sometimes I just spin on my chair 10 or 12 times, grab for the keyboard, close my eyes and type - once I did and found I'd written the entire Declaration of Independence verbatim.  My cat did it too.  Coincidence?

May 07, 2007 12:37 PM #42
Rainmaker
298,083
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Team of Paradigm AdvantEdge - Edmond, OK
Realtor

Art, thanks for bringing this to the forefront once again. I too have posted on this very subject, as have most of the responsible, contributing members of our community. It makes me sick to see such theft going on and running rampant. I take a great deal of pride, time & energy in putting together a good blog and it infuriates me to see someone come along and just lift it to use as their own, as if there's nothing wrong with it. Thieves! Scum! I could go on, but I won't.... at least not right now. Nice post!

May 07, 2007 01:14 PM #43
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

3 Dittos:

  1. Flagging doesn't get results
  2. Email doesn't get results
  3. AR is apt to be viewed by outsiders as 'non-authoritative'.

It's my understanding that pasting an entire article (not just one reference sentence with a link), is still plagiarism IF the original author hasn't given written permission. For example, if an agent pastes an entire article from a city's web site, and says it's from that city's web site, IMO that is plagiarism, since it's unlikely permission was obtained from the city to paste an entire page. Am I correct?

May 07, 2007 01:19 PM #44
Rainmaker
512,250
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan, NYC
Jeff Link, That is quite amazing. I don't even know what to say except kudos to Art for this post. I had not realized it was so blatant. Plagiarism does suck.
May 07, 2007 02:46 PM #45
Rainmaker
298,083
Ryan Hukill - Edmond
ShowMeOKC Team of Paradigm AdvantEdge - Edmond, OK
Realtor
Guys, I have actually called out a few posters who've I've found to have copied and pasted. Of course, I've never received any kind of response but my hopes are that just my noticing and bringing to the attention of others is enough deterrent to prevent that particular member from doing it again. Let me add though, any time I have done so, I have also provided a link to the original material in my comment, so others can see exactly where it came from. I know if it were me, I'd be too embarrassed to show my face again.
May 07, 2007 04:35 PM #46
Rainer
452,137
Jacqulyn Richey
Prominent Realty Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate
Art, it stealing plain and simple. If someone is so lazy as to steal a blog post, what will happen when thousands of dollars is involved? Is that type of person the kind of person you want representing the industry?  I just dealt with the same issue. This guy copied several pages from my site, verbatim. Its probably the 10th time its happened to me and there are several members listed here that have stolen content from me in the past.  One went so far as to steal from someone else after he removed my content. I say give them the chance to remove it themselves. If they don't, all bets are off. -Charles
May 07, 2007 05:15 PM #47
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anubis
Hard to follow what motivates.
May 16, 2007 02:18 PM #48
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