Plagiarism on the Net

Anyone who blog posts in the fashion that I do is a plagiarist of some sort. Plagiarism in this case is defined as not citing your source information correctly. Now, keep in mind that my wife is a college professor of technical communication and has lectured me several times on the definition of plagiarism. Do not send me comments about how linking to the website is citation enough. If you paraphrase, quote, mention, or write anything that did not emerge fully formed from your own skull, you are supposed to cite your source. That is where we bloggers fail miserably, because we paraphrase all the time, with only a link-back to justify our actions.

I am not going to change, however. We’re not publishing academically or professionally, and in that case, I believe that my citations are sufficient. There is, however, that breed of site that plagiarizes directly without any attempt to inform the reader that they are doing so.

For example: My last post was about a biofuel alternative. I had two links in my feed reader to this one. I read the first one and found this entry at the bottom.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Wisconsin-Madison.

So I went to the UWM site and read the substantially same information. Then I went to the second site in my feed reader, I found the same information, copied directly from the UWM press release, with absolutely no attempt to alert the reader that this was not written by Biopact. There is even a blockquoted paragraph halfway down, again copied directly from the press release, which would imply to the reader that here is text taken from elsewhere, rather than copied along with the rest of the article.

This sort of activity gives everyone a bad name, and I call on Biopact to not do it. A quick blurb (see my post) followed by a link to the press release would be the acceptable format.

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