Dear You (and you should know who I’m talking to once you read this whole thing),
I wanted to email you this letter privately, but decided not to since past bloggers have tried to give you constructive criticism on your blog via email, but you didn’t react kindly to it.
So now I’m forced to do it this way.
Today, I’m here to teach you a simple lesson.
A lesson called plagiarizing, what it is, and the consequences of doing it.
The definition of “plagiarizing” isn’t that simple. How I define plagiarism is that it’s not as simple as just copying someone else’s writing word from word like other cases of plagiarism I’ve heard about when I first started blogging; plagiarizing is also when you copy someone else’s ideas and don’t credit them for it.
Dictionary.com, of course, puts it way better than I can. According to them, plagiarism is “an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author” and “a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation” (taken from Dictionary.com).
I get it. Sometimes you see a post you’re interested in, maybe even a post that you love, but you feel like you can add more information to it and create/write your own things onwards from there. Here’s where it gets tricky: even though you aren’t copying the other person’s words exactly, you’re still copying their ideas, which is still plagiarizing, no matter what you do.
To avoid plagiarizing, there’s two things I’ll personally suggest you doing:
1. Give the person who you “borrowed” the idea from credit in your post or even better;
2. Ask the person who you “borrowed” the idea from if they can use their idea in your post AND credit them in your post
Now let me get straight to the point – why am I writing this letter about plagiarism to you? What does this all have to do with you? What happened?
I think you know.
Two or three months ago, I was warned about you – how you were stealing ideas from someone and not giving them any credit for it and using it as yours. It went so far as it wasn’t just the person’s words you were stealing, but other things (like thoughts) too. There wasn’t anything the person, also one of my close friends, could do about it; he/she didn’t have enough proof.
It also happens that you were following me on my blog and on twitter.
I was told to watch out for you, so I did. I was now aware of what you were doing: I stopped by your blog once a week and looked at your twitter feed to ensure that you weren’t plagiarizing and on the off-change that you were, I could help my friend gather enough evidence to prove that you were indeed plagiarizing them.
And then it came.
I was alerted to this one particular book review you wrote by coincidence. That’s when I saw this paragraph you “wrote,” sounding mighty similar to a paragraph in one of my past reviews that I wrote. When I saw your review, I blinked, blinked again, and slowly brushed it off, thinking hey, this must be a coincidence right? I’ve read five other reviews for this book before from other people after I wrote and published my own review (I always like to see if I’m the black sheep for particular books or if I’m in the majority for that book). What rose my suspicions was that out of all the other five people’s reviews I’ve read, I’m the only one who mentioned that topic as obvious as it is in my review, but someone could have also wrote about that same idea and expended on it right? RIGHT?
I should have known better, but at that time, I was hoping you didn’t do that, even though a tiny voice in my head practically screamed BEWARE! I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, hoping I could trust you.
Flash-forward one month later. I continued hearing more plagiarizing stuff you were doing. And then today, I finally saw something that cemented all my and my friend’s suspicions. One of “your” posts echoed one of mine that I wrote more than a week ago to an extremely scary degree.
And there was no more denying it.
To make sure I’m not completely paranoid, to make sure that I’m not seeing things wrong, I asked multiple people, hey, is it just me or have I been…plagiarized? I provided links, received feedback, and you, dear person, should know the answer to what they said.
To make things even more undeniable, you unfollowed me from twitter right after you plagiarized from me, the exact same thing you did to my friend. Too bad you forgot to unfollow me via email (although by the time you read this, you might as well have unfollowed me that way too).
To be honest, I should have known better right from the start. Like this particular book that I’ve read a longg time ago (and consequently forgot what book it is) says, there is a no such thing as a coincidence, never mind if it happens more than once, twice, even three times. Now, that’s just pushing it.
The thing is, plagiarizing hurts. I spend quite a long time thinking of ideas, writing them, drafting them, and proofreading them. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this on twitter before – every time I write a review, I need to make at least 20 revisions. (For those of you guys who don’t know, WordPress.org tells us how many post revisions we’ve made.) This letter itself took 33 revisions to write, I kid you not. That’s the equivalent to three, maybe even four hours. I do not deserve, no, nobody deserves to have their hard work taken from them. Nobody.
The sad thing is, it’s not only me you’re plagiarizing from, but from one of my close friends too, the very same friend who warned me about you. You do not know how angry I was when my friend told me that she suspected someone of plagiarizing her. You do not know how angry I was when we figured out that there’s basically nothing we can do before; that we didn’t have enough “solid” concrete proof to accuse you of doing anything. You weren’t there when my friend was mad and even depressed, thinking about quitting blogging even because of what you did.
But I told my friend that you know what? Don’t quit. If you quit, you’ll only let you win.
But, now, I can finally do something now.
I finally have concrete proof and all our evidence put together is just damning.
It turns out we weren’t the only ones you were plagiarizing from too.
But here’s the thing: I’m here to give you the benefit of the doubt because hey, maybe you didn’t know that what you did was considered plagiarizing (although I HIGHLY doubt it). Maybe you didn’t give us credit because you didn’t think you were supposed to (again, I HIGHLY doubt it). Maybe, just maybe you’ll change your ways after reading this letter.
I’ll be nice – you don’t have to delete any of the posts you plagiarized from me (although I doubt you’ll keep them because they’re evidence; not that it matters since I have tons of screenshots of what you plagiarized anyways); the damage is already done. You don’t even have to edit your plagiarized posts and give me some credit. Nope, I’m over it.
But here’s my warning: If I see any of this happening again, because let’s face it, I’ll still be watching everything you do, I will be forced to call you out. No excuses, no second chances, nada. Take this as your first and final warning.
And I will make sure you read this letter. Don’t worry, I have my ways.
Most of all, like Wendy from The Midnight Garden says, plagiarism is not a victimless crime.
P.S. I’m sure many of you who are reading this post this very moment are wondering who I’m writing to, but I’m not going to call anyone out. Give the person a chance to fix their mistakes. However, to the person this post is addressed to, if this continues, I’ll just have to call you out on it.