Sunday, January 15, 2006

Blog Raiders

Here's an interesting question someone e-mailed me today before I blew a fuse over paying for editing (posted with permission):

I should save this question for next Friday, but today I read two blog posts elsewhere about some of your techniques. Neither blogger gave you any links or credit. It also was not the first time I've seen that happen to you. What can you do about this?

Not much. Blog links are a courtesy, not a requirement. So far there has been no outright copyright infringement of my posts that I know of (and I did check out the links you sent, kind reader) but if someone were genuinely trying to pass off my work as their own, I'd probably hear about that, too. I'm not what you'd call generic.

Weblogging is about interconnections and information sharing. It's a good idea to credit any source, but the Blog God doesn't strike you down if you don't. You can't copyright an idea, a couple of words, or even a writing technique (and as to the latter, many are just common practice among pro writers.) Also, I think a lot of bloggers simply forget to post the links or aren't aware that it's a courtesy.

Even if they like or use what they read here, some bloggers don't want to link to PBW because of the taint of association and implied endorsement. That sort of thing still holds water in a few parts of the industry, and even more so among blog cliques. You have to do what you think is right for your career, and to get along with your friends, so I understand this and hold no grudges (and if anyone ever wants me to take down a link to their weblog for any reason, just let me know via e-mail and I'll delete it, no questions asked.)

Blogs like mine are easy to raid. I'm not much of a trend-follower, meme-doer or quiz-taker, so I end up writing a lot of my own stuff here. Despite my best efforts to drive you off, you all keep coming back here to read the blog and have interesting discussions. Maybe I should talk about the puppy more often . . .

Seriously, I don't notice that many blog raiders out there, so I don't think it's a huge problem. I think eventually, like James Frey embellishing his memoirs, it will come back to bite those who do in the ass. Why should I waste the energy? Besides, I like seeing my ideas and techniques out there in BlogLand, even if I don't get credit for them. It's a backhanded compliment, but the ideas are way more important than my ego.

17 comments:

  1. The thing is, if a blogger steals from one source occasionally they're not going to have enough material to keep an audience interested. Visitors will end up at the original source when they realise what's going on.
    And if a blogger steals from a wide range of sources to keep visitor interest up, they're only increasing their chances of getting slammed for it.
    Either way, they won't last.

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  2. Without knowing what "techniques" your correspondent is referring to, I can't be sure what I'm about to say is relevant. But here goes.

    In addition to being a writer, I'm an editor and writing coach. For coaching, in particular, I use an amalgam of things I've learned and things I've thought up myself.

    There are only so many general "techniques" involved, so, I often see writing web sites and/or blogs which describe many of the techniques in my repertoire. I just think, huh, someone else finds that useful. Good. Unless I saw one of my handouts being posted verbatim or tailored material from a seminar, I don't worry that someone's stealing my ideas.

    When it comes to techniques, it's like recipes, there are only so many permutations. It's very hard to prove plagiarism of something like that. Also, assuming plagiarism is kind of arrogant. Since you, PBW, weren't the one making the assumption, it's not a slap at you. Just a cautionary note on assuming something has been heisted.

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  3. If someone's going to slap me down or not let me into their blog club because I link to your blog -- screw 'em. I pick my friends. I like your blog. I find value in it. You're unfailingly gracious to me and being on your blog roll is a plus. Thank you.

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  4. Yeah! What Mary Stella said!

    Slightly off topic: I wonder what happened to Laura Lemm's blog, Chromaverbia. (Lemm? Lem?) I enjoyed that one, while it lasted. I think she must have deleted it.

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  5. I like what you've posted about your techniques and like too what you say about the ideas being more important than your ego. I hate the thought of stealing ideas though.
    That being said... Maybe you should post more about the puppy :) Would an occasional puppy story or puppy pic drive hordes of PBW blog readers away? Would animal owners or lovers or haters take over the comment sections, posting for days ever after, spewing their ideas and stories on inappropriate posts? Would the puppy get a large worldwide fan club, full of rabid people with a very complicated club bark and tail wag that must be performed gleefully every day upon rising?
    Here's a vote for just a little more of the puppy, just to see :) I liked the puppy.

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  6. Anonymous3:19 PM

    Hmm. See, I'm not exactly sure what the standard protocol is for linking. I'll sometimes discuss different things that I find in various blogs, but most times I don't link unless someone requests the link OR I think it's vital that the original be read to make sense of what I have to say. I don't lift anyone's material verbatim, but I will refer to discussions I've read or posts I've seen to illustrate my point. I know when writing term papers, the standard is to quote all sources, but I'm writing a blog, not a term paper.

    As for the bit about the lifting of writing techniques... eh, I guess I'm a bit confused on this. There have been MANY times where after working and struggling, I'll come across something that works for me and THEN I'll see a blog post about how someone else has stumbled across that same thing. That makes me excited because it seems more like a case of similar thinking than stealing. I think it someone lifts a post verbatim, that's one thing. But just talking about a technique? They might have come across that on their own or whatever. You never know.

    Is publishing really that much like high school that who you link to can effect your 'popularity'? Bleh, I hated that game in high school. I don't think I'm any more tolerant now.

    Also, I am all about hearing about the puppy. I just nursed my dog through a seizure this morning. He's not doing so hot lately and hearing about someone else's puppy would cheer me up right now.

    Crista

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  7. You're trying to drive us off? Really? Writing more about the puppy won't drive too many of us away. LOL at Mary's comment. I can hear it now. The PBW Puppy Fan Club, complete with secret bark and paw shake. And since you're calling him "Buddy" the PBW Buddy Fan Club has at least two meanings. This could get entirely out-of-paw, resulting in the puppy having to go into counseling.

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  8. Is publishing really that much like high school that who you link to can effect your 'popularity'?

    May I present the evidence?

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  9. Just an FYI, Laura Lemm's weblog no longer exists, so I took down the dead link. That was the reason for that.

    Crista wrote: Is publishing really that much like high school that who you link to can effect your 'popularity'?

    Oh, Lord, publishing is high school, all over again. The cliques are the same. The ranking games are the same. The boys are still the same; they just drive better cars and have less hair. The petty little bitches are exactly the same. I should do a parody post on it sometime....

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  10. "You have to do what you think is right for your career, and to get along with your friends, so I understand this and hold no grudges (and if anyone ever wants me to take down a link to their weblog for any reason, just let me know via e-mail and I'll delete it, no questions asked.)"

    Huh? The yelp of amazed joy I let fly the first time I noticed you'd linked to me woke my sleeping toddler nephew from three rooms away. Taint me, baby, one more time...

    "Oh, Lord, publishing is high school, all over again. The cliques are the same. The ranking games are the same. The boys are still the same; they just drive better cars and have less hair. The petty little bitches are exactly the same. I should do a parody post on it sometime...."

    Ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease...

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  11. Well, colour me stupid! I thought the blog links were simply because those were the blogs you enjoyed reading, not for some nefarious 'their my friends and if you're not there, you're not' plot.

    I've linked to sites I like, that are helpful, or are simply entertaining. Not many people read my blog, and that's okay, because it's for me; to put my thoughts down. If anyone else is interested, all well and good.

    As for doing a parody, I'm with Selah! (See what you've started?)

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  12. I link, but I'm lazy so I don't link as often as I probably should. :)

    And passing around ideas, I don't really think of it as plagiarism. If there were direct quotes I was using, I'd link then. If I actually remembered where I heard of the idea from, I'll note it.

    Sometimes writers read so many books on writing, or read blogs by writers, you can't really remember who suggested the idea initially.

    I know I have a terrible memory. :)

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  13. Selah, I felt pretty much the same. And PBW not only linked to my blog, she even mentioned it in one of her Monday 10. Got me some traffic, too. ;-)

    I link to blogs I indeed read on a regular schedule. It's nothing personal.

    Publishing like high school? *shudder* I hated high school, I wish homeschooling would be an option in Germany.

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  14. Just an FYI, Laura Lemm's weblog no longer exists, so I took down the dead link. That was the reason for that.

    Yup, I figured (by 'she must have deleted it' I meant Laura, not you! dear me).

    Gabriele, I'll bet you hated high school because they didn't teach fencing.

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  15. Wow, I never knew this stuff about linking to blogs. I linked to you a very long time ago because I liked the things I read here. I think this is my first post here, however. :) I have wondered from time to time how to get linked to by others, but I figured it was just a matter of showing up on other blogs and being interesting. I'm still working on the interesting part. :)

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  16. Doug,
    no, I was bullied all through my school time and it has left me scarred for life. There's a reason I never dated anyone. I don't trust people enough to let them close.

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  17. and can we post a big amen to this....

    "Oh, Lord, publishing is high school, all over again. The cliques are the same. The ranking games are the same. The boys are still the same; they just drive better cars and have less hair. The petty little bitches are exactly the same. I should do a parody post on it sometime...."


    I follow sidebar links from time to time, but just because I visited a blog once, doesn't mean I'll visit it again.

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