The blogosphere: too big to measure?
This blogger has been unsuccessful thus far in accessing publicly available hard data documenting blogosohere plagiarism’s incidence (there is tantalizing proprietary information at plagiary.org). Ideally, such data would include examples discovered by plagiarism detection tools, as well as by alert readers. However, 2008 estimates the blogosphere’s size worldwide reached 60 million. This is no doubt higher today, with 120,000 blogs started daily.
The only truly reliable numbers reside with indexers and search engines (e.g., Google). They are not sharing.
See for yourself!
However, a proxy measure of scope is readily available, and without recourse to plagiarism detection tools. Diligent searching on any topic, e.g., “plants in Lakota folklore,” soon reveals apparent duplication between web pages. (Whether malicious, or even intentional, is unknowable).
Bloggers need to use plagiarism detection tools!
However, a writer needs to be vigilant in actually applying these plagiarism detection tools to protect themselves. Although imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, most bloggers prefer to be cited correctly. Correct attribution, in addition to not triggering plagiarism detection tools, is highly desirable:
- Increases credibility
- Drives readership
Consequences when undetected, or when plagiarism detection tools search out the theft.
Plagiarism is not a victimless crime in the era of plagiarism detection tools. Any unattributed borrowing damages the victim in practical ways. Plagiarism detection tools may pick up the original post, but may not be analyzed with human understanding closely enough, to distinguish which came first. The results for the legitimate author?
- Content blocked
- Content deleted
- Personal discreditation.
The argument could be made that since blogging is usually for love, not money, stealing is a trivial infraction. Nonsense! Parents nurture for love, and we recognize the value of their work. Besides, many bloggers are being paid now. They need plagiarism detection tools as surely as a keyboard. When stealing is discovered, whether by helpful readers or through plagiarism detection tools, concomitant commiserating posts and tweets proliferate.
- In one case, the plagiarizer’s real identity was identified by plagiarism detection tools. He was castigated publicly (at least in the hermetic space of the business blogging universe).
- In the other case, the injured blogger privately requested the alleged plagiarizer to withdraw. There was some doubt as to the alleged offender’s identity, a uniquely blogospheric phenomenon. This anonymity undercuts plagiarism checking software’s effectiveness.
Punishment, when plagiarism checking software has identified copying, includes:
- verbal scourging with the vocabulary of a less humane era
- Links wished to be “dead”
- “expose as a fraud”
- “die plagiarists”
- Damaged business reputation
- Potential negative impact on firm’s or sponsor’s sales
- Court action, just as in print plagiarism
Plagiarism detection tools for prevention and discovery
Here are some plagiarism detection tools to try:
- Google Alerts, of course
These all work much the same way as other plagiarism detection tools. You enter a piece of text or a URL and the plagiarism detection tool looks for and reports on matches. These plagiarism detection tools (except Google), can add a warning watermark to your content. Copygator also turns color when the plagiarism detection tool detects copying. The webpage says that its plagiarism detection tool is powered by the feed spider.
These plagiarism detection tools were working currently. All of these plagiarism detection tools are free to use at this time. If the pattern of other web services is followed, this could change. Blogging is fun and informative. The temptation to copy is seductive. Be assured, however, there are powerful plagiarism detection tools to help identify it. Follow-up is another matter!