Writing & Blogging

On Plagiarism in Blogging

In my blogging community – from Facebook groups to Twitter – I’ve seen a lot of talk about plagiarism. There was a recent issue with someone copying Regina a lot, which is just awful because she is incredible and works hard to provide information that I haven’t seen anywhere else. So this led me to thinking that there might be some people who don’t understand that plagiarism can occur even if you’re not copying and pasting someone else’s work exactly.

According to Dictionary.com, plagiarism is defined as “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” or “a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation”. As you can see here, it isn’t just about using the exact words of someone else, although that is an aspect; if it “closely [imitates] the language and thoughts of another,” it is plagiarism. Down below, I’m going to get into the different ways something can be plagiarized, as well as what you can do so that your blog is free of plagiarism as a whole.

On Plagiarism in Blogging

Ways You Might Be Plagiarizing

  1. Using their exact language: This is hopefully the obvious part, but you can’t write the exact words someone else wrote without giving them the credit. I have more about how to properly do this below, but for now know that it is stealing to use their exact words.
  2. Rephrasing their words: A lesser known aspect of plagiarism is saying what someone else said but in a different way. You’re still saying what they’re saying; if you don’t disclose that it’s someone else’s idea, then you’re essentially claiming it as your own. And that’s plagiarism.
  3. Being generally inspired by them: This makes things a little trickier. Overall, the right thing is to say whose post or blog inspired you. Also, if you link to their blog and post on social media tagging them, they’re more likely to share your post! Let’s go back to the definition of plagiarism, which says that 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” (Dictionary.com – emphasis mine). So if you write a blog post inspired by someone else’s and it closely imitates the thoughts of that blogger and you’re not building off of it, there’s a problem. Again, the key is to give someone credit. Write a blog post about how another blogger wrote an amazing post and what your thoughts are about that post and link back to them. But don’t spend your post just saying what they said. If you do that, you’re plagiarizing (see point number 2).

How To Credit Someone Else

How To Give Someone Else Credit

  • Exact words: As you saw earlier in this post, quotation marks are the way to go. It’s blogging, so you don’t need to write in MLA or APA format. What you generally need to know about using quotation marks can be seen in the following sentence … “Put exact words between quotation marks,” the blogger said (in her post here). Include in there a link to the post.
  • Rephrasing: If you’re not using exact words, then you don’t need quotation marks. But you still need to include a link to the post or website, and you definitely should explain who said it. Again, if you do not do this, you are basically claiming their ideas as your own. If their ideas are protected under copyright (as most content is), it’s a whole other issue. I could write an entire post about copyright.
  • Being inspired: Say, point blank, that you were inspired by a post or blogger and include a link or two. Your post should be your own unique ideas. If your point is to share someone else’s ideas, just link to the post in social media or something. Otherwise, you’re plagiarizing.

Do you have any questions? How have you handled writing about what someone else wrote? Have you ever been worried about someone writing about your content?

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  • Yes. This is an important subject — thank you for tackling!

    • You are so welcome! I’m glad that others agree that it is important.

  • James322

    Thank you Kate. I’ve been a hawk on this issue for years. A tip for online writers: Grammerly.com has a plagiarism checker. You can paste your own content within the interface and then see all instances of your words being used throughout the internet. So far, I have not found one instance of my own words, somewhere they do not belong. It is comforting. Although the vast majority of those words thieves are republishing only to their college professors. Those instructors are not taking time enough to catch those kids. A whole generation of plagiarizers has been recently born. Its not only immoral, it is destructive to those educations and us. Thanks. BTW: I made a scary graphic to post below all my blog posts, with a skull and crossbones on it – and a the name of threatening plagiarizing non profit on it. This graphic may have prevented many kids in college from stealing my work. I’ll see if the graphic is up, after this post: http://JamesGMason.com

  • This is a great post! Everything that happened last week and over the weekend was such an eye opener for this issue, love that you outlined it a little more clearly!

    xo Bree
    http://bree-west.com

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad that it is clearly laid out. I was shocked when I saw someone (the person who took Regina’s content) say that she didn’t know that you have to give credit even if you’re just inspired by them. This felt like something that isn’t always talked about, and the high school teacher in me was ready and rearing to go!

  • THANK YOU! I think quite often people don’t even realize that what they’re doing might be plagiarism. But I hate when I see something on a blog that is obviously taken from another blog (even if it’s not word for word) and no credit is given!

    • I’m glad you agree! I try to remind myself that there are some people who maybe just never learned that you have to give credit, but it’s hard. Give! Them! Credit!

  • I always try to link back to whomever inspired my posts, and it’s so important to give credit when due! It’s no big deal to share something with your readers from someone else AS LONG AS YOU GIVE CREDIT! Thanks for sharing!!

    The Rad Wife

    • Exactly! And as long as you don’t basically republish their post, especially without their permission. But that gets into copyright and is a whole other problem. Glad that you agree that this is important!

  • These are such great tips! When I get inspiration from another post (even tangentially), I link back because I like to give credit and show my readers other good bloggers!
    I keep reading more “help” comments in private groups because bloggers are finding people plagiarizing them to the point where it is absurd. So, maybe those people could email this post to those other people 😉 haha

  • Yes. yes. yes. yesyesyesyes. Such excellent advice, Kate! …P.S.: I may or may not have just scheduled this to post 15 different times on Pinterest. #Oops #ButNotSorry 😉

  • ms mary p

    Hi Kate,
    Just discovered your blog which looks great. As a new blogger the advice above is certainly something to be aware of. Can’t wait to read some of your other posts. I have RA which is the reason your blog captured my attention.
    Cheers
    ms mary

  • Great post! I always credit a fellow blogger/source be it text or a DIY project. I dont worry about my text really, Im not the greatest writer! LOL

    Now, if I could just keep up with picture stealing. I find people/brands are using my images for profit. I allow sharing not profit… This is a whole other ball of wax. ha ha.

    I so love Regina! 🙂 I visit Erika too! They have both helped along the way.