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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