Today, while browsing PPS pings, I came across several instances of what – on the surface – appears to be straight-forward cases of plagiarism.
If you’ve been reading this blog for some time (I worship the ground you walk on), you’d know that I don’t like plagiarism (or to use the common term, ‘copying’).
I remember when I was taking my SRP (later replaced with the PMR) examinations, a friend of mine seated across me tried to copy my exam paper.
Now, he was a friend; but he was also a major slacker (and when I – a chronically lazy person – says this, that ought to tell ya how much lazier this guy was) and probably spent all of 10 minutes to study for the exam, while I was busting my chops hoping to get at least one – oh please, just ONE – A.
So naturally I had to hide my paper from him. When he realised what I was doing, he started cajoling, persuading, pleading, and finally threatening me so I would help. I didn’t, of course.
My constant fidgeting (trying to block the paper from his view) and his mumbling caught the attention of our invigilator. Fortunately, he was the smart kind and after observing what was happening, walked up to my ‘friend’ (who, at this point, was anything but) and told him to concentrate on his own paper or risk being thrown out. He had no choice but to comply, since the invigilator kept an eye on him the whole time – although I suspect this might have allowed other instances of copying to flourish elsewhere in the hall.
Needless to say, he failed the paper.
He blamed me for his failure for a long time, and there were times when I did think that I should have just given in and helped him cheat. But no matter how you spin it, it would still have been wrong. It would have negated the hard work put in by many other students, and would have reinforced in his mind that cheating is okay. And most of all, there was no way in hell I was gonna let him pass HIS paper by using MY efforts.
Not to say I don’t mind taking short-cuts. But cheating by taking the results of someone else’s hard work and passing them of as your own is just CRIMINAL.
With the existence of concepts like the Creative Commons License, people are now encouraged to use, modify and display other people’s work AS LONG AS THEY CREDIT THE ORIGINAL SOURCE/AUTHOR. It’s not hard to do. A single sentence, a couple of words, is all it takes. Sometimes, all you need to do is to ask the author’s permission. Why is that so difficult to do?
If you don’t happen to know who the original author, just say so. “I came across this in my inbox, I don’t know who the author is, but I want to share it with you all anyway. If you are the author or you know who it is, let me know and I’ll include the appropriate credit.”
There. Was that so difficult?
Instead, I see some instances of people copy-and-paste articles or other blog entries on their blog and make it appear as if it’s theirs. When asked what the original source and where is the attribution, they reply that there is no need for attribution since it’s SO obvious it’s not theirs, and you can find it via Google anyway.
I don’t know the exact rules about citations and references beyond what I learned back in uni, but something tells me that is not a proper reply. Correct me if I’m wrong here.
And, of course, there was that thing with The Star last year… but I’m pissed off as it is, so I don’t wanna open up that can of worms.
I’m starting to sound preachy… damn.
Anyway. Back to the instances of plagiarism I mentioned earlier.
Now that’s a funny post. Very funny, no doubt. His readers certainly appreciate it. One reader commented:
OMG that was hilarious! Please tell me you made this up and it’s not copied from a chat log?
Troy (the blogger) replies to the many positive comments:
Whew – glad you all got a chuckle out of it. (I didn’t know if that humour was in *too* bad of taste.)
Not once in the post (or in the comments) does he mention that he wasn’t the original author.
That particular chat log is part of a series of chat transcripts posted by someone known as ‘bloodninja‘ way back when AOL ruled the internet. You can find tonnes of bloodninja classics online via Google, but for our purposes, I point you to this site. Check out the transcript near the end and compare it with Troy’s post above.
What do you think? Should Troy (being a “freelance writer, journalist and raconteur”) state that he copied the piece of the net and published it with some modifications? Should he not state anything since no one really knows who the real bloodninja is? Should he finally end the deception and announce to the world that he is none other than the legendary bloodninja himself??
Maybe it was an oversight. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. After all, although he did not mention that he wasn’t the author, he also did not mention that he WAS the author (although one could argue that by not acknowledging the fact that the work is not yours, you are therefore implying that the work IS yours).
I think I just twisted my brain with that last sentence.
Anyway, for an example of a real serious case of deliberate plagiarism (and one closer to home too!), check out The Silencer’s post. An 18-year-old accounting student copied this post and posted it on his blog. Not only that, but he copies one of Silencer’s Eggheads comic strip and pastes it here – notice that he even put his own nickname on the strip in place of Silencer’s logo!
So what do we do about things like this? Do we raise a hue and cry, spam the plagiariser’s comment box and tell him/her to stuff it where the sun don’t shine? Or do we just shrug and say, well, c’est la vie?
I think we’re gonna be shrugging.
Aw, hell, what do I care? I’m no saint myself – after all, do I not cheat Hollywood out of billions of dollars by downloading a movie online or buying a pirated copy? But at least I don’t go around pretending like I directed the movie…
UPDATE 1: The blogger above has appealed for forgiveness from Silencer, and had credited him as well as removing the Eggheads comic.
UPDATE 2: The other blogger (the one with the bloodninja post) has removed the post.