The Ironic Case of Social Gratitude


 by: Kyle Jones

Everyone’s time is valuable. It matters not your chosen profession because we are all allotted a certain amount of time in life.  It is how we choose to spend that time which defines us.  And, as has been mentioned on this blog before, saying thanks – or showing gratitude – is important.  It can only be seen as ironic when a chosen name for a website includes the word gratitude when the actions of those running show the complete opposite.  This is what happened in The Ironic Case of Social Gratitude.

 

 

Blogging

 

A blogger normally spends a lot of time crafting a blog post regardless of the chosen topic.  Bloggers want a voice and seek  the conversation that is the result of reader comments.  I, like many others with their own blogs, spend a lot of time working on the content I create.  I attempt to show gratitude for those who serve as inspiration and give recognition when I use other authors’ posts as reference.

A few months back I took a blog post that I really enjoyed and posted it on this site; however, the following steps were taken prior to the post:

  • Requested and received permission to use the post from the post author.
  • Attributed the author by recognizing her in the post.
  • Attributed the author by including a picture of the author in both the featured image and as an image within the post.
  • Provided information about the author and links to her sites.

This author was Robin Schooling of HR Schoolhouse.com and my actions above would help make sure that Robin may say “yes” again should I ask the same in the future.

Unfortunately, No greater insult can be given to an author when the work is taken by someone else, even word-for-word, and posted as their own giving no credit to the real author.

 


 

WhoDunnit? The Act of Plagiarism

 

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.

 


WhoPostit? Blog Plagiarism

 

Taking credit for the work of someone else isn’t new and has been around since the first story was told to the first audience.  The violation of ethical writing occurs when an “author” – and I use this term very loosely – takes the words of someone else and passes those works off as their own.  It is a lazy form of “writing” and disrespect all the work done by the person who actually wrote the piece.

I’ve recall reading a Facebook post from a contact who is a well-respected and well-known HR blogger.  Someone had taken this person’s work and posted it as their own with just a few changes to the sentence structure.  My thought was, this would not happen to me as I am A/not well-known and B/would not most likely write something that someone would want to steal.

 


The Victim – Google Reader: Thank You for Shutting Down

 

I wrote a post last Sunday about the shutdown of Google Reader and how it caused me to discover Feedly.  Then, the next morning, I was happy to discover that the article was featured on SocialMediaToday.com.  The good folks at SMT provided me a huge favor by even carrying the post and, as proper, they listed my name as the author.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I awoke today to a very different discovery.


 

The Perp – SocialGratitude.com

 

 

An email arrived from someone informing me that my work had been used by someone else without giving me author credit.  My first thought would be the same as the example above – my work with a few minor changes. This was not the case as the author, “Jason”, took the post word-for-word INCLUDING an error.  You see, I made a note to myself to define RSS when I wrote the first draft and accidentally left it as RSS (name) when I first wrote it.  I later corrected this error but “Jason” kept the original intact.

I find it ironic that a site named social GRATITUDE.com doesn’t show GRATITUDE to the author whose work they take as their own.  For the sake of properly authoring, the image from Social Gratitude is taken from SocialGratitude.com as a screenshot by me.

socialgratitude.com, stolen works

Authored as “Jason” but not written by “Jason” on socialgratitude.com

 

 

It would be completely different if the post in question had been referenced by “Jason” or had been used in the entirety but that it would have attributed me as the author.  Instead, my work was passed off as the work of someone else and I can only image how many others may be victim to the same.

I attempted to comment but was unable to do so on the site.  Their Twitter page has not been updated consistently and neither has the Facebook page.  The LinkedIn icon directs you to post an update referring to their page.  There is a toll-free number that I have not called but am almost not inclined to do so.  There are too many things that look suspicious about this site and, based on “Jason”‘s actions, I find them to be examples of those who I would not wish to do business.

 

The Victim, Part II – Has This Happened To You?

 

Have you ever had your own work stolen by another?  If so, what did you do?  How did it make you feel?

 

8 comments

  • hrcsuite

    Interesting post Kyle. It hasn’t happened to me…yet. I do have guest posts on my blog. I am a bit protective of their hard work as well as my own. So I am curious what are steps available to remedy the situation.

    • Thanks for the comment. I want to make sure I attribute those who I quote or whose content I use so that they will want to possibly use my content in return someday. I am not sure what can be done – if anything – regarding the post. What I can do is do what I did – write this post. Writing this put the proverbial power back into my hands and away from “Jason”.

  • Dave Ryan

    Kyle I have never had anyone out and out copy one. I have had a few, let’s call original ideas that I put forth and then other authors took my concept and built on/embellished it. I know I can’t own ideas but the thoughts in question were somewhat off the wall, and the timeliness was very close in. Long story short I was happy to know these folks read what I wrote = they had to, to steal it.

    Nice Post Kyle I enjoy reading your stuff and hope to meet you IRL someday soon.

    • Dave, that is a good way to put it…they had to read it to steal it. It just ticked me off this morning when I heard that this happened and I would never have discovered it had a social media pro from Australia not reached out and contacted me. The first thing I did was check it to see how much it had been changed but had a “REALLY?” moment when I saw he copied the error before I had corrected it. I thought about it some more and decided to take the power back by writing this post. Maybe “Jason” will want to steal this one, too!

      I appreciate your comment about enjoying my stuff. That means a lot and I hope to meet you IRL someday soon, too!

  • Hi +Kyle Jones Most likely “Jason” is using some sort of automated scraping software to create automated blog posts. You’re probably not the first one he’s hit but remember (if it’s any consolation) that Google has been systematically un-prioritizing content that comes from sites like these.

    If you use any RSS news feed aggregating service like Google’s FeedBurner or +FeedBlitz , they put a message in your feed that indicates where the article was *originally* published, which means the search engines (Google, at least) more or less recognizes your authorship.

    Still, plagiarism burns.

    • Thanks, +Vernessa, I appreciate the comment. Today’s post was more of taking back ownership! You’re rite – it burns but comments like yours and the others who posted ease the pain. WOO HOO! 🙂

      • Yeah, keep smiling +Kyle! One other thing came to mind after I left the comment above … I think it was last year when a number of bloggers wrote about their content being stolen and steps that could be taken to somewhat mitigate ongoing plagiarism. (More of that “taking back the power.”)

        Right now, the one person whose name comes to mind is Sherryl Perry (she’s on G+ and over at KeepUpWithTheWeb.com). Most likely you will glean others who took specific action from those who commented on her article.

        Have a great week Kyle!

        • Thanks. I believe it also happened to Jessica Merrill of BloggingforJobs.com. I’ve enjoyed interacting with you by the way. I look forward to future conversations.

Leave a Reply