Sunday, April 2, 2017

Is Plagiarism the Accepted Way?

I recently started a discussion about plagiarism on Fiverr's online forum. This discussion was very educational to me.

The back story is simply that I've received a number of recent requests via Fiverr to rewrite existing information to make it look like another person's original work. I have declined each request because it looks like plagiarism to me. I even had to modify my gig descriptions to state that I do not work with plagiarized information, nor do I rewrite or, as some call it, "spin" articles.

I started the discussion because I was shocked at the number of people requesting this and also shocked at their lack of shame at taking someone else's work and wanting to make it their own (or, rather, have me make it their own). Not one of them sent me work they said was their own; they all said it was work they'd taken off the internet and some even sent me links to the work instead of copying and pasting it into a document.

Merriam-Webster defines plagiarism as, ":  to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own :  use (another's production) without crediting the source" and ":  to commit literary theft :  present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source"

The comments on the discussion were varied. Some felt that taking someone else's work and modifying it was perfectly acceptable and others felt it wasn't. A couple people compared it to using a template to write with, like those used in writing romance or mystery novels, citing that every Angela Lansbury mystery starts out and ends up the same, just some details are changed.

I think using a writing template is far different than taking someone's original work and passing it off as your own.

One person commented that creating original content seems to be a dying art. I agree.

One person said, "Today, plagiarism is a common thing."

Many people had an entirely different definition of plagiarism, one person even telling me that I don't understand the meaning of the word.

Do we just accept that and not strive for better?

Where do you stand on plagiarism?

Write well.
Write often.
Just write.

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