Plagiarism is a word that is VERY overused in the blogosphere. Every time we turn around, someone else is saying "Hey, that's my review/feature/post. You stole it. Now I will tell the world that you're an awful person, turn all of my followers against you and make you a pariah." Sometimes, that's deserved. Sometimes (no names, folks), the person has been plagiarized. Their exact words have been taken, and they feel awful, like their child has been kidnapped. The plagiarist (or the plagiarist's coblogger) as the case may be, gets very defensive. They're rude to the person who was just trying to nicely point out that something was taken from them. But other times, have you ever asked yourself: "Is this really plagiarism, or did these people just have similar feelings about similar things?"
It's possible. Have you ever just scrolled through goodreads reviews? A lot of the times, people are saying the same things. Sometimes, when someone reads the same book, they feel similar to someone else. Same with movies and music-- some people are going to feel the same. But sometimes, that someone else finds the other person's review and decides that they don't like the hits/comments/whatever that the other review/feature/article is getting, and they attack the reviewer/feature hoster/journalist. People have a mob mentality. But we're not here to talk about mob mentality, we're here to talk about plagiarism. What it truly is, according to Dictionary.com:
But think about it-- plagiarism. Taking someone else's work or idea and using it as your own. That's what plagiarism is. But I've gotta ask you-- what hasn't ever been been said? What hasn't EVER (we're talking never ever here, folks) been plagiarized? What hasn't ever been said or thought about by several different people who think that it's all their own idea? I'm trying to show both sides here, but I may be failing.
pla·gia·rism [pley-juh-riz-uhm, -jee-uh-riz-]
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: It is said that he plagiarized Thoreau's plagiarism of a line written by Montaigne. Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.
a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation: “These two manuscripts are clearly plagiarisms,” the editor said, tossing them angrily on the floor.
I'm not saying that it's okay to copy and paste someone else's work and say, "Yeah, I wrote every bit of this," because that is wrong. But who's to say that some people just don't have similar (not the same, that's seriously impossible) thoughts about one book, one subject, one idea. People think similar things about music and movies all the time! But life is what it is, and some people are going to think that they are the most original thinkers out there. That's absolutely fine with me.
But where do you stand? What do you think plagiarism is? To me, plagiarism is stealing someone else's creative work. Just straight up, copy and paste, change this word, new verb here, new noun there. But others will feel differently. I wouldn't doubt that you feel differently. For instance, someone once told me this:
"I guarantee you the manual for a GE microwave says the same shit the Panasonic one does, but you don't see them up each other's asses over it."
And that is absolutely true. So think about it before you accuse someone. Are they really taking your work? Are they stealing your content? Or are they just saying similar things, because they feel the same way? Think before you ruin another person's reputation. If you've thought it through, read the post several times, get a second unbiased person's opinion, and you still see the similarities then you can proceed. Honestly, I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers, I'm not pointing fingers, for gosh sake I'm not even saying that anyone is guilty of any of this. I aim to get my opinion out, and that's it. Maybe I'm misguided, maybe I'm spot on. And if you don't have something nice to say, well, say it if you want.
But my opinion stays the same. Technical writing is different than creative writing, as illustrated by that direct quote up there. I believe that. I also believe that it's easy to have similar thoughts on a book. They both read the same thing. Just like it's possible that posts on plagiarism are plagiarizing each other. In a world where everything has been said before, and everyone has an opinion, it's easy to get the lines crossed over each other. It's all so easy to accuse someone, but it's also easy to be on the other side, the one where the accused stand. Life is what it is, and people are who they are.
I want to know what your thoughts on the subject are. Where do you stand? Do you agree with me, or do you have your own (un-plagiarized!) thoughts on the subject?
LASTLY: I'm not condoning plagiarism. I'm not saying that it's right. I'm just giving my opinion on this subject...and it will make some people hot to trot. But I NEED to say what I think, otherwise I'll explode. If you take nothing else from this, take this idea: How would you feel in either place? Accused or accuser, we're all just people. We make mistakes. That can go either way, y'all. And at the end of the day, both the accused and the accuser are crying their eyes out, because both of them have been taken from.