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My stuff has been plagiarized. Again. I need a better strategy for solving thi

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Every few months I get obsessed on some topic and write an article - and I usually spend about 40 hours over the following month polishing it to make it just right.  And then I find it copied and pasted somewhere without any credit to me.  This has been happening more and more.  Today's examples is this article on soil ph which has been copied here

When I contact these folks, I want to convince them to change it to "here is an article I like" - maybe have a paragraph and then a link to my article.  Instead, about half the time I get some bullshit about how they wrote it first.  So then I go to the wayback machine and prove I wrote it first.  Then they say that there is no such thing as copyright on the internet.  They are nearly always livid pissed that I could be such an asshole about it.  Well ... it just ends up a big hassle.  In the end, they usually delete it and I feel like crap for having hassled them.

So I already have a way of confronting them that turns into a big shit storm and ends up with them sending me all sorts of nasty and after all sorts of pain, they finally delete it.

I want to find an approach so that the response is "sorry about that - let me make it right by making a link to you and telling folks your stuff is good!" 

So I'm fishing for suggestions.  Any ideas on how to approach these most recent offenders?


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Neal McSpadden


Joined: May 04, 2009
Posts: 269
Honestly, I don't think there is such an approach that will work with any degree of reliability.  It'd be nice if people cited their sources, but for whatever reason, many don't.

The work-around is to put your links and keyword material into the text that they are copying and pasting.  Similar to your videos where you end with your tagline, "If you like this sort of thing..."  Just more frequently , and in the beginning and middle as well as the end.


Check out my Primal Prepper blog where I talk about permaculture, prepping, and the primal lifestyle... all the time!
travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
Probably I wouldn't link back to it...
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
tamo42 wrote:
Honestly, I don't think there is such an approach that will work with any degree of reliability.  It'd be nice if people cited their sources, but for whatever reason, many don't.

The work-around is to put your links and keyword material into the text that they are copying and pasting.  Similar to your videos where you end with your tagline, "If you like this sort of thing..."  Just more frequently , and in the beginning and middle as well as the end.


Hmmmm ....  bumping up the frequency of that sort of thing sorta takes the quality out for me. 

I guess I'm thinking that somebody far smarter than me could come up with some witty bit of diplomacy so that when I send it the response would be "oh sure!  that sounds reasonable!" and then everything is fine. 

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
travis laduke wrote:
Probably I wouldn't link back to it...


You would copy somebody's stuff and then claim it as your own?

Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
It sounds like the sort of plagiarist that does this is typically trying to make money without investing much time. And by the time you can call them on it, they are making progressively less money and having to put progressively more effort into it. Perhaps they're desperate for things to go back how they had been.

IMOO it will be important to increase the amount of work it takes to plagiarize, as early as possible, and to delay their ability to make income from it for as long as possible. At the same time, make honest excerpting and linking as easy as possible.

I would suggest using CSS tricks and similar to put a lot of hidden text into the article that will only show up when copied and pasted. Something akin to a watermarked photograph.

Much of that hidden text could be designed to annoy, and to require careful editing so as not to produce telltale mistakes in the finished text. Misspellings that spell-check won't catch would be particularly effective, here, as well as text that inverts the meaning or otherwise renders the copy worthless. But I would recommend including some text about this site, and instructions for getting permission to re-print, as well as mechanisms to easily excerpt and back-link.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
paul wheaton wrote:
You would copy somebody's stuff and then claim it as your own?




I meant your link in this thread back to there...

That site looks pretty fake, SEO link bait type site, not made by any moral, reasonable person. It might be completely programming generated.  I don't think there's anything you can do about it that won't annoy your readers, no technical thing you can do.

I'm sure if non-internet-savvy person got really exited about permaculture copy and pasted one of your articles on their first blog they'd be reasonable after you contacted them and explained how that is not cool.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I can always get them (or their host) to take it down. The problem is that I want to find a path that is not hostile.

When they take it down there are two major artifacts:

1) they used to like my stuff and now they no longer like my stuff.

2) my stuff is on the internet less than it was before.

What I would like is to end up with different artifacts:

A) they like me and my stuff

B) they change the offending page so that it says "we like this!" and it has a prominent link to my stuff

C) they like me and my stuff so much that they make more (proper) links to my stuff

So I'm looking for a smart-zen-smooth way to contact them so I end up with A, B and C rather than 1 and 2.
                          


Joined: Apr 24, 2010
Posts: 25
Location: Marble City OK
A few lines of code ,and the plagiarized page will only post a message of your choosing once someone clicks on a link.
Paul sometimes the gloves have to come off
Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Paul, the simple method may be just to put this in every article, "This article may be copied and used provided credit is given to the author and this (* link) is activated in your reproduction."

Also, make sure you have every article dated with the exact date (poor man's copyright) you first published it.

Good luck.


Al
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Here is what I've come up with so far:



Hi!

I was surfing the net today and came across your article at _______ and thought it was really good. And then I noticed it sounded really familiar. It took me a moment to figure out that it is a copy of my own article!

I'm really glad you like my stuff. I hope we can figure stuff out so that we can both be happy campers.

My biggest hope is that since you like my stuff so much, that you might make links to more of my articles. I have an article on diatomaceous earth I would really like to get more links to.

I'm sure you are trying to fill your site out a bit, and I think I can be of help with that. The trick is that having more than one copy of article makes google mad. Google thinks we are trying to trick them, so they penalize all copies. An odd thing is that if you have a couple of paragraphs on _________ and you then link to a page about _________ then google likes that a lot.

So if it is something you are okay with, I would like to come up with a strategy that is mutually beneficial. Maybe I could write a few paragraphs for your site and that would include a link to my original article. Then we could erase the penalties from google and actually add something good to both sites.

And then we can, if you are comfortable with it, talk about some of my other articles?

Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
I would suggest you add a copyright notification to each of your articles
copyright law today does not require registration so all you need is to put at the bottom of each of your pages something like "copyright Paul Wheaton date. all rights reserved for permision to use this material please contact___" that both gives interested folk a way to ask how you would like to be quoted and lets the bloody pirates know that you are aware that you have a right to your material
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Is there an article that currently does not have a copyright message?
travis laduke


Joined: Jul 20, 2010
Posts: 163
Use a creative commons license though!
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
I don't recall seeing one over on the richsoil site anywhere but I could be mistaken
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
brice Moss wrote:
I don't recall seeing one over on the richsoil site anywhere but I could be mistaken


It should be at the bottom of every page.

Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
I see it now it hides in the border at the bottom of the page which is leagaly effective but I'd move it up into the same font/page area as the text of the article maybe just under the title and lengthen it into a brief blurb so that folks can't claim to have missed it also for folks like me who are careful of authors rights it is noce to know without contacting the author weather I am welcome to print a copy for my own use an stuff like that.

unfortunately I doubt the intentions of anyone who's first attempt to get you to go away is to claim that they  it up first is pure, hopefully its no one on this forum I'm failing to be nice to when I say that lying thiefs like that is why we are burdened with all the silliness of copyright laws.
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
My old boss told me he hates giving advice to other farmers. He said that they never listen to him, but through cognitive dissonance three years later they come up with the same idea he told them, then they have the gall to come over and tell him about it and that it was their idea.

Funny thing is that when he told me that, I was trying to tell somebody to do something and they didn't think it was a good idea, but now I am pretty sure they are doing it, 2 years later...

Now I never feel like sharing my plans, ideas or recipes with anyone outside of my family, which is a drag and really sucks. But I just can't stand how true it is, that people are so willing to copy someones awesomeness and then take credit for it.

Personally, I always try to give credit where the credit is due!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
It is my opinion that making the copyright message stand out more will make no difference.  Legally, I'm covered.

I'm trying to make lemonade:  if I can come up with a canned message that gets some of these folks to go from plagiarism to making a good link to me, then I've made lemonade. 

                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Trying to stop plagiarizers is a lot like trying to stop spammers. Very difficult and time consuming.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I've managed to stop them before. 

This is just gonna be a first in trying to "make lemonade".

Al Loria


Joined: Apr 21, 2010
Posts: 395
Location: New York
Paul, what you've come up with so far is not bad at all.  A little polishing and it could work.  Making lemonade requires sugar, and you have sweetened it quite a bit, but there could be more emphasis put on the advantages of the links generating more hits to the potential site and an offer to reciprocate with article links might not be a bad idea. 

You are navigating new waters with the approach to this.  Getting them to go for it means a little effort on their part too.  Always a tricky thing.  It is a novel idea and you should possibly give it a test run to see how it goes. 

Just my two cents, for what it's worth.  Good luck with the lemonade.


Al

            


Joined: Jun 27, 2010
Posts: 75
Location: Ontario, Canada (44.265475, -77.960029)
paul wheaton wrote:
Every few months I get obsessed on some topic and write an article - and I usually spend about 40 hours over the following month polishing it to make it just right.  And then I find it copied and pasted somewhere


Make the document optical - scan it to a jpeg.  Or used a locked pdf that can't be printed or cut/paste without having the password.   There are workarounds to these but they'll slow down most plagiarisers.

Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
thats what happened to all my art projects in college.

proff's stole them and displayed rip offs in thier gallery shows. sold rip offs of my work. serious.

guess what? I found out im wasnt an artist. good insight.

maybe your not a writer? doesn't make your work less valuable, just less attributable.

a moment of zen.
Erica Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 720
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
    
  85
paul wheaton wrote:
Here is what I've come up with so far:

I was surfing the net today and came across your article at _______ and thought it was really good. And then I noticed it sounded really familiar. It took me a moment to figure out that it is a copy of my own article!

I'm really glad you like my stuff. I hope we can figure stuff out so that we can both be happy campers.

My biggest hope is that since you like my stuff so much, that you might make links to more of my articles. I have an article on diatomaceous earth I would really like to get more links to.

I'm sure you are trying to fill your site out a bit, and I think I can be of help with that. The trick is that having more than one copy of article makes google mad. Google thinks we are trying to trick them, so they penalize all copies. An odd thing is that if you have a couple of paragraphs on _________ and you then link to a page about _________ then google likes that a lot.

So if it is something you are okay with, I would like to come up with a strategy that is mutually beneficial. Maybe I could write a few paragraphs for your site and that would include a link to my original article. Then we could erase the penalties from google and actually add something good to both sites.

And then we can, if you are comfortable with it, talk about some of my other articles?



My biggest success in getting someone to comply and say 'Thanks' instead of giving me all their whiny reasons why not, involved not saying anything at all.
(This was when I had to make people wear goggles in the science museum's chemistry lab.  Anything I said, I got arguments and excuses... but if I polished up a pretty pair of goggles and handed it to them with a smile, 9 times out of 10 they looked around, saw that everyone else was wearing them, and did the obvious thing and put them on.  And said 'thanks,' because honestly, that's what people do when you give them something.)

So what would be the email equivalent of giving somebody something, and making them feel that slightly-uncomfortable-peer-pressure that makes an easy resolution a relief?

I've gotten copyright notices before.  I used an image with citation, but without permission, on our website once as part of a set of temporary class resources.  I took it back down pretty quick when their lawyer sent out a warning notice!  I've gotten a lot more careful about getting permission, and I consider an online person 'friendly' if they are willing to respond to my request by granting, or denying, permission via email.  (Some commercial folks just don't license any images or text for others' use, and that's their choice.  Making some 'fan art' available in the public domain makes me even happier.)

How about a friendly note saying
'I hate sueing people over copyright. I'd much rather you choose a short quote from my article, and add this citation text, so that we both get better search ratings.'

The mention of the lawsuit, while implying that it won't happen this time, might be the Internet equivalent of peer pressure.

Here's a re-working of your original message - the main thing I think it needs is to be shorter, and you'll notice I've done the opposite.


I was surfing the net today and came across your article at _______ and enjoyed it. And then I noticed it sounded really familiar. It took me a moment to figure out that it is a copy of my own article!

I'm really glad you like my stuff.  And I appreciate anyone trying to reach more readers about these topics.

I have only one big problem: when your site hosts an exact copy of my article, we are both being penalized by search engines like Google.  Search engines drive much more traffic to a site when it has original content not duplicated elsewhere on the Internet.

An odd thing is that if you have a couple of paragraphs on _________ and you then link to another page about _________, maybe quoting a couple of lines, then google likes that a lot.

I would like your cooperation to try a strategy for mutual benefit. You or I could write a few paragraphs for your site, and include a link to my original article. Then we could erase the penalties from google and actually add something good to both sites.

My biggest hope is that since you like my stuff so much, that you might make links to more of my articles. I have an article on diatomaceous earth I would really like to get more links to.  You are welcome to link to any of my articles, and I'll be happy to write you a paragraph or two of introductory text if needed.

Please respond to let me know that you are a real person.  I have had spam-bot sites pick up my articles before, and I hate threatening copyright lawsuits but that seems to be the only thing that gets their attention. 

I figure if you're a real person like me, trying to get the word out and make a popular site, then we can work together on this.

Thanks,
The Big Guy
etc.

Play with nature, make nifty stuff:
www.ErnieAndErica.info
Mekka Pakanohida


Joined: Aug 16, 2010
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
I can tell you how to fix your problem for the average user, but it won't help savvy people.  No matter what you post on the internet, someone is going to take it.  It has happened with my art & other assets in life, it will continue to happen to you each time you post an article.

                                                


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 43
Location: 14519
My cure is to join the forum and post that this was my article of comment.
Or I post on my blog whre my comments can be found and cite the url to the stolen information with a link back to my blog or the forum it's posted at, this tactic works really well.

I had a local paper take a few of my ideas and incorporate them into his format. This after he made fun of my layout in a paper I was submitting comments to.
I called him on it at a town meeting & people remembered. I sure killed that meetings happy moments.


What frost my nards is the guy who engages you in a 20 page email question and answer mission hten takes your comments and post them as their own. Yea, I've posted the entire email train on those guys.

Not much you can do about trolls, Paul. They have existed long before the internet.


Wm. Brookover~ Opinion's given at no extra charge
                              


Joined: May 13, 2011
Posts: 9
The internet has added tenfold to the problem of plagiarism.  If you are going to have a blog or forum it is bound to happen daily.
Raven Sutherland


Joined: Nov 09, 2010
Posts: 128
Location: Massachusetts
that's a toughy PW
if your just Blah blah-ing on the interblab thats one thing

if it's a serious article that you don't want plagerized
then copy and paste the words onto a photo of yourself
standing there with a pitchfork with richsoil.com (and SAVE)
have logo's all over the place so they have to type it all out
instead of just copy and pasting your words. slow-em down

then when you want to publish you publish the text as a photo
the good permies will understand (you'll need screen capture software)
and then you'll have a solid footing when some says "prove it".


Digging around on a piece of ground in my home town
waiting for someone or something to show me the way.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3621
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  49
Paul, I wonder if there is some way to insert a photo of yourself which cannot easily be removed. Artists often "watermark" photos when marketing through the net. If your picture is part of the article, they would be compelled to explain to the world that the big guy isn't just eye candy, he's the writer of the article.


QUOTES FROM MEMBERS --- In my veterinary opinion, pets should be fed the diet they are biologically designed to eat. Su Ba...The "redistribution" aspect is an "Urban Myth" as far as I know. I have only heard it uttered by those who do not have a food forest, and are unlikely to create one. John Polk ...Even as we sit here, wondering what to do, soil fungi are degrading the chemicals that were applied. John Elliott ... O.K., I originally came to Permies to talk about Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, and now I have less and less time in my life, and more and more Good People to Help ! Al Lumley...I think with the right use of permie principles, most of Wyoming could be turned into a paradise. Miles Flansburg... Then you must do the pig's work. Sepp Holzer
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2377
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  72
Dale

It definitely can be done. I have done something like that using Matlab back in my image processing course in university. You basically replace some high frequencies in the image. If I remember right, you can loose some sharpness in the process.


Permaculture Kingston
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3621
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  49
Adrien Lapointe wrote:Dale

It definitely can be done. I have done something like that using Matlab back in my image processing course in university. You basically replace some high frequencies in the image. If I remember right, you can loose some sharpness in the process.


Yes, I'm aware that it can be done with a photo. The question is, can a photo of Paul be attached to an article in a manner that makes the image and text one entity, so that anyone grabbing the article off the net will have to take the photo as well? I suppose another way would be to have some ownership credits attached so that no portion of the text can be pasted to a new site without the credit. I have tried to cut and paste from some places and the site won't allow it. For information that is offered freely, credit could still be asigned if this can be done.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6437
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
132
If the articles were done in PDF format, along with images/credits, somebody would need to do a fair bit of work to rework them into something that they could simply post. Plagarism is done to avoid work/creativity, so making them hump through a bunch of hoops defeats their game plan.

Jocelyn Campbell
steward

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 2450
Location: Missoula, MT
    
  60
John Polk wrote:If the articles were done in PDF format, along with images/credits, somebody would need to do a fair bit of work to rework them into something that they could simply post. Plagarism is done to avoid work/creativity, so making them hump through a bunch of hoops defeats their game plan.



Using just Adobe reader and MS Word, I copied text from a .pdf, pasted it into Word, and voila! I was able to edit a document for a client. While I agree that making it take an extra step (or many!) helps, it's amazing how quickly the tools are changing and how easily folks can circumvent those safeguards.

(Sorry, I don't know anything about Dale suggestion or Adrien's tech.)
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2377
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  72
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Using just Adobe reader and MS Word, I copied text from a .pdf, pasted it into Word, and voila! I was able to edit a document for a client. While I agree that making it take an extra step (or many!) helps, it's amazing how quickly the tools are changing and how easily folks can circumvent those safeguards.


Yup, it is fairly easy to go around most protection mechanism. I think the best way to protect text is to make it an image, but it is also really annoying.

What I was talking about is some sort of invisible watermark that you can use to identify your pictures. It does not prevent plagiarism.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14842
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
For a while, Suzy Bean would look up sites that had copied everything, and she would figure out how to contact them and using her sweet-as-pie superpowers, she would usually be able to persuade these folks to change their copy to be a proper link.

 
 
subject: My stuff has been plagiarized. Again. I need a better strategy for solving thi
 
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