As students tasked with writing assignments we joked about plagiarism. We often remarked that “if you borrow from one person –it is called plagiarism, but if you borrow from several people it is called research”. When doing research and being creative in writing you will most likely use the thoughts of another as well – when not giving credit to that person, it however becomes rather distasteful for the person who has spent the time and effort to compile those thoughts!
Having written quite extensively on the car insurance industry [ on the blog at carinsurance.arrivealive.co.za] I have come across the unfortunate plagiarism of some of these written posts – and this is something I would like to discuss briefly…
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism, as defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, is the “use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” [Source:Wikipedia]
By referring to the source of the definition we are avoiding plagiarism of the definition. The authors of the publication will have no problem if we “use” their definition and refer to them as the source – as it does not only recognize their authority, but might also direct others to the publication or even entice others to purchase the Dictionary!
The same applies to blog posts on car insurance and why we hate it when the authors are not given recognition.
Why do we hate plagiarism of our online content on car insurance?
The answer to this question is to be found in the purpose of writing blog posts on car insurance! We can include amongst the objectives of the authors the following:
• To inform the public about car insurance
• To discuss the car insurance industry
• To urge readers to find and purchase car insurance
• To promote a specific car insurance website and invite visitors to such site
• To promote a specific car insurer or product
With this purpose in mind the authors, “hired guns”, “word mercenaries” or whatever we might like to call them, will strive to outwit one another in the pursuit of quality content to be found via the internet and internet searches.
Content is King and car insurance plagiarism
In the online industry and amongst search optimization specialists there is an understanding that content is king. Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing etc reward pages with quality content – and no black hat technique or funny tricks will provide the same benefits as quality content on internet pages!
With this in mind car insurers appoint people with writing ability to do the necessary research and to provide quality content for their websites. This could provide these websites with improved search engine rankings, attract more online visitors and result in more quotes and possible revenue for these car insurers.
The problem with plagiarism is that the author is not recognized, and his efforts do not attract any visitors to the website or blog for which this content was written!!
Examples of the good and bad of borrowing content / plagiarism
The above can be best explained with reference to an example of a blog post from the car insurance blog. This will illustrate the importance of the question “does the referring site give credit – or at least direct online readers to the original source?”
Example: Blog post titled “Advice when switching car insurance”
This was written and posted on the car insurance blog at carinsurance.arrivealive.co.za on the 28th of June 2010.
A search on Google for the term “Advice when switching car insurance” delivers several results, and to the credit of Google – the first two search results are the original source.
Examples of sites that link to the content:
• The Hot Auto Insurance Website – this website uses the content , and even the exact image –without reference or a link to the original source [View Page]
• Best Automobile Insurance Website – This website uses the content, without the image – but EVEN WORSE – adds the words “by Richard Cook” – attributing this post to someone not known to the original author!! [View Page]
• Online Auto Insurance Network – This website uses the content, without the image – and AS BAD – adds the words “Eric Adams” – attributing this post to someone not known to the original author!! [View Page] We will not comment on the misspelling of “Insurance” in the title of this website!!
Unfortunately I could only illustrate these samples of plagiarism with reference to these sites and by including a hyperlink to these sites. This will direct readers to these sites who are not respecting the intellectual capital of the author – and unfortunately benefit them in the process.
It is however important to expose these practices. By writing blog post on the car insurance industry – we are making them available to online readers. Bloggers do not wish for them to be kept private or have them obscured in secrecy – We only wish for other publishers to respect the original source, recognize the original source or even best – add a hyperlink to the original source!! By doing so we can all benefit from the information provided!!