The post I published in September about the secret to blogging success may have been satirical, but it did in fact hold an element of truth. Community and collaboration are two of the most important and worthwhile aspects of blogging. Getting to know the writers around you, being involved in their discussions and working with them to create amazing content will bring you more success than a dodgy SEO company ever could.
It goes to show then that we can achieve so much more together than when we choose to go it alone. Over the past year the WordPress community has given me the opportunity to meet talented bloggers, many of whom I now consider to be lovely friends. It brought forth collaboration projects through which I learnt so much from others. And it allowed me to participate in a competition, which taught me not to be scared about being more creative with my writing.
Unfortunately though, not all aspects of blogging are so positive or supportive. The sad fact is that there are some out there who want to copy the great content produced by others and claim it for their own. They don’t care how awful the authors must feel when they see their work on another site without permission, and they certainly aren’t concerned that benefitting from somebody else’s effort is just plain wrong.
I count myself very lucky to say that I’ve never had to experience this horrible situation. But it recently happened to an awesome blogger you’re probably already familiar with: NekoJonez. During the commute to his day-job one morning at the beginning of January, he found that all of his content from the previous month had been reproduced on two websites without credit and with a different writer cited as the author.
Let’s get one thing straight: this is theft. It’s the unsolicited taking of someone’s effort and creativity; awareness for their subject and potential readers; and the positivity they receive from blogging and being a member of the community. It may have been words published on the internet rather than physical assets stolen, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less hurtful or damaging.
It’s one thing to show your appreciation for the work of another blogger by quoting them where relevant and linking to their site, or even reblogging their posts in full. But it’s totally another when you deliberately take complete articles and pass them off as your own – and as we all learned way back in school, you can’t get away with copying somebody else’s answers. There’s simply no excuse for doing it.
As mentioned above, we can achieve so much more together; it’s therefore important we look out for one another and show we won’t accept the theft of a fellow bloggers’ content lightly. If you notice that someone’s work has been stolen, let them know as quickly as possible but do this privately. Providing links in a public forum will just divert even more traffic to a dubious blog which doesn’t deserve it.
Tell the bloggers around you in a group conversation on Twitter if you find your own work has been copied and feel comfortable doing so. Spreading the word in this way will mean we can all back you in filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice – whether that’s by filing additional reports ourselves or showing you moral support.
Use a text widget to include a clear copyright notice on your blog and place this in a location where it’s visible at all times. It’s worth reading the relevant WordPress support page too if you’re concerned about material from your site being used without your permission; it’s not possible to fully guarantee the complete protection of your work, but it does contain several steps which could help reduce the risk. NekoJonez himself has also provided some great advice over on NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog.
A bloggers’ words hold power and aren’t up for grabs. They contain our personality and our emotions, and they’re a part of the inner selves we only reveal in posts. Those words have meaning and value whether we’re paid to write them or simply do it for the joy of being creative; and above all, they deserve to be respected.