Plagiarism. When I first hear this word, a lot of things pop up in my head, like “stealing,” “copying,” “illegal,” and similar words to those. I’ve been noticing that this is becoming a larger issue on WHI, especially since the launch of articles. A lot of people don’t seem to know what it is, so I’m here to break it down for everyone and go through what it is, what constitutes as plagiarism, the consequences of if you get caught plagiarizing, and what you can do to prevent it.

WHAT IS PLAGIARISM?

According to plagiarism.org, plagiarism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own.” It also means “to use (another’s production) without crediting the source,” “committing literary theft,” and “to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

In other words, plagiarism is a form of theft. It’s stealing someone else’s work, taking credit for it, and lying about it by saying that you “wrote” it but you really didn’t.

WHY IS IT SO BAD, AND HOW HAS IT AFFECTED WHI?

If the whole “stealing” aspect of it doesn’t seem bad to you, then I don’t know what will make plagiarism such a bad thing in your eyes.

Launching articles is supposed to open up a new door of creativity for users on WHI. People are supposed to be able to express how they feel and put their thoughts and opinions in an article for people to read. It’s one thing for people to write an article about their own experiences, which is totally fine. It’s a totally different situation when people start to write about topics like recipes, lifestyle, fashion, etc.

I don’t know about you, but it’s quite obvious to me when someone plagiarizes an article. The wording doesn’t seem natural, people use a lot of detail about certain topics that the ordinary public might not know about, and the articles sound like blog posts or magazine articles rather than someone’s own thoughts on a computer screen. It’s also way more obvious if/when you speak to the person who plagiarized the article on WHI, and you find out that the way they talk to people and the way they write articles aren’t the same “voice.” By “voice,” I mean the way they convey what they want to write in their article/the way they convey themselves through messages. A person’s “voice” in an article should be something that they’d say in real life or in a casual conversation. The article is supposed to “flow” and sound like you, not something that came out of a magazine or a news article.

With the new Recognized Writer’s Badge, it gives people more of an incentive to write more articles to try and attract the attention of the WHI team in hopes that they notice them and make them a potential nominee for the badge. However, this means that some people are taking it to the extreme and plagiarizing news articles and magazine articles from popular news websites and claiming as their own. Of course, when you think about it from a plagiarizer's point of view, why wouldn’t you plagiarize? The article is already written for them, they don’t have to do any work, and it’s well written. I’ve noticed so many people (not going to name people, but I’m sure they know who they are) plagiarizing articles and getting awarded for it, mainly by receiving the Recognized Writer’s Badge. That absolutely sucks for the people who actually work hard to put out good quality articles every day/week and don’t get noticed for it. There are Recognized Writers who are plagiarizing their articles. I’m not even kidding. Once again, I’m not going to name anyone specifically, but it’s a horrible truth I wish that was a horrible lie.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF PLAGIARISM?

If you live in the US, you should know very well that plagiarism is illegal. They teach students as early as elementary school that plagiarism is wrong, and if someone catches you doing it on an essay, you get in huge trouble for it.

All original work is protected by copyright laws, meaning that as long as something you wrote/drew/created is your original work, then no one can copy it from you. This is why you may see copyright disclaimers at the bottom of articles written by people on WHI.

If someone plagiarized your work and you have proof that it’s your work that they copied from, then that person could end up paying a very expensive fine, at least in the US. In schools, you’ll get a 0 on the assignment you plagiarized, you’ll probably get suspended/expelled, and since it’s considered breaking the law, it will go on your permanent record, which colleges/universities/employers at your job will see.

God forbid this ever happens, but if the news company/blogger/online magazine writers found out that you plagiarized one of their articles, you might even go to court for it. You might even be sued. So basically, don’t plagiarize.

HOW CAN I PREVENT PLAGIARISM?

First off, (and this should be very obvious), DON’T COPY! WHI is a place for you to express YOURSELF, not someone else! BE YOU! :)

Second off, if you see a plagiarized article or think it’s plagiarized, you can easily find out. Copy and paste a portion of the article into Google and see if an article with a similar title and/or wording comes up.

If you know an article is plagiarized from your own written article or from another website for sure, report the article. The WHI team will look into it more and decide what to do with the person. Most of the time, if a person ends up plagiarizing one article, they also plagiarize more, and depending on how many times they’ve done it, they can have their account blocked and their Recognized Writer’s Badge removed (if they have it). You can also contact the WHI team by emailing them. If your own article was plagiarized, you can provide the links to your own article and the plagiarized one. The more information you give them, the more they can help you.

If you really want to, you can also start putting copyright disclaimers at the bottom of your articles. It basically states that everything in your article is your own original content, and if you used other sources in your article, they’re cited properly. You can follow the model I've left at the bottom of this article for your own copyright disclaimer.

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That’s it! I know, I know, I haven’t written an article in about a month. School and senior year’s been getting in the way and this is an ongoing issue that I’ve been noticing along with some of my other fellow #WHITheRevolution members. I’ll try my best to post more articles, but posting, in general, is starting to get a little harder as well, so bear with me.

As someone who’s had her own article plagiarized before, I know how serious of an issue this is. My other friends on WHI have also had their articles plagiarized, and I know there are probably hundreds of plagiarized articles out here as well that haven’t been noticed yet.

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Until next time,
~Kim (@music_infinity)

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