When is reposting content to your blog a bad idea? Almost always.
Do these scenarios sound familiar: When you find a great, well-written article by someone else, posting it verbatim is easier than writing your own post on the same topic…. you find inspiration for your posts in the posts of other bloggers and don’t mention where the inspiration came from … or you’ve found a poorly written blog post online and rewritten it “in your own words”… If you’ve done any of these activities on your blog, you could be guilty of plagiarism.
According to Dictionary.com, plagiarism is defined as:
the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work, as by not crediting the author.
Most bloggers don’t intentionally try to pass off another person’s work as their own. However, that doesn’t mean that bloggers aren’t guilty of plagiarism.
All of the following are considered plagiarism:
- intentionally claiming someone else’s work as your own
- failing to give credit to words and/or ideas of someone else (intentionally or unintentionally)
- failing to put direct quotations in quotation marks
- providing false or misleading information about the source of a quotation
- copying the sentence structure or headings of a source without giving credit (even if you change all the words)
- failing to add your own observations and insights so that source material makes up the majority of your work (even if you give appropriate credit) (plagiarism.org)
It is the last two items in the list that can get bloggers into the most trouble; copying the structure of another person’s blog post and failing to add enough of your own insights and observations to what you write.
Combating ignorance about what constitutes plagiarism is the first step to controlling it. The next step is to institute some guidelines that will help you avoid unintentionally committing plagiarism.
Follow these rules, based on guidelines designed for students:
- It’s okay to be inspired by another blog, just make sure you keep good notes about where the inspiration came from so you can credit the originator.
- When paraphrasing another person’s work, do it without looking at the original. This will limit the temptation to copy sentence structure or headings.
- You don’t need to cite terminology that is common knowledge, either to the general public or just within your niche or industry.. If the terminology is new, place quotes around it and cite the origin of the term.
- Take a few minutes to research the source of material you read online. This will allow you to quote the original source of the idea and prevent you from inadvertently quoting someone who plagiarized someone else.
The Internet makes it easy to cite resources directly from your blog post without creating a long, cumbersome Works Cited page. Simply use the techniques outlined below:
How to cite sources in your blog:
Direct quotes. Introduce the quote first, indicating the source, then use quotation marks for short quotes. (According to Webster’s Dictionary…. ) For long quotes, use the blockquote feature (the ” button on the WordPress toolbar). This will add special formatting to your quote to make it obvious to your reader that the thought is not yours (see the definition above for an example).
Paraphrases: At the end of the paragraph that contains the paraphrase, cite your source. (Wikipedia.com).
Although not required, it is good practice to include a link back to the original source. Not only does the original author receive notice you linked to their content (via what is called a TrackBack) but this also allows your readers to check out your sources.
What About Reposting Entire Articles With Credit?
While not technically plagiarism, it is never a good idea to re-post an entire article (even with appropriate credit) to your blog without permission of the author. Most authors like to control how their material is used by others so asking permission before using another person’s content is good common courtesy.
But there is one other reason why you shouldn’t use another person’s content on your website: it could hurt your Search Engine rankings. Google and the other Search Engines have begun to penalize websites for duplicate content. This is an effort to improve the search experience of users by lessening the likelihood someone will see duplicate content in any search engine’s results page (SERP). Currently, there’s not a huge penalty for a small amount of duplicate content, but that could change at any time as the algorithm used to create search results is constantly updated.
Play it safe and only post original content to your blog and cite sources for any thoughts or ideas that aren’t your own. It took time and effort to build your reputation online, but it could take just one mistake to destroy it.