How to Share Without Plagiarizing

Blogging and online articles have become popular as a result of the easy reach of the internet and social media. Most bloggers have an intended audience that follows them closely, as well as follows other social media resources on the same topics.

In other words, bloggers and their audiences share common interests and therefore common Facebook groups, etc.  Therefore, bloggers see what others post – and sometimes, they recognize their own work being posted, but not attributed to them.

It’s easy to become excited and want to share with others – and that is a wonderful attribute. Sharing is a good thing and collaboration makes the genetic genealogy world go around.

However, there’s a wrong way and a right way to share. Most people are very interested in following the rules, if they know what they are.

Our Friendly Lawyer

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not at attorney, so I’m not up to the moment on laws regarding copyright and plagiarism – but I know who is. If you want to read more from the legal perspective, I might suggest checking out any of Judy Russell’s links on the topic. Judy is, after all, The Legal Genealogist.

To quote Judy:

“One of The Legal Genealogist‘s pet peeves is when someone takes something another genealogist has done, strips off the identifying information and reposts it as if it was the second person’s work.

That, by definition, is plagiarism, and it’s a great big ethical no-no in genealogy.

Most of the time, people who do this are doing it without malicious intent. They don’t realize that they’re actually stealing someone else’s work and depriving the other person of credit for the work; most of the time they think they’re just sharing.”

To be very clear, I want my work to be shared, but I also want credit. Notice that when I quoted Judy, above, I not only said it was a quote from Judy Russell, but I also provided links to Judy’s work both in general and the article from which I quoted.

If you look at the bottom of Judy’s articles, you can also see perfectly executed examples of citing sources.

My Articles

Now, back to my work. I’m not dead and copyright clearly hasn’t expired. That expiration line in the sand is sometime around 1923 today, as Judy says here, and the copyright expiration for my work is a long way off. I won’t care by then, and neither will you. In fact, anything I write today about genetic genealogy will probably be viewed after the year 2110, about the time my copyrights would expire, with the looks of incredulity children give dinosaur skeletons in museums.

Copyright aside, taking someone else’s work and posting it, even if it’s edited or recombined slightly, without attribution, is plagiarism, pure and simple, intended or otherwise. Legal or not aside as well, it’s just plain wrong.

Ways to Share in a Good Way

  • Many people ask if it’s alright to post a link to one of by blogs someplace. In my book, it’s ALWAYS alright to post a link which directs people to the article. You don’t need to ask. I figure anyone who is going to post my link to someplace I would disapprove of (racism, sexism, discrimination, porn, etc.) isn’t going to ask anyway.
  • Sharing and forwarding links to my articles or postings on Facebook, Twitter and social media platforms are always just fine. It’s like spreading the word for the genetic genealogy gospel.  Please DO!
  • Republishing, under certain circumstances, is also alright. Some bloggers or rebloggers will use the first paragraph or so as a “leadin” to generate interest then have a link “for further reading” which links to the blog where the content was generated – meaning mine. I’m fine with that too.

Ask First

  • Sometimes I’m asked to allow a group to reprint an article in a journal or newsletter, or to use something from one of my articles or presentations for a conference or other event. I’m generally very generous with my materials, but I DO want to be asked before that type of sharing is done and I want the work to be properly credited to me.

NO NOs

  • Republishing by publishing or posting the entire text of an article, most of the article or even significant parts of an article, even WITH attribution, but WITHOUT permission is not OK with me. No one has ever done that with my work in an actual publication (that I know of,) but people feel freer on the internet.
  • Posting or republishing any part of an article (or graphic) in ANY way WITHOUT attribution is not OK. Changing or recombining the verbiage slightly and republishing is not acceptable either. If the author can recognize their work or material, it’s plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Attribution

Attribution should always include the link to the original article and preferably that link along with the author’s name.  In fact, here’s a perfect example of attribution done correctly on Facebook!

The quote Shannon used was from within the article, clearly is a quote, attributed correctly to me, and the title is a hotlink to the article itself.  Perfectly executed Shannon – thank you!

This is exactly what bloggers DO want.

My Rules

The above “rules” are Roberta’s rules. Other writers may feel differently about some things. If in doubt of any kind, just ask.

People who write and are not writing for an employer or do not sell items such as books are generally performing a public service. If you think writing is “free,” it most certainly is not “free” for the author. Not only is their time valuable, they clearly have to pay to keep the lights on, so to speak.  Please, be respectful of authors and do not kill the goose who laid the golden egg.

Citing Sources

If Judy is the queen of all things legal, Elizabeth Shown Mills is the queen of citing sources. If you want to cite the source perfectly, every single time, refer to Elizabeth’s blog for further instruction.

Personally, I don’t so much care HOW attribution is done, but I surely care a lot THAT it’s done.

Please Share

And yes, no need to ask, please DO share this article!! 😊