I check my blog statistics quite often. I’ve been this way ever since I had the ability to check my site statistics, which has been most of my 7 year tenure as a blogger. I love to see who has linked to me and what search words are used to find the blog. Sometimes the words are weird and creepy, but occasionally they inspire a future post.
I rarely find something upsetting.
Four years ago, I noticed a link from a Chicana college student. She linked to an entry I posted about old school Mechistas. I perused her blog and found that she’d heavily borrowed and copied other parts of my blog. In some parts she’d taken the format for my “about me” section and substituted the original text for information about herself. In another section, she copied a list of favorite quotes. There was no attribution or links.
I was mad. I talked about it with a friend and he said something about feeling flattered. I was flattered, a little, but I was more upset about being copied without credit. And even if she had given credit, I still would have thought it weird that she adapted the profile section I wrote. You’d think that a section about herself would be original, right?
The budding academic in me (I had just started graduate school) was ready to send the young Chicana to the dean of students for plagiarism and to the writing center for a lesson on proper citation. Yeah, I know my blog is not an academic paper in a journal, but if you use my words, you should link. In academia, it’s even more stringent. If I even used your idea, I’d have to cite you. I can’t write a paper without stopping to cite someone every two sentences.
In blogging, I think it’s fair to credit someone if you lift a passage or are inspired by a topic covered in another blog. If words are borrowed, they should be quoted or indented like longer quotes in academic papers. Links should always be included.
I ended up drafting a short email to the girl. I explained why I was upset and asked that she remove my words. She apologized and said she’d take down her whole blog (not just the offending posts) because she felt she needed to start anew.
And then I felt kinda bad.