Nov 15 2010

Watch your pingbacks

Thanks to a WordPress pingback, I have just discovered that a blog post, Professional services firms and social media, that I wrote and published on 5 November has been re-used without my permission and without attribution to me as the original author. The content was re-published on the blog of “a digital marketing start-up based in Mumbai, India”, and – to make matters worse – the content was also linked from the start-up’s Facebook page. I immediately left a comment on the plagiarised blog  – “Please ensure that the original source is correctly and prominently attributed, or completely remove it from your website as soon as possible” – and then (having – reluctantly – ‘Liked’ it) commented on the Facebook page, as well as Tweeting about it.

To the credit of the blogger, he came back to me within minutes with an apologetic email:

Done. and with my Apologies to you. Usually I specify a link to the original source, since I’m new to writing, i’m testing with various things as of now.

It was edited because it was not fully published as I was up to testing something … But sorry it didn’t click my mind to remove it there after.

Good learning at this stage I must say. I have removed the article as of now, But if you permit me I may link up to your article sometime in future.

If nothing else, this was a good lesson on keeping an eye on those pingbacks (I also occasionally use Copyscape – indeed, when I double-checked the same article URL on Copyscape, I found it had also been used on SocialMediaToday, but a) this is a site I joined in order to share content, and b) I was credited as the author). As the article also referred to some original research by my fellow London-based PR practitioner Scott Addison, I was doubly keen to ensure that it was correctly attributed.

This episode also demonstrated how, in an increasingly connected world, it is possible to quickly resolve an issue using the immediacy and transparency of social media channels (from pingback to take-down took less than two hours, and I subsequently removed my Facebook comment). Few people – least of all, a fledgling digital marketing start-up – want to be highlighted for copying other people’s content and potentially misleading others into thinking it was their own work.

1 comment

  1. Unfortunately this is the price we are expected to pay for success. Some folks are really sneaky too- I had one who stole my content but reworked it for themselves and for their own glory.
    Fortunately I am well enough known now that people tell me when others steal my blogs or ideas. 😉
    Its pure laziness really, they cant be bothered to create their own- so they steal it and pretend its theirs.
    However, what it teaches is that we are clearly ahead of our competitors or they wouldn’t feel the need to copy it.

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