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Two Lessons and a Farting Kitten

Snoopy

1. No book will work for everyone, and if you think one of my books is terrible, that’s no big deal. (I am sorry you didn’t like it, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it, either.)

But tagging the author on Facebook so that they get directly notified that you think their book sucks? Kind of rude.

I get that sometimes you type in a name and Facebook or other sites automatically convert that to a tag, so this might have been an accident. But, you know, something to be aware of…

#

2. I remember teaching Freshman English at college a decade or so back and having students who honestly didn’t get that copying and pasting stuff from the internet without citing it was a problem.

I’m not sure why this is such a difficult concept.

If you’re presenting someone else’s words as your own, then you’re plagiarizing.*

(Yes, this was inspired by a specific incident. No, I’m not going to link to it.)

If someone else writes something you think it clever and you want to share, great. You do it like so:

John Scalzi wrote a piece about Kirk Cameron, homophobia, and free speech. He said, “…the First Amendment also means that when you say such things, other people have the a right to mock you and the silly, stupid words that have dribbled out of your skull through that word hole above your chin.” Read the whole thing.

You acknowledge the author. You quote a small excerpt if you want, but you do it as a quote so it’s clear you didn’t write those words. Then you link your readers to the original piece.

Changing a word here and there does not make it “yours.”

Sure, sometimes you won’t be able to find an original author online. If you decide to post and mock a chain e-mail, you probably won’t be able to track down who wrote it. But at the very least, you make it clear that these aren’t your words.

And now I’m done, because I’ve already exceeded my headdesking allotment for the week.


*As soon as I posted, I started thinking, “What if you hire a ghostwriter? Or what about speechwriters? And what if…” So yeah, there are exceptions. But as a general guideline, I like it.

#

Finally, because yesterday I promised kittens and fart jokes (from I Can Haz Cheezburger):

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 75 comments — Leave a comment )
la_marquise_de_
Mar. 16th, 2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
I have had similar problems trying to get students to understand this. Sigh.
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
Any idea *why* it's such a difficult concept? Do you think the internet reinforces a sense that anything online is fair game? Do writing classes just not focus on this stuff anymore?
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fadethecat - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fadethecat - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Mar. 16th, 2012 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fadethecat - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jennygadget - Mar. 16th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - telophase - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cissa - Mar. 19th, 2012 04:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jennygadget - Mar. 16th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - megabitch - Mar. 17th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cathshaffer - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Mar. 16th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - starcat_jewel - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - telophase - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - deborahblakehps - Mar. 16th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
miladygrey
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:28 pm (UTC)
My husband, who teaches high-school English and comp, gets into at least one shouting match per year with students who think that cutting and pasting Wikipedia articles, then adding introductory and conclusion paragraphs, equals an original essay.

I wonder if it's just that some kids/young people just don't know how to put their opinions into original words. There's such a tendency right now to point to someone else's clearly stated opinion and just add your own "I agree!" or "What they said!" without elucidating why. It feels like that's becoming a student's instinct--to find someone else who says what they want and restate that with a couple of personal pronouns thrown in. It makes me sad. How do you know your own thoughts and feelings if you can't express them in your own words?
baker_kitty
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:50 pm (UTC)
"How do you know your own thoughts and feelings if you can't express them in your own words?"

Beautifully put.
(no subject) - mrs_norris_mous - Mar. 16th, 2012 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
fantasyecho
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Sometimes we write bad reviews and you know it's kind of common sense to just name the author and the book we're reviewing. And then the Internet alerts them through various mechanisms.

So, I'm not seeing how it's rude that the author gets notified of a shitty review.
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
It's absolutely common sense to name the author, and if that author has Google alerts set up and gets an e-mail saying, "Hey, this post just went up," then that's one thing.

But tagging the post in Facebook and elsewhere isn't the same thing as mentioning the author's name. Tagging means linking your review directly to the author's Facebook profile, meaning Facebook sends a direct link with your comment/post to the author's e-mail.

It's more-or-less equivalent to writing the shitty review (not a problem in the slightest) and then e-mailing the review directly to the author (rude, in my opinion).

Does that make sense?
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kristenbritain - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
controuble
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
<--I don't have a *headdesk* icon; this is the best I can do.

I have obviously been out of high school for waaaaayy too many years. I do remember being taught how to write a research paper. Are the basic tenets different in an online world? NO, they are not. Try explaining that to today's kids who think anything posted on FaceBook is fair game to swipe/copy/do-whatever-they-like-with. The Share button is there so the attribution gets kept and credit is given where it is due.

P.S. The kitteh iz kewt.

Edited at 2012-03-16 02:58 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
That icon works well.

I love the kitten, but to be honest, it freaks me out a little bit :-)
midnightblooms
Mar. 16th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
*As soon as I posted, I started thinking, “What if you hire a ghostwriter? Or what about speechwriters? And what if…” So yeah, there are exceptions. But as a general guideline, I like it.

Actually it is plagiarism, just not against the writer. In those instances the writer is working under contract and has granted their rights to another person or entity. It's still plagiarism if you paste parts of Obama's speech in your paper. You're just plagiarizing his speech instead of the speechwriter.
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Agreed, but that's not what I meant. When Obama gives a speech, he's basically presenting those words as his own. (Given what I've heard about Obama's writing and how he works with his speechwriters, that might not be far off.) But I wouldn't call it plagiarizing if a politician reads a speech that someone else prepared, for example. Likewise, if a celebrity puts out a book that's ghostwritten, I don't think that celebrity is plagiarizing.

If someone else then quotes the speech or the ghostwritten book without attribution, then absolutely that's a problem, yes.
(no subject) - midnightblooms - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - midnightblooms - Mar. 16th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - swan_tower - Mar. 16th, 2012 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
fadethecat
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
I also suspect that plagiarism is an old, old, oooooold problem. Some of it is easier to do now that there's Wikipedia, but even so.

Why do I think this? Because when I took Latin, one of the passages I got to translate was a medieval story about a little boy who got the devil to write his paper for him, because he didn't think he could get it done properly in time.
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:31 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but the devil's handwriting sucks...
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
serialbabbler
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
On the other hand, there is now this concept of "self-plagiarism" if you re-use your own words without attribution. Which strikes me as bizarre. How can you falsely claim that your own words are your own words?*

I used to think I knew what things meant...

*Mind you, I can understand why the high school teachers and college professors and academics don't want people doing that. It's just... not plagiarism, you know.
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:32 pm (UTC)
I haven't encountered this term before.

Like you, I get that you don't want students just recycling the same work. But I don't think I'd call that plagiarism...
(no subject) - georgmi - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - georgmi - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jennygadget - Mar. 16th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evilrooster - Mar. 17th, 2012 10:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mastadge - Mar. 16th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serialbabbler - Mar. 16th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Mar. 16th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rose_lemberg - Mar. 16th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
snapes_angel
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:37 pm (UTC)
That picture would so get a Fartbook, er, Facebook "like" from me.

I will sometimes post forwards to my blog, but I make sure to put "", or a reasonable facsimile thereof, into my header. Not often, but some are worth reposting.
mastadge
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC)
My brother, a mathematician, was once accused of plagiarism for using an unlikely two-word phrase in a math paper that a Google search revealed had been used once before, in a website about motorcycles.

/cool story
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
Okay, yeah, that might be taking things just a tiny bit too far there...
rose_lemberg
Mar. 16th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
(Yes, this was inspired by a specific incident. No, I’m not going to link to it.)

This person, imho, is not worth anyone's spoons.
jimhines
Mar. 20th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
I wish I had figured that out sooner...
(no subject) - rose_lemberg - Mar. 21st, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) - Expand
margaret_y
Mar. 16th, 2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
Re: tagging reviews

The author of said review must not know what they are *for.* Book reviews are for the readers and not for the author of the book.

I review how-to books on my blog. Sometimes I write 1 star reviews. I would never, ever point out that review to the author. I usually duck my head and hope the author doesn't notice.
georgmi
Mar. 16th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
(Yes, this was inspired by a specific incident. No, I’m not going to link to it.)

Good on you, sir. A goblin army is a terrible thing (especially anonymously on the Internet), and ought not be unleashed irresponsibly.
jimhines
Mar. 16th, 2012 05:28 pm (UTC)
I'm saving my goblin army for more important things. Like making them fetch ice cream, and maybe pie.
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 16th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - zelda888 - Mar. 17th, 2012 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - baker_kitty - Mar. 17th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC) - Expand
kateelliott
Mar. 17th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
So agreed with you about deliberately and specifically linking the author on social media to a bad review of their book. I can't quite get the reviewer's aim. I'm all good with readers have their own response to a book regardless of whether they liked it, disliked it, or whatever. But deliberately shoving a negative review in the author's face? That, I don't quite get.
jimhines
Mar. 17th, 2012 12:23 am (UTC)
I want to give the benefit of the doubt and assume it was an accident, but ... yeah.
(no subject) - kateelliott - Mar. 17th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC) - Expand
mtlawson
Mar. 17th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC)
Hell, plagiarizing speeches once cost Joe Biden a change at the Democratic nomination.
realmjit
Mar. 17th, 2012 05:57 am (UTC)
dog farts are bad, but cat farts are unholy.
finnyb
Mar. 17th, 2012 06:50 am (UTC)
Thank you for your post yesterday...or the day before? (My days are mixed up right now.) The way you worded things let me realize, for the first time, that some stuff that happened to me when I was sixteen was actually rape, and that it makes sense why and how it's still affecting me even now, fifteen years later. I don't know what to do about it, but at least I now know what to call it. Thank you.
jimhines
Mar. 24th, 2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
I apologize for not getting back to this comment sooner. What you're describing ... it's not unusual. We still see a lot of emphasis in TV, film, etc on rape that fits a certain pattern. Lots of violence, often committed by a stranger, and so on. And if someone's experience don't match that pattern, they don't identify or recognize it as rape.

It's a hard step. "Rape" can be a powerfully frightening word, one that's hard to accept. But it can be a step toward taking some of that power back, and toward understanding.

I don't know what space you're in or what you want to do from here, but RAINN has a number that automatically connects callers to the closest free, confidential rape hotline. 1.800.656.HOPE. Sometimes it can be helpful just to talk about it.
(no subject) - finnyb - Mar. 25th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
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