Levels of Plagiarism

OK, so I’m familiar with those blogs that basically just scrape your RSS feed and steal your content word-for-word, and I’m a victim of several of those myself. It’s always annoying when someone refers me to one of the articles on those blogs and then I’m like, “Uh… yeah… I wrote that. Months ago.”

I just got an anonymous comment, though, that pointed me to a new and interesting level of that sort of content theft. The funny thing is, they accused me of being the thief. Anonymously, but still, the accusation bugs me.

The article in question is my set of instructions for getting the most out of Twhirl. I posted that back on April 22, 2008. The anonymous comment told me I had plagiarized an article on a blog that was posted on February 18, 2009. The URL of the ripped-off article is http://www.themoxiemomblog.com/headline/how-to-easily-create-a-customized-twhirl-color-scheme (I’m not hyperlinking it because I’m not giving that ripoff any Google juice. Note, also, that IE8 crashes on certain pages on that site… I don’t know if it’s trying to do something malicious or if that’s just IE8, but you’ve been warned.)

This copy actually required a human being to reword the article. It’s got exactly the same points, the same steps to create a custom Twhirl theme, everything… but sentence structure was switched. For example:

My sentence: Turn off “prefix tweets with sender’s name.” Their sentence: You can turn off the prefixing of tweets with the sender’s name.

My sentence: Turn off “mark received tweets as new.” Their sentence: Turn off all new tweets as being marked.

If you open the articles side-by-side, it’s a blatant theft of my content, yet I’d classify this as far more annoying than the robotic theft of my content wholesale because this level of theft actually requires a human to tweak it. And the fact that someone accused me of stealing my own content? ARGH.