In general, genealogists are excellent fact-checkers. Part of genealogy research requires the ability to discern between an original source and a copy. The original source is always the most credible. Sadly, it appears that some genealogists do not understand what plagiarism means. Or, they might be aware that they are plagiarising something, and simply don’t care that doing so is wrong.
Dick Eastman, creator of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, posted a blog in which he mentions an individual within the genealogy community who has been engaging in plagiarism. Betty Lou Malesky, in an article she wrote for Green Valley News, shares her experience of discovering that someone had plagiarized her genealogy work.
Genealogists who have their own blog will need to take steps to ensure that they are not plagiarizing the work of someone else. The first thing to understand is what plagiarism means. In short, it is the act of presenting someone else’s work, writing, or ideas, as if they were your own.
Cite Your Sources
One way to prevent plagiarism is to make sure you cite your sources. There are some examples of how to do that in this blog. The second paragraph includes two links to the articles that were mentioned in this blog. This is a quick and easy way to for the people who read this blog to click over to the blog posts that were inspiration for this one.
Be aware that adding a link to the original source does not mean that you can go ahead and copy everything from the original source, word for word. It also does not mean you can copy the entire content and replace a word or two with synonyms.
Don’t Scrape Content
A content scraper is a person (or, in some cases, a bot) that goes to someone else’s website, grabs the entire content of an article or blog, and posts the entire content onto his or her own blog or website. Content scrapers often take the time to remove all identifying information about the person who created the original content.
They want to trick the people that come to their website into thinking the content was written by them – instead of by the person who really wrote it. Content scrapers engage in plagiarism. Google points out that content scrapers may be engaging in copyright infringement.
Ask Before You Post
When in doubt, take the time to ask the original author if it would be ok to copy his or her work onto your blog. Some people will be happy to share if you make sure to attach their name to the work you want to copy. Others will not give permission for you to copy their work.
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