A tale of two Web sites is spun

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

This is a story of two sites — Web Site A and Web Site B. I’m not going to identify A or B, because I’m guessing there are a lot of Site As and Site Bs on this particular topic.

Site A, updated by somebody I would consider a friend, contains a variety of different subjects, from current events to pop culture to sports. Late last month, I read an entertaining column on what your sports jersey says about you.

It was such an entertaining read, I wrote to Site A’s author and told him it was a column worthy of a subscription rate — something he doesn’t charge.

I found out just how right I was Monday, when the same column was posted on Site B, with a different opening paragraph and the remaining paragraphs were posted word-for-word.

Site B had a link for posting a classified ad on their Web site and a link for donations. What the site didn’t have was a link or credit to Site A. Back when I went to school, we called that plagiarism.

On Site B’s discussion board related to the column, numerous posts were dedicated to the outright theft of the literature. Site A’s author politely asked the site not to use his work. While he was flattered that somebody enjoyed the column and Site A enough to bring it to others, he felt it was rather disingenuous to take an item from a free Web site and post it as original content on a site seeking advertisement and donations.

The response from Site B was not to remove the item, but a note the next day that the site updater was tired and forgot to do it. There were no changes to the column on Site B, despite the fact that the authors had ample time to make simple changes or take down the plagiarized column.

Frequent readers of Site B then proceeded to make fun of the Site A author, who had committed the egregious task of calling out somebody who stole his intellectual property.
The Site B administrators, meanwhile, went on a fact-finding mission to see just who had tipped off Site A’s author. Anybody who sided with Site A was viewed as disrespectful to the online community.

Back on Site A, the author has washed his hands of the whole thing. He felt the matter was no longer worth his time, and if Site B’s readership was so eager to joke about the whole affair, the joke was really on them.

I don’t have a particular solution to the problem; it’s just something that’s bothered me throughout the week. I think everybody has to have their own solution. Maybe some people call out those who steal the work of others and never visit those sites again. However, I’m guessing some people have chosen to say it happens all the time and they do nothing.

That’s unfortunate because we base our entire educational system on the foundation that cheating and plagiarism are absolutely wrong, but we grow up and apply a sliding scale based on whether we like the guilty party.

Maybe Site B’s author will wake up one day and realize that. Hopefully, he’s not too tired to do the right thing.

Kevin Wilson is the interim managing editor of the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at 461-1952 or by e-mail: