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Plagiarism Discussion on Reddit

Posted by Robert Creutz on Dec 7, 2010 1:37:00 PM

reddit is a popular social news website where users can submit interesting links from around the web to an online community. 

Links are then up voted or down voted based on the community’s interest in the story; the top articles are pushed to the forefront of the site and continue to gain in popularity and viewership.

Not only can ‘Redditors’ submit links to the site, but they can also post questions and anecdotes for the Reddit community to comment on. 

A wide array of topics have been discussed in the past, from users imploring the community to donate to a worthy cause to people launching a variety of grassroots campaigns.

One particular topic that Redditors have been quick to latch onto is plagiarism around the web.   A recent post on Reddit comes from a writer whose article was plagiarized and then distributed on the “Yahoo Contributor Network,” a Yahoo content hub that enables users to make money with their published material.   Immediately after the post, the community began to voice their opinions of the case.

One user (GnomeChumpski) wrote frankly: “Send Yahoo a DMCA takedown notice.” Another user (Derelection) spoke of the particulars of plagiarism and copyright infringement: “…an author of a work deserves recognition for it even when the work is used to generate a new work.” Some users (NorwegianMonkey) took a completely different stance: “The internet and all the information out here should be free for anyone to use and/or adapt as one choose.”

There have been many previous instances of plagiarism discussion on Reddit.  The famous ‘Cooks Source Plagiarism‘ case gained a lot of steam on Reddit and other social news websites – which may have contributed to the mainstream media coverage and the eventual downfall of the publication.  Although a proportion of the comments on the threads like these are comical and unrelated to plagiarism, it also showcases the community’s interest and knowledge on the topic.

Plagiarism discussions on online forums and social sites are a microcosm of the current state of web plagiarism.  These discussions reveal the vast array of contrary opinions about what constitutes plagiarism, the ethics of plagiarism, and the appropriate penalties for the act.  Some difference in opinion can be correlated to the fluctuating ‘free nature’ of the web.  Internet consumers are used to getting a large proportion of their content for free; from the daily morning news to a particular scientific research publication.   Content producers, however, often expect their works to be protected, especially if their livelihood is on the line.

With the help of open forums such as Reddit, the plagiarism discussion will hopefully continue and advance.  Big publishers, small freelance writers, readers and anyone else interested in the web content ecosystem should pay attention and contribute. Discussions like these will eventually shape how web plagiarism is viewed and dealt with.

Citations 7 December 2010. Conde Naste Digital.