plagiarism [pley-juh-riz-uhm] (noun)
the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work, as by not crediting the author
Definition used is from dictionary.com (<— see how easy that was)
Plagiarism. Read the word off the page, or better yet, say it out loud and give it more importance…it’s an ugly word. In the last two weeks I have had multiple accounts of plagiarism brought to my attention.
One was from a college professor, who, upon discovering the misconduct contained in a few papers, felt that a bond between him and his students was now broken. He lamented the fact that he now felt he could not have that basic trust for his students that was once there.
There have been more minor happenings (copyright and names taken off of someone’s artwork, cropped art used for websites and internet groups, and unaccredited “borrowing” of other people’s writing.
The most egregious example of this happened to someone I consider to be a hugely beneficial entity in the on-line, as well as real world, pagan/magical world.
Recently, Sarah Lawless of The Witch of Forest Grove found out that entire blog posts of hers had been copied verbatim, some still containing her tags, categories, and even number of comments still intact. Not only was it a clear-cut example of blatant plagiarism, it was sloppy and lazy to boot!
This cannot be tolerated or accepted in this community…in OUR (yours and mine) community! Cannot be, should not be, tolerated!
We are all learning from each other. Books are wonderful, but only bring you so far, or give enough information for you to then cut loose on your own. One of the most beneficial tools we have been given in the last 25 years is, without a doubt, the internet and it’s ability to allow us to communicate with each other. We share ideas, post blog posts on our experiences, write articles on popular sites, and comment on news that directly affects “our people.” It is through this free exchange that we grow stronger and enter the next steps, the next phases, in our personal practices, as well as continue furthering the group as a whole.
There are conventions being formed, discussion groups, pagan charity groups, user forums, open enrollment classes, open coven meet-ups, etc. While there may be some problems with these recent developments, the larger view of this is generally positive. You no longer have to feel alone, wrong, or lost in the woods, searching for a path forever. This is a resource that has the potential to empower our entire group of like-minded individuals, morphing us into an actual connected group that can interact from wherever we may live.
It is with that said that my thoughts on plagiarism may be clearer; plagiarism is a harmful practice that diminishes us all. It is dishonest. It has no place among people who value integrity, honesty, or ethics. In a world such as ours, being as all-inclusive to different practices and beliefs as possible, we need to have some standards to live and share by. One must be: “let individuals have proper recognition of their own experiences.”
I would rather read a thousand posts detailing a beginners trials and errors than even one plagiarized account by an “experienced witch.” The person who continually tries, only to ultimately fail, has at least TRIED to get results. Simply put; they have tried and failed…and probably learned something from it and may have important information to share. The person who plagiarizes has not even tried, yet they have instantly failed by default. To think that there are people who, after finding out about the acts of plagiarism, STILL want to stay and learn from this “person of knowledge” who has lied to them (in a manner) is proper backwards hogwash!
Absolutely no good can come from an article or experience being plagiarized. I have heard people say, “…but this is old information that has been floating around our collective consciousness for centuries. How can not giving credit to the original writer possibly help things?” Well, for one, if anyone has questions about the subject matter, as there ALMOST ALWAYS IS, the person who plagiarized it finds that (to their pleasant surprise or possible horror) that they now must/get to step into the role of author and advise their “subjects” who have come to them for further instruction and help. Does no one see the danger in this? Or, at the very least, the potential to throw people spinning into BS-land, trying hard to replicate what they have read, but with incorrect direction, leading them to feel defeated and discouraged.
In addition, the more cases of plagiarism that seem to occur, the more it makes people unsure of if they even WANT to continue, or start, sharing this information with others. Can’t we only benefit from having as many voices chime in on as many subjects as possible? I believe so, that ultimately it can only bolster the readers and searchers out there who are looking for answers or guidance.
I have taken away such a great feeling from reading the various blogs and websites that people dedicate their time and energy to. It makes me feel included. It makes me feel like I’m not “crazy,” or “stupid,” or living in a “fantasy world” all alone. These people have become like friends to me, some of them becoming actual-life friends. I value the work that goes into such sharing of information and couldn’t imagine going back to the old, “gosh, I hope I get to talk to someone like me this year.” That is what could happen if everyone decides that it’s just too draining to keep policing for plagiarisation or misappropriation of their writing and just call it quits.
I will end with this: if you plagiarize you immediately lose all credibility. It casts suspicions. It makes you look like an arm-chair e-witch that “talks” a big game, but contributes nothing. Especially if you take every chance you get to drop a sparkly, glowing gif of the Wiccan Rede, which states “An it harm none do what ye will” when you can’t even begin to understand why plagiarism itself is, in fact, harm done.