Rule #5: Don’t Be a Sea Witch

by Rachel on August 27, 2010

When I was a kid, “The Little Mermaid” was my favorite movie. If you aren’t familiar with the plot, the sea witch, Ursula, takes Ariel’s voice in exchange for legs and a working vagina so she can bag Prince Eric.

I’d give up a lot for Eric, but I’d never give up my voice. As a writer, it’s all I have.

But sometimes people take it without asking.

I’ve had this problem since I started blogging. I once caught someone literally cutting and pasting my Spartanette posts into another website and presenting them as hers. Luckily, the blog had an editor, and I was able to get them removed.

Generally, I deal more with people just quietly taking my ideas, ways of presenting information, and, well, everything that makes me, me.

Health bloggers are often guilty of being sea witches. It’s a hard type of blog to keep interesting, and so when someone comes up with a way to do so, and present the same information in a more creative way, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.

I saw a bunch of normally PG-rated bloggers refer to “getting their cherry popped” on a new type of exercise in the days following my Losing Your Virspinity video.

I see bloggers now trying their hand at writing on their photos (and bombing, because it’s really hard to do without the right software).

I see bloggers writing posts where they own it — but then give credit to the wrong blogger for inspiring them to do so.

And sometimes, I see bloggers just straight up ripping me off.

This week, I had the majorly unpleasant experience of seeing a friend — a friend whose blog I helped her start — take my words, my rules, my lessons, my voice, and try to pass them off as her own. She changed enough (like the whole “good grammar and punctuation” thing that’s also a part of my voice) to make it a bad copy. But still, reading it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. This is a person who has loyally read nearly all my posts and my book proposal — you’d recognize her name from the comments if I told you — and I found it more than a coincidence that she was instructing others on how to party like a sorostitute, wear a standing room only dress, and oh — there was mention of “our number one motto: don’t be ridiculous.”

And there was not a single link to me in the entire post.

Oh, and when I asked her to give me some credit, she responded in a cold, bitchy manner, refused to admit that this post (and others) was pretty heavily influenced by my blog, and took two days to put the links in…which she added at the end of the post in the most passive aggressive way possible, still refusing to give me full credit.

I don’t get mad very often. Annoyed, sure. But mad? It takes a lot.

Stealing my shit is the fastest way to do it.

And I know everyone will say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” No. No, it’s really not. You know what is? A compliment. Forwarding the link to my blog to your friends. Telling me that you literally laughed out loud. That is flattering.

Ripping me off is violating.

I have spent this week feeling sick to my stomach, like something has actually been taken from me. The fact that it was taken by a friend whom I trusted makes matters worse, but seeing my style everywhere — and seeing it butchered in the process — really hurts.

It doesn’t matter if the blogger is bigger or smaller than the person from whom they are stealing. If they have one reader who has never heard of the original blogger, then that is one reader who is being tricked into thinking the other blogger created something she didn’t. And it’s wrong.

I started Hollaback Health as a way to inspire other bloggers to find their own voice for their blogs. If we all just copy each other, then it’s a boring blogosphere. I love reading blogs that find their own way to tell a story, whether it’s with themed days, regular features, or just using pictures, video, and words in a different way than everyone else. But as soon as someone else starts doing it too, both bloggers lose.

I don’t know if all bloggers consider themselves writers, so they may not understand why I’d so fiercely protect what it is I do here. They may not spend the hours that I do editing pictures and video, writing and re-writing, cultivating my voice, and building my blog. They may think it’s perfectly fine to go Ursula on me and other bloggers because, well, who cares? It’s the internet! No rules!

There are rules. There are copyright rules. And I have my rules too, and this is one of them. Don’t rip off people’s style. If you use someone else’s material, word, idea, theme, whatever — you link to them. You ask them if they are comfortable with it. You own what you do, not what other people do.

Like I said, I don’t get mad often, but I could barely sleep last night, I was so angry. I have a book to sell, a livelihood to make, and intellectual property to defend. My voice is all I have, and I won’t just blindly give it over to any sea witch who wants it.

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MelissaNibbles August 27, 2010 at 8:31 am

Holy crap. I’m so sorry that someone you thought was your friend did this to you. I want to know who it was so I can NOT read their blog.

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2 Caitlin August 27, 2010 at 8:33 am

This was well-written, eloquent and got the point across showing your seriousness. Kudos to you.

And I agree. True, anyone can start a blog. Anyone can chose to publish content. We may not have a teacher reading our writing, checking for plagiarism anymore, but we should still have morals and integrity. I truly hope this problem ceases. As a writer myself, I think I would feel like my DNA was being stripped if other writers were passing off my ideas, brand and words as their own.

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3 Rachel's Mom August 27, 2010 at 8:36 am

I am so glad I didn’t raise some girl who would just roll over and take it!

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4 Heather August 27, 2010 at 12:12 pm

i love this comment.

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5 Elisabeth August 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I know…I love Rachel’s Mom! =)

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6 Cameo March 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Go, Rachel’s MOM! LOL.

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7 betsy August 27, 2010 at 8:36 am

Ugh, sorry you are going through this. I have more to say but thought I should keep it PG.

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8 Missy Maintains August 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

So sorry you had to go through all of this during the past couple of days. What she did was totally wrong, especially the way she handled everything. I am so glad you put this out there. It needed to be said.

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9 Lexie August 27, 2010 at 8:43 am

UGH. I had someone do this with the NAME OF MY BLOG. Whenever I first got created my blog If I was a fit girl (in reference to Gwen Stefani’s If I was a rich girl), I sent the link to a coworker. A few days later, I had an invite to a facebook group she created called If I were a fit chick. She hadn’t even offered to make me a moderator of the group! When I confronted her about it, she denied that she got the idea from me. Instead she said, oh well I wanted to call it If I were a fit bitch but facebook wouldn’t allow. Um, that’s still basically my blog title. Then she said, well I was inspired by the song If I were a rich man…

I got over it, but I was furious for weeks. Not giving someone credit is messed up. I feel you, Rachel.

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10 Elisabeth August 27, 2010 at 8:52 am

As we’ve already established, what she did was totally ridiculous. I’m glad that you addressed everything publicly.

Borrowing/stealing/imitating…it’s all the same thing. If you use someone else’s idea, you HAVE to give credit where it’s due. Otherwise, it’s completely disrespectful, and you’re just a total fake.

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11 Teri [a foodie stays fit] August 27, 2010 at 8:55 am

I’m SO sorry about this. I agree that you have such a distinct blog and voice that it would be really obvious she was copying you without credit. And it’s wrong. Totally wrong.

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12 Angie Nikolas August 27, 2010 at 8:59 am

Totally agree – give credit where credit is due. It takes all of 2 seconds to put a link in there.

Also – I adore your mom’s comment.

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13 Di August 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

I’m SO sorry about this! That definitely sucks. :( I’m sure it hurts a little extra since it’s a friend of yours. She should’ve given you credit and not just because you said so.

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14 Dori August 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

So well written (and funny — the line about Ariel wanting a working vagina [hehe]). It is never OK to blatantly steal someone’s words, and to be passive aggressive about it as this blogger was is proof that she feels threatened by you. Your writing is fantastic and your tone is so you, no one could possibly emulate it perfectly — but they can try, and they will fall short.

As for writing an owning it post and not giving credit, I know who did that and she truly does NOT get it. Some people never will.

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15 Laura Georgina August 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

Amazingly well-said–SO glad you said it! I hope people figure out who it was….

Oh yeah, and I love Rachel’s Mom.

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16 Bess August 27, 2010 at 9:10 am

First off, I LOVE your mom’s response! I am also so glad that you’ve taken to the Interweb to discuss this, as nobody deserves to have their voice ripped off, especially someone as talented as you!!!

Though you do have to admit that if they were going to steal, they at least had the sense to go to Chanel, not Fashion Bug.

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17 Libby August 27, 2010 at 9:13 am

1) Your mom is awesome. Not in a your mom joke kind of way, but seriously. Her comment made me smile.
2) I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this — especially with a friend. What an ugly conversation to have to have. Hopefully she will learn quickly and this is just inexperience showing. Maybe she’s like one of my former students that thinks it doesn’t count as plagiarism “because I changed it a bit and she’s not famous.”

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18 Rachel August 27, 2010 at 9:15 am

I’m a new reader but I very much enjoy your blog. You have the most original voice I’ve read/watched in a long time. You have a unique style and you own it. Keep at it. I look forward to reading much more.

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19 Caroline August 27, 2010 at 9:18 am

I read your blog all the time because of your distinct voice and honest take on things. I wish I could say I can’t believe someone would steal from you, but I can. You are creative, funny, and put tons of work into this blog, hopefully she gets the message after this post and stops!

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20 Christie {Honoring Health} August 27, 2010 at 9:19 am

Chiming in on the love the mom comment.

I am sorry you have to go through that. I have seen a lot of posts “owning it” this week, all of which have linked back. Boo hiss on anyone who would blatantly steal your stuff and then not even be woman enough to admit she was wrong and fix it. Shame on her.

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21 Leah (Nutritionista) August 27, 2010 at 9:19 am

I’m with Bess. But a bad knock-off of a fabulous bag is still cheap!

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22 chandra August 27, 2010 at 9:23 am

Gah, the nosey gossip girl in me is *dying* to know who it is. lol But all of that aside, very well put. Anyone who is even “borrowing” an idea from your posts/writing should be giving you credit for the inspiration. This is one time where they DON’T own it and need to let others know the true owner.

PS – The Little Mermaid is still my favorite animated movie. I used to think I could sing like Ariel… I was extremely wrong.. lol

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23 Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers August 27, 2010 at 9:26 am

this has actually happened to me too and it really is disheartening. :( i’m sorry you experienced it from someone who you clearly made an effort to help. stupid sea witches!

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24 Tanya August 27, 2010 at 9:29 am

So sorry you’re going through this – and it’s worse because it’s a friend. Unfortunately, it’s the internet and stealing content is going to happen – one of the reasons that I have partial feeds on my food reviews blog.

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25 Andrea August 27, 2010 at 9:35 am

I think I’m the queen of linking to other people…because I recognize that I’m really not all that original. Plus, um, I teach about plagiarism all the time in my college public speaking classes. Hypocrite, much? So, yeah. Go on and own this. You’re one of the most clever and witty bloggers I know, so I’m sure you can expect more and more people to copy your shiz. But, it can’t feel good.

So, shame on your friend for plagiarizing. Shame shame!

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26 Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) August 27, 2010 at 9:46 am

People think that because our work is on the internet, it’s not copying/stealing, etc. But it’s still plagiarism! Plain and simple. Love the Little Mermaid reference :)

And love your blog!

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27 Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 27, 2010 at 9:52 am

How frustrating and ridiculous. I had someone steal a story that I posted with I was 12 years old and just changed a couple of words. Literally, like two words. I was able to call them out and take it down. But still, so frustrating and ridiculous.

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28 Alicia at Poise in Parma August 27, 2010 at 9:55 am

Wow. What a post, and what a situation. Good for you for sticking to your guns and your rules. If you aren’t going to fight for yourself, who is?

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29 Nikki August 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

I’m sorry you’re going through this. I think losing friends is worse than losing a boyfriend in most cases. Way to call her out and stay true to yourself and your voice.

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30 tish August 27, 2010 at 10:13 am

i remember j telling me someone tried to use “fit bottomed girl” lol…she scared the bajeezes out of that girl when she threw “trademark” and “sue” into the convo : ) i wish you would have posted the blog of the person. if it’s truly no big deal to steal someone’s voice then you won’t mind a friendly comment or two stating that we’ve read that (fill in the blank) on another blog.

ps i have a friend that constantly takes and borrows and fakes the funk with me…she takes all the weird quirks that make me me, including trying to start up a blog a couple of years ago…she only posted 3 times. if i bring that shit up she quotes that immitation bull shit. makes my ass twitch. might have to use your comeback to that stupid justification….giving you full props of course ;)

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31 Jacki August 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

don’t worry, YOU are the number one stunna.

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32 Triz August 27, 2010 at 10:34 am

Rachel, I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I am also kind of sorry for the other person, as trying to be as smart and funny as you is pretty much a waste of time! Why she would go out of her way to invite comparison is hard to understand.

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33 Rachael August 27, 2010 at 10:40 am

I have to admit, you, and probably you alone, inspire me daily to be a better blogger. I love each and every one of your posts and you had mucho influence when starting my new blog. However, stealing the very things that make you so unique and that I love so very much about you is just hurtful.

How did this person not think you wouldn’t notice? I mean, it came from that pretty little brain of yours, of course you’d recognize your own shit being splattered all over her blog.

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34 Shannon August 27, 2010 at 11:02 am

I feel like a curious kitty as well – wanting to know who the plagairizer is, but then I realized…..

This person does NOT need any more traffic. Good attention, Bad attention – it’s all attention – and she’s not getting mine!

I’m sorry that you had to experience this betrayal in a friedship. It sucks and my heart goes out to you!

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35 Trinidad August 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

Wow! Umm… Didn’t she realize that you would see it? I’m sorry that you are going through this! Especially with a friend!

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36 Robyn August 27, 2010 at 11:12 am

Seriously, what a bitch. I’m so sorry you had to deal with that — it might not be much consolation, but she’ll get hers.

P.S. Your mom is SO right!

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37 FoodCents August 27, 2010 at 11:12 am

Don’t sleep with a friends guy, don’t take peoples shit, don’t plagarize & give credit where credit is due.

I imagine whomever took your words & thoughts and failed in trying to make them their own, is reading this. To that person, shame on you. Have a little respect, learn some tact and it’s unfortunate that you chose to handle this matter in a very unclassy way.

Rachel, good for you for writing about this. Let us hope that people will take this as a reminder to blog with integrity. Not that all will follow, for there will always be those who choose the classless route.

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38 Anne Bender August 27, 2010 at 11:14 am

I have a friend who, also being a published author, has a very strong stance on copyright infringement. She wrote a great post on her site – http://jahangiri.us/new/2010/07/07/copyright-essentials-for-writers/ , just in case your “friend” needs a refresher course.

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39 Rachel August 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for this!! Seriously, awesome!

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40 Tara August 27, 2010 at 11:44 am

While it was a decent blog…I guess I’ll just have to TUNE the eff out!

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41 Heather August 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

Those of us who saw her blog know it has NOTHING on yours. Everything — your voice, your graphics, your catchphrases — just everything is better on y0urs! And taking ‘Don’t Be Ridiculous’ as her own? No effing way.

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42 Tara August 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Exactly! Enough said.

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43 Mary August 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm

While I am sorry that a friend of yours ripped you off I find it almost unbelievably narcissistic and naïve that you think that you invented the terms “owning it” or “don’t be ridiculous,” or that you somehow hold the copyright to writing on pictures on your blog. Your site is amusing and sometimes helpful. It is not revolutionary or groundbreaking. You are a former sorority girl who is health blogger. There are thousands of you out there. Get over yourself.

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44 Rachel August 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Hey Mary! I guess I should have been more clear: I DEFINITELY do not think I invented “own it” and “don’t be ridiculous.” Of course I don’t think I’m the first person to put those words together in the English language. Come on. The problem is that they were used by such a good friend, in the same context as mine, but without acknowledging where she heard it when she knew — to link back is just blogging etiquette. And I did invent “standing room only dresses,” which she also knew. In all honesty, I felt awkward even confronting her at first because it felt so arrogant, but I also know — and my agent and editors do too — that I do something unique and that I’m not just a “sorority girl with a health blog.” I hope this post doesn’t turn you off to my blog, but if you really think that’s all I do here, then I understand why you’d be quick to leave and not return. — Rachel

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45 anon reader August 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm

while i see your point – just because there are a thousand bloggers, doesn’t diminish the right to keep an individual style in one’s blog. she has a particular style that she spent time cultivating – would you feel differently if rachel was an illustrator or decorator and people starting borrowing obvious stylistic elements from her designs? if rachel drew a house, she didn’t invent the house, but she did package and display the house in a way she came up with.

it’s unfair to ignore those stylistic elements on a website just because it’s a blog.

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46 Suzanne August 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Ugh this is so awful! Sorry you’ve had to deal with this :(

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47 Heather August 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm

ok, girl. you know it has to be me that raises some questions.

First off, I must say that it SUCKS (duh, you know that) that this happened with someone you considered a friend. I am VERY sorry to hear about that.

I do need to ask some questions ASIDE from that though – an “in other cases” kind of question list, if you will. Please know that as I ask these questions and form discussion on the topic, I’m not talking about the “obvious” situation you find yourself in of people taking your exact words, text on pictures, and series ideas, etc.

1. If you find someone that has stolen your thoughts/ideas/etc., do you confront them with an email or other form of contact?

2. If so, do you inquire or blame? Get specious or curious? [call me ignorant, but I tend to lend people the benefit of the doubt, assuming that maybe I’m wrong and should give them the chance to share their own story/explain]

3. The reason I ask is I have had more than one experience where I draft things, or even publish them, and then when I clean out my google reader on a weekend, I find that someone else, whom I respect and enjoy, recently published something similar. Our ideas being linear is kind of awesome, truthfully, and usually – even if it’s several days after the original blogger posted, I leave a comment saying “Oh my word! We totally are on the same wavelength – I posted something recently that basically could be this posts twin.”

4. of course, I have also have experiences where I write something and publish it and then several days later see someone else has written something similar to my post. (and sometimes longer) But I never assume that they read my post first. Mostly because even the bloggers I enjoy reading the most I don’t read every post of – I just don’t. (ahem. And I’m sorry I’m not sorry. –you. )

5. also, isn’t part of the creative process of, not writing so much as, you know, LIFE , being inspired and motivated by what we see, appreciate, and enjoy?

If I decide to “own it” via blog post I am obviously going to link to you (after all, you know that I tweet your links and share your stuff on google reader OFTEN when I think it’s something valuable to my followers, or will help them to understand ME better – that’s right, me. Because if I agree with one of your posts, and then say “love this post: link” doesn’t it help my readers/twitter friends/google followers to understand ME better, too? ) but I also remember other bloggers talking about topics VERY SIMILAR to owning it – admitting things and taking pride in the things that aren’t “popularly read about” in other healthy living blogs. Confessions of things you’ve been hiding due to suspected judgments. Embracing the parts of you that you sometimes keep quiet because you fear how the internet will respond. Basically….owning it. And just because they don’t call it “owning it” doesn’t mean that it’s not a similar idea – right?

I am not writing this (annoying long) comment to say I disagree with you – because I do AGREE with you – but I just think, I mean – I guess in this comment I am owning the fact that I fear that at some point I am going to write about something and someone is going to tell you about it and then you’re going to search for it, find it, find something that you think is yours and that’s going to piss you off, and then a whole slew of people are going to go around talking bad about me. (and I know I need to work on the whole caring if people talk bad about me – but come on, I do. I’ll own that too.) Even if I hadn’t read your blog in several months. Even if it’s a post I wrote months ago. Even if I had no intention of sounding like you. Even if I wrote something months ago that uses the same phrase that you use in a post you wrote last week, or tomorrow. I fear that you would kick my ass. Yes. Cyberasskicking.

xo

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48 Rachel August 27, 2010 at 12:53 pm

We shall cover this in future lessons!

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49 Elisabeth August 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I definitely can’t speak for Rachel here, but I think that this was more of a “perfect storm” scenario. The fact that sometimes we get ideas from each other, or we have linear ideas is sort of expected. We’re all blogging along similar topics. Many of us have weekly “confessions” posts, as do I, and I couldn’t honestly tell you if there is one particular blogger who started this tradition. If I knew that there was, I would give credit to the original.

Sometimes, ideas are going to resurface, and sometimes, you’re not going to know where they came from. This, however, is just way too calculated. And, this particular blogger doesn’t just steal Rachel’s material.

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50 Trinidad Pena August 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm

@ Heather – I think you just have to use your judgment. There is always going to be cross over in ideas and content but I think you kinda of know when you are doing it. For example, you might have lessons or goals posted as Rachel does and lots of people do, they aren’t necessary stealing the idea from each other. But if you go and read one of her lessons and it gives an idea for a post, and you forth and write then you probably need to give credit. AND IF THERE IS ANY COPY AND PASTING GOING ON! Even if you are altering, then you need to give credit.

Also, I think timing and wording amount for a lot. If you it’s right after someone posted it and the wording is suspiciously similar it’s going to be a red flag. Where as if you just happened to write about something around the same time, or even where inspired by something you read months ago the wording would be different and in your style of writing not theirs.

I also think a how you handle it, if someone says something is key. I found myself telling a friend “Don’t be ridiculous”, when she was telling something she was going to do and probably as it crossed my lips, I wasn’t thinking why that phrase was on the brain. Similarity, you might adopt something without really thinking about it, but if someone calls you out, you’d slap yourself upside the head and think “of course” and then quickly apologize and give credit. But really, this only feels true if it’s a one time slip up vs talking people’s phrases on a regular basis.

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51 Heather August 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Thanks!

I agree whole heartedly about your entire comment, especially the last paragraph.
I catch myself saying things my friends say often – if you are around something a lot, it happens naturally, I suppose. Words and phrases we hear often creep their way into our vocabulary daily. (example: HBH post on amazeballs)

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52 Heather August 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Thanks, Elisabeth! I’m glad to see you chiming in on my comment (I LOVE that often the comment sections of the smartest blogs have such great discussion between readers!)

I understand that this specific instance is different – I was hoping to spark some conversation on the idea as a whole, though. This is especially because people that may read this post apart from the remainder of Rachel’s posts may get a vibe that I don’t personally think that Rachel is giving off, or an suggestive opinion of how to treat anyone who speaks similarly/covers similar topics – but i know this post will be one that is shared, emailed, RTed and talked about because it hits close to home for many of us! I have a feeling this post will see many “new eyes” to her fantastic blog, and I think there is MORE to be said about the topic.

I’m really excited to hear more about what Rachel has to say about this in the future – she is def. someone I have used for a resource in the past for questions in social media etiquette, blogging questions/suggestions, and more (one time she may have helped me with a sheddingitandgettingoff playlist, just saying.)

Just to be clear, my comment above was SERIOUSLY not meant to sound like I opposed Rachel in this situation, or took sides with the other girl. (I would gladly tell her she needs to credit Rachel if she is going to use her material as described, as well as encourage her to do something DIFFERENT as the blog world does not need 100 of the same exact blog.) I did want to question a broader look at the topic, however.

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53 Hangry Pants August 27, 2010 at 9:40 pm

I am really looking forward to seeing more about this topic because while I agree that stealing ideas is just wrong and annoying when it happens to you, as it idid to Rachel, I am also interested in what Heather brought up because it’s probably the more common situation.

I really don’t like it when bloggers get all bent out of shape if something they “invented” or “created” is on other blogs. I think I am thinking specifically about simple recipes that have been around since fire was invented. Or for, example, posting picture of your Garmin after your 52 mile run. Imagine if the very first person who ever did that got pissed at everyone in the world who did that now.

For example, people ask me if I get annoyed when people use the word hangry and do not link to me. No, of course not. I like it when they do. :) Perhaps I am the person who made them aware of this term, but I (sadly) did not invent it and can’t claim it as my own anymore than someone can claim a peanut butter sandwich as their own.

Like Heather I also never assume that anyone (except my mom) reads my blog, and so I have a hard time getting ticked off when I see “my idea” somewhere else. I also think a large part of blogging (at least in the way I am involved in it) is for sharing ideas and learning from one another. I personally always try to be overly zealous about citing a source, but that’s my nature.

Anyway, I really am looking forward to a discussion on the grey areas of idea pirating because I would love to know how other bloggers feel.

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54 Hangry Pants August 28, 2010 at 12:43 am

Lol. I wrote a confession post in 8/08 but I don’t think I was the first either.

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55 zenlizzie August 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Are there any tools online to check duplicate copy? I know if teachers have them, there is probably a rip-off blogger version. I’ll put that on my things to google.

I’m always flabbergasted at people who steal because I don’t see how they can take pride in that. It is annoying when someone takes an idea and doesn’t give credit (this is something I’m trying to get over.), but it is totally intolerable for someone to rip off content.

Don’t these people learn about plagiarism in school? Don’t they have any shame?

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56 Bess August 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I love your idea to google online tools to check duplicate copy.

Keep us posted as to what you find out!

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57 Summer August 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I don’t want to go back and restate what everyone else has said here, but I concur. I did read said blog, and while I knew that it was heavily influenced by Rachel, I think I didn’t automatically think about the fact that not everyone who reads that blog reads Rachel. Which means that readers didn’t realize that the content wasn’t completely original. The polite thing to do would be to link back. It was the response to Rachel’s request that wasn’t honestly the kicker.

After having been a faithful reader of Shedding It for a while, and seeing the comments play out between the blogger in question and Rachel, it’s not hard to see how much influence Rachel had and the common themes. That’s fine. It’s using the exact wording that is kinda fishy. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…if you acknowledge (gracefully) where it came from, without turning your back on those before you that obviously had a hand in.

In response to Mary, it seems to me that Rachel has been thinking about this for a while and didn’t necessarily see it and say, “OMG, health blogger!!!1! Copycat!” I think the situation runs deeper than that. If I say “I’m sorry I’m not sorry” I could just as easily be quoting Wedding Crashers (which I’ve done in the past and will continue to do in the future). But if I later post a video about how I think that a rigorous session of foreplay grants me the ability to head to Burger King for breakfast on the same blog…then yeah, it’s going to look like I’m stealing Rachel’s thunder.

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58 Bess August 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

PERFECTLY PUT!!!!

In addition to being as unethical and classless to borrow exact jargin and not credit the source, I found the disclaimer she added (in tiny font at the end nonetheless) to read like a petulant child who is appeasing their parents’ request to apologize so that they can get dessert.

And Rachel totally took the high road by NOT calling out the specific blogger(s) and linking to said posts which is very admirable (not sure if I would have had that self control had it happened to me).

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59 Summer August 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Agreed! I took special care not to name names.

And now, after reading your owning post, I think I shall take a 60-second dance break….NOW!

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60 Bess August 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I even bust out with dance breaks in the middle of the street a la Joseph Gordon Levitt in (500) Days of Summer.

Don’t hold me accountable if your feet won’t let you stop when the 60 seconds is up :)

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61 Rachel August 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Oh, Summer, I do like you.

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62 Kendra August 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I have to add my support to the love for Rachel’s mom!

Rachel I think that you are handling this so well.

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63 Jen August 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I hope that the blogger in questions will come to understand the appropriate use of source material and the intricacies of plagarism before the academic year starts. Grad advisors can be such sticklers about those things.

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64 Katie August 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I haven’t seen the offending blog but it sounds pretty clear and obvious the author knew what she was doing. I have wondered before about the copyright issues with blogging but have never really looked into it- it’s pretty unfortunate it’s even happening. Love your original, entertaining oh-so-much-more than “just a health blog” and I hope you get the credit due to you!

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65 Anon reader #2 August 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Oh please….

#1 I have read the offending blog and find most of her posts not about healthy living as much as about learning to thrive as a young woman in a new place. Yes she posts recipes and some tips on style, but they are her ideas, seeing as how she stopped reading your shit a long time ago. If it happens to look like yours, maybe sound like yours, couldn’t it also mean that you are alike in some ways, but don’t always have the same life experiences?
#2 You probably should have taken the even higher road and not posted anything at all, seeing as how she has left you quite alone and hasn’t bitten back publicly just to have 60 or so ass-kissers comment

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66 Rachel August 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Oh, you’re right, hers is not a healthy living blog. Neither is mine. I just meant that it happened to me a lot when I was a healthy living blogger. I apologize for the confusion.

I have to disagree with “stopped reading your shit a long time ago” though. Her last comment here was just a week ago, and she e-mailed me for boy and life advice on Monday.

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67 Tara August 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm

WHO DAT! Um, what’s up now?!? Okay, I have GOT to move on from blog-gate 2010!

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68 Summer August 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Haha, yes, Tara! Thanks for christening this as such.

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69 Heather August 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Ahahaha, who dat, Tara, you’re cracking me up. Also, anonymous, you must be reeeaaallly close with said blogger to know which blogs she does and does not read. Because honestly, I have no clue which blogs even my very best friends are reading on a daily basis. Just something to think about.

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70 Kristen August 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I think it has to be said that the “anonymous” commenters rushing to the defense of the blog-offender are just ridiculous. If you want to support this person, you are more than entitled to do so, but at least have the balls to put a name to your comment. How would you feel if you committed an ethical misstep and the only backers you had hid behind a curtain of anonymity?

So if you want to defend this person, that is just fine. But the least you can do is own your shit.

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71 MrsFatass August 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

So, I don’t think this has happened to me yet, but I have seen it happen to people I know. And it sucks. To me (and don’t hate, it’s just an opinion) it’s the difference between being a writer who blogs, and being a hobbyblogger. There are just certain things, certain etiquette that it seems the hobbybloggers don’t understand and don’t care to learn.

I don’t know. I write a lot about my hoohah, though, and a couple of times my hoohah’s response to spinning. But ‘virspinity’? Is fucking brilliant. Go YOU.

(and I think it’s so cool you’re from Grand Blanc)

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72 the notebook doodles August 29, 2010 at 1:40 am

oh my goodness. you wrote this so well, i wish i could express myself this way when the whole “ursula” thing happened to me a couple of days ago.

and i completely agree on “ripping me off is violating” because that’s exactly how i felt when i saw my work being shred into pieces like it meant nothing at all to them! and the fact that i took so much time and effort to create my work and yet, all they do is just cut it into different pieces and photoshop them together to make a completely different thing!

and the funny this is, i do write/doodle on my photos. well technically, there’s the whole scanning-in process as well. but it’s funny that you mentioned it on your post too!

anyways, i am much more calm about my situation now. i realized that it happens, once in a while but i just hope it won’t happen THAT often.

also, i hope you’ve cut ties with your so-called friend. it’s such a bitchy move to do such a thing!

ps. i came across your site from another site :p such coincidence!

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73 Paige S August 30, 2010 at 1:26 am

I’ve only been reading your blog for a couple of months but I immediately knew who this referred to. I read her “version” and was astounded. Really?? In my eyes you’ve practically trademarked “sorostitute” and “don’t be ridiculous” so it was aggravating to see that she didn’t even cite your blog with those key phrases. I hope she comes to her senses and removes the post; not only did she lose my respect, but she also threw away having you as a fabulous friend and mentor. Inspiration is one thing, plagiarism is another.

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74 NiftyEats September 3, 2010 at 12:05 am

Great post, can’t wait to read more. I hope that this so-called friend would apologize asap. Big NO NO. Heck, I’m so nosey I’m tempted to go back to comments and figure it out. lol

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75 Caitlin September 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I find this post and all the comments very interesting!

One, I can’t believe someone straight up copied your sentences. Especially as a writer/blogger, I totally agree that this is wrong and slightly disgusting. It is very violating and I’m really surprised your friend did not immediately apologize. Once something similar happened to me, but the other blogger immediately took down the post and said they were “inspired” by my text and didn’t think anything was wrong was copying + pasting but not crediting. I actually do believe her so it was all good in the end. Seems like this was not the case for your friend.

However, in general, I do NOT think we can lay claim to certain phrases, photographing styles, basic recipes, or trends. Like Hangry Heather stated above, I get really uncomfortable when people try to claim something basic as theirs because lord knows, they did not invent it. They just maybe made it popular. And one of the things that I like about blogging is that it’s this free exchange of text and ideas, and people learn from one another and it inspires them to try their own thing. If we were crediting every single person every single time, it would become overwhelming (and ridiculous).

Really interesting post, though! I liked it :)

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76 Priscilla October 7, 2011 at 1:07 am

YOU ARE FREKIN’ AMAZING! I found you via Tumblr. I sooooo needed this! I just lost a friend because she was/is a sea witch! lol. Really. Anyhow, this totally made my day =)

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