MARIA OGNEVA'S BLOG
Hello, and welcome to my blog and the digital home for my thoughts. Most know me as @themaria, my handle across most social media sites and communities. My actual, given name is Maria Ogneva, and I love writing, traveling, eating, and spending time with my new husband.
I am passionate about how social media is changing the way we communicate, help and relate to each other, share news and make the world a smaller, more hospitable place. I work at Salesforce as Director of Product Marketing on the Communities product, where my job is to help customers (and the world at large) to be successful in building communities. I learn every day, and I share my thoughts and personal growth here.
Please note that the views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any of our clients.
In the spirit of correct attribution, the above title is my cheeky take on Naughty By Nature’s OPP – if you don’t know what this song is, I can’t help you.
An unpleasant event happened to me very recently that made this post a necessity. Someone ripped off my content, to pass it off as his own. It wasn’t borrowed or repurposed; it was blatantly copied and pasted, passed off as someone else’s and even shared across Twitter as someone else’s creation. Now don’t get me wrong; this is not the first or the only, or even the last, time this has happened. But this was one of the more offensive examples. Following it, I had several conversations with various folks on Twitter, sharing similar stories. I think there’s a need to talk about proper etiquette when repurposing and attributing, as well as how to protect yourself from stuff like this. I’m going to attack part 1 in this post, and part 2 in a later post.
I wrote an article about 12 steps to finding a top-notch social media person, which became a solid hit on the Attensity blog, as well as on SocialMediaToday, where it was syndicated. It was picked as a leading story of the day, and even became the title of the daily content email that it sends to its subscribers (which is not a big deal to some, but I consider it an honor). It is still one of the more commented articles in SocialMediaToday. For a social media content producer, this level of engagement is a compliment of the highest order. While I was on my blogger high, I noticed that there was an article circulated around Twitter, which looked eerily similar. I clicked the link and saw the following (see below):
My heart sank. There it was, the article I worked so hard on, lifted word for word, with no commentary, nothing that says: “Hey, I found this great article Maria wrote. I agree with A, B, C, which I’m posting below. I would also like to add X, Y and Z”. With Jeremy’s picture and name prominently featured at the bottom (see below) and with my article starting with the word “I thought,” it basically looked like Jeremy thought what I had written.
There was a tiny attribution link at the bottom, which appeared as a meager attempt to cover one’s behind (CYA) in regards to attribution. I just don’t buy that as attribution, and it appears intentionally misleading.
On further examination, the site was full of “repurposed” content. To make matters worse, all of this content was duplicated across two sites, both of which has been taken down. The site owner defended himself, saying that that his goal was to “repost gems” found around the Internet. In my opinion, there are enough quality aggregators and syndicates like SocialMediaToday, and they do a pretty bang-up job. So unless that’s your stated purpose, I’ll just assume you are ripping off content.
I found it purposefully misleading when Jeremy tweeted this article, retweeted himself, and said nothing when others tweeted it as if it came from him (i.e. “Great article, Jeremy). See below:
In my opinion, if you perpetuate wrong attribution, you are complicit in IP theft. Instead, you should correct and say: “Actually this article was written by so-and-so.”
This was probably on of the most severe recent example of IP theft; unfortunately, it’s not the only one. I monitor social media for a living, so I have my ear to the ground, and find a lot of my content stolen. Sometimes it’s cut and pasted to look like the author of the blog wrote it, sometimes it’s presented as if I guest posted there, which I didn’t. I’m very deliberate about where I post, and I will always tweet links to such work. I should probably create a page on this blog linking to my work around the WWW. Yes, there are examples like this, of people outright stealing content. But there are also some people who are just bad at social media, or new at it, and clumsily do a bad job of attribution. So I figured I’d write the following 9 steps to ensure that these “mistakes” don’t happen again. First time around they are negligent; second time, they are pre-meditated intellectual property crimes. So here we go; don’t say I didn’t warn you:
By practicing best practices of attribution and preserving others’ intellectual property, you will come across as a thoughtful person. Instead of making bloggers mad, you will build relationships and alliances. In the end, this is what social media is about.