Thursday, November 11, 2010

What I write, and what I don't..

Well I dropped the ball already on the 30 days of truth, and I will catch up, I promise. Just have not seemed to be here enough to get them done!

Today I want to write about...well...what I write, and what I do not write, and the reasons for it. It seems there has been an uproar in the blogosphere about plagiarism. Nasty stuff. My blog is Memoirs of a Crazy started as a joke between a good friend and myself, and with her permission I adopted the name for myself, my "brand" as it were. I love my blog, and the friends I have made and the experiences I have had since I started my blog.

One thing you might notice, is that while I am Memoirs of a Crazy Witch, I do not write about witchy things very often. There are a couple of reasons for that. One, and most importantly, is because of what kind of witch I am. I am very eclectic and not overly structural. I do what suits me on a day to day basis. What fits me today might not fit me tomorrow, and trying to blog about that would be fairly exhausting. The second reason is the fact that I probably will not write a single thing about Witchcraft that has not been written 400 times by 400 other people. I hate to repeat myself, and I certainly do not like it when other people do it, so I just choose not to write about it very much unless something happens in particular. The other reason is people are very sensitive about copyright and plagiarism and copyright infringement. The problem with being in the circle of Pagan blogs is that at some point we are all most likely going to somehow copy something one of us said somewhere else. No matter how careful you are, it will probably happen. Even me, who tries very hard not to do such a thing, or post many pictures I did not take myself, or write things not from my own head, had an issue with the picture I used on my blog button before I slapped my own mug up there. I spent hours combing the royalty free picture sites, looking for the perfect image to use, and I found it. 8 months later Google high-jacked one of my posts and told me I had been reported for infringement and said some nasty things and if I did not change it then my blog would be shut down, blah blah blah.

At first I was livid. I spent hours looking for something that would NOT steal from anyone, and then to take down a post that did not even have an image in it ( my button is on my sidebar, where is always is ) really set me off. After a little while I cooled off and realized that even if the picture was royalty free at the time, the owner could at any time decide to copyright it, which is their right. So I got over it, made a button from a picture I took and them edited myself, and moved on.

These days however, there are flame wars and battle lines drawn all the time. Some people deserve it. They intentionally copy and could care less what the owner of the content or anyone else thinks about it. That is awful. People work hard to provide content for their blogs, and do tons of research and link backs and all kinds of things to be sure their blog is on the up and up, and for these people to come in with blatant disregard and say it is their own disgusts me. On the other hand, people make mistakes. Some people are not knowledgeable about the copyright laws and intellectual property and so on. We, as Pagans, have enough issues being accepted and not being ostracized as it is without 100 people from your own community coming down on your head when you screw up. Most of them are NOT nice about it. It is not a simple heads up, it is an all out attack. If I copied from Jane Doe's blog by accident, then I expect Jane Doe to come to me and say "Hey, not sure what the deal is, but that is mine, please rewrite it, credit it, or take it down." and then follow proper channels from there if nothing is done or I tell her to get bent and leave it as is. If one of Jane Doe's followers notice I did that, I expect them to go to Jane Doe and tell her, and then Jane Doe will come to me. I do not expect a flock of people to descend on my head with threats and abuse. It is none of your business. It is between Jane Doe and myself.

I honestly think that unless you are telling a story about your own experiences that anything you say on just about any subject has already been written by someone. People post the same links, the same content, they even have the same opinions. They are not copying said person's opinions, they just have the same one. It happens all the time. That is why I generally only post about what happens in my day to day life, as boring as that might be to others. It is safe, no one can claim I took it from them, and I do not have to worry about someones supporters coming down on my head for what may have been an honest mistake.

People take sides. People have supporters and loyal fans. This is natural, and it is wonderful to have such loyal readers and friends. But even if Jane Doe posted something I wrote word for word, I would not want any of my readers to swoop down on her and call her names, question her character and motives, or heap abuse on her head in support of my name. The thought of that horrifies me, to be honest. I would expect them to trust me enough to let me handle it in a mature and hopefully classy way. While I would love the loyalty, the method in which it is expressed would bother me. So keep that in mind if you get involved in these battles. Support is a wonderful thing, but realize who and what you are supporting, and let that person handle it in the way they think is best. It is their intellectual property after all, not yours. Jane Doe could be the most laid back, kind and generous person in the Universe, but when people attack in her defense all it does is sully the name of Jane Doe. Let Jane Doe know that you agree and support her, that is wonderful, but do not take it upon yourself to become their blog police if you are not asked ( and I like to think we all have the integrity to not ask someone to do that for you. )

People make mistakes, some intentional and some by accident, but I really think it is up to us as the owner of our property to handle our business, not anyone else, no matter how well meaning they are. It just causes problems and makes everyone look bad. As I said before, we have enough problems outside of the blogging world, I do not think we need to add to it, here in the place where we pour our hearts out for others to read.

Educate yourself on the laws of copyright infringement and intellectual properly laws. Save yourself some headache. If you want to use someone else's work, do your best to ask that person, provide the proper link backs and credits, that way you are covered. But there will always be some people who have no clue about any of this, and make honest mistakes, these people may not even know Jane Doe existed and wrote something very similar. We are all human. We screw up. If you made that mistake, would you want someone to kindly point out what you did and hope that you rectify it? Or would you want 100 strangers yelling and calling you names and assassinate your character because of a screw up? We all preach about tolerance, and how the world needs to show more towards us. How about showing some yourself? Why do you deserve to be shown tolerance when you show none yourself? You are then only perpetuating the cycle.

Think about that the next time you swoop down in someone else's name.


Judy said...

This is the second article I've read today about problems in the blogosphere with plagiarism...what in the world happened???

Anonymous said...

You know what Bella honestly these people need to stop the nonsense now. It is the internet for goodness sake and for anyone to keep doing this is ridiculous it is not like we are making a profit off sharing. I am so sorry this has happened.

Unknown said...

I just recently started following your blog and have enjoyed reading about your day to day life. I myself blog my daily life as well and not to educate anyone on any one thing in particular. I follow several blogs in which I feel very rewarded by their wisdom even if their wisdom they deemed themselves through someone else. I'm sorry for whatever the situation is that you must have been a part of. I agree wholeheartedly as well about people other than the JaneDoe as you call her coming after someone for an honest mistake. Hopefully they will see the error of there ways. This is not High School after all or even better Jr. High...we should not play such games. Blessed Be and I look forward to reading more about you.

Unknown said...

Thank you all for the comments, but I must clarify, this has not happened to me. The only thing that happened to me was the issue with my blog button that I mentioned in the post.

The post is in response to the things I see happening around our blogging community, with sides being taken and flame wars starting left and right. There is a recent event that some know about that prompted me to write about the topic, but really, this is a long standing event. I have seen is many times, to varying degrees, and they almost all involve the swooping of 100 strangers down on someone's head and it makes me mad, because it is none of their business and really makes the people they are defending look bad, which is usually so far from the case.

I just think people need to realize things happen and there is a proper way to handle these situations without assassinating someone's character in the process.

We all need more tolerance in our lives, and someone can not extend it to someone else, then I feel they are not deserving of any in return.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all stick around :)