Home > Misc > 2010-01-12 We Are The Network: Is “Professional Rewriting” And Blog Plagiarism The New Normal?

2010-01-12 We Are The Network: Is “Professional Rewriting” And Blog Plagiarism The New Normal?

January 10th, 2010

We Are The Network logo 300Is “Professional Rewriting” And Blog Plagiarism The New Normal?

Please join us for a discussion every Tuesday at 12PM noon SL (US Pacific Time)

This Tuesday, Jan 12th, we will be at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life

This Week’s Topic

Is “Professional Rewriting” And Blog Plagiarism The New Normal?

I recently heard the term “Professional Rewriting” for the first time. At first I thought “this is a bad joke.” My stomach started to feel queasy after searching a bit for the phrase on the web. While some services focus on what you would expect of a true writing and editing service, a surprising number go past that position. In some cases they suggest that it is ethical and “not cheating” (in as many words!) to have them take your basic ideas and write a paper from scratch using your concepts – even if the goal is to hand that paper in to a teacher, professor or academic journal with you named as the author.

For the next stop on the “you must be kidding” tour I looked more carefully at article submission services. These services generate spun versions of an article to be placed around the web, generating inbound unique links that increase search engine placement. In addition to services, there are a number of “rewriter” and “spinner” tools that automate the process of morphing a piece of writing, either to replace words, phrases or sentences so generate an “apparently different” piece of work.

Although the services and tools purport to be built “for good,” some acknowledge the dark side openly by making it clear that they expect their clients to decide what is ethical and legal, and that they just provide rewriting services for whatever is handed to them. For some uses the rewritten work needs to be different enough that the search engines will not automatically notice them as duplicates and penalize the author.

Some search engine optimization services spend a lot of effort using this technique, whether done by hand or in an automated fashion, to try to inflate search engine rankings by creating a blizzard of inbound links without hitting the fraud tests of the search engines. Past all of this, there are jobs offered, and people taking them, to rewrite articles on public sites, at unbelievably low pay levels. In one case the offer was US $30 to rewrite 50 articles of several hundred words each.

The definition of plagiarism seems hard to pin down in the midst of this chaos. In this age of copy and paste and “professional rewriting”, what exactly is plagiarism? Has our understanding of plagiarism changed? How and where do we draw the boundaries of creativity and plagiarism? In which cases are the boundaries unclear?

What should you do if you find that someone is plagiarizing your work? If the person in question has a large number of followers, and likely that list does not fully mesh with your own follower network, Tweeting or posting about the problem via your own network won’t do much. What is the right response to this sort of situation?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon SL, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

Best regards,


Reading links below – have fun and see you soon!

How To Recognize Plagiarism

Article Rewriting – A Professional View


Blog Plagiarism – A Blatant Example (with internal link to Velveteen Mind’s reaction)

Plagiarism Today

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Joel Foner (Second Life: Joel Savard)

Categories: Misc Tags: ,
  1. January 11th, 2010 at 10:36 | #1

    A Google alert brought me here and I have to say that I’m intrigued. I’ve never heard the term “professional rewriting” before, but I’m far more familiar with blog plagiarism than I’d like to be. In my case with Miss Musing plagiarizing me (you refer to it above w a link to one of her readers’ reactions at wearingmascara and I will link to my coverage via my name here), she took whole pieces of my work and interwove them into her own story as her own. Sometimes more subtly than others.

    As a twenty-something urban single, we did not share much of the same audience, my being a 30-something suburban mom writer. The fact that a sharp reader caught it is remarkable.

    After that case, I began adding more Google alerts and protecting myself better. But not well enough, because months later another blogger with a large readership and notable twitter following lifted large portions of a high profile piece I had written about Hurricane Katrina and wove it into her own post, as well. Both bloggers weaving the text in as their own. To be clear, they were not quoting me. They were not referring to the text as quotes. It was presented within paragraphs as their own words.

    In both cases, their audiences lauded their writing. In both cases, other bloggers would quote from their posts and raise them up as brave writers. In both cases, the readers quoting the plagiarizers’ words were quoting my words, with no idea that they were doing it. That’s how I found the second plagiarizer. She was quoted by a high profile site, the quote being my words.

    The trust issues this raises are striking.

    I’ve been meaning to write about my second instance of being plagiarized and this reminds me to do so. Fascinating subject.

  2. January 11th, 2010 at 23:44 | #2

    Thanks for your thoughts, Megan! I hope you’ll get to join us at some point, and thanks for giving us this background on your experiences.

    Best regards,


  1. January 11th, 2010 at 01:56 | #1
  2. January 11th, 2010 at 17:42 | #2
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