Enlightened Conflict

do you actually know how difficult it is to NOT plagiarize? (as an online writer)

February 12th, 2015


writing deep thoughts cursive

“Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.

Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”


Miguel Angel Ruiz






plagiarism  wordle_600


One of my favorite thinker/writers, Fareed Zakaria, is being skewered for plagiarism <once again>.






In his situation … we are not talking about plagiarizing ideas … or thinking … but rather background to support his points/ideas.



Several blogs, such as conservative media watchdog Newsbusters and the National Review online, spotted similarities between parts of Zakaria’s column and a piece on the same topic in an April issue of the The New Yorker.

The paragraphs in question largely involved descriptions of historical events and context about gun control in America and do not seem anywhere near as serious as other famed plagiarists – such as Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Stephen Glass at the New Republic who made up entire quotes, people and incidents.

But as media websites picked up the story and asked Time for an official comment, Zakaria issued a statement and confessed to his error:




“Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column this week bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker.


They are right.


I made a terrible mistake.writing an editing


It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault.



I apologize unreservedly to her, to my editors at Time, and to my readers.”



Fareed Zakaria










Here is the deal.



The harsh Truth as it were.



If you write a lot and share thinking it is extremely difficult to not plagiarize.


Let me say again.



Extremely difficult to not plagiarize.






I am not talking about copying someone’s ideas or thinking. And I am not talking about not sourcing a huge gob of research or writing done by someone else.


I am talking about the snippet or paragraph.



How does it happen <you may ask>?



When you research a topic you will inevitably review a large number of articles, some research, certainly some other written pieces and maybe even some blog thoughts from people.


writing the first-draft


Sometimes in building your draft you will copy some of the content into a draft document so you don’t lose the thought.




Sometimes you write a thought down using your own words <although sometimes another writer says something so well it is difficult to say it any better>.



Sometimes the words get used as is. Sometimes you source … and sometimes <without thinking about it too much> you think the thoughts, and words, are so common sense they become almost a ‘public domain’ type thought in your mind.



Sometimes in writing your own thoughts in the final piece you know you will publish you lose track of what is your words and what may have been used by someone else … not with bad intentions but simply because the thoughts seem so unoriginal … it just seems like ‘shit anyone and everyone would say or know.’



I say all this not to justify any sort of plagiarism. I say this simply to say it is sometimes very very difficult to NOT plagiarize <in some form or fashion>.



Here is what I do know for sure.



It is extremely difficult to say something in an original way. Somewhere someone has articulated what you say … in almost the exact same words.



I know that may seem extremely difficult for some writers to accept, or believe, but it is true.



Unless you are a poet … I struggle to think of completely original use of words when someone writes shit like I do on a blog <or even some semi professional writing if you do a lot of it>.






At least original in a consistent way.


I think anyone who writes a lot stumbles across a unique grouping of words to articulate a thought on occasion.



I also tend to believe other writers take not of that momentary flash of word brilliance … and credit you.



But that’s not what I am talking about.


The common is easily ‘plagiarized.’



That’s it.


I was thinking about it.


I wrote a very long detailed thought about plagiarizing before:




< http://brucemctague.com/the-black-white-and-gray-of-plagiarism >




I take plagiarism seriously <always have>.


In addition, I personally, studiously avoid plagiarizing.



That said.



I am also quite sure that I have at some point <unintentionally>.



Hence the reason I wrote and published my caveat on images and words on my site:



http://brucemctague.com/spam-and-images >.

writing shit down



There is no excuse for plagiarizing.




Everyone should note how difficult it can be to NOT plagiarize.

spam and images and words and stealing

March 22nd, 2012



This is about my site, Enlightened Conflict, images I use, words I use <and avoiding plagiarism> and spam.






I just deleted 2178 spam comments … oh … and I steal images <but I am not a thief>.


Just trying to get some big stuff out of the way and clear the air.



Therefore I apologize to:


–          Anyone who actually commented but I was too lazy to weave my way through all the comments listed as spam to see if your comment was really a comment

–          Anyone who had an image I used and they didn’t like that I actually used it in association with what I wrote





With regard to the spam.


I probably get over 4000 spam comments a week.


I am sure <he says hopefully> that there are real comments buried within the cheap purses for sale, male enhancement offers, inexpensive drug sales, emails from Diondra/Deondina,Deodidra/Edinalva/etc., rooftop sales and more.


But if I looked through them all I would have no time to write posts.



As I often say in my writing … everything in life is a trade off.


With regard to images.


Just to cover my ass.



Images I use.



I use other people images.



I have not asked for permission.


I use images that I believe are interesting and support the idea I am trying to communicate.


Rarely, if ever, was the original image used in association in any form or fashion with a topic similar to what I am discussing. The original image was being used to support a completely different thought and topic. I apologize to the image owners/users but hope they understand their images are being used with good intent.



I also admit.


When you find an image nowadays you often cannot tell if where you found it is actually the origin or they were using it from somewhere else.





What I write about.


Words I use.


I seriously doubt I have consciously plagiarized anyone’s thoughts or words. I have seen some well articulated thoughts that are components of what I write about and while trying to avoid using the same words … a well articulated thought is a well articulated thought and, frankly, it’s difficult to find better words if something is well articulated.

I have found things that I have written appear somewhere else (even though I know they have never seen what I wrote). That is the way of the world. If people have the same idea and they know how to articulate it, it will often look very similar in verbiage.


When I do actually use something that someone else wrote I either italicize or credit it.




enlightened thoughts

Thoughts I use.



This is the trickiest.


Let me begin with my other site <although I do post articles about it here>.


I know I have not found anyone who has outlined the Global generation children’s education initiative that I have outlined.


Period <end that thought>.



With that said … my other writing which you typically find here. I have seen several thoughts written on just about everything that I have written about.

And some damn nice thoughts.



Therefore I have to assume some things I write may look similar to some existing thoughts out there. I stopped really looking around once I found my own writing style.

On the other hand … I do hope that some of my thoughts cannot be seen anywhere else (at least articulated the way that I articulate it).



All this is said so that no one thinks I tried to take their thought and make it mine.

Suffice it to say that when I write it is because I had an idea <a thought> and started writing.


I have not intentionally used anyone’s thought to replace mine. Maybe used a thought to support mine but that’s it.





annoying apology

I will now issue an apology to anyone who sees something and invests the energy to suggest I stole, plagiarized or used something incorrectly.


Never meant to.



Certainly went out of my way to avoid it.





Before you try to sue my ass or berate me publicly as a hack feel free and drop me a note and I will do everything in my power to make it right if I am in the wrong.




Enlightened Conflict