I’ve always believed that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so when I found a few articles from this blog copied elsewhere without attribution or links back to the originals, I was overjoyed. Someone — or apparently two people — thought that a total of four of my blog posts were worth plagiarizing.
When I looked a little more closely, though, I realized my mistake. My articles hadn’t been hand-picked with loving care by an author with writer’s block and exquisite taste; instead, they’d simply been snarfed up by software. One site, internetsatire.com, seems to just copy a random sampling of posts from the wordpress.com humor feed. I have no idea why a site with “satire” in its name would use the humor feed (which consists of all posts tagged “humor” in blogs hosted on wordpress.com) and not the equally convenient satire feed — but I think it would be satisfyingly ironic if this post were copied, so I’m adding both tags just to increase the odds.
The other site (really a family of sites: daoblogs.com and daoblog.co.cc) apparently gets articles from a variety of sources and then applies some kind of transformation to each one. It looks like they’re either translating them into some other language and back to English or using a thesaurus to replace individual words. Either way, the results can be kind of amusing; for example, this excerpt from my GFAJ-1 interview:
Unlikely Explanations: Thriving on arsenic the way you do is a major accomplishment. How did you do it?
GFAJ-1: It was a slow process that occurred over many generations. I won’t lie — initially, my family was as intolerant of arsenic as anyone else. But then arsenic started moving into the neighborhood, and we realized we’d have to adapt somehow.
turns into this on daoblogs:
Unlikely Explanations: Thriving without ceasing arsenic the way you do is a major accomplishment. How did you do it?
GFAJ-1: It was a inactive process that occurred over many generations. I won’t lie — initially, my family was in the same proportion that intolerant of arsenic as anyone otherwise. But then arsenic started moving into the vicinage, and we realized we’d accept to adapt somehow.
I’m not sure which version I like better. I’m also not sure why they bother modifying the text — they might be trying to change the wording to avoid showing up in searches for excerpts from the original, but the one thing they never seem to change is the title.
Apparently, the term for this kind of copying is blog scraping. I haven’t been plagiarized; I’ve just been scraped. It’s annoying, but not nearly as painful as it sounds.