In January 2015, I had to send an e-mail to another blogger. An e-mail I never wanted to send.
Here’s the story
I visit the blogs of everyone who comments on mine, that’s what I was doing over a year ago. Then I stumbled across the blog post of one of my comments. The blog post was an almost word for word copy of my post about things I wanted to turn into habits.
There were a few things changed, but a lot of the wording was exactly as mine was. The style of writing – how I sound. For example, I opened the post with:
Sometimes I do things. Those things make me feel good. They make me feel happy, organised, productive and uplifted.
The blogger wrote:
Sometimes I do things that make me feel good, things that make me feel organised and productive.
That’s pretty much how the rest of the post read – some parts totally unchanged. The things she wanted to turn into habits – the same as the things I wanted to turn into habits.
I didn’t know whether to feel flattered or not. I felt a bit weird.
In the scheme of things, this wasn’t a big deal. Her blog looked new, no comments and I didn’t feel like she was going to get loads of credit for this super duper idea. She probably didn’t realise what she was doing, which isn’t an excuse but it’s a reason. It still made me feel a bit icky.
I had no idea what to do. After ranting to some friends about it, I was starting to see things a bit clearer.
I decided to send this blogger an e-mail and confront her about it. Because even if she wasn’t a massive blogger, it didn’t make it any less of a big deal.
Here’s the e-mail I sent:
I just went to visit your blog post to say thank you for commenting on my post yesterday.
I came across your habit post and wanted to read it because I posted a post about some goals I had for this year in this post: http://skinnedcartree.com/2015/01/8-things-want-turn-habits.html
As I read it, it felt to me like it was very similar to mine, even down to the wording – take the opening paragraphs, for example: My post: Sometimes I do things. Those things make me feel good. They make me feel happy, organised, productive and uplifted.
Your post: Sometimes I do things that make me feel good, things that make me feel organised and productive.
While I am happy that I inspire other bloggers, I have to admit that this did make me feel a little uncomfortable. Bloggers who have wanted to do posts similar to me in the past have done so in their own way, using their own words or even put in their blog post that it was inspired by my post and invited me to read it.
The intention of this e-mail isn’t to make you feel bad and I chose to e-mail privately rather than leave a public comment about it on your blog, or even post about it on mine. I just wanted to let you know that the similarities to my blog post made me feel uncomfortable and I feel like copying a blog post so closely is wrong.
What you wish to do after this e-mail is up to you, really.
Hope you have a nice weekend,
I wasn’t really expecting a reply, but she blogger did reply and admit to copy and pasting some of my blog post. She said she meant to change it later but got distracted and posted it early. She changed the wording of the post so it wasn’t as similar to mine.
So yeah, Corinne. Cool story. But what’s your point?
Well, I have two points.
- It’s becoming more and more common to see bloggers stealing ideas from others.
- How can you tell if someone has actually stolen an idea?
So the first point. It’s true – it seems more and more people are copying ideas from other bloggers. I’ve had a few DMs over the past few months about other bloggers copying my ideas. I think for someone to read a blog post – then be able to tell it’s very similar to another bloggers says a lot.
But then again – there are ways to do this properly.
There are many times I’ve taken the idea of a blog post and made it my own. So do others. They do it in the right way, though.
The right way is to write somewhere in your post that you read the blog post on someone else’s blog and thought it was a cool idea, then link to the original blog post.
It’s not hard, is it?
The second point – how can you tell if someone has actually stolen an idea?
I mean – there are so many bloggers out there, blogging about similar subjects. It’s highly likely that there’ll be times people have similar ideas. Quite a well known blogger recently published a post very similar to a post I wrote and published 10 days earlier.
Some of my friends told me about the post. What makes it seem like it’s an idea taken from my blog is that I, or my friends, have ever seen a blog post like that before.
But then again, it’s not unlikely that she did get the idea on her own. There’s no proof around that, really, is there?
I mean, who am I to go mouthing off to people saying they’ve stolen my idea?
Then think about all the things like blog tips, SEO tips, tips about clear skin, summer wish list posts – all very similar posts that many bloggers blog about. But they don’t get viewed as a copied idea.
So what makes that different from any other copied post?
I’m not sure it does.
I don’t think we can control or police what others are putting out there.
I think bloggers just need to look at themselves and ask if they really are copying someone else. If that’s the case, then be open about it. Credit them. Link them Tweet them.
It’s not always so black and white to tell if someone has copied your blog post, but as bloggers writing the post – we can ensure we are being dead honest with ourselves and doing the right thing.
If you have an inclination that someone has copied your post, then you should have the courage to talk to them about it. If it’s bothered you that much, say something. But just prepare for a defensive response.
What are your thoughts?