There is so much content on the Internet today that it is nearly impossible to write anything original without it being somewhat similar to something that someone else has already written. What you need to understand about plagiarism is that plagiarism is a crime that is defined by intention, not by the accidental similarity between two written pieces of information. To clarify, when you plagiarize something, you are specifically stealing someone else’s material and representing it as your own.
Any blog writer is going to run into situations where they do need to borrow materials from other people. There are proper ways to handle this and improper ways to handle this. Here are some of the strategies you can use to avoid committing acts of plagiarism.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
The easiest way to avoid plagiarizing anyone is simply to cite your sources when appropriate. There are very basic rules for this. If what you’re writing is commonly known, you don’t need to cite any source for that information. If what you’re writing is information taken from someone else’s work, then you need to cite it.
For example, if you’re referencing a news story, it’s always appropriate to reference the venue where you got the news from. Aside from not being a plagiarist, the other upside to this is the fact that, if that information turns out to have been wrong, it will be on the original author, not on you.
Should You Link References?
This is a big question for bloggers. Linking to other resources on the Internet can make your site more desirable in the eyes of search engines and it certainly makes your site more credible. What it also does is provide an invitation for people to leave your site and go somewhere else.
Where linking references is concerned, it’s really up to you. As long as you describe where you got the information and who deserves credit for it, you don’t necessarily have to offer a link to your visitors. However, if offering a useful resource to your visitors is more important to you than making every effort to make sure that your visitors stay on your page, then you should link whenever you find it appropriate.
One of the best ways to avoid being a plagiarist – and one of the best ways to start up relationships with other bloggers – is to ask them their permission to reproduce their content on your site. Even if they say no, you still at least approach them and it gets your email address in front of them. If they happen to be a very successful blogger, contacting them a second time may be more fruitful than the first time you contacted them, as they’ll have seen your name already and will probably have taken a look at your blog already, as well.
Don’t take it personally if someone refuses to let you use their content on your site. It may be that they don’t like the way your site comes off in terms of tone or the positions you stake out on your site or it may just be that they don’t want to share their content because they make money off their content. It’s hardly ever a personal issue, however.
WordPress themes make it easy to add links, specially formatted citations and other tools that writers use to make sure that researchers get the credit that they’re due when their materials are referenced. If you’re not using a content management system, you’ll have to link any references you use manually and you’ll have to format the text used if you plan to use a different type of citation standard on your site.