Let me get this off my chest. It’s been bothering me for a long time and I’m hoping that by telling you about it, I can put it to rest.
I truly believe the tech revolution of the past few decades is nothing more than a change to the way we communicate. The basis for, and the honesty behind, our communication should be no different than it was when we wrote letters and used the postal service to deliver them. Only the methods we use to communicate have changed. And there should be a reasonable expectation of honesty in our communication.
We are who we are. Some of us are very boring and others are not. Yet, in the online world, so many of us pretend to be who we are not; and piracy, copyright infringement, theft of intellectual property and plagiarism are the tools.
So here’s the story. A little over a year ago I was approached by a transgender web software developer about “bringing my website up to date” using her own, internally developed content management system. It would have a modern look, be mobile device friendly and would be free for me to use in exchange for her company’s exposure. She made this same offer to other t-girls website owners and several accepted. It appeared she was being nice to a segment of the transgender community. Cool.
She really caught me at a weak time because I agreed to make the change, hoping it would inspire me to create newer and nicer content that in the past. But of course, I knew that nothing in life is really free.
The implementation of the new website code was rocky behind the scenes. She trash-talked my hosting company (who I believe is one of the premier adult hosting services on the planet), talked down to me (not knowing that I had tons of corporate experience in large banking system implementations), and claimed some malicious code on my laptop was performing brute force hack attempts on her blog site (totally unfounded).
My site was primarily a photo/video site yet her platform was weak in those areas. So when it became obvious that her base product, the freebie, wouldn’t give me some functionality my old site had, I paid for add-ons.
She seemed like a nice, sincere person with good intentions, and maybe she was.
But when my old site was gone and the new site began to take shape, she pointed, in casual discussion, to her transgender blog site. “Look at mine; see how nice it is? Yours can be this nice too!” – I’m paraphrasing.
And I read her blog.
What I read was professionally written, extremely high quality blog posts and articles … and they was signed by her. But after having communicated via email with her for more than a month, it was obvious to me that she could not have possibly written the words on her own site. In reality, her spelling was poor, her grammar was poor, composition and sentence structure were not even close to the caliber on her blog. She was plagiarizing everything.
Here’s a little trick if you suspect plagiarism. Copy a couple suspect sentences and paste them into Google within double quotes. If Google finds a perfect match, you’ll know it. And the posting date is a good indication of which one came first.
So I did a few searches. She was plagiarizing a blogger/author in New Zealand regularly and stealing articles from Psychology Today magazine as well. Bloggers, magazines, journals .. everyone was fair game. And she didn’t give credit to anyone.
You can imagine what I was thinking. If she’s okay using someone else’s content as if it was her own, how much of the software on my website is actually hers? But I had put a lot of effort into moving to her platform, my old site was gone, and my free time was running out.
I said nothing and we finished converting my website to her platform. But it bothered me. Who was she? Were her photos real? Was she a trans woman at all?
Slightly more than a year went by with me worrying that I was going to be accused of using stolen software .. “her” software.
Then in early March of this year, I got an email from her … the first in almost a year .. offering to upgrade me (“software is free, just pay for my time to convert”) to her responsive platform. Responsive platforms know the difference between smartphones, tablets and larger computers and adjust the website for optimal display in real time. She told me how much work she had been doing for the TG community in her city, public appearances, cable TV etc., (none of which I could verify) and that her blog now has nearly 10,000 subscribers.
So I told her the truth about how I was feeling and had been feeling since just after our relationship began. I mentioned the plagiarism but didn’t provided links.
And she freaked. “if you make such claims you need to specify the facts, what articles are you referring too?” Even when confronted she wouldn’t be honest with me. I certainly could have sent her a link to each of her articles as well as a link to the original article she had copied. I discussed this with a politeness that she likely didn’t deserve.
It didn’t end well.
So, I had to get my panty-wearing butt in high gear to get my site moved from her platform to my own .. stat! I chose the WordPress framework and built from there. And I’m now able to sleep at night.
As they put my cold dead body into the ground, I need someone at the grave site to say “that bimbo may have had decent legs but she really had a lot of integrity!”
The only thing I regret is not being able to bring my existing member database forward to the new site so, unfortunately, you all had to join again.
So (if you’re still reading this), did I overreact? Am I overly cautious? Is it okay to be a blogger with 10k subscribers while presenting “stolen” content to them exclusively?
Am I an asshole who needs to get off her high horse and lighten up?
Your comments are appreciated.