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Every now and then I get enough content piled up about a subject that I decide to dedicate a whole week-long blog post series to it.  The good news is that you’ll have plenty of original material to read this week, but the bad news is that you’ll also have copied material too.  Welcome to Plagiarism Week!

When I was researching material for my FreeCon, I wanted to show bloggers how to optimize their site for search engines.  One of the topics involved putting related images in each blog post; if you’ve got a story about SQL Server setup checklists, you should put screenshots in there and tag them appropriately.  Search engines recognize that your post is more complete than others because it’s got eye candy.

To illustrate it, I went to Images.Google.com and searched for SQL Server setup checklists because I’m quite fond of my setup checklist post and it does well in search engines.  The results look like this:

SQL Server Setup Checklist Search Results

SQL Server Setup Checklist Search Results

The third result is mine, and I recognized it immediately because the screenshot had my company’s SQL Server name in it (from the time I wrote the post).  The majority of the images on the page do indeed relate to SQL Server, but some of them are surprising.  For example, the baby’s face at the bottom left might seem odd, but it’s actually from the comment avatars on my blog post.  The one that intrigued me most was result #4 – the MCITP logo.  That’s a pretty high-ranking result for such a generic picture – the content must be fantastic!  So I clicked on it:

Plagiarism Strikes Again

Plagiarism Strikes Again

Wow, that is indeed some good content.  Of course, I might be a little biased, because it’s my checklist.

Compare the copied checklist screenshot above (no, I’m not going to link to that guy’s site) to my SQL Server setup checklist, and you’ll notice that he stripped out my introductory paragraphs where I talk about building these checklists through my years of experience.  He didn’t just delete my personal text, he also went to the effort of deleting every link back to my site, including the images.  He even merged my Part 1 and Part 2 pages together to avoid linking to me.

This isn’t a casual copy/paste job or an RSS tool – this is a hard-working plagiarist who had managed to circumvent every protection I’d built into the blog.  He had ads on the checklist, and he’d managed to rise to the first page of Bing results:

Bada Bing

Bada Bing

I hadn’t caught this guy earlier because I use Google, and he doesn’t show up in Google’s results.  No, I’m not saying Bing promotes plagiarism – I’m just saying it’s like the high school teacher who didn’t quite catch on that you copied your term paper from mine.

I followed the steps in my article What to Do When Someone Steals Your Blog Posts.  I contacted the author via the email on his About Me page and LinkedIn profile, neither of which I’m going to link to here.  When someone links to your web site, search engines believe you have a more credible web site, and I’m not about to give this guy any Google juice.  When he didn’t respond to emails, I filed DMCA takedown notices with his web host, WordPress.com, which has always been extremely responsive for me.  I love how WordPress protects the rights of authors whose content has been stolen:

I <3 WordPress

I <3 WordPress

I wasn’t his only victim.  He stole multiple posts from Microsoft, too, like this one:

64-Bit Computing

64-Bit Computing

Two-bit Blogger

Two-bit Blogger

The bad news is that he may have stolen your content, too.  Since he went to great lengths to disguise my content, I’m guessing he may have disguised yours too, so it’s time to spend some time reading his web site:

Plagiarist

Plagiarist

If you interact with this author, I have two requests.  First, keep it civil – he’s a real guy somewhere with a real life and a real job.  He made mistakes, and he’s about to learn from them, but it’s not like he killed anybody.  I could have emailed my contacts at his employer, but I don’t want to ruin his life – I just wanted the plagiarism to stop.  Keep the punishment in perspective.  Second, don’t make racial comments – remember that the last big plagiarism scandal around here was a white guy from the US.  It can happen anywhere to anyone.

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  1. Personally, I would have opted for emailing his employer and ruining his life, but I respect your decision.

    Yes this is a real person with a real family, but so is the guy that would replace him if he got fired who might have been out of work for 6 months.

    If he’s copying content, he might be copying code or DB schema from previous employers to his current employers systems. Either that or he might copy his current employers code somewhere else. Unlike an unusual porn fetish, radical political beliefs, or a decision to ingest illegal drugs off hours, this is a character flaw that could directly effect the employer.

    I’m certainly getting close to making a “butterfly flap its wings” argument, so I don’t think I’m more right or wrong than you. Just food for thought.

  2. I really appreciate how you advise moderation in the reaction from the community. Its a shame, someone who is bright enough to be able to remove all the links, edit the work and post it as their own should be able to write a fairly decent blog entry. Your understanding and classy touch really impresses me. Thanks.

  3. Excellent post.. Speaking to your comment about avoiding making racial stereotypes. Race aside, it has been my experience that culture can make a big difference here. Consider China, for example (a place I tend to frequent). Walking through one of the less reputable markets in ShenZhen, I saw row after row of fake iPhones, HTC devices, and various Motorola handsets. I was warned not to ask about the origin of these things items as it might lead to a violent end. I also remember being in college discussing copyright, nda’s, and test taking with some friends from a few specific areas where it was expected that one would “cheat” or copy work. There’s a huge cultural bias here that tends to only be emphasized by the hegemony of the internet. In countries/cultures where survival supersedes accurate attribution, how does one encourage a level playing field where merit and self-worth reign?

  4. If this guy has got his own website, and plenty of time to kill copying content, then I doubt he’s worried about survival.

    • That gets to the meat of it. In some cultures where it might be easier to do that kind of work than to train, educate, or lead (which might be prohibitively expensive or difficult — especially in an environment of an oligarchy, rather than a meritocracy), that is the way to either get ahead, or build up enough political capital to get or keep a job so you can feed your family. Coming from an environment where (in theory) everyone has an equal chance, it might be difficult to imagine growing up in a place where simply being born in the wrong area means you can not qualify for the career that you desire. In that case, some people see committing fraud or copyright infringement (laws that tend not to be enforced in much of the world) as their only option to get ahead.

      All of that being said, I am in no way defending those who commit plagiarism. I am just saying that there is another perspective on this topic and it is rarely discussed as those who come from it accept it as a fact of life.

  5. Mr Singh is King !
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/sonysaini82

    It would be wise for him to apologies and claim the work has been copied.

  6. To kick off Plagiarism week with a pretty unpleasant example of the breed, how about this site, that is stealing content from a lot of sites, including ours at Simple-Talk.

    http://www.wiseinn.com/

    He is not answering his email and since I put comments on the site to point out that these articles were stolen, he switched off comments.

    His ISP doesn’t answer emails either. I’m getting past the point of ‘keeping it civil’. This character knows exactly what he’s doing.

    • Andrew,

      Seems, he steals evetything from Simple Talk. I’ve just found my article there too! In my case, the guy has been fair (or stupid) enough to copy all content, including my author’s profile, which still includes the link to my Simple Talk author’s profile.
      Weird. I hope, you keep on it and don’t let him get away with this.

      Regards,
      Holger

  7. Brent, thank you for the wise and moderate post on the issue. Plagiarism is possible everywhere, but reactions to it vary greatly – even if you were to contact his employer it may or may not affect his employment unless he has claimed credit to these posts with them in some way. If not on a purely ethical basis the employer may not take it seriously. My experience also with asian employment and is that various internet postings and even linked in profiles are not taken that seriously to claim credit with employers since they do know plagiarism and various forms of fraud are very possible. Things like certifications matter more. It is possible he used it for getting a job but somewhat doubtful and I would not give him leniency so easily that he needed to do it for survival. An apology is definitely in order and I hope he is reading/listening. Shame on you Mr Singh and hope you have the decency to apologize.

  8. Personally I’d be honored if someone would steal my stuff :P It would mean I had something worth stealing however you’re far beyond that sort of thing. Go get’em!

  9. It’s truly sad that this issue is so prevalent in our society (see also – http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012705.html) and especially disappointing for the SQL Server community. I had numerous discussions this past week at the PASS summit about the generous and giving environment the SQL Server community provides and it’s really a shame that folks would take advantage of that for their own gain. I appreciate your thoughtful and measured approach to the issue; all the best getting results and justice.

  10. I find it hard to keep a cool head when it comes to this kind of stuff. Just reading your blog got me angry and he didn’t even steal my content! What’s so frustrating about it is that someone like this can actually get ahead in this world by doing stuff like this. It’s hard to see someone get farther in life because they piggyback on someone else’s success instead of trying to create their own.

    In the end, I believe that you’ll get much farther by creating your own success, so in a way you get what you put into it. This obviously isn’t true 100% of the time but it’s a good way to look at things and has been the right approach for me so far. It also makes it easier to swallow things like this heh…

  11. Echoing the previous comments in Brent’s support,plus its extremely painful to see one’s countrymen (ie.crazysql) resorting to such low depths of not only un-original thoughts,but the audacity to claim another persons work as his/her own. Whatever you all do- don’t let plagiarism slide…ever.

  12. The guy seems to have a decent job, and he should have a decent knowledge. Problem is that Search Engine algorithms work in different ways. Original content might be treated as plagiarized someday.:(

  13. Brent is a guy who responds to me always when I have a doubt.I had taken his views on his blog-posts,Virtualization and many more over email.He always responds to me without asking my country name or race.

    SQL Community does not represent any country or race.It accepts and respects intelligent and honest minds all that provide their service to the community.

    Brent himself closed the race chapter by saying that a white guy from USA too did something similar in nature by violating copyright act.

    The guy in news is my fellow countryman.Agreed!! but it ends there itself.He should feel apologetic about the whole episode.

    Moreover,he should not feel that he is a victim of racism.Mr. Singh,if you are reading this,then do not even think about it.No question about race.
    DBCC commands works for every guy without asking his color.

    So Mr. Singh! Please accept the mistake and learn from it.You will be treated at par by Brent like all the other students that he address.

  14. Brent, this article made me go and check some choice phrases from my articles to see what was “out there”.

    This poster seems to have a good chunk of SQLServerCentral articles in “their” blog

    cid-f8a63e626b024b0d[dot]spaces[dot]live[dot]com/blog/

    (replace the [dot] with ‘.’ – didn’t want to actaully link to the site – that would fuel Google!)

    I’ve sent a couple of abuse notices – see what happens I guess…..

  15. He could get a job in the search engine optimization business if the DBA angle doesn’t pan out.

  16. “remember that the last big plagiarism scandal around here was a white guy”

    Albert Einstein?

    I jest (maybe) but you’re right, keep it civil, but it does cast doubts on this person ability to actually think and then even further, outside of the envelope (forget thinking outside the box, that may be too big a leap for this ‘dood’).

    We all accidentally on purpose quote bits from stuff we read because we like it but usually, you have consumed and understood enough of the information that you can digest it and then express whatever it is “IN YOUR OWN WORDS”…

    Not regurgitating out what you read in like a scene out of ‘The Fly’ starring Jeff Goldblum but I digress.

    Adios!

  17. I just put some comments on the crazy sql website, to stop copying other’s data….& some advice.

    Lets see if he listens :)

  18. As Google have no credibility at all in de-listing rogue sites, I suggest using the Web of Trust network (WOT) to flag up the rogue sites, whatever the scam they’re using. At the moment, WOD only works in Mozilla (it is an add-in to Firefox), but I’ve found it really good as a way of avoiding, or flagging up, rogue sites of any description. You can comment in detail on problems with their site. Although putting comments on individual items on rogue sites may make you feel better and humiliate the writer, I think it is more effective to use WOT, as it will warn people off accessing the site in the first place since it highlights the links in red!

  19. Hi,

    i am casual blogger and do it on very occasional basis . i might have copied something but my intensions were clear and i don’t want to hurt any one especially sql guys … the post is probably already deleted and i have also deleted the post which is mark by someone as copied.. Please let me know if still anything is needed from me..

    • Manpreet – I tried emailing you repeatedly and contacting you through LinkedIn, and you didn’t respond. When you say “my intensions were clear” I’m not sure what you mean. What exactly was your intention when you copied my material, took my personal references out of it, removed all links to my site, and published it under your own name?

  20. Also, I never received any mail from anyone regarding duplication.or i might have dont it on same day. My email Id is at about me page .I do received some mails from word press and I reply it by deleting the post…..

  21. Ah I get it, it’s a bit like presumed consent, it’s all for the greater good! ;-)

  22. Brent,
    If i can do it now, i could have did it earlier also .. i am not sure about spam folder but i never received any mail in my inbox and the first mail i received i responded to that ..

    Also i am free word press user and i have no control over how search thing works in it. nor i have control over advertisement. its internal to word press. So please don’t blame me for making something with search result.

    well, hope everything is clear now ..

  23. i have deleted my blog. most of them were original posts and what if someone have copied your post in some word file and i borrowed it from there. but anyway i dont want to comment further .. if you still need anything from me, please let me know ..

  24. i have deleted my blog. Most of them were original posts. and what if someone has copied your post in some word file and i borrowed it from there. But anyway i don’t want to comment further… if you still need anything from me, please let me know..

    • Manpreet – if you copied my work from a Word doc, where is that doc? You copied it without attribution no matter where you got it from, and if someone is distributing my work in a Word doc, I’d like to know about that too.

  25. Brent,

    Last night I overheard a student on the phone saying something like: “the way it works is, you pay and put the homework problem on the website, and it gives you the answer. (pause) I use it to check my answers”.

    Enough said.

  26. Pingback: Another Plagiarizer « Voice of the DBA

  27. Pingback: SQL Awesomesauce » Blog Archive » Blog Sins

  28. Hello Brent,

    Is there any way to check if your blog post is considered plagiarized. I recently started blogging and I very new at this and while do not ever copy paste blog posts from others but I might get the idea or learn few things from other blog(s)/friend(s)/ and self learning. What should we do in such case(s).

    For Instance, I came to know about ‘Instant File Initialization’ on a blog, after understanding the concept, testing and making sure how it works to the best of the knowledge, I made a blog post on my blog- everything written on my own and having my own instructions\demo script(s).

    Do you think I need to credit the actual source in this case.It’s not that I do not want to but the point I am trying to understand is that when should I give credit to others? When I use their source code in my blog? I have not used any of their source code\demo script, does that mean I should not?

    What I did was – I learned about the concept from their blog and later applied it for my own testing/learning and made blog post based on my understandings. If I have to give credit for this, I wonder if all the blogs should refer to either BOL or Official SQL Server team’s blog, since there are the one’s who first blog about the features as they come out.

    Again, I do not to be at the wrath of the SQL Community on this but I would like get your intake on this and learn from you. Also, please point me to any source if you already have one.

    Thank you sir!!

    • Sapyam – great question. It’s normal to learn something, then add your own spin, add demo code, etc, and blog about your experiences. To some extent, we’re all plagiarizing from Microsoft. Just make sure you write about the concept in your own words and bring something fresh and interesting to the concept, and you’ll do fine. THanks!

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