The Town Square: A note on why we had to warn Bhaskar.ing and eventually close his account

Friday, June 5, 2009

A note on why we had to warn Bhaskar.ing and eventually close his account

We dealt with this in private, but since it’s been taken public by one member, here’s what happened.

As you may know, over the past couple of weeks (and even much earlier), a number of Blogit members have found large amounts of text written by other authors in the blog written by Bhaskar.ing.

As we described the issue in our email notice to him on Wednesday, “The text is used without quotation marks and presented as your own work. In addition, when readers have complimented you on the content, you've taken credit for it as your own work.”

Plagiarism is never OK, and it’s really bad on a writing site, where there are many others putting a lot of time and effort into writing original content and being careful to give credit and use quotation marks when including text written by other authors.

Other members had been trying to amicably resolve this situation with Bhaskar.ing over the past couple of weeks, and he apparently admitted what he’d done in an email. Unfortunately, he then denied it in his blog, made accusations against other members, and posted at least one new entry that also turned out to have been written by another author.

If he’d instead agreed not to do it again, the issue would likely have been settled.

On Wednesday, based on member reports to us, we carefully researched the examples sent to us and sadly were able to independently confirm most of them. The original content was indeed written by a number of different authors, not by Bhaskar.ing.

The problem, as we said in our email notice, is this: “Since the relevant entries were posted to Blogit over a long period of time, there's no way to tell which of your entries were written by you.”

Even so, we had decided to give Bhaskar.ing one more chance. We asked that he start a new blog and agree to be careful when using text written by other authors. We gave four examples of blog entries posted by him that contained large amounts of text written by other authors.

In response, Bhaskar.ing stated that he had originally written one of the entries in 2006. He did not make any statements about the other three entries.

On Thursday, we reviewed his claim and found that the text was taken from a book written by another author, first published in 1996, so it could not have been written by Bhaskar.ing in 2006.

At this point, since Bhaskar.ing had again claimed ownership of an entry that was clearly not his own, rather than simply agreeing that it had been written by someone else, it seemed likely that he’d do the same thing again in his new blog.

Rather than put everyone through this again, we decided that we had no choice but to close Bhaskar.ing’s account.

Since the account has been closed, we have given Bhaskar.ing up to 5 business days to copy any of his blog entries he wishes to keep, as is our standard procedure in such a case. We’ll also ensure that he receives a refund (prorated on a monthly basis) if due. We mentioned this in our notice of account closure.

I’d like to once again remind everyone that it’s normally fine to include text written by other authors as long as you do it carefully (here’s how). There’s no need to pretend it’s your own if it’s not – readers will still enjoy reading you!

If anyone would like us to post the full text of our email notice to Bhaskar.ing, please let us know.

-Robert

[Edited to clarify several sentences 6/6 7:56 am]

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