posted on Jul, 20 2009 @ 08:53 AM
We've recently been through a few rounds of rather frustrating responses from website admins after encountering ATS member posts being used on other
sites without proper attribution -- the method to provide attribution is clearly specified on every post of ATS.
The reactions have ranged from a startling degree of vindictive anger to threats of counter legal action, and everything imaginable in-between.
Presumably, the reactions stem from some type of assumption that we (ATS management) are terrible people who believe we own the content of our
contributing members. Far from it, we're idealists who care deeply about the effort each of our members put into their posts, and have an overriding
desire to see credit given where credit is due.
In short, we're refining our notification policy, and only doing so when the ATS member who authored a plagiarized post authorizes us to do so.
In more detail...
Misinterpretation of Attribution Requirements
Clearly, there is a misunderstanding of our intent which apparently has been at the root of a rather deep rift between us (ATS) and a very-short of
list other sites. Our intent is not to create animosity. Our core ideals have always been focused on collaborative learning through cooperation and
shared knowledge... this has been, and continues to be, the driving force behind our efforts to grow ATS. And, in our eyes, giving credit to the
author and source of important or interesting information is a vitally important aspect of the collaborative process.
In fact, we feel so strongly about this that we don't allow entire pieces of content to be lifter from other sites to use on ATS, we insist on
snippets & link-backs, and we've banned people found to be representing the content of others as their own.
Revising Our Approach
In the vast majority of instances where ATS member content is used elsewhere online, those doing so have provided proper attribution. However, oddly
enough, the only sites/admins that have responded with intense animosity and anger are other "conspiracy theory" or "alternative topics" sites,
our online peers... the very sites which should be on the same collaborative page as us. Since the intense animosity in this sub-set of
sites is counterproductive, we're modifying our approach. Our new policies regarding potentially plagiarized ATS member content online will be:
If we encounter a member's post on another website without attribution, we'll notify our member. We will take no overt action to rectify the
improper use unless our member asks us to do so. Also, if an ATS member alerts us to a plagiarized post of theirs, we'll take action.
We will only take proactive action in the much-more-rare cases of where entire threads of content, including the rather unique formatting of ATS, have
been used without attribution or permission.
All Other Potential Violations:
All other violations of partial content, artwork, video, or audio material that is seen elsewhere online, but lacks attribution, must be brought to
our attention by the ATS member who originally created the work. Only then, and with their say-so, will we seek to rectify the improper use.
This IS NOT A License To Steal Member Content
In fact, with the go-sign from our members on specific violations, we're likely to be even more diligent and aggressive in ensuring member content is
either properly attributed, or removed.
However, it's our sincere hope that this refinement of our policy and clearly defined collaborative intent inspires these other sites to finally
adopt the spirit of cooperation and give credit (and link-backs) to our members when using their content.
Also, we realize that some of our members may not be concerned that their posts are used without attribution, and our refined approach places the
decision for potential action in their hands.
There Is NO Relaxation of ATS Content Rules
Our members, as always, are still expected to provide proper attribution and refrain from inserting entire pieces of content from other sites.
Frustration and Being a Good Internet Citizen
Proper link-backs to the sources of content we use online has been a core value of the Internet culture since hyper-text links were first introduced.
It's unfortunate, and incredibly frustrating, that this core principal is seeing erosion such that people either don't care, are malicious, or seek
to misrepresent their own talent.
If you encounter plagiarism of your posts, and desire proper attribution, we will go to bat for you.
If you encounter plagiarism of your posts, and are fine with that, we will respect your stance.
Feel free to offer your opinions or observations.
But if you do encounter plagiarism for which action is needed, please contact site admin privately via U2U, don't post examples in this thread.