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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Works for Me Wednesday: No Copycats

Kristen from We Are THAT Family has asked bloggers to share some blogging tips as part of Works for Me Wednesday this week. As I thought about tips I could offer, there was one issue that kept coming to mind.

Don't copy.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm a teacher. I think I've spent my fair share of time telling students not to copy from each other. Being an online teacher, I find that I'm forever telling students that copying and pasting from a website isn't allowed.

The same is true for blogging.

Sure, bloggers share deals with each other. In fact, bloggers don't mind if other bloggers "borrow" individual deal ideas (printable coupons, a great price on an item at a store, etc.). But I live by a few ground rules that are oh, so important:
  1. Give credit. If I received the deal via email straight from the company, then it's mine. If I saw it on another blog, then it's not. Sure, I can post it. I just need to give credit to the site where I found it, and link back to that site as part of my post.

  2. Don't copy word-for-word. If I'm going to post the same deal that I saw on someone else's site, I don't just copy and paste it into my own site. I try to reword it so that it's just a little different. I might even add my opinion.

  3. Don't take entire store matchup posts without permission. If you've been hanging around for a while, you know that I recently started offering store listings for stores that I haven't been covering. These posts are actually created by other bloggers. However, I. got. permission. I emailed each blogger, explained exactly how I was going to use the post, and only used posts with the original authors' permission. In fact, a couple of them had special requests as to how the post was used. I was happy to follow their wishes. Using without asking = stealing.

  4. Share. If I find an exceptionally good deal, I'll email it out to some blog owners who are part of my email list. I don't share every deal that I come across... just the great ones. For example, when I found the $.75 off Goldfish crackers coupon last night, I did email that out. Hey, $.24 Goldfish crackers are enough to make any blogger want to share the news!

There is still much for me to learn as I blog the deals. This one tip is the one that is nearest and dearest to my heart. Do you have any blogging tips to share?


Anonymous said...

I really don't have a problem with anyone copying from me as long as they give me credit somewhere in the post. It would be one thing if it were a personal story, but a deals list or something similar as long as I get credit and it links back to my post, then I feel fine with it. I am curious as to how many people feel the way I do and how many truly feel soemone is stealing from them, even when they are credited.

Jennifer said...

I don't mind people using individual deals, printable coupons, etc. I do mind when it's a whole list of store deals for the week. Those take a LONG time to compile.

I've been following some Twitter conversations about this with the @savvyblogging ladies, and I can tell you that most of the bigger bloggers feel the same way that I do when it comes to people taking complete store listing for the week.

This will have to be a personal decision by each blogger. The "rules" I listed were rules that I personally follow and that I'm finding most bigger bloggers follow.

Donna said...

Thank you for writing this! I had a blog a few years back, was doing well, then a fellow "mom" blogger, very well known in her niche, copied and pasted word for word, a giveaway I was doing-she was doing the same one. She actually linked my pic as well and that pic showed up in my WP dashboard. Not too smart on her part. I did confront her and we sorted it all out, but it really soured me on blogging for a long while! Bloggers, it will come back to bite you, so please use your own content.

Rachel @ Surviving The Stores said...

What a great and timely post! I think I'll copy and paste it over to my site too. (KIDDING!!) :)

Yes, completely agree with you here!

Here are a couple of my recommendations:

- Copying and pasting hurts your SEO. If you copy someone's post and it's exactly the same as someone else's then google will take notice and will not like you as much as they would otherwise. So, even if there is an arrangement, change the matchups up to look different than the original.

- Most bloggers that I have talked to are ok with other bloggers taking a few of their matchups from a specific store and posting it to your site with a link back to their site saying something to the effect of, "Check out the rest of this week's deals HERE."

Thanks for posting about this! It's a must-read for all frugal bloggers!

Jennifer said...

Donna - Glad you could work it out with the other blogger. Hopefully it was done out of ignorance, not knowing it was bad etiquette.

Rachel - I give you PERMISSION to copy this post word-for-word! :) I actually didn't now that copying would hurt your SEO. I have deal swapping agreements with a couple of other bloggers, and I'll need to keep this in mind.

Love the idea of "Check out the rest of this week's deals HERE." Again, the matchups take longer than anything else I do on this site. So that's a good way to handle it.

Maven of Savin' said...

I agree completely!! That is what I do. For the posts I have agreements to take entirely, I change up the beginning with a paragraph of my own to help with the SEO issue - I think Google only crawls thru the 1st 200 words or something.

Melissa @SavingCentswithSense said...

Love this post! It is so timely too since many newer bloggers don't always know this information. I'm the same way (probably because I was an instructor), but we should have all learned not to copy in school and it is not allowed in the business world as well. Why is blogging any different?

Thank you Rachel for mentioning SEO! This is a big one. People may think that it is harmless to copy a post, but it hurts both parties in the end.

Again, wonderful post!

Jan said...


Patty Coleman said...

Thanks so much for posting this question and your opinions. Since I am a new blogger, I posted a poll on my blog (only 4 followers right now) and tweeted to ask bloggers to take my poll, so I would know what bloggers approved of, but nobody answered my poll. Now, I know the "blogger rules", which makes me feel much better about what I post on my blog. Thanks again

Jennifer said...

Patty - You're going to find as many opinions about the rules as there are bloggers out there. I highly recommend following the SavvyBlogging ladies. They're some of the wisest bloggers I know! You'll find them at and on Twitter at #savvyblogging.

And the best way to learn the ropes and rules... just ask. I'm always happy to share what I know, and it seems like most other bloggers are too.

Amy @ Raising Arrows said...

I had no idea the coupon world could get so "sticky". That would be a bit annoying if you knew a deal was yours and someone took it and ran with it.

Renea said...

Great post! I've recently done a ton of research on the whole plagiarism/copyright infringement thing.

Giving credit = not plagiarism, but you could be infringing on a copyright. As soon as someone posts information, that info is copyrighted - you don't have to actually 'apply' for one, unlike a trademark.

This all came around because of a site copying my posts from a coupon forum - I have been typing up coupon previews for over a year now and it takes several hours every Tuesday to type and format everything - when I see my work copy/pasted without a simple thanks, I get a little upset. I continue to do it though because I know it helps other coupon users, and gives everyone a head start on finding the deals - which we all benefit from.

Now, because of this other site's actions, I've started posted my previews on my own blog - with a copyright and licensing clause. I just wish more bloggers understood the 'rules' a little better. I don't know, maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but it hurts when I see someone using my information word for word, and not even give a simple 'thanks'.

With the way social networking has exploded, we're all bound to find the same information or deals - but there's that fine line between 'finding and sharing' and 'copy/paste and claim as your own work'.

Thanks again and very good post!