Plagiarism In Online Debates/Discussions

Ah, I told myself that I won’t blog, but gosh, I can’t help it! And, yes, this is me totally procrastinating right now, when I have to work on the lit review for my late-night library project that’s due end of day tomorrow. But, I’m going to try to make this short and to the point, unlike my other epic posts, ‘mkays?

Okay, so, there is something that’s really been bothering me lately. Actually, it’s been bothering me for a very long time, ever since I became actively involved in forums and online discussions. Of course, I don’t do forums anymore, ‘cause they’re a complete wastage of my time, nor do I get involved in as many online discussions anymore. However, the few that I do get involved in are usually on my FB wall, and just yesterday, someone tagged me in a video of Zakir Naik. Okay, my readers need to understand that I loathe that pathetic excuse of a man. Not only does he annoy me — from his looks to his ugly thick accent to his ridiculous views about women and illogical arguments — but there is absolutely nothing intelligent, nothing inspiring, nothing intriguing, and nothing special about anything that comes out of his mouth. Yet, he still seems to have such a huge following and such an enormous fan base, that it makes me wonder whether he’s the reincarnation of Hitler, who, too, won audiences over with his mindless screaming and gibberish. I mean, Naik not only lacks intellectual vigour (heck, I shouldn’t even use “Naik” and “intellectual” in the same sentence), but each time I listen to him, I feel my brain cells evaporating, for he always sounds like a parrot, desperately trying to prove a point.

However, the person who tagged me in the video turned out to be a fan of this so-called Dr. Naik. I told myself I wouldn’t comment on it, but I guess I couldn’t help myself and just pretty much stated my feelings towards Naik; why I disagree with everything he says, and how I depreciate his pathetic views towards women, especially how he tried to justify polygamy by stating that if women don’t marry, they become, and I quote: “Public property.” :: eye roll ::

Anyway, I did not expect anyone to respond to my comment, as it wasn’t meant to elicit a debate or discussion of any sort, but just as I commented, a short while later, the person who tagged me in the video suddenly posted paragraph after paragraph of text, written in perfect English, that I started to wonder whether it was his own writing. I’d communicated with this individual before, and I must say here that from what I know of him, he is a genuinely nice guy and I respect him immensely, but he is not the greatest writer. Not at all. And I strongly doubted that what he had posted was, in fact, his own words. So, I did what any skeptical person would do; I decided to Google one of the paragraphs he wrote, only to find out that he had cut and pasted it verbatim from this text someone had written as a caption for a Zakir Naik YouTube video. Sigh.

And, mind you, this is not the first time I’ve caught plagiarism in online debates/discussions. It happens quite often, actually, especially when it comes to discussions on religion. Personally, I feel that plagiarism is the worst of all thefts, where one steals someone’s idea, or worse, something they have copied verbatim, and then passing it as their own, without citing it. Not only is it deeply unethical, but it’s just very unfair, especially to the original writer who put so much time and effort into writing it. And as someone who plans to stay in academia for the rest of her life, plagiarism is something I most definitely will come across time and again, especially with my current and future students, and I know exactly how to deal with it, without having to create problems, for I realize how serious of an offense it is, and most (actually all) universities deal with it very harshly.

However online is very different. No one really cares to check whether what one has written is plagiarized or not. So, it’s very easy for people to simply cut and paste text from a variety of different sources, without the need to cite them, and pass it on as their own; and, of course, get away with it, as most people never even suspect a thing. I, on the other hand, have gotten very accustomed to noticing when something is plagiarized, or that the text they’ve written is not really theirs. I guess when you have been in academe for as long as I have, you suddenly develop a knack for these things. And, honestly, it disappoints me. A lot. I mean why do people plagiarize, especially when trying to defend something they feel very passionately about? In this case, the guy is a great fan of Zakir Naik, yet, he didn’t even bother to use his own mind, his own thoughts, his own words, to explain to me why he admired Naik as much as he did. I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense. I mean we’re all old enough to have our own ideas and views about a particular subject matter. So, why cut and paste from other sources to prove something that you don’t even have an opinion on? That is what makes the least sense to me. If you don’t have an opinion, just simply say it. But please, please don’t plagiarize! It makes you seem much more stupider than when if you just said that you don’t know much about the topic and would much rather do your research first, before commenting. I personally respect people like that so much. Why? Because they are honest. And honesty is a beautiful quality to have, which unfortunately most people lack, simply because they are so desperate to prove how “smart” or “knowledgeable” they are about a subject they know zilch about. It’s sad. Really.

Okay, so this post ended up being longer than I intended, so I’ll just end it with this: Don’t copy and paste, don’t plagiarize, ‘cause it’s for fools. If you don’t know something, or lack knowledge on something, just say it. It won’t make you any less smart, but rather it shows how honest you are and how much you are willing to learn. I mean people are not born knowledgeable. Knowledge comes with age, experience, interactions, reading, etc. Also, if you have to use a bunch of different sources to prove your point (during  a debate and discussion), please always cite them. It doesn’t have to be professional i.e. APA/MLA format, or anything like that, but just state where you got your idea or information from, so that the other person knows that you did your research and are citing relevant sources. Otherwise, you will be passing on information that you basically cut and pasted, hence misleading people into thinking that you wrote it. So, please, don’t do that. It’s annoying and very frustrating, especially for people like me whose biggest pet peeve are people who steal ideas without giving the other person, from whom they stole the idea from, their due credit.

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6 responses to “Plagiarism In Online Debates/Discussions

  1. You may wish to send this to the facebook plagiarizer, I did cut and paste it but I wrote it: Inspiration

    Where is it from
    How does it come.
    Let it flow
    From heart to.
    Magic of brain
    Scribbled on paper.
    Not an engine
    Never false.

    Tapping keys
    Think of love.
    Of humanity
    And experience.
    Arriving from a fountain
    Mysterious and pure.
    Symbiotic composition
    Without conscious thought.

    Honeyed words
    But not too sweet.
    Syrup disrupts reading
    Lost in the goo.
    Write not false
    Nor plagiarised.
    Let your heart
    Connect to brain.

    When it does not flow
    Relax, reconnect.
    Do not rush
    You will know when.
    Opening natural tap
    Flowing not mush.
    Clear the mind
    Your are allowed.

    Flow as one
    Capture your heart.
    Trance like mystical
    Magical prose.
    Write it true
    Let it go.
    From you to me
    Reach my heart.

    • Wow…
      That is such a beautifully written poem! I especially love this verse:

      Think of love.
      Of humanity
      And experience.
      Arriving from a fountain
      Mysterious and pure.
      Symbiotic composition
      Without conscious thought.

      Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful piece! 🙂 Do you have a blog, by any chance?

  2. It has not occurred to me to open one. To my surprise, since moving to live in a fairly remote place in the mountains of North Cyprus I have written copious verse, in the style of Dylan Thomas. Why this has happened I don’t know, perhaps I feel closer to my God, end or beginning.

    • You sound like a poet. And it looks like you’re living in a pretty beautiful place; I love water and mountains. The region I’m from in Pakistan is full of that (mountains and water. I mean). It’s extremely inspiring having to be surrounded with such pristine beauty.

      You should definitely share more of your work, whatever you’ve written; you’d be surprised how many people appreciate stuff like that (I’m one of those people). Poetry is not easy, and I struggle with it ALL the time, so if it comes to your naturally, share it; even if it’s only a verse or two. It can be very emotionally impactful. 🙂

  3. Hi SesapZai,

    Not much water here except in the Winter but it is beautiful and relaxing and it did inspire me to write poetry. The first 2 verses of many which I wrote when I first arrived here, inspired by butterflies and a woman:

    Damaged Wings

    With one wing he
    The evening gently with her.
    She did not see, but I think felt
    The warm air change.
    Did not see, but knew
    Her wing was healing.
    Guessing his hands and heart moved
    Weaving the scented air.

    Flying in circles
    Through owl starred night.
    Cannot see but feels her
    Smiling, moving warm air.
    Gliding on the air of care
    With love and goldenness.
    She moved his heart
    Embroidering his damaged wing.

    • Very beautiful poem, Les! I still strongly encourage you start your poem blog. These gems you write need to be shared with the whole world! Else, I’ll share ’em individually on my blog! 😉 Keep writing and inspiring! Love your poems!

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