Monday, December 18, 2006

My mistake

On websites, blogs, discussion boards, we are continually arguing, repeating and discussing other people’s ideas. We read, we learn, we repeat. That is how content is often created online, and in everyday life. We read something we like and we then incorporate that idea, concept or theme into our own writing.

That being said, it is very important that we give credit where it is due.

Recently I found an article that I liked on SEM. It stated certain concepts that I share. I thought it would be a great topic for this blog. The theme was perfect, but my execution was faulty.

As I wrote the posts I was paraphrasing from the original text, but it was not enough. The end result was not the creation of a new idea, or an extention on the theme, but more of a restatement of the original idea and without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. That is wrong in print, web, or any medium.

That was my mistake… the mistake of a first time blogger.

How can we learn from this?

Here is a simple tip to avoid making a similar mistake. It’s simple attribution.

Give credit whenever you use another person’s idea, opinion, or theory; any facts, statistics, graphs, or any information that is not common knowledge.

Put in quotations everything that comes directly from the original text or speaker. Use the title, the author, the publisher (link) and the original publishing date.

You may paraphrase, but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words. Make sure you are creating something new. Check the paraphrase against the original text, and make certain that you have not accidentally used the same phrases or words. Then put it down, and come back later and double check. Trust me on this... 'cause in hindsight, this was my mistake.

This is a problem with self/online publishing, blogging and the immediate web gratification that we all have come to expect. Back in the day we used fact checkers, copy editors, and the like, and thus prevented these mistakes. This is not an excuse, but the reality we live in. Most bloggers are individual at home publishers and do not have employees. So, with blogging we'll continue to see more mistakes like these. I only hope that if it happens to you... that you'll stand up, admit the mistake, fix it and work to not repeat it.

In sum... although this blog is a work in progress... you deserve better.

On the Internet perception is reality, as such, I will do my best not to disappoint you again.