Plagiarism and the Blogosphere: Sometimes the Internet is Smaller Than You Think

Ok ok, so normally I don’t get wound up about this kind of stuff, but today I happened (totally by chance, while searching for images for the previous post about post-apocalyptic fashion) to come upon someone else’s blog… Someone’s blog who had two posts that we’re EERILY similar to two posts I wrote in exactly the same year on Fetlife, a social network for the out-and-kinky.

Now, I’m willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, and this blogger only used a few sentences or phrases that were nearly identical to mine, but I find it hard to believe that the structure of these blog posts (which are almost identical to the ones I wrote) and the use of certain phrases is entirely coincidental. Remember kids, plagiarism isn’t only about copy-and-pasting someone’s work, it’s also about stealing someone’s ideas, and rewording them as if they were your own.

But hey, the internet is a big place, and certainly I’m not the only one with tattoo related pet peeves, so I’ll let you, dear reader, judge for yourself…

I got your Tattoo Etiquette right here. Work by Matt Hamlet

 

“PaintedPinUp’s Guide to Tattoo Etiquette:

Along with my Tattoos for Noobs post, I decided to write a Tattoo Etiquette guide, for those of
you new to the world of tattooing, or old hands who have since forgotten how to operate in the
polite tattoo world.

1. Do not touch unless you are given explicit permission. Like the BDSM world, it is
typically considered poor manners to touch someone in order to “see” their tattoos unless
you have been given permission to do so. If you ask to “see” someone’s tattoo, do not
then grab them by the applicable limb and twist them about in order to get a better view.
Additionally, if you ask to “see” a tattoo, and it requires the owner of the tattoo to move
some item of clothing out of the way, do not feel free to remove or relocate that item of
clothing for them. If they are feeling like sharing, they are competent to rearrange their
own clothes.

2. Unless you know someone REALLY well, do not, under any circumstances, point out how
bad their work is. Seriously, you’d think this would be a no brainer, but it’s clearly not. If
someone has a piece of work that’s less than stellar (and I don’t know any heavily tattooed
person that hasn’t had at least one “starter” mistake and/or a cover up) don’t go pointing
it out over and over again, or teasing that person. It’s depressing and kind of shitty when
something PERMANENT goes terribly wrong, and whether the bad tattoo was a result
of poor decision making or inexperience, let he who has never made a poor decision cast
the first stone. My only exception to this rule is if you have lots of tattoos that you know
are worse, then at least you’re on an even teasing field. Of course you probably think
your teasing is good natured, and fun, because you know you don’t mean to be a jerk, but
really, you’re being insulting.

3. If you do have tattoos, don’t compare your work to the work of others in their presence.
You may think your work is as good as mine…It’s not, unless I tell you it is. I may think
my work is better than yours, and you don’t. Either way comparing tattoos is a little like
comparing body parts. “My tits are just as nice as yours!” is probably not going to lead to
a positive feeling in at least one party, and maybe both.

4. If you must snark about other people’s tattoos, wait until they’ve left the room, and do it
quietly, and especially don’t do it in a public forum. Seriously, another no brainer right?
It’s not the same as talking shit about someone’s bad outfit, you’re talking shit about a
permanent decision that someone probably ascribes some personal meaning to. Yeah, I
snark all the time, I probably talk about how bad your tattoos are, but at least I have the

courtesy to do it in private, and not publicize that I think your work is crap.

5. If you are not tattooed, don’t open a conversation with a tattooed person about how
awesome/hot/sexy/amazing their tattoos are. Guess what? We’ve heard it all before, it’s
the most unoriginal come-on and/or conversation starter we frequently get. Working in
a compliment about someone’s body art later in a conversation is acceptable, but again,
be subtle. Coming up to me and saying “Your tattoos are amazing” is about equivalent to
saying “Your tits are amazing!” I know they are, I’ve heard it before, and it doesn’t really
make me think you’re interested in anything beyond the superficial.

6. It is perfectly ok to ask a tattooed friend advice on the process of getting a tattoo. Want
a recommendation for a good artist? Sure. Want to know how to best develop an idea to
turn it into custom artwork? Please ask. Don’t ask me where or what to get tattooed on
your body. I don’t care, and frankly it’s none of my business.

7. Do not stop a busy tattooed person in the market, at a coffee shop, or interrupt them
during a phone call to try and talk to them about their tattoos. I don’t care how interested
you are, if I’m busy, I don’t have the patience to indulge your curiosity.

8. You can stare, I understand. But be prepared for me to stare rudely right back.

9. Don’t ask me what I think of your tattoos, unless you want a real, down to earth, honest
(and probably painful) answer. I’m sure it means something special and important to you,
but I’m hyper-critical of bad art and poor technique.

10. If you feel the need to ask “why” someone has a tattoo, be prepared for the pat answer “because I like it.” Most people don’t have Miami Ink-esque stories of why they were inspired to get a particular piece. If you MUST ask a “why” question, under no circumstances should you say something like “Why would a pretty girl go and do that to herself?” or “why did you ruin yourself like that?” Needless to say, whatever response you get, probably won’t be a positive one.

I’m sure I’ll update this writing in the future as my pet peeves get the better of me, but for now I’ll
leave it at that. Be nice, be kind, don’t be an asshole.”

Now here’ s a link to the blog post I find suspiciously familiar. Especially the ordering and structure of the post.

And the second one:

Work by Matt Hamlet

PaintedPinUp’s Tattoos For Noobs:

As someone heavily tattooed, I often get asked where the best place to get tattooed at is, what I
look for in an artist, and what the most painful part of the body is. Someone recently picked my
brain about how to get started when you want a good piece of work, so I thought I’d share my
response with y’all.

Oh, and just FYI: the top of the foot or ribcage hurts the most.

I would say that my process begins when I’m struck with an idea, be it an image, or a concept
that I think would translate into an awesome piece of art. Then I go do some research by going to
local shops, looking on the Internet at online portfolios, and asking friends that I think have good
work for recommendations. In looking for an artist you want to look for several traits: someone
who has recognizable technical skill in both their tattoo work (check for clean, smooth, even
lines. Look for consistency in the coloration, attention to detail, color blending, shading, light,
and overall aesthetic), as well as someone with an artistic style that you like and matches the feel
of what you’re looking for. I picked the artist who did my sleeve and back (Dana Tyrell, Inky
Cells Tattoo Co in Santa Rosa) because her artistic style was more like a watercolor artist, her
style is light and almost whimsical. I chose Matt Hamlet because I liked the level of detail and
the way he paid attention to light and shadow. Stylistic appeal is subjective, technical skill is not.

So great! You have an idea or concept, and you have an artist. Now, with any custom piece,
the control freak inside you is going to have to let go at some point. It’s really going to be up to
the artist to do the best job of rendering out the ideas and images you give him or her as they
can. You can work with them, do a couple iterations of the design you want, but the odds are
you are never going to get exactly your vision of the piece you want, unless you’re getting a
piece of flash. It’s ok to bring in some pictures for subject material, to show an angle, or lighting
that you like, but know you’re not going to get exactly that image. Make sure all the important
elements that are symbolic to you are there, be willing to give a little in terms of placement/ size/
background. Most of the people I know who “want a tattoo, but haven’t gotten one yet,” never get
one because they just can’t find the exact thing they want.

Oh, my only exception to these rules are text. Really all you need for text is EXACTLY what
you want written (spell check it, print it out, and bring it with you, preferably in the font you like,
if not there will be examples of fonts at the shop), and find an artist with good line work (clean,
even, steady, straight) and you’ll pretty much be ok at most shops. For bigger more artistic work
you need to be much more discriminating.

Oh, and depending on the size and detail of the piece you want, be prepared to spend a small
fortune. It’s worth it.”

And here’s her second post…which covers the same contents in nearly identical structure…

So here’s the deal, dear reader. I’ll leave it up to you to judge if this is a case of plagiarism or not. These posts were also both written in 2009, but the dates are a little off. Looking at the dates listed on the blog, she published these before I published mine (a difference of about 2 months), but you can pretty easily back-date blog posts, so I’m not convinced that’s evidence against my work being ripped off.

I typically try and give coincidence the benefit of the doubt, but in this case I’m having a hard time doing that considering the similarities in timing, structure, and content of these posts.

The moral of this story, kids, is simply to attribute work or inspiration you get from other people. When someone attributes your work to you, that’s flattering. When someone steals from you, it just pisses you off. In this case I can’t prove anything, and there’s really no consequence if I was plagiarized. I don’t get paid for what I write and I don’t think she’s making money off her blog either, so there’s really nothing to be done…

Except write an angry post on MY blog about it…

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the tattoo pics in this post are pictures of my tattoos, as in, ones that are actually on my body. Credit is given to my artist, as it should be.

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~ by K. Ritcheson on December 6, 2011.

2 Responses to “Plagiarism and the Blogosphere: Sometimes the Internet is Smaller Than You Think”

  1. @Philosphermouse: Oh do share? What did you do about it? I wrote the woman who posted these blogs an email that basically said “I can’t prove anything, but if you’re going to rip someone off, at least properly attribute your content…” but there’s really not much else to do about it.

  2. Very interesting. Had similar experience

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