My writing in other places (or not)

I have some hopes of resuming reasonably regular posting some day soon, but that day is not today, sorry; there are two papers needing rewriting, one requiring no little reading, two reviews to write neither of whose books I’ve yet read, and a multitude of other things almost all of which are late, and although this term’s crop of students is not, proportionally, as disaster-struck as last term’s, their misfortunes are still taking a bit of managing. But, I have been doing the odd little bit of blogging elsewhere, and I also wanted to mention a couple of other things connected with my text appearing on the Internet, since some of you have been kind enough to mention them to me.

My writing where I wanted it

In the first place, over the course of February I have put two posts up on Cliopatria. I’ve been having some misgivings over my place there, as I am an extremely occasional and fairly irrelevant presence by some measures, but it does avail me a place to get political, and thus, if you be interested in that, you can find it in two posts, entitled respectively, “‘They Are Trying To Rob Us of Our Right To Communicate’” (which was not about the SOPA Bill in the USA, though perhaps it should have been, but the motivations behind UK Higher Education policy such as it has been manifest here), and “A historian’s place in (current) politics”, which is more or less as it says. The latter has an egregious malapropism in it that Judith Weingarten quickly spotted, but the site appears to have lost my login details so I can’t currently fix it.1 Find it while you can!

My writing where I didn’t want it

[Update: the threats and exposure now seem to have paid off and as far as I can see the author mentioned below has taken my stuff down. However, I leave the paragraph here for continuity.]

In less cheerful news, I discovered very rapidly on February 12th that someone had grabbed about thirty posts from this blog and put them up on one of their own, to which I shall not link. I discovered this because they didn’t remove any of my numerous pingbacks to this site, and thus I could find out that they have not used my name, and so as well as stupid things like adverts for my books he has got my musings about being unhappy in church services etc. (or just unhappy) up under no name but `admin’, which is extremely odd to see and makes me quite angry. I am, of course, nothing to do with this site and I gave no permission for anything of the kind. I have been in touch with the author (who wrote to me about one of their other blogs, advertising the one where they’d loaded up my content! Perhaps not the brightest thief in the class, this person) and demanded they take the stuff down, I have been in touch with the abuse address at their web-host, but since none of this has as yet resulted in any action by anyone else, I am now also in touch with the University of Oxford’s lawyers and we’ll see what they advise. But since people had mentioned it to me in private, I wanted to say that I knew, and furthermore, firstly that if you’re linking to anything being run by someone calling themselves Djalma Bright, I’d appreciate it if you unlinked them, and secondly that if you work on Arthuriana your stuff may also have been raided there and you should probably Google some of your work’s key phrases up to make sure. I presume that the idea is that they get some of my search traffic for their own material, but perhaps they haven’t yet started writing any of that…

It’s all complications I don’t want, anyway, but it has made me rethink my copyright policy and decide that while I may guard my text fiercely, I don’t really see any point in not releasing my images, as in, ones I took, into the public domain. Does anyone else have any views on that they’d like to share?

My writing not being where I want it

Lastly, as I return to reading other people’s blogs again periodically, I discover that Blogger has had another reinvention of its spam protection Captcha gear. Either I’m a far worse palæographer than I thought, or just as with the previous version, their OpenID support is crooked again. Either way, if you’re on Blogger and running either of the two latest Captcha set-ups, I can’t comment on your blog except as name/URL and you will understand how just now I am concerned about authentication! So it’s not that I don’t love your various writings, I just can’t say so, and you might want to see if anyone who’s not on Blogger actually can…


1. And since the site’s various technical issues (such as the visible spell-check that only shows up in live posts) were another reason why I was considering quitting, it’s quite fitting that, having decided to carry on, I now can’t because of them…

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15 responses to “My writing in other places (or not)

  1. Damn all plagiarists. A special circle of Hell is probably reserved for them. I had an unpleasant experience some years back of sitting in a conference session listening to a paper, and thinking “this sounds awfully familiar”, before realising that it was essentially the text of an essay I had won a prize for several years previously. It’s all been settled and amicably so on all sides, but I do distinctly recall the sickened, head-reeling, out-of-body-experience feeling of that moment.

    Thanks for that heads up about the OpenID issue. This could explain issues my students seem to have had this week on their tutorial blogs… *goes off to check*

    • One of the things that amazes me about plagiarism stories is how many there are where the originator of the work came into contact with the plagiarised version direct, which is something that one would have thought the plagiarist was keen to avoid. Yet people get their own work handed in to them, or else the situations you and I separately describe here, and lots more here. Either there is a lot more of it going on that we don’t spot, or else it is a thing done especially by over-confident or stupid people. I’m hoping for the latter.

    • OK – so I followed up the OpenID thing – and all I can say is the Blogger ‘helpdesk’ was not especially friendly or helpful. Their response was [edited and partisan version]: that lots of people complain about this and they’re all IT neophytes who don’t understand cookies and have inappropriate settings, and all that needs to be done is (a) for all blog readers to change every possible setting including in programs they didn’t even know they ran to ‘enable third party cookies’, or (b) for bloggers to use ‘full page’ comments rather than embedded ones. i.e. it’s your fault or mine or someone’s, but not theirs.

      Now I am not an “IT person”, but I wouldn’t regard myself as (a) an idiot, or (b) completely useless at computing, and yet I found their instructions very hard to follow, and I still can’t get a test OpenID comment in my own name working on my own tutorial blogs. Pity the poor first years! Next year I’m voting for WordPress.

      Rant over. Thanks for listening.

      • Hmm. In my case, third-party cookies may actually be an issue. I ought at least to try enabling that and see if it makes any difference. I more or less refuse to set my browser to openly accept cookies, but I’m aware that this makes me awkward. There certainly is a sort of Blogger comment form I can still use, that would presumably be the `full page’ one, but y’know, it’s not as if this is documented outside Blogger, and yet it’s precisely people outside Blogger who would be using OpenID…

  2. Now I can’t for the life of me figure why anyone would want any of my stuff however since moving over to WP I have occasionally noticed a rather strange phenomena where, based on my stats, I’ll have 50-80 pageviews from a single IP address over a period of several minutes, basically a different page every 5-20 seconds. I haven’t gone looking to see if any of my stuff has turned up elsewhere but perhaps I should. On blogger this only happened once when I was evidently very popular with the Russian government one evening.

    As for the photos, Google Images seems to lock onto those and make them pretty much available anyway. My Teotihuacan pictures seemed to show up there very quickly.They have some site disclaimers but unless you want to go to the trouble of requesting they be taken down, public domain or no seems to lack relevance. Though you have some awful good pictures which may have some value.

  3. Unfourtunately it’s quite usual. One of the things you learn by running a website, is that there are a lot of sites/bots/viruses/people that doesn’t play nice. For example, yesterday, I have to block some german ip ranges, due to some uncivilized user. It’s a shame. In the end, you need to actively monitor and adjust your access policies continously!.

  4. Pingback: Round-up from the Blogosphere « Senchus

  5. I’m very sorry to hear this and I hope Kath is right. Let’s get Dante to take out Michael Scot and insert every darned one of them.

    As I think you know, I’ve had this problem myself, but by a different sort of person. I write fairly fluffy little dabs of history for the enjoyment of my fellow Cumbrians, which, unfortunately, makes them terribly appropriate for Lake District B&Bs looking for a bit of copy to make their websites more interesting. This would be annoying enough if my day job wasn’t – you guessed it – writing freelance blurbs for websites, mostly in the local tourist industry.

    As a result I periodically take down the posts that are ripped off most often. I usually end up sneaking them back on because the story seems incomplete without them. Sadly, some of the stuff I’m proudest of has stayed down because I can’t bear to see people steal what might be an original thought on my part. So in my own small way I really feel for you. It bloomin’ stinks, especially as your thief probably just wants to jack up his search engine results in the hope of selling more dodgy legal claims/cr*ppy SEO/naked flash.

    Incidentally, a couple of weeks ago someone tried to pass off a number of short stories as their own. The writing community hit everything linked to the thief, and the sheer weight of the twitter and facebook writing community got the lot taken down. That’s the argument for telling us who the rotter is.

    So, sympathies. I hope they get their comeuppance.

    • Well, as you may have seen from the edit, threatening the offender directly with legal action did in fact do the job, but either they were trying to gather in search hits for their own dubious Arthuriana, or someone who writes dubious Arthuriana has also been ripped off. I saw your episode of this sort of thing and was very annoyed on your behalf, and though I was also quite glad to notice some of the posts come back, I do see the bind it puts you in. Your stuff is your best advertising, but it’s hard to do that, maintain an audience and not make stuff available for unwanted pillage…

      • I’m pleased the stuff’s come down. It really makes me rage (did you guess?)! Funny about the Arthurian link. Any of my posts that vaguely fit in that category (and it generally is vaguely) get a lot of hits, and comments from unusual people.

        I don’t really see my blog as advertising, and never link it to my work or mention clients – not even in local radio appearances. I really *do* do it for fun and because surprisingly few Cumbrians have any sense of their past. I’ve had a lot of benefit and enjoyment from the people who tootle along (thank you!) and add their own information.

        I’ll pass the warning on to my Argentinian contact who covers a lot of the more ‘romantic’ end of Arthuriana. Sounds like he could be next in line.

  6. *flesh, obviously. I appear to be censoring myself! ;)

  7. Pingback: Viking ransoms in Galicia: you heard it here first (wrong) | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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