There is a lot of stuff going around lately about plagiarism and I decided to make this post because there are those out there that I’m not sure truly understand what it is.
So, what is plagiarism?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines plagiarism as: The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
Basically, it is when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, etc. without acknowledging them.
In the academic/professional world this is a topic that is very black and white. You never use another’s work/words without properly citing them every single time. (A RL example of this: my thesis paper bibliography page took almost as long as writing the paper did!) And you do not paraphrase without crediting it to the original author as well.
However, in the informal writing world of tumblr- the topic of plagiarism is a field of greys. Much of the plagiarism on tumblr is not malicious and is quite unintentional. It happens when a well intentioned person does not realize the lines between their own ideas and the ideas that they have absorbed from another. In a nut shell: more of the plagiarism comes from people not understanding that paraphrasing still can be plagiarism.
What’s so wrong with paraphrasing?
Actually, paraphrasing in of itself is quite good. When we paraphrase we display our true understanding of what we have read. However, when you look at something you have read and decide to rewrite it and use it without acknowledging when you got it from- that is wrong.
Unless, of course, the source you have been reading is considered to be common knowledge.
The University of Berkeley states that something is common knowledge if:
The same idea can be found in the same form in several different sources (and all these sources aren’t getting the idea from one common, published source).
It is information that your readers most likely already possess (whether the information is accurate or a popular misconception).
It is factual information that is in the public domain, for example, widely known dates of historical events, facts that are cited in standard reference works, etc.
Common knowledge in the role playing community is a bit more lax. I know from being in the Norse Mythos that many people use information from the NT Paganism & Heathenry website. I would argue, that for roleplaying purposes, that the information on this website constitutes common knowledge (as many now share the same beliefs as those there).
How can I tell if I have plagiarized something?
The easiest way (or hardest perhaps) is to ask yourself two simple questions.
Is _______ my own idea or did I see it somewhere else?
If I saw it somewhere else did I just reword it to “make it mine?”
If the idea is your own then no you did not plagiarize it. If you saw it somewhere else and decided you liked it so much and just rewrote it…. then yes… it is not your idea.
How can I tell if I someone has plagiarized me?
Well, here is the nitty gritty of plagiarism in role playing. All one has to do is look at tvtropes and see that there truly are no new ideas under the sun. If you can think it up, it is likely already has been done. Think you’re the only one to come up with the idea of a god who hates being compared to his father and goes far out of his way to be the exact opposite of him only to end up like him in the end? Nope and nope. That trope has been done before. Just because you see another person with that idea, does not mean they plagiarized you.
However, if said person decides to mimic your character completely… well that is plagiarism. If you look at their head canon posts and say to yourself, “Wow! This looks really familiar!” Then yes, you have probably been plagiarized.
Okay, I understand what plagiarism is now. But… how does this work with role playing?
First things first, don’t appropriate other people’s original ideas. Try to come up with a character that is unique. Even canon characters can have original ideas folded into them.
For instance: we know a lot about what makes Draco Malfoy tick. But what makes him yours? What makes your version of him different than what we can read from the source material? Did he have a happy enough marriage to Pansy before one day he realized that they had simply drifted away from one another and he no longer “knew” her. Then he finally noticed Astoria, the true-blue girl that was in front of him the entire time? The girl that made him want to be a better man? The one that he would pull the stars from the sky for? The one who, despite her infertility and the intense depression it caused her, he loved completely.
Whatever it is, make it yours*. The easiest way to ensure that you’re not plagiarizing is to weave your own story into the character.
* That being said… that was a terrible example! I have no idea if this has been done in the HP fandom or not. I simply used Draco as an example because he was recently on my dash.
The TLDR version
Don’t treat other writers as a free for all resource for your characters. It’s lazy writing, and most of all inconsiderate.
I think the fact that within Hogwarts there’s a lot of distaste for Slytherin and Hufflepuff shows some interesting insight into the wizarding community. Like, Hufflepuff represents hard work and fairness, right? But there’s the idea that Hufflepuffs are…
Favorite Characters » (2/?) Valfreyja
F r e y j a N j ö r ð a r d ó t t i r
Nature, nurture, heaven and home Sum of all, and by them, driven Braved the forests, braved the stone Braved the icy winds and fire Braved and beat them on my own
Mythology Meme » (1/?) The Jötnar
M ú s p e l l s m e g i r
“There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to
warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke."
Vincent van Gogh
The main role of the fire jötnar in Norse mythology is to wreak the final destruction of the world by setting fire to the world at the end of Ragnarök, when the jötnar of Jotunheim and the forces of Hel shall launch an attack on the gods, and kill all but a few of them.The fire-etins are territorial, and curt and abrupt with outsiders. They take offense fairly easily, and react in an appropriately fiery manner. In their human form, they stand six to eight feet tall, and their skins are usually blackened with soot. When they flip to their fiery forms, the soot is shaken off, and so you can see them with unblackened skin for a little while after they change back. In their fiery form, they are like great pillars of fire, sometimes vaguely humanoid-shaped, and sometimes not. (x)
you should ask the owner of a photo before posting your small little witch blurb on their photos. it's quite rude. also please don't add your blurbs to mostly POC related fashion editorials, it's really weird and it's fetishizing cultures.
I don’t entirely understand what you mean by “mostly POC related fashion editorials.” I’m guessing it has to do with my use of abayas, khaftans, etc? At the moment I don’t feel like it’s cultural fetishization because I’m searching for garments that meet physical criteria across the board in order to utilize them in a fictional culture. I often acknowledge the parent culture of the garment if the garment is culturally specific, but the culture discussed is a fictional one, from the Unites States to Russia to Kenya. Granted, I am not a person of color, so I can’t truly understand.
I would love to hear more from you and anyone else who follows me on these issues, because I’d like to know if other people feel similarly or not, so I can change accordingly.
As a WOC I think you’ve always been really incredible in regard of how you treat POC in your posts. You haven’t fallen into the same traps that a lot of other fictional fashion blogs do. You aren’t sexualizing POC cultures and fashion- which definitely has made your blog one of my favorites. I definitely don’t see what you are doing as fetishistic. You are simply filling in the gaps of JKR’s world.
That being said, I do think I know to which post the anon is referring to (the recent slytherin one). Yes, I do have some objections with that post- but you did not create it and so do not deserve any ire for it. Anyhow, all of this has just been my own opinion. There are a lot of different POC out there, and I don’t claim to represent them all.
PS: Keep up the beautiful work!
Also, reblogged this because it was wayyyyyyy too long for an ask.
Oh wow, I checked my inbox today and had so many wonderful messages waiting for me. But they were all from AGES ago, and just suddenly appeared. I’m not sure what is going on with my asks/fanmails but I am extremely honored that all of you have followed me. Your kind words have made my week! xoxx
A last-of-the-year thank you to those who have been friends and inspirations to me and just plain brighten my day.
OH MY GOD!! I just saw this! I am so honored! Thank you very much!
I just can say i’m truly shocked by the answers i get, it’s indeed a fact that black people still get raced by white people and we all know that is very much a big problem in many countries
But when you suggest that white people cannot be raced is denying or either not wanting to realize that that they too get raced when found in situations were they found the person to be vulnerable and an easy target
Also, someone mentioned that when i said i come from black people it was stupid, my mother and other members from my family are black and two uncles are married to black women
They have all the right to express their opinion after all….I too have witnessed racism towards white people, and i still believe is a fact that we can’t ignore
isolated events should not be construed as being indicative of something more widespread. also- if you’re half black you’re half black. but to phrase it the way you did, makes one wonder if you’re ashamed of being half black (which nobody ever should be. i too am half black and extremely proud of it). embrace your heritage, don’t simply say “i came from black people.”
and because i think there is some confusion here:
unfounded beliefs + irrational fear = prejudice
prejudice + institutional power = racism