I recently tried to publish a new Hub based off of a piece that's been sitting around in my files for a while. I didn't simply copy and paste the original text -- I moved things around, switched up some stuff, and added and subtracted a bunch of other stuff. Anyway, once I hit "publish" it sat in the "under review" queue for a while and then I got the dreaded rejection message saying that "large portions" of it were duplicated "elsewhere." This was a first for me.
I couldn't figure out where the Powers That Be came up with that "elsewhere," because to the best of my knowledge, I had removed the only other existing copy of this piece from the website it had been posted on a loooong time ago... so it should've been free and clear. I shrugged, made some more changes to it, re-submitted it again and... pffft. Still "unpublished," for the same reason.
Puzzled, I went back to my original draft of the piece and started copying/pasting bits of it into Google, sentence by sentence, till I finally found my answer -- I had totally forgotten that I'd allowed it to be posted on a friend's blog many years ago, and THAT was the copy that HP's "duplicate" filters were tripping over. I had no idea that this guy's blog was still active!! Unfortunately the blog's owner and I are no longer in contact, otherwise I would simply ask him to delete that other version.
Sooooo, I went back into my revised-several-times-over Hub, made even MORE changes to it and re-submitted it for publication yet AGAIN....and now I play the waiting game. If this piece gets a third strike, I will give up and delete the whole kit 'n' kaboodle because it's clearly not "meant to be!"
I'm not complaining, by the way... just surprised (and actually a little impressed) at how deeply the Powers That Be dig around when they search for duplicated content!! I had no idea that "other" copy was still hanging around on some dark, dusty, disused corner of the Web but they managed to sniff it out. Lesson learned.
(I also hope that the Powers That Be don't think I was trying to pull some kind of fast one with this piece. I've been victimized by copiers and article thieves several times during my years here at HP, so I would never do it to someone else!!)
Neat that you shared this info. My experience is the HP has been most kind when an honest mistake is made, and even a careless one (as long as its honest). It is good to know that they try to be careful about copied posts. All things considered, building integrity on the www is a huge task for them.
Update: the Hub in question has cleared moderation and is now published (tho as of this writing it is not yet "featured," cuz the QAP is a whole 'nother process)... sooooo, all's well that ends well, I guess.
Thanks to the Powers That Be for being cool about this, it really was simply an honest mistake on my part!
Thanks for sharing the info! I know I have quite a bit of my writing floating around out there on the web as well. Luckily, most of it is on my own blog. Glad you ended up getting the piece published! It is good to know that the mods take such great care that possibly plagiarized work isn't published, but this can be frustrating in cases like yours where you don't have much control with removing your own piece from your friend's blog.
Update #2: the Hub in question is now featured. Case closed!
Update #3: the Hub in question has now been niche-sited, so its journey is complete.
If you've published elsewhere, there's always a likelihood that someone had lifted the articles. That happened to me. I had several articles originally published on Helium. Just before Helium tanked, I took those stories off and published them on this site, immediately. At the time there were no problems. However, a year and half later, the "duplicate" icon was placed one four articles. It appeared that a site known as pitlane dot com had stolen these articles when they were originally posted at Helium and waited more than a year afterward to publish them on its site. Later, I discovered that this person took a voluminous amount of articles from the site. I counted 10 of mine at the time. I discovered an 11th one on the site when I attempted to republish it last year. This time, I paid the price: the article was taken offline. I have yet to edit it in a way that it doesn't reflect the article that was originally published by me. I've reported the site, but it appears they're still online.
This was one of the problems of writing at Helium. One of the reasons I stopped writing there was that Helium had the right to sell our articles, without asking us or paying us. It was in the terms and conditions of the site, but of course most Helium members (including me) didn't read them before they joined!
So the site you mention may have stolen the articles, but they could equally have bought them from Helium legally. It would make sense for Helium to try to recoup some of their losses by selling off the articles, after all.
Randy was very vocal in his criticisms of Helium but like you, I don't believe he had anything to do with the site's demise. The site was doomed as soon as Google Panda happened: like most other article sites, it lost about 75% of its income overnight. HubPages did too, but the thing is, it was starting from a healthier position, so it was able to hang on, and it was easier for them to adjust to please Google. Whereas Helium's fundamental structure made it much harder for them to do so.
So, you should probably be grateful to RR Donnelly for coming along, because if they hadn't, Helium would have closed much earlier than it did.
RR Donnelly had the right idea, eventually - split Helium into a suite of niche sites, as HubPages has now done. It should have been the saving of Helium - but they made a dog's breakfast of it. Our articles were unpublished for so many weeks, every single one got de-indexed. When the niche sites were launched, Google regarded all the articles as brand new - but of course, over the years, all those articles had been re-sold or copied many times, so the niche sites looked as though they were full of duplicate content. Google ignored them. That was the end of Helium.
Hey Dean, I didn't realize you published on the dreaded Helium website. I'm proud to say I played an instrumental part in taking them down. So, you're welcome.
Randy -- just curious -- how did you play a part in its demise? I always felt that RR Donnelly had a huge hand in destroying that site when they bought it. Also, near its end it was becoming a home to several fringe writers. Including someone that went by the name of Terrence Aym.
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