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The Ethics of Article Spinning

Updated on May 23, 2013

The Ethics of Article Spinning (Article Rewriting)

Article Spinning is Spinning My Conscious

I am a graduate student. This means I have been trained in research and plagiarism. I have been taught that plagiarism is not only using the words but also the thoughts of someone else without proper acknowledgement of the originator. But that is not the real world; that is academia. For those of us who work on the computer to either make extra money or attempt to pay our bills, we have learned of article spinning and Copyscape. Here is a basic article to help you decide if article spinning is right for you.

Article spinning is basically when you take an article on the internet that someone else has either written or spinned himself and make it your own. This is done by changing adjectives, tense of sentences and other forms of rewriting an article. Copyscape is the online program you put your new rewrite through to make sure it does not fall under legal internet plagiarism.

I found this all out last week when I naively accepted a job writing articles for a company. Silly me spent 30 hours in two days writing original work and doing original research. Yes, I did! I got faster but obviously not fast enough. Finally, I asked my boss and was told how to do it. He was patient, knowing I was new at this. After a couple of days of total frustration, I concluded that my ethics were too high for this kind of work. Perhaps I was wrong.

First of all, the average article spinner makes $1 per 500 words. Obviously, you cannot do original work or write an original article for that kind of money. Some companies offer $2 to $5 for every 500 words, but you have to be good, no, great, at what you do. In order to make $4 an hour, you have to spin two articles an hour. This can be done.

So, I had an ethical problem. I have bills to pay and live in a town of 600, including dogs. I am out of work. Article rewriting seemed the answer. But, here are my ethical problems:

1. What I am doing is legal plagiarism, but is it moral? I am using other people’s work as my own.

2. Am I responsible to the reader for the material I put in my articles? What if they get hurt taking my advice?

To solve my first ethical problem, moral plagiarism is perhaps the hardest for me. Not only do I risk my integrity but what if I get into some nasty habits of plagiarizing over the summer that carry into my scholarly work? I researched and decided that this form of article rewriting, article spinning, is not morally unethical because it is an excepted practice among my clients. They know what they are getting. Anyone else who writes articles knows what they are doing. Maybe that does not make it completely moral, but if it is the accepted practice and you are not really claiming it as your own work, then perhaps the moral issue in this regard is resolved. However, what of the reader, who has no idea that this is how things are done on the internet?

This leads me to ethical problem number two. I do not care if I am rewriting, spinning or doing original work, I DO have an obligation to the reader for the material I put in my articles. Period: no ifs, ands, or buts, about it. I am responsible. So, my number one advice on this to you is to always make sure that the article you are using to spin from is from a legitimate source. For example, do not article spin an article on cancer signs from someone who is selling cancer medicine. Spin from the Mayo Clinic. Your information is correct. If you are “researching” cancer treatment alternatives, the “Cancer Treatment Center” is not the way to go. While your information on alternative cancer treatments may be accurate, you do have to consider the Center’s purpose for having its article – that is, to gain patients.

These are just a couple of basic ethical questions that you must ask yourself and I hope that you listen to your conscious. I am sure that there are ethics professors that would argue my first ethical solution and a researched article on that subject would take twenty pages. However, it is a personal decision. I am choosing to write articles by keeping ethics number two in mind. But I have decided not to article spin. Instead, I search then get an idea and with my experience, quickly formulate new fresh articles within minutes. Isn't that what writing is about? Inspiration? Enjoy and remember, to make some money 1000 words an hour is a basic goal. -- Karre.


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    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 2 years ago from Dominica

      Most interesting! I can appreciate your struggle on the issue of morality in such a situation. I agree with you totally that the writer /spinner is responsible for whatever information he provides for his readers.

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 4 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Angela: I am not sure if you are writing to me or a commenter. To be sure, I am not justifying plagiarism, legal or not, or putting garbage on the internet. My article says that I chose not to plagiarize in my article spinning, in spite of it being common practice. It also says that I am responsible for what I write, not the reader. It is written tongue-in-cheek and outlines the decision-making process. You may be misinterpreting my message. What I chose to do was to use legit information and write without plagiarism and even found ways to credit my source -- having said that, I didn't make any money and that job was not for me. :-)

    • profile image

      Angela 4 years ago

      So you are justifying using someone else's work by saying you feel OK because everyone else does it?! That's lame. And it's also lame to pawn off your responsibility as a writer on the reader. For sure readers should make sure what they are reading is legit, but as a professional writer it's also your responsibility to make sure you aren't putting garbage on the internet just to make $4 an hour. That seems a pretty low price for lowering your moral bar...

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 5 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Kat: Sorry it has taken sooo long to respond. I am in grad school and sat aside Hubpages for a while. I completely agree with you, but I was referring to article spinning that uses other people's articles to create one's own. I should have been more clear. In regard to the time factor -- I completely agree but if you are working for someone else, they don't always understand that. :-) Thank you for clarifying article spinning. I enjoyed spinning but I did not enjoy how my particular boss wanted me to do it. I would like to see you write an article on effective ways to spin. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Kat 5 years ago

      I really hate to burst your bubble, but not all article spinning is done with misappropriated content. Many people write excellent original articles and then spin their own work in order to use it across multiple platforms and properties. Spinning is merely a tool, and in the wrong hands it can do bad things, just as it can be useful and entirely ethical if done correctly. What many people do not realize is that spinning takes TIME when done right; sure, most programs have an easy button, but that doesn't mean it should be pushed!

    • Karre profile image

      Karre Schaefer 5 years ago from Eskridge, Kansas

      Thank you cleaner3, it is definitely something we are faced with all the time. Karre.

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 5 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      great write Karre. i am a college student and are always warned by my professors of plagarism. my papers are simple and are currently on topics that i can relate to. but to try to write an article that has been written on so many times , makes it hard to come up with origanil work so i understand what you are saying. ,.this is a great hub and very well written.