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Trouble Reports

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Senior Member
since 06-08-99
Posts 1801

0 posted 03-17-2002 10:42 AM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

Realizing that everyone has their indiosyncrasies, I throw the following out for the whatever it's worth department.  I was visiting the main site and for the first time clicked on the trouble report clickee thingee.  (I was not an English or computor major)  I was asked if I had any reason to doubt the author had written the poem, and was then presented with another clickee thingee that read, "****** did NOT write this poem!"  While I understand the motivation for the inclusion of the new feature, I find it demeaning to the poet and distracting to the enjoyment of the poetry.  Do individuals plagarize?  Yes. Has there been plagarism on this site? Yes.  Such is life. It has and can be dealt with. But I humbly suggest that does not warrant the inquiry or planting of a seed with each poem that plagarism has occured.  Perhaps this is a flaw in my character, but as I now visit the main site, the thought crosses my mind as I read each poem, is it plagarized?  And to be personally honest, realizing this is a psychological and not an intellectual response, I find it accusatory to see my name in print with the words, "did NOT write this poem!"  Just putting in my two cents worth.  
Member Elite
since 05-23-99
Posts 4277
Coastal Texas

1 posted 03-17-2002 11:36 AM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

I can understand your chagrin, Tim, but in the specific context, the line reads:

The flip side to that is when someone submits a poem to US that they didn't write. If you have reason to believe (poem) was NOT written by (poet), we encourage you to file a Trouble Report and let us know why. Every report will be thoroughly investigated!
(emphasis mine)

This ain't gonna be a witch hunt, but a means of showing that PiP is doing what it can to slow or stop plagiarism at THIS site.
since 01-26-2002
Posts 280

2 posted 03-17-2002 11:58 AM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus

I understand fully where you’re coming from on this point, I also understand this sites feelings on plagiarism. The question has to be asked though if ‘Every report will be thoroughly investigated” and presumably every case of plagiarism uncovered then why not just investigate every poem before it’s posted to the main site.

It would be too much work, would probably be the response, doesn’t that mean “Every report will be thoroughly investigated” should read “when possible some reports may be thoroughly investigated depending on the number of times some idiot decides to send us on a wild goose chase”.
Senior Member
since 06-08-99
Posts 1801

3 posted 03-17-2002 12:21 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

Ali, which is why I said it is an emotional and not an intellectual response.  To compound the impact is the feature that highlights the choice the poem was not written by the poet.  I do not mind surveillance cameras in a store. I am glad they are there because it keeps the costs of my purchases down by catching thieves.  Clearly, most thefts are committed by employees.  I would object if the store put up a sign indicating "we take theft seriously and if you suspect employee John Doe of being a thief, please fill out the form on the service counter" already preprinted to indicate John Doe is a thief.  Plagarism is to be taken seriously, but I am just suggesting sometimes you can take things too far and have a negative effect.  Emotional reactions are generally stronger than intellectual reactions.  By all means, post warnings about plagarism.  Just don't individualize them.

[This message has been edited by Tim (03-17-2002 12:25 PM).]

Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

4 posted 03-17-2002 03:32 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Intellectual property theft on the Internet is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. It is rampant, and obviously doesn't just center around poetry. I have great (and I'll admit somewhat ideological) hope for what the Internet can do, and feel there's a real threat to that hope if we allow the Internet to become a cesspool of lower standards. People need to be aware. And, yes, I think people need to be a little afraid of being caught.

The new Trouble Report feature at the main site is a very "rough draft" of what I hope will become a much more extensive system down the road. The side that has raised your concerns, Tim, is meant to serve two purposes. First, I want to make people aware, even before they submit to the main site, that their submission is under scrutiny. Your analogy of the sign in the store is a good one. "We take theft seriously," or "We prosecute shoplifters" are not uncommon signs in brick-and-mortar stores. Clearly I think, you don't have a problem with that.

The second purpose of the Trouble Report, and this appears to be where you do have concerns, is to make it as EASY as possible to report suspected plagiarism. The vast number of people, sadly, are not very proactive. In spite of getting well over a million visitors a month, I've had plagiarized poems sit on the main site for as much as six months before someone finally wrote me with a complaint. I've seen incidents in these forums that were even worse, frighteningly worse. I don't want to force people to hunt down my email address (even though it's on every page), so the Trouble Reports make it easier.

I think both of those goals are important. But I also think I understand your concerns and the stigma that can be perceived with the current implementation. I'm certainly open to suggestions on a better way to accomplish those goals. Let's brainstorm and see if we can get it right.

To add fuel to that fire, I'd like to address two other points, too.

FWIW, in the two weeks since the new software was installed, I've received exactly three Trouble Reports. As of midnight last night, we've had 778,264 unique visitors during that same period. That works out to something like less than four one-thousands of one percent? Of course, it's far too early to reach real conclusions (I'd like to think I've already removed all plagiarized poems, so people have nothing to report until I add new poetry). Of those three reports, one was totally bogus and two gave me links to where someone was stealing from the author, rather than a theft by the author. And, yea, I DID investigate each report thoroughly, Phaedrus, and will continue to do so. I think I also catch most plagiarism before it's ever posted at the main site (comparing the description they write with the poem they submit makes a good early warning system), but "most" isn't good enough. And I obviously have much less control here in the forums. (Over the past three years, my poetry collection has grown tremendously because I end up buying books I wouldn't otherwise buy when someone writes and tells me a poem on the main site was originally published there. I might not have all the Chicken Soup books, but I'll bet I have most of them.)

The second thing I'd like to add as fuel is my vision of where I hope to see this first draft of the Trouble Report evolve.

Obviously I'd like to discourage people from submitting plagiarized poems to the main site and the forums, but the bigger problem is having people come into our home and steal from us. I envision a system where you can click one button, tied directly to your poem, and get back a search engine report of other sites where the poem is being used, divided into three sections corresponding to those with your permission, those without permission, and those where the author name isn't yours or isn't present. This part of the software is already partially written. The system will also provide template letters you, as the author, can send to sites using your poetry, organized into a hierarchy of escalation if the issue isn't immediately resolved. There will be tools available to help you track down who owns the site, as well as who hosts the site. There will be articles and suggestions on the proper way to comport yourself and the best way to reach your goals, as well as a listing of lawyers for various geographic regions. I hope we can also help people get their work officially copyrighted as "collections."

Finally, and I'm well aware this is a potentially controversial issue, all of the correspondence between the author and the webmaster/host will become part of a PUBLIC log. A very public log, I hope, since I have a little skill getting our pages listed in search engines. Search for at Google and you'll not only get a link to their site but also a link to our page, with their infractions and details on how the issue was resolved. Sites that make no effort to resolve copyright issues will get some bad publicity, while sites that work with the authors will get good PR. And, yea, I know this is fraught with potential abuse. I'll need a LOT of help to make it work and still protect the innocent.

When I feel comfortable the system is working, I hope to make it freely available to ANY site on the Internet, whether they publish poetry, fiction, or articles. Register a copy of your copyrighted material, provide a "Trouble Report" button next to the material, and all the tools we've put together become available. I know this won't stop intellectual theft, but I hope it will put a definite crimp in it.

Stealing is simply too easy on the Internet. The problem, of course, is that there's just SO many people out there. It's like a huge museum and library combined, where there's no staff in the building, and we're trusting everyone to view the displays and check out the books and never steal. The problem, however, also offers the solution. There are SO many people out there that you can't get away with stealing if we can get even a small fraction of them to help us guard the doors.

Go ahead and rip off my poem. But you better keep it in a desk drawer, because if you put it on the Internet I WILL find out about it.

Okay, that's my vision for the Trouble Reports. What can we do to make it work better? What can we do, Tim, to alleviate your very valid concerns?
Poet deVine
Member Empyrean
since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

5 posted 03-17-2002 04:44 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

As a backroom Mod, I plan to search for the poems submitted in my category. It may flush out the most blatant poems.

Ron, you have some very good ideas for the software..I lok forward to seeing them come to fruition.
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Member Laureate
since 03-07-2001
Posts 19652
British Columbia, Canada

6 posted 03-17-2002 05:31 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Can I borrow "Chicken Soup For A Mother's Soul"
since 01-26-2002
Posts 280

7 posted 03-17-2002 07:50 PM       View Profile for Phaedrus   Email Phaedrus   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Phaedrus

Tim’s main point seems to be based around the naming of the poem and the author, can’t you simply replace them with “This Poem” and “This Author”, identification could be done by passing these variables in the background when the submit button on the trouble report is hit.
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

8 posted 03-17-2002 08:17 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

Goodness made me tired!  But very, very glad to be a part of this system...
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