The Ethics Of Your Writing

Last summer, Peter and I noticed that one of our blogging friends seemed to be posting things that were lifted from another source. They were word for word what was on another website; we considered that a serious breach of ethics.

fountain pen
Phil Hilfiker via Compfight

I finally had the opportunity to ask him about these posts, telling him that I had noticed that they were the exact same thing is on some other websites. He told me that he had purchased some PLR (private label rights) articles and was using them because he didn’t have time to write anymore but wanted to keep new content on his website. I pointed out that it didn’t look right, and that when people usually use PLR articles that the idea was to modify them so that they would become one’s personal articles.

As some of you know I now offer writing and blog writing services as part of my business. With one of my blogging clients, I knew his industry really well, so I didn’t have to do much research with it. With most of the other writing that I’ve been doing, there has been a fair amount of research. What you start to find out is that as you read on the subject enough times, you start to get the feeling that you know it fairly well and can pretty much write totally original content more than half of the time without having to do any research at all.

But there are those times when you have to do some kind of research. On most topics, what I will do is think of what I want to write about, pull up four or five resources, read them all, and then start writing. If the majority of the resources quoted exact same information, then I would use that exact same information, but will alter the words if it’s possible.

Sometimes it’s not; if you have a list of things that have to go in a particular order, you’re pretty much stuck using what’s there. For instance, I once wrote an article regarding something called “revenue codes“, which is a health care term. I listed a whole bunch of numbers and descriptions, and no matter what resource I might have had to look at, those numbers and descriptions would have been the exact same everywhere.

I think when it comes to writing there has to be some kind of ethical standard that a writer has to have. It doesn’t do a writer any good to copy blocks of words from someone else’s articles without giving them attribution. One of the gripes I’ve written about often on this blog is seeing people on other blogs saying the same thing over and over that they got from another blog.

True, there may not be many new ways to say “create great content” when talking about ways to improve one’s blog or to encourage visitors to stop by, but that’s part of the essence of what writing is supposed to be about, that being creativity. I’m sure that someone else has probably written about ethical writing in the past, but I’m also betting that no one is ever written about it in quite the same way that I’m writing about it right now. That’s the kind of thing that makes us all unique.

There’s also the question of rewriting articles. Many people believe that’s unethical, because they’re taking one source and basically saying the exact same thing that someone else said only in a different way. I have kind of a different take on that one also. I have rewritten my own stuff from time to time, and as I am the original source for that information, I have no qualms about doing that rewrite.

I also think that it depends on what you’re writing as to whether doing a rewrite of something is ethical or not. For instance, if you’re writing something about a new story you read, and you can only find that information in one place, I don’t think there’s anything unethical in writing that in a different way; after all, that’s news, and it’s what all the major newspapers around the country do when they get those newsfeeds from places such as the AP and Reuters. I do that on my finance blog all the time, although I also didn’t comment on those stories which make them unique.

What are your thoughts on ethical writing? Do you think I’m too strict, too lenient, or something else? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell

The World’s Shrinking… Localization And The Foreign Language Web (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Christian Arno, the founder and managing director of Lingo24, a company that owns translation services. It’s a very interesting article, and I’m glad she’s asked to post it here. I hope you enjoy it, and comment if you can.

The world’s getting smaller. Not literally, of course, but in the sense that digital communications has helped bring down the barriers that time and space had inherently created. Thanks to the internet and affordable means of mass communication, we are closer than ever before towards living in a true global village.

However, there is still one remaining barrier: language. It’s unlikely that Earth’s six billion+ population will start speaking a single communal language any time soon, so this leaves global businesses with two options:

• Assume English as the international language of business

• Translate, localize and communicate in a language that international clients understand

The first option becomes rather redundant when you consider that three quarters of the world’s population speak no English whatsoever. So that means that localization is the name of the game for companies seeking to tap into new and emerging markets. To go global, businesses must think local.

Localization is the art of tailoring communications towards a specific cultural, linguistic and geographical group. It’s not good enough to simply consider the language alone – words can mean different things between, for example, the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish spoken in Latin America. The same applies to the French in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. There’s even key differences between German (Germany) and Swiss German.

Similarly, seemingly trivial points can affect international communications significantly. The conventional way of writing ‘one million’ in English-speaking countries would be: 1,000,000.00. In many European countries, this convention is reversed, so in the likes of Germany, Italy and Denmark, it would be written as: 1.000.000,00. Some countries – such as France and Finland – don’t use any thousands separator at all: 1 000 000.00.

Closer to home, there are significant differences between US English and UK English, to the point where each dialect is often treated as a separate language within marketing companies. The last thing any international marketer wants is to assume that a colloquial term used in Scotland will be understood by their target audience in Texas.

The internet has helped bring equilibrium to the world of commerce. Businesses of all sizes can now ‘go global’ with little more than a networked computer and a touch of entrepreneurial savvy – big companies with big marketing budgets are now facing stiffer competition with small to medium-sized businesses getting involved in the international arena too.

And this can only be a good thing as increased competition normally means a better deal all-round for the customer. However, it’s worth remembering that a global mindset must go hand-in-hand with a local ethos. The customer is all that counts.

Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over a hundred employees spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over thirty million words for businesses covering every industry sector and their turnover in 2009 was $6m USD.

I thank Christian for this article, and I hope y’all have learned as much about this topic as I have.

Pimsleur Language Program Spanish II

Price – $214.67








King Holiday #24

This is the 24th year that there’s been a holiday commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s only the 10th year that every state in the union has celebrated it, as South Carolina, obviously the bastion for racial diversity (sarcasm; after all, they still fly the confederate flag), held out until that year. Actually, most people don’t know this one, but the city of Hiroshima, Japan, also celebrates the King holiday, being the only city in the world outside of the United States that celebrates a U.S. holiday.

You know, Dr. King never wanted to be a civil rights leader. He just wanted to be a small country preacher. But he stepped up to the plate and did what people needed him to do. He was beaten, kicked, and thrown in jail. He had his house fire bombed. He was stabbed in New York City. He was followed by the FBI and put on Edgar J. Hoover’s hate list. He both feuded with then lauded by Malcolm X. He led marches, gave speeches, and inspired a heck of a lot of people to positive, non-violent actions that conquered Jim Crow and segregation. And he took a bullet for it while supporting a cause that had nothing to do with civil rights, but the overall rights of others.

The past few years I’ve posted a video and some sound files on the King holiday, either on this blog or my business blog. One of the things proven by my last post, where I had to go back and correct all these videos, is that those things can easily disappear, and suddenly the message is missing. Instead, I’m going to change up just a little bit. I want to quote a passage from a speech he gave on July 4th, 1965 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. If you’d like to read the entire thing, you can check it out here. Here’s the two portions I want to share; happy birthday Dr. King:

“Now ever since the founding fathers of our nation dreamed this dream in all of its magnificence—to use a big word that the psychiatrists use—America has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself. On the one hand we have proudly professed the great principles of democracy, but on the other hand we have sadly practiced the very opposite of those principles.

But now more than ever before, America is challenged to realize its dream, for the shape of the world today does not permit our nation the luxury of an anemic democracy. And the price that America must pay for the continued oppression of the Negro and other minority groups is the price of its own destruction. For the hour is late. And the clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late.

And so it is marvelous and great that we do have a dream, that we have a nation with a dream; and to forever challenge us; to forever give us a sense of urgency; to forever stand in the midst of the “isness” of our terrible injustices; to remind us of the “oughtness” of our noble capacity for justice and love and brotherhood.”

and

“Are we really taking this thing seriously? “All men are created equal.” And that means that every man who lives in a slum today is just as significant as John D., Nelson, or any other Rockefeller. Every man who lives in the slum is just as significant as Henry Ford. All men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that can’t be separated from you. Go down and tell them, You may take my life, but you can’t take my right to life. You may take liberty from me, but you can’t take my right to liberty. You may take from me the desire, you may take from me the propensity to pursue happiness, but you can’t take from me my right to pursue happiness. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights and among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Yes, sir)”

Life Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Price – $16.11








Videos On This Blog, 2007 – June 2008

You know, when I started out on this quest to link to posts of mine that have videos on them, it never even entered my mind that I might have gone to the video vault as often as I seem to have gone. Once I got through February 2008, I realized that I was going to have to break this up somehow, otherwise this post could have been a major mess. Therefore, I decided to go only through June 2008, and since this blog began December 2007, that’s included as well.

It’s funny, but early on my posts were relatively short, so sometimes I only had one paragraph and then a video. I think I’ve come a long way. Still, I wanted to have a link to videos because every once in awhile I’m looking for something, and, well, I think some videos are just entertaining as anything. And who knows, you might find something in here you like and want to check out. So, here are the links to the videos, with a brief take on what the post was about:

I Still Believe – I love Mariah Carey and I love the song in this music video, even when Brenda K Starr did it.

Stout Hearted Men – If you ever watched Wonder Years, you probably died laughing when this scene played surrounding the boys glee club.

Martin Luther King Jr – The Finale – this was Dr. King’s final speech before he was assassinated the next day; timely since tomorrow is the King Holiday.

Turn The World Around – Harry Belafonte & the Muppets did this as the last song when he was on the Muppet Show. Turns out to also be the song performed by Belafonte at Henson’s funeral.

Lizards dancing to Thriller – This was my favorite commercial during the 2008 Super Bowl, which figures since it used a Michael Jackson song

Blame It On The Boogie – A Jackson’s music video and song I happened to like.

I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan music video.

Amp – I questioned whether this commercial during the Super Bowl was effective advertising or not.

Web Design Rap – I thought this was a pretty creative educational video about web design.

Pulp Fiction? – the Muppets take on Pulp Fiction; got an idea how much I love the Muppets?

The Oil Crisis – this is a pretty long video by a guy who says he has inside information that oil prices are being falsely manufactured to kill us with high prices.

Push It – I started out talking about human beatboxes, then decided to put in the full Salt ‘n Pepa video that the Amp commercial bit a chunk off.

A Video Parody – if anyone remembers when that goofy kid got on video and cried while telling the world to leave Britney Spears alone, they you’ll like this video, which was a parody of that one telling people to leave PCs alone during the Vista disaster & Mac commercial period

2 Legit 2 Quit – MC Hammer’s video, my favorite video & song of his.

I Want You Back – my favorite song of all time by my favorite group of all time with my favorite entertainer of all time; ’nuff said.

Never Saw It Coming – a funny video involving pandas.

Art Poster Print Michael Jackson The King of Pop By Wishum Gregory Print Size 24 x 20 inches. Image Size 24 x 20 inches.

Price – $35.00






Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017-2019 Mitch Mitchell

Are You A Lurker Or Participant In Life?

A few days ago I went in what I consider a minor rant about Ning and how it didn’t seem to be all that active or engaging. Dennis wrote a comment asking if I was disappointed in Ning or its “lousy” (yeah, he used a different word) members.


Lurker
Lurker

It got me to thinking more about things I’ve mentioned here and read elsewhere as it regards Facebook and Ryze and Twitter and LinkedIn and even blogs. The common thread with all of these things and with things in general is that there are a lot more people hanging out around the fringe, aka lurking, than there are participating.

It’s an interesting phenomena that deserves to be looked at in a few different ways. Let’s start with this question; why? I personally think it’s been indoctrinated into most people throughout history; it’s almost our instinct to kind of watch and take things in rather than to actually get into things. This doesn’t mean if you’re not forced or encouraged to participate you won’t; in the rough and tumble caveman days, it took a group of hunters to bring down prey sometimes. What it means is that you might not have been a participant in making the plans. These groups usually had one or two members who did the planning and lead the assault, and everyone else just came along to help out; after all, they wanted to eat also.

That happened in history, and it happens now. Most meetings you go to will have a few people who do most of the talking, while everyone else is pretty much just there. Unless something is talked about that specifically draws them out, most people will stay silent, barely paying attention, until the meeting is over so they can go back to their normal jobs and feel like they participated in some fashion. But it’s not participation just being somewhere; it’s lurking.

There’s nothing wrong with lurking, and if you’re a lurker on this blog I appreciate having you here. However, I have to ask if there’s much productivity going on if you’re lurking without participating? Last week I talked about going to a goal setting retreat. There were 5 of us that participated; I probably talked at least 35% of the time. I didn’t go out to be a dominant person in the room. What I did want to make sure of is that I got my money’s worth, even though it was free. In other words, if I was going to commit 4 hours of my time to something when I could have been using that time doing something else, I was going to make sure I wasn’t just sitting there not trying to become a better person. After all, I do have goals to reach, and not a really clear direction on how to get to all of them sometimes, and any assistance I can get I’ll take.

I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t really like sitting back and letting someone else kind of control what I’m going to be doing or how I might participate in something. I don’t belong to a lot of groups in the “real” world, but I do belong to some. I’m on the board of an organization called Arise, which works with disabled people to help bring them a better quality of life as well as give them equal opportunities to do what everyone else does. But I’m not just on the board; I’m the head of the finance committee, heading into year 3. And, when the entire board gets together, I always make sure I get my opinion out, waiting my turn of course, because I want people to know where I stand. Shrinking violet; not me!

I’m also on the board of an organization called the Professional Consultant’s Association of Central New York, a group geared towards addressing the issues that independent consultant’s face. I run their website and write the monthly newsletter and help put the meetings together. I believe that I’ve been instrumental in helping to change the focus of many of our meetings to get closer to what our stated mission is, making sure I give my opinion on things once again.

And finally, I’m the president of an organization called Mid York Medical Accounts Management, though I just took back the presidency. I’ve been on the board for 12 years or so, and this will be my 3rd go round as president. I also created the template page (I’ll be gifting them their own website one of these days), and I’ve written the newsletter for those same 12 years as well. As president, I either get the speakers for our meetings or help get them, and try to make sure that all aspects of the organization are taken care of in some fashion.

Lurker? Me? No way! At least most of the time. For instance, I’m a member of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, as I live in a town called Liverpool. It has a lot of members, and I’m not on the board, nor have I ever tried. Because of this, I find that there are a lot of events I don’t go to because they don’t interest me. I’m not happy with their website; it should have been revamped 3 years ago, and they’re going through a revamp right now that’s taken almost a year, and little change has been made so far. I’m not crazy about the format of the newsletter. In other words, I have gripes, but because I’m not an active member of the board, basically I’m at the whim of those people who are on the board. In essence, I’m kind of a lurker with this group, and thus I don’t really enjoy it as much as I probably should; I certainly need to be working harder on using it for my own local business purposes.



Lurker

When I’m a lurker, I’m not a happy guy. I need to participate in something in some fashion, otherwise I might end up going away. That’s why I participate by writing this blog and looking for other blogs to participate on. That’s why I hate things that get in the way of my participating on blogs, such as Disqus and Intense Debate and Blogger and any other blogs that want me to sign up to play the game (and there’s starting to be more of these things). I’d rather drop most of them and get on with participating in places that engage me and welcome me in better.

Why do I vote? Because I believe if one doesn’t vote then they have no right to complain about anything. It’s also a bit more personal for me; people died so I would have the right to vote, and I’m going to honor what they gave up, whether anyone else cares or not. I’m not a total participant when it comes to politics, but I’m not a lurker either. I at least know what’s going on, and make informed voting choices when I can (although some of these local elections for small office; how the heck are we supposed to know who these people are most of the time when even the newspapers don’t tell us who they are? A different rant for another time).

Okay, time to close; this is turning into War and Peace. I ask you this question; why do you believe more people lurk rather than participate? What makes you participate if that’s what you do? And how do you see whichever action is the norm for you making your life either better or worse? Inquiring minds want to know.

Bulova Diamonds Gold Ladies Watch

Price – $149.99


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell