The Internet unlocks the doors to terrific creative thinking and wonderful sales ideas and tips, often provided for free by tremendously knowledgeable experts. And once in a while, there is irresistible intrigue.
So it was that a few weeks ago a network of sales gurus exposed a serious rash of plagiarism in which blogs and articles by multiple experts were being appropriated under the name of someone else. The bulk of the misbegotten blogs were penned by my colleague Jonathan Farrington, reincarnated on the blog of a Michael J. Roman under Roman’s name. Farrington actually discovered the thievery through clever use of Google.
You might ask – so what? It happens all the time on the Web.
I’m not so sure that’s the case. The Internet is an amazingly effective self-policing mechanism where the truth seems to come out eventually.
What to make of all this? For starters:
- Plagiarism. Republishing the intellectual property of others without permission or citation is simply stealing. While you can’t copyright ideas, you indeed can copyright original writing. Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it can be appropriated.
- Ethics. Who would want to do business with someone who routinely passes along the thinking of others as his own?
- Collaboration. While sales consultants may compete at times for business, they can be enormously supportive of one another, particularly when uphold moraling and ethical principles.
As a longtime journalist, I always was careful to attribute references to the work of others to avoid any semblance of plagiarism. Now I edit the blogs, articles, websites and book of others, principally sales experts – taking great care to maintain their voice rather than inject mine.
To read more about the Roman plagiarism, thoughts on the key issue, and how people stuck together, here are a few of the many blogs about the ordeal:
- Jonathan Farrington: Michael J. Roman; Plagiarism; the Apology; Final Thoughts
- Jill Konrath: There Are No Shortcuts to Success
- Kelley Robertson: When Imitation is NOT the Best Form of Flattery
- Tibor Shanto: Please Don’t Steal This Post!
- Skip Anderson: The Scourge of the Blogosphere: Plagiarism and Michael J. Roman
- Nancy Bleeke: Being Yourself in a Transparent World