So, an incident recently happened to me in the writing world I feel compelled to talk about. Mostly because I’m annoyed (angry?) and partly because I’m the “first impressions” representative of the FWJ, and I want to remind fellow community members that you should really mind your manners, because you never know who’s watching. And partly, because I want to know your input – if I have a point or if I’m crying over spilt milk.
So I’m a subscriber and frequent user of HARO – if you aren’t using it, check it out. It’s a service that connects expert sources with journalist, and it’s free. You can look out for opportunities to promote yourself, and you can seek sources for articles you’re writing. You get three emails a day and they’re easy to scan – after the FWJ Job Leads, this is a fabulous writer’s resource.
Anyway, I digress…so I make a point to always respond to HARO queries when I can, as I am very much seeking opportunities to build exposure for myself and my two businesses. However, I’ve found myself annoyed that a writer in particular seems to abuse the free privilege of HARO by bombarding the site on a daily or weekly basis with requests for sources. Often the queries seem to be for information that a quick search of Google would reveal.
I know this writer and have commented on the customer blog she writers for, and on occasion in the past I’ve replied to her HARO queries. Not once have I heard back, with a thanks or a reply on my comments or anything.
So I was aghast to see on her customer’s blog, she quoted me. Almost verbatim. Without a source. Here were my words on an article and my name wasn’t mentioned anywhere. Should I assume all the other line items in her list were other people’s comments too? Should I go and re-read some of her other work elsewhere to see how many times she used the other times I’d responded and not properly quoted me either?
I found this whole thing both disturbing and disappointing. It’s one thing to hire a ghostwriter because you can’t write an article yourself, but it’s a whole different thing to ‘crowdsource’ your work from others in the industry.
I’ll certainly not recommend this writer to anyone (remember – we’re in the same industry). Nor will I be replying to any of her requests for sources. I’m struggling whether to mention this to her customer – I hate to be the bad guy, and I’ve not called her out here, but damn – this is wrong!
Moral of the Story:
- Before you go hunting for sources, stop and ask yourself: could I just save everyone the hassle and find this in Google?
- Whenever you use a source, do the right thing and quote them. Give them a backlink if it’s online. That’s just the right thing to do. And tell them about it. You never know who’s watching.
I’d love to hear from you though. Am I right to be annoyed, or am I crying over spilt milk? What should I do?
Photo by Markus Rodder