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Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins

A moderator explains: the plagiarism rule and what is still allowed

This blog is for the 133 out of 2691 in the poll who have not understood the rules, and for those who have added a question as comment to the poll 

and for all others who may not have read the rules yet and may not understand it either. And for all who are just curious what I have to say.

Oh my dear readers, even having these rules in place since late in November – and they are actually not really new, just a bit rephrased – every day a moderator still feels like Don Quixote in his fight against those 133 windmills which seem to be active all day and night.

Is plagiarism new?

I never thought about the word before, I had no Latin in school, I just learned from Wikipedia’s article about Plagiarism that it means kidnapping, a Poet kidnapped the verses from another Poet. Remembers me somehow on the SCN coffee corner blogs which are one reason that this topic became so elaborated in the RoE.

Chance mistaken.  Could have been a German word. But the early German moderators Neanderthaler.PNG  were so strong that not even the word survived. It must have been a hard time for all those cave painters without own ideas.

In the Middle Ages thousands of monks copied books, but this was not plagiarism, without their doing the knowledge could not be obtained and spread. There was no Internet to get the original from wherever you are. And Brother Tuck did not paint his name on the cover of The Iliad, the credit was still with Homer, even he was already more years dead than he spend alive.

Plagiarism is more an ethic than a legal thing, but in any case something what we do not want in SCN. If someone just copies content from SAP’s and posts it as blog or document or just as own answer to a discussion then this is morally corrupt.

The positive thing we get to know from that is: there is a guy (or girl) who knows? how to find the good things in the web. And he/she wants to become a mother soon and is already testing spoon feeding. However, in SCN has a MoM a higher reputation than a mother.

Trust me, it is quite easy to identify copied content. My browser has already an app for that. I only need to mark a part of a sentence, an entire sentence, or even the end of one sentence and the beginning of another sentence, do a right mouse click to search for it with Google. Believe me, it is less effort for me to find the source than for the cheater to create a document in SCN. Still I would like to avoid this game at all, as it has no winner. It creates a lot trouble, takes the time away from the moderators to create valuable content in SCN and the cheater loses the points, the badges, the user ID, the reputation, eventually even outside SCN, and this can hurt like a blow with a club from my stone age idol. 

But when does a moderator start thinking (yes we can) that something could be plagiarized? If someone posts answers in a broken English with a lot errors like: How much quanity you are trying to Post the Inovice. May be you are given more than wrong. and this person is then bringing a document in fluent English. This is actually bringing back my hunting instincts. There is certainly more what triggers this sense, but I don’t want to educate the cheaters to avoid such mistakes.

The better way is to be original, be yourself, use your own writing style, like many said in the comments to the poll, just representative for many others I am quoting Rohidas Shinde Nov 29, 2013 4:30 AM: Just share your own think. Don’t copy others…..

What is allowed?

Let me add a picture, I had it already prepared before I saw something similar in the plagiarism wiki in Wikipedia, **** happens. It is my own work, hence I am adding it here, sometimes it may happen that 2 invent the same like Graham Bell and my neighbor Philipp Reis.


The first is representing own created content quoting a phrase – you see the green color. This is certainly allowed when the it is clearly visible that it is not the writers own content, along with making proper quotes to the source

The second is the-getting-quick-10-points-copy-paste-document; here is nothing at all own-made by the publisher. This will be deleted immediately. And even the person add a quote at the top or the bottom, saying copied from: **********.com     No, this is not what we want as content in SCN.

The third, half of the content is just copied, rest is filled up with own content or screen shots.  No, no matter if properly quoted or not, that is too much external content.

The forth has just one link to a source to emphasize what the poster wrote himself above and below – Yes this does not make any issue. I have even given a number in discussion I had after I rejected some content, and I will post it here too, let us go for a 95:5 ratio, and we will not have any problem. The 95% means own content, just in case this wasn’t clear. And I don’t mean 95% used space like it might be when enhancing a SAP help file with 20 screen shots.

Arshiyan –

Another thought is ” getting permission” all the time would delay responsive time too. It might effect on SCN.

Venkateswaran K

Getting prior permission would be good ( but it is not practical). 

I totally agree, it is not practical. It looks like artificial but is more a legal hurdle. If you want distribute other peoples (copyright) content, then you have to have a permission. If you don’t, then better refrain from doing it, as this is what SCN wants, we want stop this copy and paste behavior. It is not about being quick with an answer, it is more about being good with an answer. Ahh, by the way, I did not ask the 3 people for their permission to republish their comments. If you have an issue with that please click abuse and I will take it off.

Someone asked if posting a link as answer is still allowed. Hmmm. Do not send the person into the jungle by just posting a link as answer, phrase your own answer, then you can add a link to emphasize what you said from your knowledge. Just posting a link without giving context is not desired anyway. Of course you can post a link, it is usual practice in the Internet (please not entire link farms). But make the link nice, the more nice it is the less problems will arise with a moderator. Even moderators can be attracted by nice looking content.  Take this blog as an example, I have more than 10 links in here, still it doesn’t look like a link farm.

If someone is giving a link to another discussion in SCN and you can get the answer from this link, then it would be good if you give credit to the person from which you actually got the solution. Complicated? Ok, I try it with an example. A mother is actually a spoon feeder to her baby, so she gets the smile 🙂 , not the farmer. We are no longer babies, we are professionals here. If you get spoon feeded with a link, then do not just give a LIKE to the feeder, LIKE the answer from the farmer too, this gives credit to the source.

Isn’t it actually strange that someone answers with a link to good content  but did not even give a LIKE to this good content himself?

If you have still doubts about plagiarism, then please read it on wikipedia: Plagiarism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

By the way, I donated Wikipedia to keep it alive as a good source of information.

Actually I am at the end of this blog.  When I started this morning, before I learned about the history of plagiarism, I had a story in my mind which I would like to use as a hanger for this blog: A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage  from Mark Twain. He wrote about a person who came to a prairie village and accused Jules Verne as plagiarist. (Mark Twain envied Jules Verne, because he could live from his writing)

And I would never know about this story if there was no copyright violater, because I actually got it as audio book from YouTube. But in moment I wanted to give credit I just got this:


It means the account of the poster got disabled.

You see, SCN is not the only place where plagiarism and copyright violation is subject to penalties.

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      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      After the experience of the past few hours, I wonder if people really understand this. 

      How about something like the "SCN Commandments" - "thou shalt not copy" - do not copy from SAP help, do not copy without attribution...etc.  Not to take a religious tone, but this is the first thought that comes to mind after seeing some documents posted today...

      Author's profile photo Reagan Benjamin
      Reagan Benjamin

      Unfortunately the picture in your blog is not visible enough.

      Secondly plagiarism should not be entertained in any way. It should be stopped in the initial stage itself. A user doing a copy paste is only having the intention to gain points and not to share information with the community.

      Sometimes even the moderators (not all) reject the content you report using the "report abuse". Maybe the moderator lacks knowledge or he is not up to date with the rules.



      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Thanks Jürgen! It is so important to remind us of what is acceptable, and what is not here on SCN (and elsewhere too, of course).

      The plagiarist does not enrich his/her life in any way by doing this - they do not demonstrate any great knowledge of the subject they have plagiarized, and they have demonstrated a definite lack of ethics and respect for the work of others.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      I enjoyed this blog, but the irony is that the people you want to read it never will.

      The reason it is such a big problem is because SCN chooses to moderate ita writers after they post, not by vetting them before they post. The theory was that democratization of content would push the best stuff to the top.

      Why does that work for YouTube and Google but not for SCN?

      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      John Appleby wrote:

      I enjoyed this blog, but the irony is that the people you want to read it never will.

      The reason it is such a big problem is because SCN chooses to moderate ita writers after they post, not by vetting them before they post. ..

      I agree, but my understanding is the current SCN platform does not support such pre-moderation, and I don't think is this on the list for SCN improvements in 2014.

      I don't like the reactive approach either, as everything is after-the-fact.  There isn't much chance to offer any guidance to new contributors who post either.

      I'd rather be proactive on this, but I am not sure how, given the current platform.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      Jive certainly supports pre-moderation, as shows.

      But not wishing to attack you Tammy, because you are a big supporter of SCN, that's a BS argument. It's purely a prioritization and budgeting issue and if the moderators were to stop moderating, then SAP would do something about it quickly.

      If you want change, you need to speak out for it. I blogged a response!

      The inevitable consequence of the democratization of content: plagiarism

      Author's profile photo Ethan Jewett
      Ethan Jewett

      The implication is that Tammy and others haven't been lobbying for change and improvement on the SCN platform for ages? You are welcome to join us in pressuring the overworked SCN team for change 😉

      For myself, I still lobby, but I don't use SCN much any more, either as a content contributor, forum helper, or in my capacity as a moderator. It is too much of a drudge (mostly from a UX perspective and not because of the vast quantity of crap I need to delete/hide as a moderator). Change comes, but far too slowly.

      My opinion: SAP has trouble as an organization prioritizing and budgeting activities that are difficult to link directly to revenue generation. Among other things, this incapacity has put them at risk of losing the asset they have built in the form of the SCN community over the last decade.

      Author's profile photo Sven Ringling
      Sven Ringling

      If I remember correctly,there was pre-moderation in place for users with  less then x points sometime last summer and there was a lot of negative feedback in some forums, because of the delays it created. Not sure this is still in place as I've grown out of this point-zone by now, but there certainly didn't seem to be a lot of appetite for pre-moderation.

      I guess it would also be quite a drain on moderator resources to have to read everything, wouldn't it?

      I would hope we should get this done as a community without pre-mod, but maybe I'm naive. Maybe more people need to be expelled...

      I second Jelena's suggestion for a thumbs down button.

      Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins
      Jürgen Lins
      Blog Post Author

      This pre-moderation last spring was because of spam attacks. It had pros and cons, it kept in a balance in the forums I moderate, however I saw an awful imbalance in all forums where the moderators could not afford that much time for moderation. 

      Currently there is a pre-moderation for the first document/blog only, but I do not even know if this is tight to the point level.

      As many moderators are the subject matter experts in the space where they moderate, I actually think it should be their personal interest to look into the new documents and blogs. And even moderation is done by volunteers, there are as well some duties.

      Over the time you know the people in your house, that's like the porter in your company, a critical view in the beginning, and always a smile after a couple of weeks when he knows you .

      The problem with the pre-moderation was that the discussions did not get released on time, and as well the answer to the discussions.So it happened that an answer given later by a user with a higher point level could be seen earlier than the answer posted much earlier by a new user.

      But documents and blogs are not in hurry like discussions.

      I would see a big benefit in quality if we could have a pre-moderation. I think we have some disturbance today too when content is rejected after it was already visible for some hours or days.

      Author's profile photo John Appleby
      John Appleby

      I too would be in favor of pre-moderating blogs and documents for those who don't have gold status. With discussions that doesn't work, for the reasons you describe. Discussions need to be real-time.

      I'm guessing that Jive and Bunchball don't support this though.

      However if we do move to pre-moderation for documents and blogs, the moderators also need to take an active interest in ensuring quality content by giving feedback, Marilyn Pratt style. I say that because Blog | SAP HANA is a pre-moderated blog on Jive, and it has a lot of very mediocre content.

      Author's profile photo Sven Ringling
      Sven Ringling

      pre-mod just for docs and blogs seems to make sense to me. Although some of the most lethal content comes in answers to discussions, but that should be a responsibility of the whole community to warn users against ill advice

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Hey, while you guys were talking I went ahead and posted an idea to pre-moderate blogs/documents for the members with less than Gold status (if anyone has another criteria suggestion - please feel free to add a comment).

      If we get 15 votes then at least it'll be up for review. There have been an influx of blogs with questionable value in many areas recently (due to Gamification, I guess). It's a bit alarming that such blogs are actually encouraged by some other members, but this effort might be simply misguided ("this is your first blog? oh, sho shweeeet, let me give you 5 star rating").

      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      Jelena - thank you - I went and voted for your idea "to pre-moderate blogs/documents for the members with less than Gold status"


      Author's profile photo Roberto Vidotti
      Roberto Vidotti

      Thank Jelena, I agree with your pre-moderation idea for non gold users, recently I saw a new user post in the same day 3 very simple documents that were also wrong\useless for this forum.

      I explained that he probably published in the wrong space in the first document but after a while he published the second document, I asked him to stop and he continued receiving also likes, fortunately after reporting abuse these were deleted.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Neither YouTube nor Google run on Jive. 🙂 Also YouTube has "thumbs down" button that I've been lobbying to add on SCN for ages.

      Author's profile photo Gali Kling Schneider
      Gali Kling Schneider

      Thank you for raising this important topic and sharing it with the wider community Juergen! Powerful responses to your wonderful post.

      As the person responsible for our moderation program for a while now, I believe most of you are familiar with my views. However I’d like to share a few here for the wider community reading the post.

      First the SCN team highly values our moderators (both internal and external). There is no one more aware of their daily dedication and true love of community (and appreciative of it!).  Second we realize that while moving to the jive platform (in which we gained much), we certainly took a hit with our moderation tools. To this end, moderation enhancements was prioritized highly in our 2013 roadmap and moderators are aware of those implementations.

      Third, are more enhancements needed? Certainly! Moderators who are active in the mod & SE space, participate in our quarterly roundtables and are part of the council are instrumental in influencing the direction of the community and helped set the development prioritization for 2014. Does that include pre-moderation? No but it does include other important needs.

      We do have new member pre-moderation in place today however it seems the complaints have actually increased. I’d like to remind our long time members that even with pre-moderation implemented in the old SCN we had issues of blog quality. So certainly it would help having active pre-moderation but it would not solve everything especially as not every space has active moderation…

      I believe that every community encounters inappropriate behavior (cheating, plagiarism, trolls etc.). They are part and parcel of an active, robust community. The way forward to higher quality (besides active moderation) is a community who cares and acts together in tandem. It’s not just up to moderators but rather to all community members to care about quality content. This includes liking’ worthy content, rating it and reporting abuses. I wrote about this a year ago

      Community Blog Moderation – Together We Can

      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      Hi Jürgen,

      I got a question right out of your story above.

      One of my post is rejected by an moderator.

      The mentioned reason is: just posting a link.

      I mean, there is a question and I posted a link, where exact this question was solved.

      What is the problem with this. If I repost the answer, it would be plagiarism. So I do not feel like doing something wrong?

      Can you explain that to me, I mean, if I did something wrong, ok, but what did I wrong?

      One thing I forget, the author of the question marked it as helpful. That I think is a evidence, that "just" posting a link was helpful.



      Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins
      Jürgen Lins
      Blog Post Author

      Unfortunately the plagiarism became so massive that is uses quite some room in the current version of our RoE , and repressed other statements which were assumed to be common sense.

      One of these statements was: Create context. A simple link is not enough to answer a forum post. Tell people why the link is helpful.

      And Martin Grob's blogPosting links and the jungle you end up in..

      and the comments to it will give some insight on the pain with the links

      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      Hi Jürgen,

      thank you for the answer. And yes, I understand what your goal is. I took my lesson out of that. But I have to say, that would never happen to links, I refer. If there is not the answer right behind the link, I wouldn't answer with such a thing.

      Also I always mention what to expect there.

      But in future, I will try to just repeat the answer in own words for that content, it is possible.

      I mean, I just give a hand, by posting an answer. I'm totally with you with plagiarism and the never ending "Thank you"-postings.

      But sorry, that is another big thing we should not discuss here.

      In summary, thanks for explaination and the refered blog.

      Have a nice weekend


      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Hi Florian,

      If an answer to a discussion can be easily found on SCN / Google then usually I just hit 'Report abuse' button on such posts and put 'Did not search' as a reason. But sometimes if I see that the author may have just searched for a wrong thing (e.g. due to not knowing correct terminology in English) then I suggest the correct string for the Google search.

      Hope this approach makes sense.

      Author's profile photo Florian Henninger
      Florian Henninger

      Hi Jelena,

      I totally agree with you, but as you said, there are quite a lot of people out there, do not know how to use a search 😆

      And after reading the question most of the times I think, how would i search for the right content. And if I'm finally found the answer right a link away I post the link with a clue, that I just used the search.

      Perhaps I should handle it more your way, that would help to improve the content to a better quality.

      Thx for sharing your handling. I will remember.