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Ethics In Online Writing Communities.

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 10

Writer's Community Ethics?

I'm very interested in the protocol or social graces involved in online communities such as Info Barrel, Hubpages, or even something like Facebook.  Most often we're here to be productive, but we're also here to be social, and to form friendships, not to mention business relationships.  That we more often than not don't know our fellow community members personally in the face to face world does not factor into this at all.

I'm concerned about competition.  We content creators are most certainly competing, for our content is almost never truly so unique that there's not dozens of other articles on the world wide web that address the same subjects, issues, or concerns.  But what about competition within the community?  How do we determine what is and isn't the right thing to do so far as creating our content?

I'm thinking about one situation on Info Barrel involving myself.  I decided to create an article on a thing, and in the specific case it was Elixir brand guitar strings, and after I'd finished my article here and published it, I then realized that there were two or three articles on this site already about the exact same product.   Now, had I realized that before starting my own article, I wouldn't have wrote on that subject - not here on Info Barrel.  But why not?  Surely I have every right to do so anyway, don't I?  I think that I do, and I think that if you would like to create your own article on that exact same product, that you should also do so - so long as yours does not copy or mimic mine, I'm fine with it.

...but it still can lead to uncomfortable situations within the community here for any two persons to address the exact same product or issue within one domain or community.

My take on the issue of  competition concerning subjects that I'm passionate about is simply, "I'm sorry for competing with you, but I can't apologize."  I'm passionate about acoustic guitars, and that I'd not seen the other person's articles on Elixir guitar strings also precludes me from feeling overly concerned about having also done the same thing.  What I do think of as being bad business is to read someone's article on a subject, and to THEN decide to write about that same subject in a competitive manner.  But even then, what if someone is writing in YOUR niche, the niche that YOU are totally passionate about, and that you can simply blow every one else's content out of the water due to your extreme knowledge and love of a subject?

My thoughts are GO FOR IT.  We really are competing with each other online, and so long as we aren't mimicking each other, then the chances of any two persons writing something overly similar to another's work is unlikely.  While I might think that my article here on Elixir strings is clearly superior to any or every other article like it on Info Barrel, and the rest of the world wide web - it's not me that is the judge.  In the end, it's Google and the readers that determine who's article is best, and that's really how it should be.

While it's easy to imagine that spats and conflicts will certainly sometimes arise in online communities - that is what rules and moderators are for.  So long as we are creating unique content about things we care about, then I think we're bound to succeed, and stay out of the sights of a reasonable person's anger.


Online Ethics?

Thinking about ethics on a writer's community.
Credit: http://cdn.ubergizmo.com/photos/2010/9/online.jpg
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Comments

Mar 7, 2012 10:21pm
jcmayer777
I agree with the bulk of your article for sure. There's a lot of competition online. My take has always been that if someone wants to target the same topics/keywords as me to go for it, but don't just manually spin the exact same info. There are some topics though that are prone to having the same info over and over again.

This is good article.
Mar 7, 2012 11:44pm
Wesman_Todd_Shaw
Thanks Very Much Jcmayer777!!!!!!!!!!!

I felt like I had to ...relieve myself of something, and of course this kind of thing (me writing about something on a site where the subject has already been covered) isn't exclusive to Info barrel, I've run into it several times.

I...my style isn't going to be common, I throw (purposefully) some real "zingers" into most things so as to show my real personality, and break free of "dry factual " writing.

I make it a point to never write about something because someone else already has...on any site. I might do that though if I feel that someone has just entirely presented something in a way that I consider "wrong," but I'd not then refer to them or link to them to say, "hey, look at this person!"

Ethics is complicated!!!!!!!!! It's a damned interesting subject though, always!

Thanks again!
Mar 8, 2012 1:28am
vicdillinger
I always write first, and never consider what may already have been done.

Then, after I've published, OCCASINALLY I'll run a search on tha just-published topic. The follow-up search NEVER leaves me feeling badly at all (I can usually tell I'm REALLY alone on a topic when some of the most obvious URLs in the world are still untouched here -- I was able to get "The Black Dahlia", "The Notorious Bettie Page", "Hatfield-McCoy Feud", et al).

And, to make matters MORE fun, when I do randomly spot check a topic (at least in the areas I write), my work will DESTROY whatever was already done on the subject, so I never worry. That's not ego talking, that's truth. I used to worry, "Yikes, I just wrote about 'Billy the Kid'," and think it had to have been done already. Then, if I go search the subject, and see what's been done here, I relax. Just as I would expect someone who's passionate about certain subjects to run rings around me on that subject ("how to" articles, product reviews, and things of that nature), in MY comfort zone I'll set 'em up and mow 'em down without a second look. There's no comparison. I've found my niche, same as you have.

As jcmayer777 said there, as long as you're not spinning existing material from another IB'er, no harm no foul. If your article turns out to be better than someone else's "too bad, so sad" for him or her.

I'm giving this a thumb's up because as I was familiarizing myself early in my "career" here with IB and its content, I was worried as a newer person that I might be exploring subjects well-traveled and heavily trod upon. It turned out I had nothing to worry about, and that's an angst any new writer can take off the table, too, after reading your article here. It was also thoughtful of you to write this. Good work, Guitar Man.
Mar 8, 2012 9:38am
Wesman_Todd_Shaw
Thanks very much vicdillinger!!!!!!!!!

Oh I like seeing your confidence! I know for certain that there are some persons I'd do WELL to avoid trying to compete with on the subjects that they write about!!!

Oh I had nary a clue about a single thing in this business when I jumped into it. I'd only been a blogger on Myspace, and someone told me, "you know, you can get paid for this..."

LOL!!! Not really! "Blogs" in the traditional sense are practically worthless, but the income motive sure made me get out of "blogging" and into proper writing!
Mar 8, 2012 2:10am
JudyE
I enjoyed your article too Wesman. I usually search to see if something has been written about my prospective topic but some (especially shorter) articles actually sometimes give very little information. So I go ahead and write but try to take a different tack or provide 'other' facts so it's not a copy. As you say, ethics are interesting!
Mar 8, 2012 9:43am
Wesman_Todd_Shaw
Yes Ma'am!!!! In fact, I've thought about you a dozen times or more on this very subject. Over on Hubpages....I get more positive feedback for my animal articles than anything else. There's a few others there that also make outstanding animal centric "hubs," but there's enough in the animal kingdom for us to all keep from stepping on each other's toes.

I've yet to figure out exactly what my niche or theme should be here at Info Barrel, if anything, I've decided to NOT focus on a niche or style here, but to do things here that wouldn't fit on the other sites that I write on, and to try to further gauge what works, and what doesn't on the web in a more general sense.

I find that this site is the best site for making Adsense money. I think if anything I'm going to focus on THAT here on Info Barrel!
Mar 8, 2012 4:01am
Ddraig
I don't plan on making any rules for myself other than those of my own moral structure. When we all have an idea we go and do our own Keyword research and write our own article, if that happens to be on the same topic as someone else,tough!
Only when someone as Jason states, literally takes your article or someone else's and just spins it, do I think that is wrong, it isn't really your own work then.
What I do find kind in some circumstances are if someone with in the community has a similar article or one that could further enhance the reader's experience and knowledge, a link from my article to theirs is added in to my article.
Mar 8, 2012 9:45am
Wesman_Todd_Shaw
Thank You Ddraig - that is certainly the way to do it!

Oh gosh, looking for content that someone spun out of mine would give me MASSIVE headaches! I've had to file DMCA reports in the past though...but someone had literally stolen my ENTIRE article, and I mean, they didn't even change the text where I'm talking about myself and my family using our surname!
Jun 21, 2013 7:04pm
ActionManBryan
Good article. I am new here on IB, but I kind of worried about that too. Your article was refreshing and informational.
Jun 21, 2013 8:15pm
Wesman_Todd_Shaw
Thanks very much, ActionManBryan! Don't worry about a thing on this site, so long as you stick to the standards or rules the staff has laid out. I've never heard a single complaint about InfoBarrel from the folks who've spent much time or effort here.

I sure don't have any.
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