I'm opening this thread for anyone who wishes to assist in the regular operations of the TAPIR and CIR forums to please state what they are willing an able to do. This isn't a paying job – it's all volunteer, and the only thing I can offer you as any sort of payment is my heartfelt and complete gratitude for any help you're able to provide.
So, as I've made no secret of it: I'm sick. Not in the traditional get-a-shot or eat-chicken-soup way. I'm ill in the we-can't-cure-it way. Some days are better than others. What this means for volunteers is that, like you, I'm not necessarily going to be able to be online every day. This means that volunteering for TAPIR is, as it has always been, an exercise in patience.
I would be delighted for any assistance with any of the tasks listed below. If you are interested, please reply to the thread or PM me. If you do say you're affiliated with TAPIR, given the number and volume of false statements claiming the same, I need to be able to point people to the post where I will update official forum affiliations and have it be accurate. So anyone claiming to be affiliated with the forum who isn't listed there isn't officially affiliated with TAPIR. I am aware that there are people who don't wish to be affiliated with the forum (because we have rules on communicating with plagiarists, such as no flaming) but who do report via e-mail or the "report" function. I thank you for your support, however silent you may be in the forum. (And we still don't condone the flaming.)
That said, you don't have to be officially affiliated to help out. Choosing to be "official" means that there are certain things you can't do. We don't threaten people. We present the fact that the admins exist and they do act on reports and we have in the past had members who left reviews copying the entirety of the listing of the HoS. It is a statement of fact. We don't flame people – even plagiarists, and even those who flame us. You are, however, welcome to post flames you receive to the HoS thread if they are particularly amusing. There are a few regulations on that in the first post.
The tasks, in order of how much time I estimate they'll require, least to greatest, are listed in the posts below. I will be updating this post with a link to each subsequent post with a task's description so you can use this as a sort of ToC.
Let me say up front that if you're willing to handle the points of contact in notifying OAs, I'd PM you any offsite links or information as needed when it's not posted in a thread. In the case of the older threads, you'll want to go to the OA's profile to verify they haven't updated their contact info.
In volunteering to help with any of these tasks, the main thing I'm asking of you is to check the forum for new case threads once we get all the older case threads resolved. Obviously, as we're resolving old cases and new cases come in / are discovered, I'd appreciate your assistance in whatever way you've chosen to volunteer on those as well. But if you can only dedicate the time to follow-up with two OAs in a week, then that's at least two more who are aware they have recourse in getting stolen content removed from FFN. I'm certainly not going to complain about the help.
One of the key aspects of this, though, is going to be communication. So, if you're willing to assist once you've read about the kind of work that I generally put into this, it will become necessary to post in the case threads in some instances. For example, anyone willing to negotiate with plagiarists gets first crack before reports are filed to the admins. That's the way it was always handled. But if no one posted they were trying to negotiate, reports got filed and accounts/content got removed.
What this would mean is that, whichever aspect you agree to help with, you would note the case thread for what you were doing. So, if you were doing screen captures for A5h K3tchum, you would post in the thread. When you have finished marking the screens and uploaded them to an image hosting site, you would then edit your post and add the link and PM me to let me know. I (or another moderator) would then update the report post (usually the opening post) with the new information. This does mean that I will need to make several posts of my own to let folks know which cases I'm actively working on. As typing all of this up has taken me most of a day, please give me one more to go through the forum and note all of the threads I am currently working on screens for/identifying more stolen content than is currently listed in the thread. There's no need for two of us to do it. But there will be an exception in these cases as for many of them I have been identifying additional stolen content though I haven't updated them because I haven't finished with the screens. That's the exception – as I update the threads with the new info, I'll note that the screens will be forthcoming. This will be especially time consuming to note in rlcn's case, however, so please don't do anything with that particular thread before checking with me that I've updated all the posts where I've taken screens but not yet uploaded them to imagevenue. I'll make a new post in this thread with which cases I've updated/am working on updating so we don't duplicate work.
The exception to this is reporting to the admins. If you are taking on the burden of e-mailing the FFN site admins about plagiarism issues, please don't worry about updating the thread unless:
I'm sure you'll see how all of this integrates together and why it takes me so long when I'm doing everything at once as you read through the descriptions. I've tried to be as clear as I can with what's expected for each aspect of what I do in the forum (and Luna's old job), but if you have a question, please don't be afraid to ask. What's clear to me when I write it might not be clear to you when you read it.
Please know that those of us who do/have moderate/d in TAPIR/CIR gained that status by actively assisting in resolving case threads. Moderator status isn't required for most tasks to simply be done, but helping in the forum is how Horus came to trust enough of us to help with his one-man task. I'm not kidding – he originally founded this forum as a single person operation and it expanded rather quickly with so many of us willing to assist in various ways. I was offered a moderator position some time before I accepted it due to other commitments, and I accepted here rather than stop-plagiarism on LJ because Horus offered first. I knew I couldn't do both simply because of the time involved in all of this.
My point is, if you're interested in becoming a TAPIR moderator, the easiest way to show you're serious about it is to help with open cases. Help is not just posting "Hey, he's got another account too." That is necessary information, absolutely. But someone looking to be a moderator would say,
Hey, here's another account for him: [link]. There's already a couple of stolen stories on it. Here's the break down:
That's how Horus came to understand many of us were serious about fighting plagiarism and why he trusted us as moderators.
Now, all of the above said, if there is a particular case, even after you've agreed to take something on, that you cannot work due to a conflict of interests, please let me know. We have had issues like this in the past. There was one OA who had (has?) a grudge against me for privately calling her out for posting Stephenie Meyer's work in her stories. SHE made it public and succeeded in getting people to blacklist me. Cool. That said, when I identified her as an OA in a case where multiple authors from that fandom had been plagiarised, I asked someone else to notify her and handed the case off. She would never have acted on the issue if I had been involved in any way. Another example is NeonZangetsu, and that one is noted in the thread.6/15/2021 . Edited 6/15/2021 #1
E-mails to FFN and FP
This is essentially a copy/paste job with follow-ups to verify reports have been processed, and requires that you be civil with the admins in any text you place before or after the content of the report. I generally don't place any text after. My e-mail opening states:
The following accounts have all posted content which is not their own. [If there is an additional issue, such as MA content – especially involving minors – that is mentioned here. Sometimes, they are more willing to act on MA content than on plagiarism.] Your removal of the offending content and censure of the accounts would be greatly appreciated.
I usually report between 5 and 15 accounts in an e-mail. This is dependent upon how much content is on the account being reported. Exceptions to this are rlcn, vanmatre, and the like; and instances where the same published novel has been posted by numerous users.
If the content being reported is the only content on the user's account, I mention that. If the content is not only plagiarism or copyright infringement but also violates another part of the site's terms, such as MA content and especially when this involves tender-age children, I make sure to mention that. (In my reports, these things are highlighted in red.) Usually, though, these notations are in the thread report (like [NSFW]), so no additional work should be needed on your part if you choose to help with this task.
You may want to verify the content of the report – view the screens, check the links – before sending it. I am not offended if you do so. That is why the threads are the way they are – publicly accessible and verifiable data is what gives TAPIR credibility. Remember that you are signing your name to it by sending the e-mail, so FFN's staff can and likely does keep track of reports that are submitted to them in order to weed out those invalid reports that come from the same individual repeatedly.
If you are interested in this task, it is the easiest of the lot. It is also something I would require that you not spam the admins on (I struggle with this myself), so setting up a series of e-mails on scheduled send that are sent perhaps 12 hours apart for a one-week duration would likely be the easiest method. You would only need to check the sent e-mails once a week, clicking on the links you reported to verify whether the accounts/content has been removed. They don't always reply when they process a report.
E-mails should be sent to support [at] fanfiction [dot] com (not net) or support [at] fictionpress [dot] com, with the subject line containing the word [abuse] (in brackets like that is what they've recommended). You may use whatever creative flair you like in the title to get their attention, but if you are representing TAPIR, you cannot lie to get it. I have used perfunctory titles: "10 Accounts posting content not their own"; and some that are a bit less so: "Intellectual Property Infringement"; as well as some that might be considered a bit cheeky: "Report Outstanding for 7 years!" in my reports to them. I have not found a foolproof method of getting a response. Though, yes, that last example did result in several reports getting resolved as updated in the admin thread.
If the account/content you reported is deleted by the FFN site admins, you would then go to that individual's thread and post that the FFN site admins have removed the content/account. If they only remove some of the content, it is necessary to note which story id #s they removed, for which I use the shorthand SID. I (or another moderator) would then go back through the posts of the thread and mark what has been deleted and note the resolution of any cases where all content in violation and/or the account itself were removed by the admins.
If the report has not been processed after at least one week's time, it would need to be sent again. When this occurs, I preface the e-mail with:
Please process this report. Previously sent [date(s)].
and edit the subject line to indicate how many times I've requested resolution. My current batch (week of 13 June 2021) has a record for one report at 14 requests.
You may choose to use the highlight function in your report to make it easier for them to see the accounts. This can make the task time consuming, however, so it is understandable if you choose not to do this. With the more massive e-mails (rlcn, vanmatre, etc), I have found that this is more likely to result in a resolution of the accounts reported. My current report on rlcn includes 54 of her accounts. She is a special case, having more than 300 accounts that we know of. It would take 30-plus e-mails at 10 apiece, and she is not the only case we need to resolve. That said, if someone wishes to dedicate their time solely to e-mailing on larger cases such as hers, you are welcome to it.
I know there is a huge temptation to bombard them once they do start responding. I have to ask that you refrain from that as I believe that is why they stop responding so often. If you do get a response, feel free to send them a thank you.
If, however, they only process part of your report, when they respond to say the matter is resolved (and always allow 24 hours minimum to make sure the content still showing isn't just a cache issue on their end), a follow-up is needed. In these instances, my response is generally something along the lines of:
Zack, thank you for removing [SID #s or account/UID #s]. However, the following content from this report remains after [time you've allowed between response and follow-up]. Please remove it as well and censure the uploading account(s).
An example of when this has been necessary is the translation issue presented in the case of Jacquelineloveswriting, a.k.a. Jacquelineadorable5.
Please note that many of the old threads do not yet have screens. This is a long process (and another of the tasks with which I would gladly accept assistance), so if you are sending a report on a thread that does not contain a link to a screen where you can visually identify the content, you will want to verify the theft remains before sending the report. I completely understand waiting for the screens to be updated to the threads – I even recommend this course of action.
If someone is willing to take on this task, I would send you a PM once each week with a list of UID #s and account names as they are in the forum. I'm limited in the number of URLs I can send in a PM, so this would be the easiest way to get the information to you as I don't want to spam your e-mail inbox with "You've got a PM from RogueMudblood". You would then only need to send reports on those threads and any other previously non-resolved ones. Ideally, more than one person would take on this task (e-mailing the FFN admins) as there are currently far more than 14 unresolved reports and sending one every 12 hours, then following up when they aren't resolved, would limit us to 14.
The limit is so that you don't end up relegated to their spam folder. I've mentioned this before but: Xing's people actually reported me to Microsoft as a spammer twice in one month many moons ago. I got locked out of my account both times. The first, a password change and id verification was all I needed to do. The second time, I showed Microsoft's support people the content I was reporting and what I was trying to get removed from the site (plagiarised MA content involving tender-age children, at the time), which resulted, as I understand it, in a blistering e-mail from Microsoft's support desk to FFN's admins, as that report was resolved within an hour of my getting my account access back. Since then, Xing's people have not been successful in reporting me to my e-mail host. Microsoft's support person was rather sickened by the content, and I don't know if they still work there or not, but I do know that they have ignored reports from Xing's people about my e-mails. That said, this incident is why I recommend the 12 hour delay between e-mails.
This can be somewhat time consuming for various reasons. This is something that requires good communication skills and careful wording at times because some of the fan-authors may have committed copyright infringement within their own works (song lyrics, sections of the fandom source material). Most of them don't see why they shouldn't just post JKR's or Rick Riordan's content as part of their story, and get rather… well, witchy when confronted about it. (I only mention Rowling and Riordan because they are the most common; Veronica Roth, Stephenie Meyer, and EL James are also frequently treated in this manner.)
I've separated this into various sections simply because each one can be its own black hole of time the first time a particular author is contacted.
Reporting to Publishers/Agents/Copyright Owners
This is the most time consuming of the notifications initially, simply because digging up the pertinent e-mail addresses takes time and effort. That said, I have many of them already and can provide them to those willing to do this once I know which publisher, agent, or organization needs to be contacted. The information will be what is publicly available; I will not provide direct e-mail addresses that are not available via targeted searches.
The messages I send via e-mail to anyone who could potentially sue FFN or a user of FFN are always copied to Xing and support. Always. I can't stress that enough. This is because they have the right to know that someone might sue them because of their negligence.
So, the preface message is rather lengthy, and these are formatted a bit differently than the e-mails to FFN alone. The formatting is what takes time, because I don't want to send 15 e-mails to Terry Pratchett's agent (yes, I'm aware that Mr. Pratchett has passed on – he is sorely missed) or to Harper Collins, or to Susan Elizabeth Phillips herself about how many different people on FFN have stolen their work and are claiming it as their own or simply saying in some form, "It's not plagiarism because I'm telling you where I took the story from and the only thing I did was change the names so there's no way this could possibly ever fall under Fair Use as I'm posting the entirety of the work on which they base their livelihood for people to read for free rather than pay the person I took it from. They don't actually need to eat or pay their bills, do they?"
My preface looks something like this (though I don't think my highlighting will come through):
Sir or madam, [insert individual authors' and/or agents' names here]
This paragraph is specific to Harper Collins, and I use it because I don't want them claiming I'm refusing to use their methods of reporting:
I realize you have a form set up for these reports for infringement of works published by Harper Collins. However, there are a good many different titles, and that form does clearly say it is intended for the author of the work to file the complaint. I have no desire to misrepresent myself. All the same, you need to be aware that these infringements exist so that you can take action.
I place it prior to the paragraph detailing my highlighting procedure.
The formatting looks like this, though, again, I don't think my highlighting will come through. This is an actual portion of an e-mail sent 17 Jul 2020:
The infringing works
You may note that some of those accounts still remain and that some of them do not have threads. That's because there's only one of me and I have an actual queue sheet of accounts that have not been posted about in the forum that I need to go through. I have to prioritize. And reports of fan works are why the forum was opened, so they do get priority since that's what Horus wanted. Not to say we're not interested in protecting published authors' rights – I think the above excerpted e-mail rather proves we are.
But you can see why just formatting these e-mails can take time. In instances such as these, the person sending the e-mail would need to go through each of the threads in the "Plagiarism of Copyrighted Works" heading and verify they had all the currently known links included in the e-mail to the agent/author/publisher. Again, I'm not looking to harass these people.
Just to emphasize this once more, Xing gets copied on these e-mails. He knows I'm giving his e-mail and his webhost's e-mail to each of these individuals. He knows I'm telling them he doesn't monitor his site, and he knows I'm telling them that he doesn't respond to reports from users who have tried time and again to get him to remove this content without their involvement. Sometimes, a couple of e-mails of this nature will light a fire and begin getting responses to other e-mails.6/15/2021 . Edited 6/15/2021 #3
For each of the other points of contact, more information relating directly to FFN needs to be provided. In messages to the OAs, there are a few details that should be included in the message, where applicable:
If there are multiple stories taken from this OA, list titles.
If there are multiple stories in the case thread, tell them which story # theirs is. An example is SpringtimeBonnie, where I linked OAs directly to the post listing their story and told them which story # (not the SID, but story #[x] of 47) incuded their content. Another example is BP22 (Broken Promises 22; I've been shortening her plagiarist name – she had several other screen names – for so long it just occurred to me that the age of the case bars many from knowing about it).
If there are multiple people taking the same story (as can be seen in the case of MusicandTheatregirl, with the links to all associated case threads at the top), that needs to be noted, and the URL for each case provided with the above stipulations being applied as well. This is applied to each of the points of contact below.
I mention the legal case because it provides court precedent, I mention the attorneys because they are relevant. Yes, you wrote it, you own it. EL James and Cassandra Clare are prime examples of this. I don't want a debate on Clare's own plagiarism issues, please. That's covered ad nauseum on other sites and has no bearing on TAPIR except for when I have to contact her agent or publisher.
To all OAs:
If there is a case thread you've been directed to and you have a question about e-mailing the FFN site admins that is somehow unclear, feel free to post directly in the thread. Not only can you get an answer more quickly, but it helps me to know where I may have been ambiguous so I can modify generally provided information for the benefit of anyone whose works have been stolen.
I know on Facebook you can be lengthy, and on Twitter you can thread posts. I know nothing about Instagram, though I think I might have an account there I created many years ago. So I don't know how lengthy you can be in comments. I don't recall how lengthy you can be on tumblr either. So, generally speaking, I have limited points of contact on social media to Twitter or Facebook. Those messages are left by RaeCreed usually, as I've locked down my Twitter feed and Rae is kind enough to pop in occasionally for me on these. I don't usually ask her unless it's a major case (more than 10 stories or OAs affected and usually more stories to identify after that) as she's not actually affiliated with TAPIR.
Basically, what this entails is simply notifying them someone has stolen their content. The post usually looks something like this:
I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your work, [title], has been stolen by someone on Fanfiction.net using the name [plagiarist's name] [URL to plagiarist's account if possible]. The stolen content can be viewed here: [link]. There are details in the TAPIR forum in this thread: [case thread link]. If you'd like to file a report to the admins of Fanfiction.net, it needs to be sent to [copyright e-mail address]. There's a template here: https://www.fanfiction.net/topic/124913/78263205/1/#78403743 you can use that has been effective over the years. I do hope that the FFN site admins will resolve the matter for you quickly.
If it's sent on Twitter, "Fanfiction.net" is replaced with [at symbol]Fictionpress to tag them.
Like social media, you can just use links outright and don't have to modify them. The only request I make regarding e-mails to OAs is that if you are sending an e-mail to more than one at a time, please use the BCC function to mask their e-mail addresses. Some fan authors forget they've left an e-mail address listed for their fannish identity on an account they no longer use. So they can be a bit shocked that they got an e-mail from RogueMudblood about a fan fiction they wrote five years ago in a fandom they're no longer a part of and a bit … I'll be generous and say concerned, that their e-mail which is no longer just for fandom related things is now out there in the wide world. If they express this concern, I let them know which account I got their e-mail address from.
You do still need someone in the "To" line, so I usually send these to myself.
Now, sometimes the e-mails listed on profiles are no longer active. In those cases, we'd have to try one of the other methods of contact. I usually only resort to e-mail if I don't have a social media point of contact for them, which for me comes after an FFN/FP point of contact. If this happens, don't list the e-mail address in the thread, but do let me know via PM which one no longer works so we don't keep trying it if there are future instances we can't get resolved through reporting.
For some reason, AO3 doesn't allow me to leave messages anonymously about this. I do have one person who, when I can reach her, leaves messages on AO3 for me on the OA's(') story(ies). However, she's a bit hesitant to do it because she doesn't want to use a pseud for it and doesn't want folks associating her name with "Oh god! I got a message from [X]! My work's been stolen!" the way my name was during BP22's case. (I don't mind it, though.)
That said, if you are willing to take this on, the only time consuming part of it initially is the linkage – AO3 has a spam filter and doesn't like links in reviews I'm told. (It wasn't always like that.) So, the way I described URLs in contacting OAs on FFN applies, with the wording I used back during BP22 something akin to:
I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but someone on FFNet by the name of [plagiarist's name] has posted your work as their own. You can find details in the TAPIR forum: (FFN URL)/topic/124913/[case thread ID#]/1/. There is a template you can use to contact the admins of FFN to request the stolen content be removed available here: (FFN URL)/topic/124913/78263205/1/#78403743. Please note the request must be made through e-mail.
You're welcome to use that, just replace the [case thread ID#] as needed so they get to the right thread.
As noted under FFN/FP, follow-up may be required, so if the AO3 user has an FFN account and you're willing to communicate with them via PM on FFN, let them know they can PM you here with any questions they can't get answered in the forum.
With DA, you can use the private message function just ike on FFN/FP. So the same modus operandi can be employed. You have to have an account on DA to leave any kind of comment.
Wattpad can be handled like social media with the links, as I recall. The message sent is the same as on social media. This is also something I've handled through private messaging.
I prefer these be sent via PM for many reasons, not the least of which is the link issue. You can send up to three links in a PM to another FFN/FP user, provided those links are to somewhere on FFN or FP. But there's also the need for continued communication in some cases.
Many fan authors, as noted at the top of this post, aren't aware that they do actually own the right to their own content – provided it is actually their content – and can file a DMCA takedown notice in a complaint about their work having been stolen by someone else. They also don't know what the DMCA is, how it applies, or how to file a notification. That's why Tikatu, kind soul that she is, gave us the template which has been used successfully for years now.
The second biggest problem you'll run into here, though, is the issue of other violations on the OA's account/posting. See A Cautionary Tale: The Case of xJB06x/x37JB51x (FFNID 12833897) / JB6156 (FFNID 9846195), who stole from TheDrkKnight12. It doesn't matter if TAPIR knows the content of your posting is actually dialogue ripped right from the source material – if the FFN / FP admins recognize it as belonging to someone/something else, they can and will remove the content. That 0% policy is something they will enforce when it suits them. And, in that particular user's case, if the way he behaved in TAPIR was any indication of how he spoke to the admins over e-mail, they likely went through his account to specifically find instances in violation.
So, this may require more follow-up than some of the others as you may have to explain that it doesn't matter that they said those lyrics belong to Tupac, or that dialogue came from Final Fantasy 7, or that scene was lifted from the script of Fast and Furious. In instances where the content is not wholly original and the user cannot logically call upon the legality of the Fair Use Doctrine to protect themselves (using the whole song throws Fair Use out; just changing the pronouns to take a scene from Percy Jackson throws Fair Use out; etc.), more finesse is required to explain the situation to the person whose fan work was stolen by the plagiarist.
[Side note: Plagiarists who claim that this is done in an effort to bring these CI issues to light – just don't. If you want to help people understand that this type of posting is a crutch and you're not just using this as an excuse to troll, try actually helping them write with constructive criticism. It might work wonders.]
For the purposes of the forum, I'm not asking you to debate that issue with them if their work is posted on another website. The problem needs only be broached if the original content is posted on FFN/FP. The same is true if it's NSFW – especially if it involves children; if it contains non-story chapters (author's notes posted as a chapter; poll posted as a chapter; character bio sheet posted as a chapter; list posted as a chapter; summary posted as a chapter; etc.); if it is RPF; or if it contains chat/script content. All of these things are prohibited by the guidelines, and in sending an e-mail to FFN's admins and asking them to compare the stolen content to the original content when both are posted on FFN, there is always the possibility that the FFN admins will remove the original. Again, "A Cautionary Tale" is an example of this, and you're welcome to link to it if there is ever a question from an OA.
I try to refrain from contacting OAs on very small archives as, unless the archive is active, it's not likely they'll see the notification. This is why you might have seen a note in a case thread stating that an OA has been sent an e-mail when the posting was taken from tokiohotelfanfiction.com (or something like that – I can't remember all the smaller archive URLs for fandoms I don't read in).
Anyone willing to take on the task of contacting OAs should be able to take screen captures. I mention this because there are times, like in this report, where contact will need to be made to the OA to verify that they gave permission. We cannot accept a suspected plagiarist's word that they have permission. So we need to verify with the OA that the permission was given. Vanmatre is one example of why the suspect's word cannot be accepted as verification.
What is acceptable as proof:
A copy/paste of PM text, e-mail text, etc. is not evidence of permission. Vanmatre can type all day long until his fingers are sore that he has permission to post the content he steals and make up whatever PMs or e-mails he wants to – that doesn't make the permission real. Unless we can publicly verify it as noted above, we must attempt to make contact to verify the claim. The only exception to this is if the claim is publicly refuted, such as in the Vanmatre case. A review from the OA on the plagiarised posting, a comment on the OA's profile, or an author's note in the original story alerting readers to the plagiarism all count as public refutation. These should be noted, linked, and screened (yes, my mistake for not previously doing it) as well.6/15/2021 . Edited 6/15/2021 #4
Liaison to sites whence original postings were stolen where no direct contact with OA is available:
This is a relatively painless and simple task. It only requires an e-mail to the admin/support address of the site in question requesting their assistance in notifying the OA of the issue at hand. Something like:
would be appropriate. That's pretty much all that's involved in this one, and it's rare I have to do this. That said, such a liaison person could choose to send a message to the other site's administrators were the plagiarist to be found on their site as well, regardless of whether we need assistance notifying the OA of the issue. I did have one particular case where I called upon a friend to notify a certain website of a user's repeated theft. The user was actually stumbled upon because the content they stole was also taken by a case that, at the time, was open (I'm not actually sure if it's been resolved). Once identified, I do take care to try and notify affected parties.6/15/2021 . Edited 6/15/2021 #5
Obtaining evidence: screen captures
This is one of the most involved parts at the moment, mostly because we really relaxed this rule for quite some time because of the number of incoming cases. It has caused problems. We all learn from our mistakes.
So, this is a time consuming task because it does require not just capturing the screen as it shows the content of the original and the plagiarised postings, but also marking the common content.
You can use MS Paint and underline the common content if you wish. I do color code mine, and you're welcome to use the same code. Red = verbatim, or very nearly so. Blue = minor changes, usually names or pronouns (necessary when POV is changed), sometimes verb tenses. Other colors vary, and somewhere in 2020's resolved cases there is actually a screen capture with a full key listing. If you need more than red and blue, please make a key.
Reasons to use more than red and blue include the plagiarist moving content around in their theft from the original to avoid detection. So, where you might bracket a section in red as being stolen verbatim, you might underline within that red box in green or purple or yellow to show content that is in a different order, but still verbatim, between the two postings. I use black underlining to note when content in the stolen posting has been taken from a non-fan work source, like a film script or song lyrics. As long as there's a key included to explain the coloring, my only preference is the red/blue system that they already expect.
This can be tedious as well, especially when you have cases like Springtime Bonnie. There are more than 175 images associated with that case. So, you begin to see why this takes so much of my time. She only had 47 stories on one account. Imagine, then, how long it takes to go through rlcn's numerous accounts, screen, mark, upload, update, compile a report – and repeat. Or how much time this one is going to take.
Now add to the old cases – where I still have some outstanding from 2013 – all of the new incoming cases. Screen captures are rarely provided. So, if we want to report the content as being stolen, we have to provide the evidence to show that it is. We have to provide the screens ourselves. That means I'm not only trying to rectify the mistakes of the past in updating all of the old case threads (and in cases like The Whip, going back through and identifying all of the other massive amounts of stolen content on the account – I have a large .odt file on that one; some of the content identified can be viewed here as I haven't updated the thread as of 15 June 2021), but I'm also verifying all of the incoming cases as I'm able and taking screens of those as well. So, I'm getting screens and marking them before I'm posting up a thread. This becomes problematic when the report I get in the Tip Thread isn't complete, and you begin to see why Xing & co. are rather willing to process my e-mails when they do process them because they can click links, see the research, verify the report, and take action rather quickly. This is instead of them having to reply, "What exactly was stolen?" and getting, "It's nearly verbatim, can't you see?!" as a response when there is, in fact, enough of a surface difference to cause them to pause, call it coincidental, and eventually put the e-mail in a folder saying, "Incomplete report" and move on with their day. (No, I don't know that they have such a folder. I know I have a folder in my e-mail labeled "Idiots who can't read". It doesn't apply to this, but I imagine they have nicer words in their e-mail folder names to convey the same concept.)
If some of the older cases aren't enough of an example of my personality, I will tell you that I am tenacious. I will dig up whatever I can on cases that are presented. But anything that makes it easier is nice, and welcome. That said, I have to pick my battles now. And if my time can be better spent working on cases of clear copy/paste because the person reporting a paraphrase plagiarism won't give details, then that's where I'll spend it until I'm at least a little more caught up.
If you are willing to help with screen captures, you will need:
With my screen captures, I try to do them side by side. It makes things easier on the site admins because they don't have to flip back and forth between tabs or browsers or whatever. To do this, you only need to have the original story in a browser tab on the left side of your screen and the stolen story in a browser tab on the right side of your screen. Use the "restore down" function on your browser (next to the "X") and then use your mouse to size the windows appropriately.
Then capture the image. I just have to press the "prt sc" key on my keyboard, but you may need to Google how to do this for your device. I understand that some devices need you to hold ctrl and prt scr or fn and prt scr in order to capture the image.
Next, open your image software and paste the image into a new file.
Then start marking the image for comparison points. You can use bracketing and underlining (ex: cdn-images.imagevenue.com/dc/d6/6f/ME12FB2V_o.jpg), highlighting (ex: cdn-images.imagevenue.com/71/07/80/ME12LSGV_o.jpg), or any combination you see fit. Please try to use straight lines.
You will need to make a note that the original is on the left and the stolen copy on the right. I do this simply by typing the words "Original" and "Stolen" into the images. That can be viewed in the examples above as well. (The order was chosen simply because in the western world we read from left to right.)
When you've marked the comparison section(s), the image then needs to be uploaded to your chosen hosting site and a link placed in the thread noting which story it applies to. I (or another moderator) will edit the report post (usually the first one on newer cases) to slot the image link in for the ease of anyone e-mailing reports.
Take frequent breaks. Use eye drops, as they will help with the staring you'll have to do. You can tire of this task very quickly, and with how much plagiarism there is on FFN, it will seem never-ending. Please, if you agree to do this task on, don't be afraid to rest, relax, read a good story or play a game to release the tension and straight up aggro that will build up over time doing this.
Researching resolved threads
This one is time consuming because it requires use of both Google and FFN (or FP) searches in order to see if someone has returned with a new account to plagiarise the same content as before, or to identify the existing content on a known plagiarist's account.
Obviously if you've been deleted under one user name, you can't create an account under that same user name. It's one reason a specific thief-troll who came into the forum was outed: he claimed a particularly prolific plagiarist (the one you must PM Mkis about) had stolen his identity and created an account with the same user name. You can't actually do that, not without hacking the site, and it was quickly proven that the claim was perhaps the plagiarist's way of saying, "You fools! I've been under your nose this whole time! Mwahahahaha!" All of that is said merely to give you an example of FFN's restriction against having the same user name more than once.
Thus we have to be a bit more creative when determining if someone has returned to continue plagiarising when their account was deleted. (You begin to see why Luna's job was the hardest and yet one of the most essential.) So using the site search engine, we check by titles. We check on Google by content, because we know what they stole before. If we come across someone who has posted the same content but not in the same fandom, we cannot be sure it is the same person – unless they announce it on their profile as many returning plagiarists are wont to do. In cases where we aren't sure it's the same person, we post a new case thread with the verified thefts and move on to reporting.
But checking these old threads becomes very time consuming not just because of the searches, but when identifying the stolen content – especially if what was stolen was a novel – and searching that on Google (or Bing, if you like), we get new results. Ones that aren't yet cases posted in the forum. So we have to open new threads. Which result in case threads where we've noted we need to go back and do another search through the content but it hasn't been done yet.
Basically, if you accept taking on this task, if you found new cases that were not yet in the forum, you would post those up in the tip thread just like everyone else (unless you become a moderator later on). But you would link the thread you were working when you found them (Found because of [link]), note what content matches what, and note whether the account requires more investigation (10 other stories; or, only posting on account). I would then consult the spreadsheet I've been compiling of all TAPIR and CIR cases past and present and if there is an existing thread (don't worry if you didn't find it, some of them don't show up on Google searches), I would copy the notes into that thread. If there isn't one, I (or another moderator) would make a new thread. Ideally, we'll have been able to search all of the content on the account when opening the new case. I have no illusions that this will be possible in every instance, at least not at first.6/15/2021 #7
Researching older cases
If you've been hanging around the forum for a while, or even if you just go back through old case threads, you'll see (have seen) that there are a lot that were noted with "will come back to this anon". Well, anon has passed long ago and I didn't get back to all of them. Life happened. To be more accurate, life walloped me upside the head, dragged me down a concrete sidewalk, bashed me a few times about the head and spine, bruised me and turned me into a bloody pulp, and then said, "Do you think you can?" while laughing maniacally. So, yeah. There are a lot of cases that need research. They aren't just mine, but, a lot of them are, and I admit the fault.
For example, popular user NeonZangetsu. I'm not saying he doesn't have some original content. I am saying he had at least at one time some that wasn't. So his case needs a thorough combing through. There are quite a few under "Plagiarism of Copyrighted Works" that also need follow-up.
Essentially, you'd be looking at the other works on the account to see if you could find any other instances of plagiarism. This takes patience and ideally a working knowledge of how to finesse Google. As a general rule, plagiarists don't just steal one thing when they have multiple postings on their account. And since you won't always get a result with a searched string, you would need to be willing to take some time to search multiple strings of text from the same story. This can, if done too rapidly, trip Google's "you are a bot" alarm, and you will have to prove that you aren't. That's generally a good sign that you need to take a break for a little while.
Each case thread that you go through, you need to note what you've searched and what you've found. I don't mean strings of text, I mean the way that we have the templates set up for nearly everything after rlcn, so like in miguelnuva's case, where story #s 1 and 2 listed in post #19 have identified content, but story #s 3 through 6 state that the content has not been matched to another source (besides the mirror sites).
This is the basic investigative process of the forum. It's one of the most time consuming tasks because this is essentially what we do. If you've gone through a profile and not found anything, note that, but don't be offended if someone comes behind you and does find something. Like I said above, different search strings will yield different results.
If you're willing/able to take screen captures and mark them, feel free to do so for newly identified instances of plagiarism. The exception to this would be the plagiarism of copyrighted works as I rarely use screens on those. Though that may be a policy that I change because I've seen several of the older cases where we did have evidence, but with no screen, we no longer do because the preview of the work has been removed from Amazon or Google Books by the publisher.
And with respect to evidence that originally existed but might no longer, this is where some creativity will help uncover usable evidence to resolve the case. Wayback may not have the link archived the same way that we have it listed, so you may need to try several different things. Wayback may not have a link at all, and in those instances we do look for other infractions we can use to report the unresolved case. Yes, this is one reason we note things like AN chapters. When we absolutely have to, where we previously verified a case of plagiarism and have no other means of getting it resolved, we can report it for the other infractions listed in the case thread. I have no shame in using these methods to get plagiarised content removed.
To keep from having more than one person searching the same account at the same time, what you would do here is note that you are investigating that case thread. You would then edit your post as needed with your results. When you have finished with your investigation, you would edit your post to show all the stories on the account having been searched and send me a PM so I know you're done and can move forward as needed (screen captures, notifying OAs, reporting to FFN).
The reason we edit the posts to update the investigation is to make copy/pasting into an e-mail report easier. It's a lot simpler for me to highlight everything in a single post than it is for me to copy from post 1, 2, skip 3 and 4 because that wasn't investigative data but a question about the case, copy 5-8, skip 9-11, and so on.
I highly recommend, if you choose to accept this particular task, that you document all of your findings in a word processor document and save it before attempting to update the forum thread. For a while there, FFN's forums were repeatedly inaccessible. And I have, on more than one occasion, lost literally hours worth of work due to the site simply going down entirely. So I save everything into document files (this entire thread is a 20-plus page document file on my hard drive) to keep from having to repeatedly investigate the same case.6/15/2021 . Edited 6/25/2021 #8
Negotiating with the plagiarist – this would be moderator only
This takes the most time and energy of all the tasks. It requires infinite patience, an ability to communicate clearly and concisely in words that cannot be construed as an attack, and a lot of time.
Luna was very, very good at this. It is the ideal resolution of a case: the plagiarist learns that they can and should try to write their own content rather than taking someone else's in an attempt to feel better about themselves by getting a review here or there. Or relying on someone else's words as a crutch in their work a la "Finding Forrester". They then remove all of the content they stole and work very hard on their own writing, improve over time, gain their own fans – some of whom are likely also the ones who outed them for plagiarism because fannish communities have proven to be willing to give second chances – and their own standing in the community. They learn from their mistakes.
It is better than account deletion because many people don't learn from that. Some people just repost the deleted stories, claiming they didn't understand the e-mail they got from FFN's admins – which was admittedly vague and needed to be reworded; I do not know if they took my suggestions to heart and implemented them. I rewrote the whole thing for them so that it was perfectly clear that someone's content had been removed for intellectual property theft or copyright infringement.
I am not good at this. Despite working in a call center for nearly a decade (nearly a decade ago now) – or perhaps because of that job – I have no patience for telling people I shouldn't have to tell them not to steal. Like here. I'm as blunt as a spoon and I simply think people shouldn't pretend to be obtuse. There was a part of BP22's case where one of the individuals I initially identified as being an OA wasn't. When I later found out they were also a thief, I wasn't very politic. I won't say I was rude – I don't think I was, but I was blunt and very clear about their need to remove the stolen content. And not lie in the future because the truth will out.
Jeremy is also good at this in the Spanish-speaking community where there seems to be some cultural divide over IP theft. Since in Spain it was illegal a decade ago to even link to content that infringes on someone else's copyright, I really don't understand the gap. (I haven't brushed up on Spanish law, but they are known for having some of the most stringent copyright laws in the world.) It may be a South America thing, because a lot of the blatant piracy of Spanish translations of Harlequin novels I find on sites in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.
If you are very, very good at negotiating, this might be a task that interests you. But I do caution you that many plagiarists are self-entitled and think that the world should work on their schedule, that others' opinions don't matter, and that if it's on the Internet, it's there for them to do whatever they please with. Many of them are very young, some of them simply don't care (rlcn). A very thick skin is required for this particular task as I promise you, asterisk gardens will be the least of the insults sent your way.
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