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Why and How People Abuse and Plagiarise


This guide is a revision of the previous post published by Steemcleaners.


There are many ways that users exploit the Hive ecosystem. Before we talk about one of the most common ways, plagiarism, let's answer the question "Why do people exploit the Hive ecosystem with plagiarism?"

Why do people abuse and plagiarise?

Everyone's situation is unique and individuals are motivated by a variety of things.

Sometimes it's a simple miscommunication and the user is genuinely remorseful and has the full intent to correct their actions. Sometimes the users just don't care and their actions are deliberate. Other times the users realize that they were deliberately fed misinformation by scammers. Let's break these down further:

  • Miscommunication
  • Deliberate action
  • Misinformation

Miscommunication


Image Source: Ligs University

Many new users who discover the Hive blockchain, Hive, or one of the relating 3rd party projects take it at surface value and don't take the time to understand what it actually is. The idea of a decentralized content platform that rewards its users is a novel one.

Users who are interested in niche topics like #homesteading or #gold/ #silver naturally will gravitate towards first reading posts of that nature in which they'll see that the majority are in-depth original writings. Users that are interested in #news blogging or #cryptocurrency will look at other posts in those categories and see that many are copy/pasted, randomly tagged, or blatantly plagiarised. That leads the new user to believe that anything goes.

We speak to a lot of new users who are genuinely upset that they made themselves look like an abuser. They are particularly upset when their followers point it out to them as well as ourselves. Good people who just didn't know end up learning about abuse when they come on our Discord to ask about a comment or flag that was left on their post.

While we always try to not flag new users -- our goal is to spread awareness first -- at times it is very difficult to tell who a new user is and who is a repeat abuser on a fresh account in order to hide their malicious actions.

Deliberate Action


Image Source: Malwarebytes

There are many users -- probably many more than a genuine, honest user would imagine there are -- who only care about exploiting the Hive blockchain for rewards. They have no desire to get to know other users, to try and post original content, or to get engaged in any way. Many of them go around looking for and exploiting all the blockchain-based and cryptocurrency-based rewards-oriented projects they can find. They decide that Hive is easy to exploit and stick with it.

It's not for us to decide whether these individuals are "good people" in their day-to-day lives of the blockchain. For all, we know they are. On the blockchain and behind their computer monitors and phones, they exploit and lie with remarkable determination. The more extreme of these types of users are phishing hackers and botnet owners.

They steal the work of others, hide their abuses in many creative ways, and will manipulate anyone they speak to in order to get ahead. They often tend to try and exploit the goodwill of larger stakeholders in order to get upvotes. Sometimes they become stakeholders themselves. They are calculating and are responsible for the bulk of the abuses we deal with, much of it below the surface.

Misinformation


Image Source: Shutterstock/Backpage

Part of the problem lies in the fact that many users across the world have found Hive based on the recommendations of existing scammers. They've watched videos about the Hive blockchain and all the money they can make on it. The videos mislead the users and instruct them to plagiarise and commit other abuses all for the sake of getting a quick low-effort reward.

Many of these videos and courses are created by bot owners and money changers (users who "cash-out" Hive/HBD on behalf of others and then give them their local currency, taking a % cut).

It is in their interests that users make as much money as possible without getting to know the rest of the Hive community. When they onboard a user and keep him or her in the dark about the true opportunities available to them, they are creating a "customer" for their services who is also dependent on them. They profit off the effort of that individual.

This is far more common than many established users believe. We deal with a lot of honest individuals who become despondent and genuinely shocked that they were taken advantage of and tricked to do an activity that would otherwise be outside of their moral compass.


Now that we talked about the "why", let's address the "what". In this post for the sake of brevity, we'll focus on plagiarism.

Plagiarism/Image Plagiarism


Image Source: Wikipedia article about plagiarism

One of the core concepts around the Hive blockchain is the idea that content creators can join the community, share their work, and get rewarded. There is a wide range of brilliant content creators posting their work on the Hive blockchain. When users pass off the work of others as their own, be it photographs, articles, fiction, art, or anything else, they commit plagiarism.

There are users who believe that justifying plagiarism is acceptable. "I didn't know that was plagiarism", "I didn't know that wasn't allowed" or "I didn't know I shouldn't take the work of others" are all common.

We will strive to work through the issues with users who are genuine. We, as community members ourselves, appreciate all other community members who are genuinely interested in blogging and using the Hive blockchain as intended. Unfortunately, more often than not, that is not the case.

Standard Definition

Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's work, be it text or image, without any attempt to give them credit. The goal of the plagiarists is to make it appear as if they are the source of the work.

Many serial plagiarists have honed plagiarism itself into an art form. They're very good at what they do and they plagiarise knowing that they either won't get caught or that they have built up such a significant reputation that others won't suspect them. Where caught, they become enraged and pretend to be shocked, putting on a great show.

Aside from the plagiarism we all know by now, they use a variety of specialized plagiarism techniques. Three of these are:

Off-Line/Hidden Sources

One type of plagiarism that particularly negatively impacts communities and users is deliberate plagiarism from offline materials. These can be books that haven't been fully digitized/translated, niche magazine articles, and writings by local people such as the work of fellow college students. The plagiarist is typically very meticulous in how they hide the fact that the information/intellectual property they presented was entirely stolen. The purpose of going to these lengths to hide plagiarism is to gain the curation of communities/projects like #ocd, #cervantes, and #curangel.


Image Source: Pixabay

This type of plagiarism takes a considerable of time to investigate. It also has a considerable detrimental impact on the communities it targets as well as on fellow users, many of whom more often than not consider the plagiarist as someone they got to know through "their" work.

Transcriptions

Transcription is verbal content, such as a YouTube video, that is then transcribed in text form. When done with permission, original content, and proper credits, it adds value. When done in a covert way as to create easy content at someone else's expense, it's plagiarism.

Often, transcriptions are paired with translations. Users will find an unpopular but interesting vlogger, transcribe his or her vlogs, then translate them to English or another language. Often the process is automated through the use of text-to-speech apps. Appropriating the work of others as your own is still plagiarism and we put a stop to it where possible.

Edited Image Plagiarism

Taking a photographer's or an artist's work and then running it through Photoshop/Instagram-style filters is still image plagiarism. The most common version of this is mirroring the image in order to avoid the Reverse Image Search capabilities of some browsers. The second most common version is cropping the image, therefore zooming in on one specific point. The third most common version would be gaining access to private image libraries, slightly changing the image to hide any features that may lead back to the originator, and re-posting.

All of these are deliberate attempts to appropriate the work of others and receive credit for it while avoiding detection. Editing an image and then posting it as if your own doesn't happen "by accident". Everyone who gets caught for it is fully aware of what they were trying to do.

How YOU can fight plagiarism


Image Source: Pixabay

We all want to enjoy the content of other Hiveians but at the same time, we also want to do so knowing that we aren't inadvertently supporting abuse. Here are a few easy to remember points you can follow in order to combat plagiarism within the Hive ecosystem:

  • Be discerning with what you upvote
  • Run a simple Google search on a snippet of text you find suspicious
  • Reverse image search pictures that look "off"
  • Watch for professional diagrams or figures that are not sourced (ie. scientific numbers, precise historical dates)
  • Remind new users to always add credit/sources
  • Look for out of place words that don't belong in the sentence
  • Be aware of quality fluctuations between different parts of a user's blog
  • Don't automatically trust long-term users; some plagiarists go for years without being caught
  • Let curation projects know when you find something suspicious
  • Fill out our Reporting Form and report to us


Images by thepeakstudio.

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