Tip of the Week: Plagiarism

Don't let anyone take advantage of your creative writing!

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This week’s tip is about user review plagiarism on GameSpot and other sites. Plagiarism often leads to an account termination once the content is found. We might make exceptions for veteran accounts, but even then, the account is likely to receive a long suspension duration. The following tips will help you avoid having revoked community privileges.

1. Mirroring user reviews. When you mirror your user review in another community and your username on that site is exactly the same as your GameSpot username, this will help your case if you have a flagged plagiarism abuse report against you. If you do not have the same username in another community, be sure to sign your name at the bottom of your user review on that site with that Web site's account name, and post your GameSpot username (example: -JR2010 aka JodyR). After doing this for your reviews on that end, also do the same on GameSpot. That way, if the other community gets a plagiarism abuse report about a GameSpot user review you stole (when it's yours mirrored on our end), the other Web site's moderators should notice that your username for their site is there too. They'll be happy to dismiss the plagiarism abuse report, and you should not be moderated on their end.

2. Avoid mirroring official site reviews. Once the content is posted as an official editor review on another Web site, the user review on GameSpot should be removed. The user review content you posted on GameSpot might get flagged as plagiarism. We have had accounts banned for having mirrored other sites' reviews content before, even if the time stamp of the official editor review was posted after the GameSpot user review. If you decide that you would like to have your user review as an official site review instead, there are a couple of ways around it.

Have the Web site review post your GameSpot username as an alias on the site (example: Jody 'JodyR' Robinson or Jody Robinson aka JodyR) and link to your GS profile.

If the Web site does not want to offer this option, you have a couple of other choices. Remove the GameSpot user review you posted as an official editor review to avoid having a suspension or possibly an account termination. Or you could ask the review site if you could create a new review for them from scratch. That way you can keep your personal user reviews on GameSpot and have official reviews written on the other site.

Most reputable gaming Web sites send you the retail game, schwag, or cash in return for your writing services. Consider finding these opportunities over free labor unless you are looking only for writing exposure. Before giving away your work for free in the hopes of getting exposure, think about how much exposure you are actually going to get on that site versus what you get on GameSpot. If you are interested in seeing what kind of traffic another Web site receives, drop by www.alexa.com to enter the URL.

3. Check on your user reviews! People who plagiarize content are likely to have problems writing their own content, but the intro and conclusions are often the easiest way to identify plagiarism. Do a Google search for a sentence or two from the first paragraph in your GameSpot user review. Then, search for a sentence or two from the middle part of your review. Lastly, search with a couple of sentences found in your conclusion. If you still don't find anything, that's a good sign!

4. Report plagiarism. If you end up finding that someone has taken your content on GameSpot or another Web site, most communities have a policy against plagiarism. Content on GameSpot should be flagged with the Report Abuse dropdown; click the Other field on the Report Abuse page and type the game name. Example: "Plagiarism of my Mass Effect 2 review." If the content was plagiarized from another site, contact the Web site's customer support, or register an account to report the content as plagiarism, along with linking your GS user review.

Remember, you are the person who took the time to play through a game. and you are the person who wrote about the good, bad, and ugly. User reviews help you all share your experiences. Not everyone experiences games the same way!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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