Reference it

As a regular blogger and reader of other people’s work, I find it rather annoying when you see your own material being used without any reference to the source. The fact that I share my knowledge with the hope that people will use it and learn from it, apply it etc is always behind my motivations to share my blogs, podcasts, video’s etc. It took time, effort and experience to gather those insights, hence a small note about where you found it is just common courtesy.

In academic research, most students get lectured on how to use references and how they need to be included. When working with publishing houses, again strong referencing is essential. There is a reason for it, namely people can sue the publishing houses for compensation if they found plagiarism. In fact one of my books was copied, biography and all, just given a new front cover, the publisher the book was with, immediately went after them. It was a university professor, who had tipped me off on this. It turns out the person in question had copied a whole range of books from the same publisher, so I was the one spotting it first thanks to the tip off.

What I see a lot from both business partners and competitors that slides, blogs, blog sections, articles are blatantly copied without referencing to the source. Just by making the graphic different or the colours different, that doesn’t make it acceptable to copy. I use a lot of other people’s work such as Octalysis from Yukai Chou and the Octalysis Group, the player types from Andrzej Marczewski. In every case I reference them in the slides.

If you can’t be bothered, then at least have enough respect and don’t use other people’s materials, be original. If you are going to copy and it is found out, expect to be called up about it. In a business partner relationship, I share some more of my knowledge confidentially, to then see it published in presentations or animations later, without your own team bothering to do the essential research, frankly breaks trust and will make me wonder about your other ethics when dealing with knowledge based resources. I have let a few of these situations go, but because in this industry it is too rife, I am calling it out from now on. All I am asking is to declare the original source where you found the information and that they created it.

The question is how can we gamify the inclusion of references to original work? I have played with plugins on the site that track where my work is used, which works for the blog, but not for slides or slide shares. If there was even a pop-up letting the person know that it was proprietary work. In the end of the it is stealing, if you use someone else materials as your own. In the world where sharing is the norm, the breadcrumb trail should be kept intact. Technologically it is possible.

How can we design a gamified approach to reference it?


1 thought on “Reference it”

  1. As a prolific writer, especially online, I have a lot of sympathy with your views – and share your view that, as things stand, it's impossible to make everyone 'do the right thing'. I'm not even sure that gamifying the process (if that's possible in a practical sense) will necessarily encourage people to act more morally and ethically.

    Basically, there are four reasons why humans act morally/ ethically:
    • Our own advantage
    • Consideration for others
    • Confidence in our fellows and
    • Fear of punishment

    Sadly, it's the last reason that seems to have the most effect – but, in this particular case, the cost of enforcement may prove prohibitive.

    Let's hope there's an 'ultimate' reward/ punishment structure based on truth, righteousness and, perhaps, mercy rather than pure justice. 🙂

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