Internet and Computers

Quitting Squidoo for Violating my Terms of Service

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The Error message reads: “Whoops! No publishing allowed. This lens is currently locked for a violation of our Terms of Service, as per the email we sent you. You’re welcome to a) Grab your content and take it elsewhere, if you’d rather not continue with Squidoo or b) Review your content and make edits here in the Workshop to improve the lens. But you won’t be able to Publish the lens live until you can demonstrate that the violation has been addressed. Thanks.

I wrote this how-to lens on autographing books for authors almost four years ago. Squidoo decided three days before Christmas 2011 (when book sales spike) that my article was  — pick one, your guess, they won’t tell, shhhh — pornographic; contained profanity; spammy (guess too many copies of Lifeliner in my pic); something they couldn’t support cause, you know, authors autographing books for readers is so … well, words fail me; a “doorway” lens  to affiliate programs like promoting authors autographing their own books; unoriginal (all those hours I spent writing and polishing was just, well, meh); article spinning (whatever the heck that is, but if I don’t know what it means then I must’ve done it, eh?); and plagiarism.

I’ve been down the false accusation of plagiarism road with Squidoo before.

They sent a nice note saying sorry, it was a “false positive” after I found the plagiarist of my article that they blocked last May. They wrote that they would greenlight it so it wouldn’t happen again, but they didn’t think to greenlight the author, namely me. They seem to have a default stance that Squidoo authors plagiarize and so no point telling Squidoo authors when their work is plagiarized, just cut out the articles. Some site.

Squidoo also wrote in their email to me dated 22 December 2011:

We aim to support high-quality, original and useful lifestyle content that real readers will be glad to land on.”

Yes I can see how comments like these most recent ones would mean readers were not glad to land on it:

“i like this..” Oct 24, 2010 5:14 pm

“I will release my first book and it is all about my experiences as a mystery shopper. I found this site very informative and I am so excited to sign my book to someone who will really appreciate it. Thanks for the signing guides and more power” MysterySh0pper, Dec 11, 2010 6:32 am

“Thanks for the ideas….my first book signing is coming up in a few days!! http://map-thenovel.com” nitronarc, Feb 21, 2011 9:23 pm

“A lens about how to autograph a book: now I’ve seen it all! I am impressed with the research you did! (I’ve never had to autograph a book, but I have had to autograph the CD copy of an ebook!)” TravelingRae, Jun 18, 2011 12:16 am

This week, after I finished revising my novel and finally had the energy to deal with this company and do their work for them, I searched for plagiarized words from my autographing article, and it looks like it was copied elsewhere then possibly taken down or made invisible. Although Google shows other sites as having plagiarized my article, the sites themselves no longer show it, as far as I can tell.

Violations of my copyright are the only thing important to me.

Then I also noticed all my Squidoo lenses on installing and using Ubuntu were taken down. I can’t be bothered yelling at this stupid company again. If it doesn’t have the ability to know which writers are original and to see that it had screwed up before with the same writer, it’s not worth the effort to tell them. I know I said I was going to take down my Squidoo account last time they blasted me with their spraying figure-out-which-term-you-violated-then-maybe-we’ll-talk gun. But didn’t. This time I am.

There may be orphaned links on my website to my old Squidoo lenses once I’ve cancelled my account. Please let me know if you find any.

Last time, they only made nice because I blasted them back and reprimanded my copyright violator — thanks for the help Squidoo in telling me about them and helping me demand they take the plagiarized copy down, not — but I was mollified. This time, I don’t see why again I have to be treated as guilty until innocent. If they default to that position, then they have a problem with their contributors. From telecoms to Squidoo, I’ve had enough of behemoth companies banging their weight around. I quit. Writers looking for autographing advice — and my other former Squidoo essays — can come straight to my own website, thank you very much.

"We're lucky to have you around."
Internet and Computers

Greener Families Does the Right Thing: Takes Down Plagiarized Article

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I’d steeled myself to take the next step in my salvo against the ones who’d plagiarized my chocolate article, especially as I hadn’t received an email of apology or compliance. I went to the page and…

Greener Families Page for Chocolate Article Taken Down Cropped 20 May 2011

Well, isn’t that a surprise! First Squidoo does the right thing and restores my deleted article and now Greener Families does the right thing and deletes their illegal copy of it.

Two lessons I’ve learnt:

1. Don’t give up when you see injustice done: Write! Write the transgressors, use civil language, include sentences that tell them you can prove your claim, and copy legal language from websites who’ve gone through the same steps as you.

2. People in the wrong don’t apologise, don’t acknowledge they did wrong, and don’t let you know when they’ve rectified the situation. With people like Squidoo or Greener Families, it doesn’t matter really, other than it’s annoying, because I don’t have a personal relationship with them. But when it happens in a personal relationship, that relationship is doomed to superficiality at best and will likely fade away. For when the transgressor fails to admit wrong, apologise, and repent (change their mind, way of doing things), then the trangressed is likely to hold them at harm’s length even if s/he shows a smiling face to the transgressor. Don’t fool yourself. Being a coward and not apologising (in the hopes it’ll all go away and why can’t we all make nice) isn’t going to fix anything and will ruin what relationship you have left.

Now I can get back to my regularly scheduled programming. Yay!

Internet and Computers

Fighting Plagiarism and My Squidoo Article Restored

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As I blogged on the weekend, an article I had written back in the 1990s and had updated for publication on Squidoo.com, had been plagiarized by greenerfamilies.com. I immediately used Greener Families’s contact form to tell them to take it down. As of this writing, I have not heard anything from them.

So now that I’m feeling more human, I’ve followed the advice of two excellent articles on what to do when someone or some thing has plagiarized your work.

DevTopics in How to File a DMCA Complaint talks about splogs as an introduction on how to fight back. Until I read this post, I’d never heard of splogs before:

A splog or “spam blog” is a blog that steals content from other web sites, then aggregates and republishes the content on its own blog.”

I don’t know if greenerfamilies.com is a splog or not, but it is a strange site in that there are no last names and there is no contact information. Yet the site presents itself as a kind of company or organization that will help make people healthier and greener, a company that has professionals behind it. Legitimate companies that sell products to improve people’s lives have all sorts of information about themselves right on their websites. They don’t hide.

I also read Lorelle on WordPress’s article What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content. She has excellent tips on how to find out who is behind a website or blog and how to find contact  information.

Whois Search for GreenerFamilies 17 May 2011

The apparent owner of greenerfamilies.com also owns 33 other domains. That’s an awful lot of domains for a self-described doctor with a business. On greenerfamilies.com’s About page, John describes himself as a former Olympic athlete and a worldwide lecturer. Seems to me that someone with that kind of pedigree would not be hiding his last name. The photos look kind of, uh, generic for a couple of professionals.

About GreenerFamilies Cropped 17 May 2011

Using the email information DomainTools spat out, and using the templates both DevTopic and Lorelle on WordPress provided, I emailed a cease and desist message to the two email addresses I could find, namely jpahau@yahoo.com and registrars@ecommerce.com. I gave them until Friday for them to respond.

This is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This is to advise you that you are using copyrighted and protected material on your website/blog. Your illegal use of "Fat into Fuel" article at http://www.greenerfamilies.com/?p=55 is originally from my Squidoo website page called "A Nibble of Chocolate, Part Three" at http://www.squidoo.com/chocolatepartthree. This is original content, and I am the author and copyright holder. Use of copyright protected material without permission is illegal under U.S. and Canadian copyright laws.

Please remove this article immediately or we will file an official complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office, FeedBurner, and Google, Inc. Google’s response may include removing or disabling access to material claimed to be the subject of infringing activity and/or terminating subscribers.
I expect a response by Friday, May 20, 2011 to this issue. Thank you for your immediate action on this matter.

Shireen Jeejeebhoy

Meanwhile, I discovered through writing this email that – although they had not informed me — Squidoo had restored the chocolate article that they had locked out from the public and were about the delete, the same article that greenerfamilies.com had plagiarized. Was I ever surprised! Sometimes it pays to speak up. Sometimes there is a measure of justice.

Internet and Computers

My Copyrighted, Original Article on Chocolate was Plagiarized by greenerfamilies.com and Locked by Squidoo

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I am pissed.

Squidoo had locked Part Three of my series on chocolate and had notified me back in April. At the time, I was in the middle of a big writing project and was battling a virus (which got me second time round right at the beginning of May), and so I had little time or ability to look into it. To make it worse, the email they send is not real specific on why one’s own lens has been locked and unpublished. They give four reasons, and it’s up to you to figure out which applies. Needless to say, none of the reasons given fit my lens, particularly as it had been up for over two years (recorded publication date 02/17/2009). At that point, I didn’t have a lot of energy to figure out why then it was locked, and since this was not the first capricious locking of one of my lenses, I decided to ignore it and as soon as I had time, convert my entire “A Nibble of Chocolate” series into an ebook. I finished that conversion today, and my new ebook A Nibble of Chocolate is now live on Smashwords.

Dear Squidoo Lensmaster:

This is a notification that the following Squidoo lenses are in violation of our Terms of Service and have been unpublished.

http://www.squidoo.com/chocolatepartthree

==WHY WERE THESE LENSES UNPUBLISHED?==

We run regular and periodic reviews of lenses to enforce our policies, including (but not limited to) acting against spam content, locking lenses on topics we can’t support, lenses that exist solely to promote an affiliate program, and most recently we have also increased our systematic intolerance of aggressively duplicated (unoriginal) content and plagiarism.

Here are 4 resources you should read about our content policies on Squidoo. These links go into detail about several reasons that lenses get unpublished.

1. The Squidoo Originality Pact: http://www.squidoo.com/originalitypact
2. What Is Unoriginal, Duplicated Content? http://www.squidoo.com/original-vs-duplicate-content
3. SquidDon’t topics we don’t allow on Squidoo: http://www.squidoo.com/squiddont
4. Overly promotional lenses: http://www.squidoo.com/outboundlinklimit

==NOW WHAT?==

The above lenses have been unpublished in order to give you a chance to review the content and save it to take elsewhere. An unpublished lens is no longer live or viewable on the web, and will be removed from search engine indexes. The lens Workshop is still available to you for 30 days so that you can login and access the content and export it to your own computer. Any unpaid royalties the lenses might have earned before today will be donated to charity.

You can read more about your unpublished lenses here: http://www.squidoo.com/locked

We’d love to help you avoid the frustration of publishing a lens that gets unpublished, and hope the above guidelines help you make decisions about what kinds of lenses are worth your time in the future. Here are examples of good, original lenses that satisfy our content guidelines:å http://blogs.squidoo.com/lensoftheday

Please note that repeated violations going forward will result in the suspension of your entire Squidoo account. We encourage you to refamiliarize yourself with the policies posted above before creating a new lens.

Thanks for reading.

The Squidoo Content Team
Squidoo.com

As I was preparing to convert another of my Squidoo series to an ebook, I logged in to my dashboard and saw a whole bunch of lenses had gone from green to pink, which I thought meant they’d been unpublished for reasons unknown to me.

 

This puzzled me even more, and I decided to read that email again. I thought about the reasons they gave for locking my third chocolate lens, scanned my text for a phrase or sentence in that lens that may find my work if it had been plagiarized, and Googled it. I could not believe it. Someone had plagiarized it, the whole of it minus the introduction. Well, really, why should I be surprised? I put a lot of work and  time into it back in the 1990s when I first wrote it. I interviewed both Dr. Wang and Dr. Anderson, whom I know personally, as well as doing much literature research. It’s a dang good article.

However, that does not excuse greenerfamilies.com, run by a nurse and a doctor, Nancy and John, from copying it without asking me and without my permission and from publishing it on their website without attribution or any links back to the original article. Copyright theft is a legal infringement of the law under both Canada and the US Copyright Acts, and as Canada and  the US are signatories to an international copyright agreement, that means as a Canadian my copyright is enforceable in the US. Furthermore, I object to having my work associated with greenerfamilies.com.

Being a pack rat, I probably still have my original notes, and since I was taping my telephone interviews for my first book Lifeliner, I probably taped those interviews as well. I have all my computer files. And, most importantly, it’s got my writing style all over it. I do not know if Squidoo locked my lens on “A Nibble of Chocolate — A Hint of Theobromine” (Part Three in my chocolate series) because they found this plagiarized article, but if they did, they should have informed me that someone had copied my work. When I first joined Squidoo, I read about how they knew plagiarism of our own work was an issue. Assuming their computers had found this website, it is both egregious and outrageous that they did not contact me and that they assumed I was the one who copied it. This for-all-intents-and-purposes non-negotiable locking of a lens is particularly bad given how much time one must spend in putting a decent lens together. It is not as simple as typing out the text. You must have images; you must include different kinds of modules and learn how to use those modules; you must know how to tag and organize the lens; and you must keep up-to-date with Squidoo’s newest features and learn how to use those. It is not an easy website to use, requires knowledge of html, and requires maintenance of articles even if the content does not need updating or changing. Given all that, some email that forces you to guess about why your lens has been locked is unacceptable.

I Googled the original publication date on greenerfamilies.com website as they do not have a publication date on my stolen article. The search results do not show the date for the web page with page id=55; however, those web pages with page ids that have dates attached to them are between 7 March 2011 and 3 May 2011. The original home page (which obviously does not have a page id) has a date of 27 July 2007. All of these dates are well after when I first wrote this series on chocolate, and the web pages with page ids are two years or more after publication on Squidoo. So, assuming that discovery of this website is the reason for locking my lens, did Squidoo look at these dates? Did they notice that the lens they locked was the third in a series and written in the same style as the previous two lenses?

This whole thing makes me wonder if my Job lens (which I researched, developed, and wrote under the guidance of my Pastor and presented to a group) that was locked almost two years after being published online, was also plagiarized.

As for why the other lenses were moved from green to pink status, I have no idea, and I no longer care. I have limited energy, and I have no intention of wasting it on Squidoo any longer, beyond what I must. The lesson for me is that from now on, all my original articles or essays will either be published on my own website or as ebooks, depending on which is more appropriate. That way if there is an issue of copyright theft, I won’t have to deal with both the thief and a third-party website.

News

The Job Sessions are Completed

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I have completed my series on Job with the addition of the fifth and sixth sessions. At last! This Old Testament book of poetry from the Bible is both difficult and compelling. It’s like a friend to suffering people everywhere, yet hides its treasure in long, inscrutable lines of poetry. I have been living with Job since about October 2008. At first I just wanted to read and understand it for myself; then I got fed up with the tripe written about it and wanted to write an outline; then I was going to assist my Pastor in a short bible study on it; and then all of a sudden, I’m doing most of the study and writing an online series on it!

I’ve updated my Essays page with links to every session in the series. Please check it out.

It has expanded my mind, and I’m pretty sure helped some of my reading and thinking neurons reconnect as I thought on Job’s friends, Job himself, and that windbag Elihu. Starting with the first Session, it has also opened up new ways of seeing and playing with my photographs, much to my surprise. It was emotional, aggravating, challenging, and supremely rewarding. But now it’s over. I’m glad. Each poem, each book has its time in one’s life, sometimes once, sometimes more than once, but rarely continuously. I’m not sure what’s next. Until I find out, I’m going to have fun with my photos.

News

Session Four on Book of Job Up!

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I’m getting better and better at the PowerPoint thing, well, the OpenOffice Impress-export-to-PowerPoint thing, to be honest. I’m learning about how different forms of media can enliven a presentation, and how difficult it is to find just the right video (or to make one) to illustrate what I’m trying to say about Job and his friends.

I started the Job Sessions a few weeks ago, and I can’t believe I’m almost done. I’ve just uploaded Session Four, which is on Elihu, a teenager type, full of anger and cocky confidence, who has lots and lots and lots to say to Job about his attitude. I’ve included the usual handout and interactive modules, used images and found a video to illustrate Elihu, and I’ve attached information on some other Job works for those who want to read what others have to say about him. I hope you’ll check it out, as well as my other Sessions: One, Two, and Three. Next week I’ll upload the last one, on God’s answer to Job. Plus an epilogue.

News

Third Session on Book of Job Now Uploaded

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Well, I’m getting into the swing of writing these Sessions on the Book of Job (in the Old Testament of the Bible) and have now uploaded Session Three, which is on Job’s response to his friends’ speeches and to his suffering. As I mentioned earlier on this blog, I am writing a series of sessions on the Book of Job in the Bible, to guide people when they are reading it or studying it, as it is a long and complex piece of poetry. I’ve previously uploaded an introductory article, the first session, and the second session.

Each session includes a handout in PDF, interactive modules, a place to leave feedback, my own images representing the characters, and in this session, two videos. All of which I hope will help you see and understand the text (mine and Job’s). I’m working on the next session now on Elihu. I’ll post a notice when it’s online. Please check them out. I’d love to know what you think!

News

Uploaded Second Session on Book of Job

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As I mentioned earlier on this blog, I am writing a series of sessions on the Book of Job in the Bible, to guide people when they are reading it or studying it, as it is a long and complex piece of poetry. I’ve uploaded an introductory article and the first session already. Now I’ve uploaded the second session on the Book of Job. It covers the responses of Job’s three friends to his suffering.

As for the first session, I’ve made it interactive to allow for comments and questions from readers, included my own artwork to illustrate what’s happening, and have attached a handout. I’m working on the next session now on Job’s response to his friends and his suffering. I’ll post a notice when it’s online. Please check them out. I’d love to know what you think!

News

Book of Job: Session One is Up on the Web

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The Book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible is one many people who’ve suffered hardship turn to. Yet this long book of poetry with its seemingly tedious middle part is not an easy read. While sufferers can identify with Job, and Bible readers can enjoy the beginning and the ending, the rest seems unfathomable. Why did the narrator spend so many, many chapters relating the speeches of Job’s friends and Job himself? Like every excellent poet, the narrator had a reason: to show what suffering is like and to show how not to comfort the sufferer. But there’s even more than that.

Last year, I started reading Job and studying it with my Pastor. Due to the reading problems my closed head injury caused me, I could not read this difficult book on my own. Yet I felt powerfully drawn to reading it. Although not curative, it’s turned out to be transformative. Along the way, to help understand certain passages, we looked at various outlines and texts that experts had written on Job, but I found all but one to be missing the point, superficial, or just downright stupid. And so I decided to write an outline. That outline became a study group guide. And now it’s becoming an online tutorial. Writing this is helping me remember and learn more from Job, and it’s helping me reclaim my pre-injury skills while showing me new areas to explore. As I said, Job is transformative!

I’ve uploaded the first session on Job. It covers Chapters One to Three, where the narrator introduces Job, relates the bet between God and Satan, and begins the speeches with Job’s utter despair over what’s happened to him. I’ve made it interactive to allow for comments and questions from readers, included my own artwork to illustrate what’s happening, and have attached a handout for readers. I’m working on the next two sessions now, covering Job’s friends and Job himself. I’ll post a notice when they’re online. Please check them out. I’d love to know what you think!