Monday, November 29, 2010

I won the war against the plagiarizer! I guess I'm a hypocrite.

The above seal is what you see when you go to now.  (I wouldn't recommend going there, as I've heard that when you visit, you're IP is flagged which I guess mine is now if you believe those things.)  As I detailed in a previous post (click here), I began the war around a month ago after finding a stolen article of mine on their site.  Read the previous post to see what I went through with the aforementioned site.

Now, I'm not gonna be so vain as to assume that all my reporting and phone calls were the direct result of this site finally being removed.  I can only assume that maybe I played some small role in it.  Either way, it makes my day that someone who was profiting from others' work can no longer do so.

Does this make me a hypocrite?

Not even a week ago, I read an article that had been posted by the Jefferson Republican Party Facebook page (as a disclaimer, I'm not an actual member of this political group; I support a couple of politician friends who are and I do agree with some of the party's ideals) about the government being able to yank down a website in the name of copyright infringement without having to prove that it actually was copyright infringement.  In other words, there's no accountability which leaves things wide open for abuse of power.  I don't agree with that.  I own a few websites and would hate to have someone with an agenda to just flip a switch and turn them off if I (and I often do) piss someone off.

On the flip side, of many of the domains that were seized, it's easy to see that the vast majority of them are product sites which for all cases of appearance were more than likely selling bootlegged, fake products, etc.  According to this report from Stanford, over 70 sites were seized in this "internet raid".

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite that I'm happy this site has been pulled while at the same time not supporting the method, so to speak, in which it was removed.

I'm sorry I'm happy.

But I can't help it.  I've been reporting this site to many, many places for the last month and to finally see them taken down makes me happy.

I feel slightly dirty now.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Does it really matter if I have a picture on my article or not?

This question comes from John Robertson, a fairly new contributor who signed up under my referral and has published consistently since.  (Psssst, he was also an honorable mention in this year's Halloween flash fiction contest.)

His question was:

"Just out of curiosity: Does it make much difference if you add pictures? I thought about just taking some that I thought would work well with my articles, but I wasn't sure if it would really be worth the extra time.  Any advice on that?"

In short form, yes, having pictures does help, even if only a little.  Most people are visually inclined so in general, more people will click on an article that has a picture rather than one with just a headline.  Also, having an image makes it easier for the staff to feature your content on the front pages (and yes, the page views garnered from being just on category front pages is worth the few minutes it takes to find an image).

Here is a link to the images topic within this blog.  Read through some of these posts (yes, some are a little old but they still apply).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Waging War Against a Plagiarizer

For the last few weeks, I've declared an all out war against an online plagiarizer.  Little ole' me with limited tech experience, has decided that no matter how many people try to tell me that there's nothing I can do about a China based website, I will not stop until this site has been removed.  And if I see them again under a different name, I'll start the next round.

The site's name is (I don't want to give them a link back so I'm not linking it up).  They are not only skimming articles from Associated Content and Examiner, but they are also selling bootlegged DVD's.  Here's the story thus far.

I received an alert concerning one of my articles having been "Buzzed Up" on Yahoo!Buzz.  Great!  But that isn't all.  The link was to a site I didn't recognize, not to my article on AC.  Following the link took me to  There was over half my article without attribution or even a link.  So I contacted the administrator.  I politely told them they could either pay me for the reprint (since this was a DO on AC) or they could remove the article from the site.

Now usually, this works.  Some people don't realize that this is infringing and upon learning they take immediate action.  Others who are knowingly stealing content get scared that I'm onto them and take immediate action.  One time I did have to research the site owner (which is weird because he was a lawyer in Utah) and call him personally to ask him to remove or link my content properly which he did.  But generally, an email is all it takes.

Not so in this case.

Round 1

I received a reply that they would handle the situation.  But the deadline came and went and my article was still up on the site.  So I started digging.  As it turned out, this seemingly U.S. based site actually originates in China.  Where I would usually start filing DMCA reports to hosts and advertisers, I couldn't find information on anything like that.  Asking around about what to do netted little response and most of the responses weren't hopeful.  It looked like I couldn't do anything about it.  Digging around the site some more revealed that every news article they had up on their site was skimmed from other authors.  I contacted some of those authors but realized that it would not do much good.

I researched the site some more and found out that a great number of people believed this to be a bootlegged DVD site.  This blog post on Random Ramblings confirmed that.  In addition, the company that ships these DVDs (Yan Hai Electronic Commerce (Beijing) Ltd.), has several complaints against them for a variety of problems like damaged products, incorrect products, poor service, and a whole host of other problems which are indicative of a company running illegal products.  Additionally, while speaking with a live chat rep, I was told that the DVD's were the "Asian" version.  I'm not stupid.

In another email, I again asked them to remove my article.  They didn't respond and the article remained.

Round 2

Not willing to give up, I started with reporting their activity on Yahoo!Buzz and was able to get several posts of theirs removed.  I started researching further and began reporting them on every site that I saw them posted on.  I was able to get them removed from several networking and article sites which they were using to promote their website and have left reviews and comments where they post.  Just today, I received an email from the YouTube legal team that stated their content was being removed.  Those are small victories in the war, something that makes me feel good when there might otherwise be no recourse.

I wrote the site another email and let them know what I was doing and how I was reporting them to everyone they were coming in contact with.  Low and behold, after two weeks of fighting with them, my article has been removed from their site.

But the war continues

But even though I was able to get them to take my content down, which was the original intention, I've decided not to stop there.  What happens to those authors who don't know they are being stolen from?  What about the copyright owners of these DVD's that are being pirated?  Why should the owner of this company continue to make money from other people's hard work?

If you're not a writer and just don't understand why I take this so personally, allow me to give you a perspective.  Let's say you're sitting in your house and someone you don't know walks in and takes your television and there's nothing you can do about it.  Then they come back in and start lifting your small appliances from your kitchen.  You have no recourse but to sit there and do nothing while your property is being stolen.  Can you imagine what that feels like?

That's exactly how writers feel when our work is stolen.  It's a terrible feeling.  And it takes desperately needed money out of my pocket, money that pays bills and puts food on the table for me and my children.

So I've made it my mission to continue reporting where ever these people representing this website pop up.  I even obtained numbers from a Disney rep to contact their legal department, which is exactly what I did yesterday.  I've also been reporting them to other networks and companies they are infringing.

A couple of roadblocks

In this war, though, there will inevitably be those people who refuse to take a look at the evidence and who want to say they aren't involved when they really are.  While a good number of websites that I've reported to have investigated and removed content related to, two websites, thus far, insist that because the article (or in one case the document) isn't directly infringing, they will take no action.  One site is (don't want to give them a link back either so here's a copy/paste URL to the document in question,, who, since initially telling me that they couldn't take action, have ignored me.  The other site is who stated that I should contact the author and that they had no authority to remove articles that aren't directly plagiarized (regardless if it promotes illegal and unethical activity).  (This is the URL paste of the author in question who is using article writing to promote this website:  I tried to explain to them that the author doesn't give two craps about promoting such a site (okay, I didn't use those exact words but you get the drift).

I also spoke with an AC YCN staffer as it would pertain to Associated Content if someone had reported a contributor writing articles about a site which, upon investigation, turned out to be a site engaged in unethical or illegal activity.  My suspicions about how AC YCN would handle it was confirmed.  They would look into it and if the reports were valid, the author and articles would be removed from the site.  (Did I mention that I heart AC YCN?)

So I included in my response that I knew had every authority to remove the author if they saw fit but they just didn't want to follow-up on the reports.  I haven't heard anything from them since and the articles remain published on their site.

So the war continues and will likely drag on for a long time.  It doesn't hurt my feelings any to take a little time here and there to see what other site I can report them to.

Oh, and if you happen to catch them on a site, will you do me a favor and report them, too?  Thanks!

ETA (later the same evening I published this): I've just been informed that has removed the document.  Here was their email to me:
"   As the document appears to be an advertisement of sorts, as a one-time courtesy, we have removed it.  We cannot, however, assure that we will do so again in the future if it is re-posted by a Docstoc user, or is available elsewhere on the Docstoc site, though you are free, of course, to let us know again in the future if it is, or similar documents are, available on the Docstoc site."
Well, that was nice of them, even though they were a little begrudged to do so. :)

ETA: 11/22/10

ArticlesBase has finally removed the author in question who was posting the articles promoting the website.  After several emails back and forth, they decided that they do have the power to remove them.  Thank you, ArticlesBase.

Update and resolution to this war (11/29/10): Read:

I won the war against the plagiarizer! I guess I'm a hypocrite.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The New Yahoo! Contributor Network and Reaching Clout 10

My Yahoo! Contributor Profile

So it's been a whirlwind of a weekend. 

First, AC contributors knew that AC would be going down for maintenance Sunday evening.  We were told there would be a big change.  So I hung around Facebook between 8 and 9pm last night waiting for the word from fellow contributors while also checking Associated Content's site for any sign that we were kicking again.  Not that I was waiting to publish anything.  I just wanted to know what was going on.  Pretty soon, Marie Anne St. Jean wrote, "AC is up!" and it was on from there! 

My first stop was at the new Associated Content homepage.  I was blown away. I really like the new front page (and hope at some point, I can make it on there).  

Now, of course, there's gonna be a few glitchy parts here and there, for example, payment reports are a bit screwed up.  They are still showing 0 for the month and I have a notice of 4 pending payments when I'm not owed anything right now.  So definitely there's some adjustments to be worked out but all in all, I think this is a fantastic change.

And the best part is that contributors are now being offered performance pay on Yahoo! sites.  Some of our previous Yahoo! published content have shown up in our accounts with back pay attached; even though we had a legal agreement that we wouldn't be paid page views for those pieces.  This, in my opinion, was the step that I talked about in previous posts when Yahoo! was publishing our DO content.

At this point, I'm certain the forum is rife with questions and discussions of the new Yahoo! Contributor Network.  I, personally, am avoiding the forum for now until I've caught up with work today because I know it will be a long read that will probably take some time to sift through.

On that note, if there is anything substantial to add after-the-fact, I will post at a later date.  So far it looks great and the opportunities are exciting.  I'd also like to direct your attention to contributor Lyn Lomasi's blog where she provides some good information: Associated Content and Yahoo! Reveal Yahoo! Contributor Network.

Great job, AC and Yahoo! team!

And on to a second note...

I reached Clout 10 this weekend!

I wasn't really expecting this for another couple of weeks.  Getting to Clout 10 was slow going.  My little percentage bar on my account page had been leisurely inching along.  The last I looked, I was sitting at 95% and then suddenly, I had almost 10,000 page views in a span of two days!  So I've topped out on AC performance pay.  My next milestone will be the half million page view mark.  Hopefully, it won't take me but a few months to reach it.

Enjoy the new AC and keep checking back here for any additional info when I come across it.  As always, if you have a question, feel free to ask.  If I don't know the answer, I'll find someone who does.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Asking Associated Content to Edit Articles

It's an icky feeling: you publish your non-exclusive or exclusive content with AC and then realize there is a glaring error.

I used to tell contributors that they would just have to suck it up and deal with it.  Why?  Because there is an article out there where I got some information mixed up and even though I went over it several times before publishing, I still didn't see it until I'd had a full night's sleep.  When I emailed AC for help in correcting it, I received a hasty (bordering on rude) reply that with thousands of pieces of content, AC couldn't possibly edit within the contents of an article.  They would alter a title if they needed but wouldn't change anything within an article.  This was a long time ago but I still remember that reply and how blatant it was.  So I apologized for the error in the comments section of my article only because it was terribly obvious.

Since then, every once in awhile a person will come into the AC forums and ask how to go about getting AC to edit an error.  After having received the hasty reply I had, I was confused over and over when more knowledgeable contributors than I would tell them to email community@ if they needed a change on a serious error.  ( A small error absolutely don't bother emailing them.  Don't tie up their email for a simple typo.)

Mine was a serious error.  Why was I disregarded like I was when these more experienced contributors were advising others to go ahead and email AC?  No one knows. 

An AC staffer assured me that usually, AC will fix problems if asked.  If a particular contributor is constantly asking for edits, then they will be "encouraged" to up their proofreading skills but otherwise, there's no reason why I was regarded like I was by an unknown AC staffer.  Maybe they were having a bad day or maybe they'd been bombarded with so many emails they snapped.  I don't know.  I don't care now really but at least we cleared up whether AC will do some edits or not.

Here's something to keep in mind, though.  When you publish non-exclusive or exclusive with AC, always proofread, edit, and submit the very final draft.  Mistakes do happen but ultimately it is up to you to make sure it is error free.  Do the best you can with it so you don't have to worry about asking AC.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Freelance Writer Online - one of the best sources for content writers

How many times have you performed a search for "Work at home jobs" or "no scam work at home" or other similar terms?  And how many times have you been disappointed at the outcome of those searches?

When I was first starting out as a content writer, it was very hard not only to find something legitimate but it was hard to find out pay rates, reviews, and other essential information that you would want to know when you're looking into this type of work.  It's stressful to say the least.  You want to feel productive and you want to make sure that what you are getting into is going to be worth it.  So what paying sites are worth writing for?

Freelance Writer Online (or FWO for short) is the first and only website of its kind that I've seen and completely trusted.  Suzanne Alicie is a dedicated freelancer who considered the things she would've liked to know when she was first starting out and she compiled it all into this very informative site.  You can find an extensive list of paying websites, reviews on those sites written by the people who have or currently write for the site, and you can find general information about content writing, blogging, and so much more.

It's very obvious after being on the site for a couple of minutes just how passionate Suzanne Alicie is about what she does.  And the best part is that all the information on the website is not only free but you also don't have to register for anything.  Even if you've been content writing for awhile and are looking to spread your wings a bit, you'd be hard pressed not to bookmark this site.

Enjoy site hunting! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Income Option for Your AC Content

If you write on a particular subject often, one option for an additional (I almost typed addiction; a proper term with regards to AC, I suppose) revenue is to gather several articles of the same subject and compile them into an e-book.  For example, if you write about a television show all season long, at the end of the season, you can do a wrap up of the season and then publish it into an ebook.

Pssst! I design e-book covers! Click me!
Publishing e-books yourself is a rather simple process and most platforms will give you simple instructions on how to format and do this.  Some e-book platforms I use is Amazon's Kindle Publishing and Smashwords.  Each time one of your books is sold, you earn a royalty. :)

Please note though, that if your content is Exclusive on AC, you cannot do this.  (Read THIS POST for information on AC Content rights) Any content that is Non-exclusive or Display Only, you can put into an ebook.

Happy writing!

This post brought to you by Becca Badgett's Clearing the Air With Indoor Plants

Monday, November 1, 2010

2 Year, 2 Months - Month End Review

October is over and I doubt very seriously that I'll get my Hot 500 badge back for October.  My page views were even lower than September. 

While this hasn't been a very good month overall for any $ project, I did get a one of my highest upfront offers ever for a general article (excluding Featured Contributor assignments).  I got a good offer because my article relates to NaNoWriMo which actually begins today.  I also believe that I got a good offer on it because of my personal and professional experience with the topic.  If you care to take a look, click the title below.

There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Rough Draft

Another good thing that happened at AC this month was that I had another Yahoo! pickup.  One of my FC assignments was flagged by AC for Yahoo! Editors to look at.  While the article sits now in the "Partner" tab on my account page, I have to keep an eye out manually on the Yahoo! TV blog for when it might be published.  If Yahoo! rejects it, it will be published on AC, and I get to keep the extra compensation, but I think with it sitting in my Partner tab, it might have already been accepted.  Not sure.

In any case, I've had the opportunity to apply for a regular Yahoo! TV writing gig.  I'm currently waiting to hear if they want me to send a sample article.  I would be so psyched to write for Yahoo! on a regular basis!

In any case, here's hoping November will not only provide me more page views and upfronts, but also that I have more time to pursue those page views and upfronts.  I seem to be caught up enough to do just that.

Have a great November, everyone!

Oh, for a tip, get your Thanksgiving articles wrapped up this week and then start working on Christmas articles.  You want to have those Christmas articles up and indexed by the time the major searches start happening in order to take advantage of rising page views.  :)