Reporting A Plagiarized Submission

How To Report A Plagiarized Submission

It sounds simple right? You find a submission that you are positive belongs to someone else so you rush to click on that Report/Flag button. It only takes a moment to list the reason for the report as plagiarism before you click on the button to send it on its way. However before you even click on that Report/Flag button there are some important questions you need to ask yourself first. Just as there are steps you should take to make sure you’re ready before you go to send the report. You might ask: “What?!? What do you mean by questions and steps to take? I know they stole it!” Well that’s just it; you may be wrong so let’s determine if you are right or not.

Remember, no one likes to be accused of stealing when they are innocent. Just as it’s important to help cut down on plagiarizing by reporting stolen works, it’s equally as important to make sure you do so in a responsible manner. It’s much easier to avoid falsely accusing someone than it is to apologize to someone for thinking they were dishonest enough to steal. Now with that in mind I’m going to go over some steps and tips to help you become better at reporting stolen works.

Step One: Where did you see the work you believe is stolen?

Now if you answered that saying: “Oh that’s easy! It’s all over the Internet.” You have nothing to report. Before you protest, stop and think about this. If you don’t know exactly where the original work is posted, you lack the necessary proof that the person actually stole what they submitted. If your next thought is: “Oh well okay, I’m pretty sure it’s over at deviantART.” Again, you have nothing to report. No moderator is going to go and hunt through all 57+ million artworks to find the one you say was stolen from that site. If you don’t know where it is, then don’t click on the Report/Flag button.

Step Two: Providing proof that a submission was stolen.

Now if you answered step one by saying you have a proof URL (which is a link to where the original work is posted), you’re still not done. Before you object and say: “What do you mean I’m not done? I have proof!” Well yes and no. At this point it’s a good idea to briefly check out the information for the original artist and the one you think stole it. You just might find out that they are the same person! If you’ve determined that it’s likely they are not the same person, for example, one profile lists them as being in China and the other as being in the Australia; at that point it’s probably safe to assume they are different people.

Step Three: Time to report the plagiarized work!

Okay, you’ve got the necessary proof so it’s time to get that report sent! Go and click on that Report/Flag button and fill out the necessary sections, and definitely don’t forget to include the proof URL! Without it, unless the moderator reviewing the report is familiar with the work that was plagiarized, nothing will be done and you’ll have to report it again. You don’t want to waste the staff’s time and yours as well. So don’t rush it, take your time and make sure all the relevant information is there before you click the button to send the report on its way.

Step Four: Wait.

Once your report is sent, this is the most important step of all. You wait patiently for the staff to have time to review the report and take action. I can almost hear the protest of: “Why do I need to wait? I did my part; it needs to be taken off immediately!” I agree with the sentiment, but the logic behind that reasoning is flawed. The staff that takes care of these reports has other obligations just like everyone else. So it’s best to sit back and wait for a couple of days to give them time to get to it.

If you keep reporting it every hour or every day, chances are you’ll end up getting a warning to not abuse the reporting system. It only takes one report for a moderator to be able to deal with a problem. It’s a waste of their time to have to close out duplicate reports so it’s best to not send more than one. I’d suggest allowing 2-4 days to go by before you report something again. If you report it a second time and it’s still up, I’d recommend asking a moderator directly instead of reporting it a third time. It’s possible they have determined that though it looks like it was stolen; it really wasn’t.

Final: Notes and tips.

Okay, now that we’ve gone over the basic steps for reporting a plagiarized submission, I’d like to cover some tips that will not only make things easier for the staff, but help you avoid any unnecessary drama. These are things you don’t want to do during or after you’ve sent a report to the site staff.

  • Don’t leave a comment on the stolen work. There’s no reason to get into an argument with the person who posted the submission. This way if you are wrong, no one needs to know that you mistakenly thought they plagiarized. It just saves a lot of unnecessary hurt feelings and it keeps you from getting in trouble with the moderators if you left a rude or flaming comment.

  • Don’t send the member a pm telling them to remove the submission or to yell at them because they stole someone else’s work. That’s what moderators are for and doing so can get you in trouble if you are reported for harassing other members.
  • Don’t tell your friends to report them too. You may think you’re helping matters but what you’re really doing is generating extra reports that the moderator has to take care of. It only takes one report and if the moderator reviewing it has to close out twenty additional duplicate reports for the same issue, you’ve just wasted their time that could have been spent taking care of other issues.
  • Don’t post on your world bashing the person who stole, or rather don’t mention their user name. The best way to go about it is to quietly report something and let the moderators take care of it.

Anyway, I hope this information was helpful and by all means if I missed something feel free to bring it up in the comments.