Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This afternoon I discovered via Statcounter that someone had visited my blog from the National Catholic Register.  

That was kind of an interesting turn of events.

The National Catholic Reporter I might understand, but the Register?

The world is such an interesting place.

This person showed up because I made a comment ~ about the previously discussed matter of remembering the grieving during the holidays~ on a blog post of Jennifer Fulwiler's, and she quoted me (and also my friend Mary) at some length in an article for the Register.

Jennifer's blog is mostly about her conversion to Roman Catholicism and her joyfully chaotic brood of five children.  I enjoy it because I'm fascinated by all kinds of discovery-of-and-adherence-to-faith stories.  And I quoted her once in a sermon, requesting her permission in advance and giving her as much credit as would make sense to the (older) congregation in question.  (As one of my online friends said recently, "I would tell my mother that you said such-and-such if I could figure out any way in which our relationship might make sense to her.")

Well, Jennifer did link to my post, which is maybe as much credit as one gets in this day and age.

I'm not always exactly perfect in my blogging credits, especially of images I pick up here and there.

But I kind of think that if you're publishing other people's words in a national article for which (guessing here) you are paid, you should identify them.

The last time this happened to me (that I know about), a spiritual direction website printed an entire piece I wrote under my old pseudonym, Gannet Girl.  They didn't ask, either, and I don't think they linked.  I was kind of stunned to find an entire essay of mine just ~ well . . .  lifted.

I made my students rewrite papers two weeks ago because of exactly this issue.

Just sayin'.

Now ~ back to our much more interesting discussion of words for 2012 (previous post).  I hope you'll add yours!

PS: Yeah, OK, I had no idea how to spell etiquette.


  1. Hmmm... if I had more energy at the moment, and if my internet wasn't acting wonky here, I'd be inclined to be a bit more verbose. Did Jennifer link to my blog or just mention Erin's name and then quote me?

    I guess this is what happens when you put it ALL out there on the internet. You ask for a breach of etiquette.
    Jennifer should speak with one of your students.

    xo to you, Robin

  2. Earthchik just went through something similar, except an entire piece of writing was co-opted and presented as the thief's own. She ultimately wrote to the person & I think they apologized and retracted.

    But it depends on now much energy you have for this.

    I do believe that I will see your writing published widely in the future, and for that reason I hope you will protect your work.

    love to you

  3. MB, you're right; I have no energy right now for this sort of nonsense.

    But I guess I'll have to put something very specific on each of my blogs -- event though we all know, don't we, that anything one writes is copyrighted to the writer as soon as it's on paper (screen)?

    Makes me wonder about the National Catholic Register, too. I think even People Magazine would have someone call to see if Mary or I were real people whose words those were? Our local paper does it for letters to the editor.

    I tend to view the blogging arena as an informal and relaxed kind of place. But a national publication with paid writers should hold itself (and them) to a higher standard.

  4. This is the kind of thing that burns me. I won't even use a prayer of confession or call to worship without citing the source. As a former, published scientist, I can't imagine using someone else's words without their permission. yet I have heard a lot of preachers do just that. Man. I am sorry this happened to you. And I am glad you are teaching your students something different.

  5. Hi Robin. So sorry for the misunderstanding. Since you had linked to the post in the comments of my personal blog, I thought you were hoping to get more readers to your excellent piece. I have updated the post at the Register.

    Again, I apologize for the mistake. You continue to be in my prayers this holiday season.

    In Christ,


  6. Hey!! Where's my apology? Prayers?
    Oh well. So be it.

  7. Wow. I had just settled down here, eager to get to know your blog - after linking through Jennifer F's personal website - and tried to process what I was reading in the above post. Charitably assuming I was misunderstanding your tone, and all...oops, never mind! Let's see if I get it: you're mad at Jenn for linking to your blog, thereby exposing more people to your writing? Even us weirdo Register readers? Okay, I'll be leaving now. La Paz,

  8. Mary, you are in my prayers constantly this month.

    I think that may have to do.

    Insofar as the rest, the comments and my discussions with my 20-something children have clarified for me that there are two gaps at work here with respect to various forms of online publication: a generational one and a scholarly/popular one. Clearly one group of folks understood exactly what I was saying and the other has no idea.

    Oh, well. It's been a very difficult week, physically, emotionally, and family-wise. I'm quite ready to put the last five weeks behind me and turn to Christmas Eve.

  9. And I apologize for sounding snarky.

  10. Actually, you ladies are the ones who are ignorant of blog etiquette. The acceptability of excerpting blog posts with a link included is blogging 101. If you are not comfortable with this you need a private blog.

    Also, I cannot understand why you would use Jen's very popular combox to promote your site and then get angry at her for sending more traffic your way?

    I'd say you both owe Jen a sincere apology. Very, very disappointing. Especially during this Christmas season--and from a pastor at that.

  11. "The acceptability of excerpting blog posts with a link included is blogging 101."

    Absolutely - in blogs. That's not what happened here.

    People often ask to make use of something I've written, and I almost always says yes. All I request in return is credit by name -- not merely a link. Not an onerous or unusual expectation. That didn't happen here either.

    Perhaps the nature of the topic has made me unusually sensitive -- although as others have indicated above, perhaps not. At any rate, I'm not going to continue to beat a dead horse. I'm just going to add some appropriate language to my blog.

  12. That is exactly what happened here. She linked to your BLOG from her NCR BLOG. Your exaggerated sense of self-importance and lack of charity continue to be disturbing. I recognize that you are hurting and in a bad place right now but that is no excuse for the way you have behaved here.

  13. The good news for you, though, is that after this display no one will ever link to you again. :)

  14. Lost my mom this ChristmasJanuary 1, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    Another NCR reader eager to read your blog who has now decided against doing so...

  15. Given some of the comments I've received,I came back today to re-read what I had written, thinking that it has been long enough that I could look at it with a fresh eye. I was expecting to find that I had been wildly out of control and shrilly accusatory but, as it turns out, the post seems pretty mild to me.(Obviously, not everyone would agree.)

    Nevertheless, although since apparently they aren't reading anymore, they won't see this, I do genuinely apologize to anyone offended by the tone of what I wrote. Especially those hurt by my bemusement as to the where. Perhaps it would have been better had I written to Jennifer personally and behind the scenes. Or simply mused about the general issue of our all crediting each other's work without pointing to specific examples.

    With respect to the latter issue, I'm sorry that this degenerated into personal attacks, as the subject is an important one and I would be intrigued by more discussion about that. Is a piece of writing in a national publication a "blog" simply because it is so entitled? Are there different standards for different forms of publication? Are links an adequate form of reference in any context? Does it make a difference whether a writer is engaged in a conversation across blogs as opposed to quoting large blocks of material in an article? Contrary to Sarah's assertion, there is no blogging 101 out there.

    The conversation has at least made me more sensitive to my own use of others' words. I do view my blogs as more informal places but, like MumPastor, I try to be careful in how I make use of others' material in my professional life -- and now I will be more careful across the board.