Wow, that article sounds an awful lot like something I would have writt… hey, wait a second

A customer (via their customer liaison) had a question about the meaning of the lock overlay icon. Another colleague responded with a link to a site that contained an explanation.

I read the linked article and thought to myself, "Wow, that article sounds an awful lot like something I would have written." The style of the writing is similar to mine, and the phrases "Given the changes in how people use computers", "visual clutter", and "the value ... diminishes" particularly struck me.

And it turns out the reason it sounded so familiar was that in fact was something I had written. I wrote my article in 2009, and the plagiarized article came out in 2010.

My colleague apologized. "I realized that I should have searched your blog first. The link I posted was the leading search result on both Bing and Google."

Great. My original content loses to the site that scrapes my content. I must be doing this wrong.

(This was before they migrated the blog to the new server, so don't blame the migration for the poor search ranking.)

Comments (33)
  1. Darran Rowe says:

    You know you are somebody when someone else steals your work. \o/

  2. You know you are somebody when someone else steals your work. \o/

    1. Jon says:

      You know you are somebo . . . I can’t. I just can’t. Except for the happy little man: \o/

      1. Jolyon Direnko-Smith says:


        Happy waving or drowning ?

        1. tremors08 says:

          Happy drowning of course

    2. Erik F says:

      One becomes aware of the importance of their work when another appropriates it. (That’s the academic way of doing it!) :-P

  3. Sven Groot says:

    What happened to the RSS feed of this blog? It’s not working anymore.

    1. Sorry, I don’t control the blog server software. But I did a quick check and it seems to be okay.

      1. MarcK4096 says:

        The RSS comments feed has been broken for all your articles since the blog software changed. If you could notify the people that do manage the blog software, I would appreciate it. For example, the comments feed for this post is listed as “” in the HTML source, but it does not work.

  4. JAMES PAUL says:

    I blame it on unreliable Microsoft links. I stopped bookmarking content on Microsoft websites because a year later the link would be dead.

  5. Alex Cohn says:

    I am often surprised by people sharing links to re-published articles. In many cases, the copy carries an obligatory “originally posted at” – but those who distribute the link seem not to be aware that the author deserves the href (and the ad impressions) more than the shameless aggregator

  6. Somebody says:

    You know you are somebody when someone else steals your work. \o/

  7. Roman says:

    If you don’t want their site ranked higher, you probably shouldn’t link to it yourself…

    1. …or at least put rel=’nofollow’ on the link.

    2. You could use rel=”nofollow”.

      1. I should have thought of that. Thanks.

  8. James Curran says:

    A couple years ago, I was getting a odd run-time error, so I naturally googled it, and found a question of StackOver from a few years earlier by someone with the same problem.

    The accepted (and correct) solution had been written by me.

    (The root cause of his problem was a bit more obvious, so I hadn’t needed to unhelpful error message to diagnose it then. Now able to see what the error message was trying to say, I was able to fix my own problem)

  9. cheong00 says:

    Funny that I come across another question on those “copying from MSDN websites” yesterday.

    It is about a forum user want his post in MSDN forum got removed… only to find out that the original post has been copied out by those sites and he has no way to remove them.

    Usually I dislike the idea of removing questions from forum (if you really don’t want other people know you need to seek help on a problem, find someone who do a paid support. We don’t spend our time trying to help single people) but I decided to offer some idea because those sites make “correcting information after a while” more difficult… say I would like to include a link to last weeks article yesterday. I could ask forum moderators to help modifiy the posts but have no way to contact those “copying sites”.

  10. Scarlet Manuka says:

    Raymond, you think it’s bad when your blog is quoted as an official Microsoft source? That page finishes with the following line:
    “The following registry key will show you all currently installed overlay handlers, on your Windows computer, states Microsoft.” The link they give is to your blog entry, and the registry entry is cited there by a commenter. So even commenting on your blog makes one an official Microsoft source these days!

    1. LT says:

      “So even commenting on your blog makes one an official Microsoft source these days!”

      I must only use this power to annoy!

      “Kanye West to Appear in next Gears of War, Claims Microsoft Source”
      “Rose Gold Xbox One to Be Released Only in Iceland, Claims Microsoft Source”
      “Richard Stallman Worked for Us All Along, Claims Microsoft Source”

  11. Anand Khanse says:

    I will rewrite any article as I see fit. I am an MVP and I help people with issues. Everyone steals on the internet so I don’t see what the big deal is.

    1. Adam V says:

      > I am an MVP

      Hopefully not for much longer. If this is “MVP-like behavior”, then it cheapens the meaning of the term.

      > Everyone steals on the internet

      Go read John Gruber’s “On Attribution and Credit” from 2011. Among his salient points:

      > You get a story from somewhere else, you link to the original when you post about it. That’s the first rule of web attribution.

      > Not even including a link to the source of a story is dishonest.

      > Why do we put bylines on stories in the first place? Because writers deserve credit, obviously.

      1. Mike F says:

        Maybe he thinks MVP stands for most valuable plagiarizer.

      2. David Totzke says:

        >Hopefully not for much longer. If this is “MVP-like behavior”, then it cheapens the meaning of the term.

      3. Peter says:


        I was the one who bought this to the authors attention. As someone who has studied at university, I know the importance of attributing original authors where appropriate. If you don’t do this, then things can get pretty nasty, depending on the people you’re dealing with.

    2. Adam V says:

      Oh my lord, the irony.

      > If any person uses any of your work – no matter how small it is – for any of his/her personal benefits irrespective of whether or not he gives you the attribution, it is copyright infringement unless that person has a written permission from you.

    3. Nick says:

      Rewriting is fine, especially when you link to the original. You’re basically saying “Hey I was reading [this page I’m linking to] and think the content is helpful but I want to rewrite it in my own voice to share it further.” Copying and pasting the content and representing it as your own is bad.

      1. Josh B says:

        It’s not just bad, it opens the site up to a DMCA takedown, or a lawsuit if they have too much scraped content.

    4. Eddie Lotter says:

      > Everyone steals
      After you have educated yourself about plagiarism, educate yourself about logical fallacies.

      1. DWalker says:

        The “normalization of deviance”. Deviance as in being off from accepted results, not in a moral sense. Look where it got the Challenger…

  12. SimonRev says:

    I had a similar experience a couple of months ago I had a question and started searching. I found a forum poster who had the same question, so I scroll down to the answer and started thinking that it sounded very familiar. About two seconds later I realized that I had written the accepted answer several years back! (In this case it was about technology that I had not used for quite a while but had been something I was actively using back when I wrote the answer)

  13. Ray Koopa says:

    The best thing is how it makes you think that guy mentioned below that article wrote it. That’s really lame.

  14. Anand Khanse says:

    Another comment made here under the name ‘Anand Khanse’ on May 16th, has NOT been made by me. I have always given credit where it is due. My post includes links too. But since this post was now bought to my notice today, I decided to come here and clarify. Anyway, I have also now additionally mentioned in BOLD that my post has been sourced from here, towards the end of the post.

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