Plagiarism Guide

Logo by @cass

This feels like beating a dead horse, but since we decided to do “abuse” guides, it wouldn’t be complete without doing a guide on plagiarism.

You can find previous information from @steemcleaners here:

When to cite sources
Steemcleaner Report for the Week of Sept 12, 2016 - Sept 18, 2016 Part 1

Hmmm… Seems like we’ve covered that topic pretty thoroughly so here are the highlights:

So, what does @steemcleaners look for and tag as “plagiarism”?

  • Word for word copying and pasting from any source.
  • Spun content taken from any source.
  • Claiming works of art that are not your original work.
  • Claiming an idea is your own. Did you really invent the telephone?
  • Failing to clearly identify content copied from sources

More information on plagiarism may be found at Some topics on the site may or may not apply to users here at

@steemcleaners isn’t interested in policing the broader term of “plagiarism” unless someone directly claims to have invented the telephone or electricity.

Some clarifications, as follows:

What is “spun” content?

We define “spun” content, as content that is almost copy and paste, however with small changes to the wording to avoid plagiarism detection tools.

Example of spun content:

Our definition of “spun” content, is content almost copy and pasted, however, contains small changes to words to avoid detection from plagiarism tools.

Image Plagiarism

@steemcleaners would like to see all images that are not original cited. Even if it is just with Public Domain, CC0 or a link to where you found the image.

There are literally millions of high-resolution photo’s available on sites like that are CC0 or public domain.

What is “failing to clearly identify content copied from sources”?

In some cases, your post may draw from other content, and that is fine. However, it is important to clearly identify which part of the content is your own words, and which part you are quoting or referencing from other sources.

That being said, @steemcleaners is not here to police formating. If a contributor has made a reasonable effort to distinguish the difference between their original content and copied content, do not report them for plagiarism. If you feel that strongly about formatting, leave them a comment that helps them use markdown and HTML to format their posts.

To Err is Human

We are all aware there are some bad apples that sign up for steemit and see easy money. They consistently post “spam” in the form of copypasta, plagiarism, affiliate spam, etc.

There are some great community members here that may on occasion make a mistake. Many times that mistake can be rectified on Sometimes attempts in contacting a community member fails and a comment is left by a member of the team.

A comment and/or flag left by a member of @steemcleaners is not a call for a downvoting brigade. Most of the time, @steemcleaners doesn’t even flag; we try to guide the community in the right direction first and foremost.

Ask @steemcleaners - Future Q&A Posts

@steemcleaners will be doing a semi-regular post titled “Ask @steemcleaners” in the future. If you a question that you feel we haven’t addressed on Plagiarism please post it in the comments. Questions asked may be included in a future “Ask @steemcleaners” posts.


My Question to @steemcleaners is this ::::

Why are Random YouTube Videos with No Commentary and No Original Content ignored by @steemcleaners ?

Because the community decided they wanted to allow that type of content. Most of us personally hate it.

Well, at least the YouTube videos come with attribution built in, and their own monitization for the author too.. it's actually useful for the original creator of the video to get more views, so I can see why this could be a grey area..

Written works/images done by someone else without any original content added though I would hope to be a completely different story..

Humans make mistakes! It is important to always give a second chance!

Definitely NOT beating a dead horse as new folks like myself have not heard about this before.

Important post. Thank you.

Hi @steemcleaners, i have a good question with the intention of not being considered a plagarism, iˋm learning to use an 3D software and iˋm makings tutorials that i found on internet and then show here my progress of what i learned, i always link the tutorial that iˋm using, is that ok or i must stop doing this? sorry for my bad english iˋm using my phone and i canˋt use google translator :-)

The links you are providing to the videos are fine. I've left you some advice here Steemit Gems (English/Spanish) Gemas Steemit

Great Post!

Thanks @patrice for the advice, i apreciate it, that make me feel better to know that iˋm no doing the things wrong.

What about derivative works? I took a picture off Pixabay and turned it into a book cover. Do I still need to credit the source of the photo? I left the photographer's watermark on the image, in any case.

That's always a conundrum. If the licencing of the original image doesn't require attribution and the image you have modified is significantly different enough, I'd say there is no need to credit the source.

I've personally adopted the philosophy that it is just easier to put original images from pixabay or original images CC0 or Public Domain at the bottom of the post even when not required. Then I don't have to worry about offending anyone's artistic sensibilities.

There are a few creative "Tags and Topics" such as art and graphics where creators of original content do not agree and would like to see credit given to the original work(s) that are transformed.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure everything on Pixabay is free to use. Believe pictures on there have waved their copy writes. Again, someone let me know if this is incorrect.

You're correct. This isn't about copyright. It's more about a contributor acknowledging that they didn't create the image or in certain circumstances that they modified or transformed someone's image.

Personally, I don't comment very often on posts that do not cite image sources unless the value of the post is derived primarily from the images or the images are under creative tags like art, graphics, photography, etc.

"This isn't about copyright. It's more about a contributor acknowledging that they didn't create the image..."

True, however content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights, etc, so there are potentially additional third party rights to consider. Pixabay state that they have measures in place to try and check that content adheres to their policies, but issue the following disclaimer in the Uploading Images section of their ToS:

"You accept that even though we do our best to prevent it from happening, Pixabay cannot be held responsible for the misuse or abuse of any Content."

Pixabay ToS for uploading also states:

"You are solely responsible for the Content you upload. You warrant that you own all proprietary rights regarding the Content, and you are obliged to obtain a non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, and royalty-free Model and/or Property Release, and/or any other permission necessary concerning the use of this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law."

In Brief

Pixabay state they have measures in place to attempt to mitigate risk or possibility of inappropriate material being present in their system but clearly state that the onus is on the submitter of the content and that Pixabay cannot be held responsible for noncompliance with their policy. In essence, Pixabay ToS & policy are their last line of defense against misuse.

steemit also place the onus on the submitter to determine, verify, and where required seek permission for the use of the original author or rights holder of works they may use in their submissions, and to also attribute the original author of those works where appropriate. Again, a control mechanism enforced by ToS & policy.

Unfortunately there's not much stopping a steemian from uploading a random eye-catching find then potentially receiving reward and recognition from the act, except other steemians with ethics. But there needs to be an army of steemians doing this due to the volume of such activity and the time it takes to track down the original author/rights holder, by which time it may be too late as the harm has been done by 487 ^votes &/or resteems.

I've been on steemit only a few weeks but I very quickly became aware that while I was spending hours researching & creating my articles, others where receiving recognition and reward for submitting the works of others. This has discouraged me greatly from investing my time and efforts, even this reply has taken me a little over an hour to research, verify, and write.

Instead I've ended up spending more and more time & effort tracking down the original authors/rights holders of work I've been seeing submitted here, then posting these as a reply to the article. In fact, I just found another one only moments ago from a blatant recidivist:

This same steemian is receiving awards too, IMO they should be stripped:

I'm offering my services. katharsisdrill suggested I approach the steemitabusechannel. Where do I sign up?

i hear ya, i report abused photography on daily base , but it is hard to see if they used the info or not sometimes a reported link stays visual untouched for days and you wonder did they do something with it or not ? and sometimes you see a green V and you know something happened with it. It is also needed to create awareness amongst the voters and try to get less votes on copied material @stresskiller is the one that reports most of the time :) replying on the wrong account again .

Check discord, I've been busy, real busy.

It's good to see the community is regulating itself in this way. I think that the more the platform is adopted and used, the less this will be a problem. As more and more people are blogging here, the more unique and thoughtful content will naturally rise to the top.

Very helpful post....thanks !!

Hi @steemcleaners, I stopped back to let you know that this post was one of my favourite reads today and was included in my Steemit Ramble. You can read my comments on it here.

Never settle for just 300.

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Thanks for the tips, including the tips for images. I've put a link for all the text I've quoted from another Webpage, but I've been a bit lax with respect to decorative images. :)

How does this work when I either own the content or use public domain pictures of unknown source (I've a massive collection)?

Also, this gets in the way of producing content - which while fair, I don't believe should interfere with; there's legal channels people can use in order to sort situations where plagiarism occurs out.

Question, if an image is clearly marked with a copyright or author's name on the image we use, do we still need to add a source link?

what if you have your own blog written by you and the bot sees that you are coping yourself? of coarse there are links ect to go back to m blog and credit myself.

Which is the appropriate way to report plagiarism?

would like to know that too :)

I ranted about this a few days ago. Little did I know you guys were on it. Good to know!

Excellent and important article. Thank you for making this content so clear, so many need to be aware of these facts, and, of course, a bigger thank you for your dedication and hard work. Namaste :)

Plaigarism¿ In cooking I am copying word for word recipes from WW1. I don't know where they may be printed or published today, as I'm using grandma's copy. I remember my Mum had a Herbert Jenkins book last published in 1933 or thereabouts. I've not been able to find any originals. Those recipes taken from other books of WW1 vintage I have marked as marked by Grandma.
The Grammatical Errors post is also WW1 vintage, and is put up in 'education culture and funny', as a comparison to those who have been educated in English grammar, and as a look at language from over 100 years ago, and in certain points of view, very funny. As I have posted, to those who have English as a second language, these rules and hints will do your practice of our language no harm, and in fact may show much politeness and formality.
Please say if these posts are outside your format. I am not claiming copyright. I am firstly making available for xmas, recipes I enjoyed eating at yuletide over fifty years ago, and a grammatical foundation outside a classroom, which may be of great use to those interested in better understanding of their speech, and or texts. (ie. - ''The mill cannot grind with the water that is past. :-J)

actually there are many people who work on the blog before and wanted to move his work on, but this policy made them sicks due to allegations for plagiarism on his own work. i thought you should make a new policy that might Author from the Blog could move their content easily without claiming they are doing plagiarism.

I think that you got wrong information. There is no problem in reposting own work on Steemit as long as the user verifies with steemcleaners to be an author of that other website.

so, if you say so, steemcleaners has already failed to verify identified author from other website. or you can show me how to get verified by steemcleaners ?

People copy stuff they like. They don’t copy stuff they don’t like. The more a work is copied, the more valuable it becomes. Value isn’t taken away by fans, it is added by them, every time they copy.

Although we appreciate and use Free Licenses when appropriate, these aren’t solving the problems of copyright restrictions. Instead of trying to educate everyone on the complexities of copyright law, we’d rather make our intentions clear with this simple statement:

♡ Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

Can I get out of your blacklist?
I know i was wrong now!

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