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Nice Voice... May I Please Have It Back?

I couldn't resist a little humor at the beginning of a workweek.  After all, who wouldn't like a little Coldplay a la Muppets?

I'm in the process of answering a really tough letter for Office-Politics.com, and one of the people in their letter is "pulling a Beaker" - he's stealing somebody else's thoughts and passing them off as his own.

It seems there's a lot of credit stealing going on in the office.  I created a document over 10 years ago for a client laying out how to tell if a project status is red, yellow, or green.  It's since been plagiarized all over the city of Des Moines.  Oh well, at least I know who the original author was.

So, how do you protect yourself from credit stealers?  Here are a few simple tips:

  • Archive... often!  I start out all of my documents with an 8-digit date (e.g., 20081201 Blog Post.doc) and then as I go back and work on it, I change the date appropriately.  This way, I have a paper trail to protect the creative thought process and prove I worked on it longer than anyone else.  I may have 20 iterations of the same file when I'm done, but it's also compelling evidence, if needed.

  • Share and share alike.  It may seem counter-intuitive to share your work with others if you're trying to protect from a credit-stealer; however, if you've archived (above) then getting your work for others to see shows them who the author is.  Should a credit-stealer arise, you have witnesses.

  • Um... excuse me...  If you catch a credit stealer trying to pass off your stuff (or someone else's material) as their own, call them on it (in a nice way).  "Bob, that was a great presentation.  I'm sure it was just an oversight that you used a few of Andi's ideas from her project and forgot to give her credit.  You did a masterful job of building on what she created, though."

  • Once a thief... If you know somebody has a history of stealing others' work, steer clear of them.  They most likely will try it again.  More importantly, warn new people coming in (a favorite target of the credit stealer).

Most importantly is to show some backbone and hold people accountable.  Letting a credit-stealer get away with their work is as bad as... well... as bad as letting the Muppets sing Coldplay hits.


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Art Dinkin

I understand the issue of stealing the work of others and passing it off as your own, but I am also reminded of a phrase ... "If you take someone elses idea and claim it as your own, that is stealing. If you take many peoples ideas and combine it into your own, that is research!"

Trellis Usher-Mays

Right on target again Tim! Always practical and insightful.

Timothy Johnson

Art - I've always loved that quote

Trellis - always high praise to be on your radar screen. thanks for the comment.

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