Nobody wants plagiarism on their blog or online publication, but it can be tough to prevent and harder to catch. It's tempting for some to plagiarize with the ease and wealth of information out there, and a misunderstand of what plagiarism is can mean false positives (and false negatives) upon your editorial review. To make this process as painless as possible, here are four ways to catch and to prevent plagiarism.
Use Google Instead
Instead of relying on those services that not only cost money to use extensively, but aren't as reliable as we need, use Google and search engines instead. Not only is it free every single time (and it probably searches more sites than those services), but it's also a lot easier to check for attribution, to check if the text even needs attribution, or to see if the text should remain as is (such as a direct quote or a definition). It's also easier to check for those other forms of plagiarism, such as taking another's idea and passing it as one's own.
Encourage Writers to Create Original Stories
If all your publication is doing is rehashing the news and stories of others, then you risk more plagiarism then you may think. As we said our introduction to plagiarism article, just because the text doesn't match anywhere else online doesn't mean that it's not plagiarism. If you're writing about a hot topic, and simply reciting the analysis of others, that is plagiarism unless the ideas are properly cited. To avoid this problem (and to avoid looking like you need to piggyback on everyone else's news stories to build an audience), encourage your writers to find their own news stories, or to come up with their own angles and analysis to current news. It may feel like you need to content out there as soon as possible, but doing that doesn't mean anything if it's just the reinvention of someone else's content and ideas in the first place.
Trust Your Writers
If you make it known that your going to screen every article that comes through, only to send it back because one sentence happens to match another somewhere online (or it includes a phone number or a book title, both of which these services will catch and mark as plagiarism), then you risk scaring away good writers who do good work but are afraid of being accused of plagiarism. You will then be stuck with the writers who will game the plagiarism-catching services to make sure the content passes, or you will get writers who write so poorly that it's not anywhere online (it's so bad that no one else would take their work) Also understand how easy it is to game the plagiarism software. All one needs to do is change every third or fourth word and it passes. If you trust your writers to do the right thing, then you'll get the writers that are worth trusting. Of course, if you suspect something, use Google.
Also understand that having a sentence or two in one article match another's content somewhere out there isn't going to hurt your search engine rankings and isn't going to get you blacklisted. Your site isn't going to make anyone mad by doing that. Relax, and worry about providing awesome content to your readers instead of pleasing the search engines. Search engines don't read your articles or buy your products anyway.
Set a Policy and Make Your Writers Aware of It
It doesn't help if only you know what plagiarism is and your writer's don't. This will only lead to misunderstandings. If you don't yet have a policy on plagiarism, set one and let your writer's know what this policy is and what counts as plagiarism. If you do have one, then make sure this is something everyone understands and is held accountable for when they join the team. Not holding people to the policy is just as bad, if not worse, then not having one at all.