What does the word integrity mean to you?

If you’re a blogger, what does “blogging with integrity” mean to you?

I’m not asking for Webster’s definition, but rather what does integrity represent to YOU?

I’ve noticed there is a badge some bloggers even display on their sites stating they “blog with integrity.” I’ve never signed up for that badge. I didn’t feel a need to because, well, come on. It’s not like I’m going to blog without integrity.

Isn’t this stating the obvious?

Maybe not.

I’ve learned a thing or two about myself, blogging and integrity during the first days of 2012, or more accurately perhaps, a few things about what integrity is and is not.

I write words for others to read. I encourage others to share my words or my message.  I write because I want to share. That’s the whole point.

However, do I want others to simply take my words and pretend my words were their words? Of course not, but that’s what I inadvertently discovered had happened last week.

Every morning one of the things I always do is check my blog for comments. Some days there are some. Some days there aren’t. On this particular day, a certain trail led me to a “blogger” half way around the world where I made a discovery that surprised enraged me a bit.

I saw my words on someone else’s blog. The names had been changed of course, as well as a few of the cancer details, but they were my words. It was a recent post of mine, nearly word for word. Even the title was the same.

I was stunned.

I know it’s naïve of me to think this doesn’t happen. I know it happens every day. But whether you steal someone else’s written words in “real life” or on the internet, it’s still the same thing.

It’s still called plagiarism.

When teaching, even my youngest students had a clear understanding of what it meant to “use your own words.”

The good thing I learned from this experience is that my on-line friends always “have my back.” I let a few of them know what I had discovered and they immediately sprang into action. They visited this new blogger’s site, read her my words, commented, reprimanded her and yes, stood up for ME.

Once again I was stunned, but this time in a good way.

I want to say thank you to those friends (you know who you are). I also know others would have stepped up and done the same thing had they known and had the time to do so. I’m grateful for you all. I’m grateful for your integrity.

The mysterious blogger must have read those comments posted by my “word defenders” because almost immediately following their swift action, her new site was dismantled. It disappeared within minutes. Gone.

I wondered where she would go next. Would she just go elsewhere and attempt to “lift” someone else’s words? And what was her motivation?

After I had calmed down a bit, I thought a little more about the situation. I thought about integrity; that blogger’s and my own.

I realized perhaps I had over-reacted, and then again perhaps not.

I did feel badly. You see this woman had had a cancer diagnosis. On top of that she had also lost a son to cancer. That’s why she had discovered my blog in the first place. My blog’s focus is breast cancer and loss. In the heat of the moment, I lost sight of these things. I lost sight of her losses. All I could see were my losses. And mine were only words.

Then I felt a little guilty, but mostly I felt sad because I realized this woman would have been welcomed with open arms into this on-line cancer blogging community.  We would have embraced her if only she had used her words. If only she had “blogged with integrity.”

She’s the one missing out and that makes me truly sad.

I hope if by some chance she reads my words here, she realizes this.

Mostly, I want to say we would probably still welcome her if she uses her words to tell her truths.

Kathi, one of the friends who “came to my rescue” and defended my words that day, summed things up with one simple question.

If we don’t have our integrity, what do we have?

I say without it, we have nothing.

What does integrity mean to you?

Have you ever had your written words “stolen?”

If so, how did you react?



37 thoughts to “Integrity”

  1. The internet can be a very shady place, but it can also be a place of wonderful, honest and deeply meaningful interaction and connections. Well, it has been for me so far. Hopefully this lady learned her lesson. Writing from the heart does not mean “Copy & Paste”, period!

    1. Rachel, Sadly, you’re right about the “shady side” of the internet. Thank goodness this kind of thing is the exception to the rule. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I understand that jumping into the blogosphere can feel a bit daunting initially… but to steal your words Nancy is simply, well, wrong. I too have found wonderful, meaningful friends here and it saddens me to see someone not blogging with integrity. Like you I’ve seen that badge, and thought the same – why would you NOT blog with integrity?!

    1. Being Sarah, It is a sad thing, especially knowing what the woman is missing out on. In the end she’s only hurting herself isn’t she? Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Nancy, I felt sad about this myself, and that’s what I tried to say when I responded to this woman’s blog, that by stealing your words, she was robbing herself of the credibility that would garner the welcome and support from her blog sisters she evidently wanted and needed. And there’s no point in writing a blog without credibility.

    Cancer forces us all to struggle with recovering our sense of wholeness, and that wholeness has to start from within.

    xoxo, Kathi

  4. Jeez….. Lose focus for a couple of days and the world is a mess! I can’t BELIEVE this happened…..Nice detective work, Kathi. As likely the “newest blogger on this block” I can personally attest to the open and welcome arms. In the words of both Gloria Steinem and Elizabeth Gilbert, “Tell YOUR Story” …. just get the story out….. As long as it’s your story, there is a support system that immediately surrounds you. It saddens me that this happened to you, Nancy and I too, am sad for the woman who surely could benefit from being part of this community.


    1. Ann Marie, Truth telling. I wrote a post with that exact title a short while ago. That’s what it’s really all about isn’t it? Pure and simple. Truth telling. Thanks for your supportive comments, Ann Marie.

  5. there is quoting and giving due praise with links etc to a fellow blogger and then there is plagarism/theft – big difference. Even if she is new to the blogosphere she should know the difference

  6. While what she did is wrong, I bet she didn’t mean it to be. She probably read what you wrote and said, “Wow, that is exactly how I feel but have been unable to express myself like that”. Some people take the saying, “No need to re-invent the wheel” a little too far.

  7. Wow! I didn’t know. While this woman was a member of the cancer community, and she is more than likely stressed, theft is theft. It would have been so easy for her to say, “I found this on another blog and these words resonated with me.” I always give someone another chance, but I have to wonder if this act of plagiarism spoke volumes about who she is? On a blog, all we have is our character, which represents our hearts and our minds. You, my dear, have character to spare, and that’s why we love you.


    1. Brenda, “On a blog all we have is our character, which represents our hearts and our minds.” That pretty much sums things up doesn’t it? Thanks Brenda. And thanks for your lovely closing comment. It means a lot that you would say such a thing.

  8. I will play a true devil’s advocate: “does this woman truly have cancer”? or was she just seeking attention. If she is so “lucky” my apologies to her and the universe for such a caustic question. I ask, however, because as Brenda says – “words can resonate,” but as inviduals living with cancer, we all have our own slant; our own pet-peeve; our own pain. Your words can remind, resonate, even regurgiate my own thoughts or feelings at times – but they can never whole-sale describe what I am personally experiencing — they just can’t. You are not me; and I am not you. As such, the wholesale appropriation of your post, mindful enough to change the names, seems downright pathological not just plagiaristic. Just saying…

    1. TC, Thank you for your very interesting comments. You’re so right about every person’s experience being theirs alone. I have no idea what the circumstances are/were for this woman. I can’t even speculate on that. The whole thing was a little eery though now that you mention it…

  9. Agree with what everyone has said, especially Brenda. If someone else has expressed your feelings better than you can, by all means, share their words, but give them credit! There’s no excuse for stealing words and ideas. I’m glad the site was taken down, good for you.

    1. Lisa, I agree. I’m all for sharing. That’s why I write a blog. I love it when people like what I’ve written, comment on it or choose to share it. But taking my words and altering photos and dates, that’s just wrong. Hopefully it’s a rare occurrence. I have to believe it is. Thanks so much for commenting.

  10. When I read your tweet, I immediately had to read your post.

    My sentiments are very similar to the others who have commented. I see how angry you must have been with your work stolen word for word. I am so sorry that has happened to you.

    But at the same time, I saw how your blog must have struck a chord with her as often it does when you are reading about the cancer journey. Maybe all she had to do, as others have said, was to attribute it to you, and not plagarize it.

    Don’t let one person’s actions deter you from sharing your thoughts. I love reading what you write.

    1. Helen, I don’t think any of her motives were good. Even the title of her blog was “_____’s POV.” I didn’t mention this in my post I guess. I think that stood for “point of view” which is also quite similar to “Nancy’s Point.” The whole thing was a bad experience for me, but thankfully very short lived. I won’t let this one bad experience deter me in any way. I’ve found so many wonderful people on-line and that truly out weighs anything bad I’ve encountered. Thanks so much for commenting, Helen. And thanks for saying you love reading what I write. That makes it all worthwhile.

  11. We are dealing with OUR personal stories relating to our illness. You can’t take some one else’s pain and make it your own. She was wrong. Sadly she did not give us the opportunity of being there for her. Hopefully she can come back as herself in her words tell us her story.

    Love Alli xx

    1. Alli, I know. That’s just it; she’s the one missing out. Maybe she’ll resurface somewhere and do things right. I sure hope so. We’d welcome her then wouldn’t we? Thanks for commenting.

  12. Hi Nancy, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I can certainly understand your initial anger. She stole from you. Took your words and passed them off as her own while we all know how easy it is to give credit when it’s due, she didn’t. That being said, why have a blog if you’re not going to use your own words? Some people don’t understand that changing just a few words isn’t enough and maybe she thought it would be fine. Only she knows, but if she is in such dire need of our support, it’s too bad she didn’t tell her own story. As you say, we would have helped. That’s the part that does seem strange. As hard as it is to believe someone without cancer would go to the trouble of setting up a blog, maybe something else is going on there. Weird and sad all at the same time. Led to your great post about integrity, though!

    1. Stacey, Yes, the whole thing was quite unsettling. She did not even really change words around. It was my post nearly word for word, except for names, cancers and dates type thing. Sad. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Stacey. And thanks for the compliment about my post as well. It’s nice to know you’re always in my corner.

  13. Nancy, TC took the words right out of my mouth (pardon the play on words). Did this woman even have cancer? Once someone plagiarizes, they lose all credibility, and I’ve known some pathological liars. Not sure whether her situation was for real. That being said….

    It’s wrong to take someone’s words and use them as your own. As teachers and parents, we teach this to others. It’s really horrifying to discover this and lucky for you that you did. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Copy & Paste is no solution. It’s difficult because blogging is a wonderful thing, but the downside to being in the public arena is dealing with unsavory folks.

    1. Beth, Thanks for your passionate comment. I can feel your displeasure loud and clear! I guess this was just “one of those things,” as they say. I’m glad to have fellow bloggers like you as friends. It’s nice to know we “watch out” for each other. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?

  14. I’m really sorry that happened. I would be mad, too.

    I think most of the time when someone steals content like that she is pretending to be someone she is not. Who knows if this person was even really a woman. Who knows if she truly had cancer or lost anyone to cancer.

    This example could’ve very likely been some 18-year-old kid throwing a bunch of content on a site for someone else who was paying him to do so. It would make sense for him to just copy and paste whatever he found from a google search. So I wouldn’t feel too bad.

    People put up sites and steal content all the time, usually with the goal of making money through ads. If that’s how you want to make money, good luck.

    Just remember that you are the one with the creative spark, adding true value, emotion and art to the world. That is what people want. That is why you have true readers and followers and friends to back you up and support you.

    1. Lindsay, Thanks for your insights on this. I guess you just never know what’s truly going on in a case like this. Maybe you’re right, I don’t feel to feel badly at all. Thanks for your supportive compliment and it really is nice to have those true readers, followers and supportive friends to make it all worth while. You’re so right about that.

  15. Nancy, I have been off the blog for a while and am just now seeing this post. Ay Carumba!

    My first feeling was one of suspicion. As in, does this person even have cancer? If yes, are they that naive to think they can cut and paste someone else’s words into their own?

    Something doesn’t jibe. I agree with Lindsey. The fact that they took the post down says either they know they made a mistake and are sorry, or they know you are on to them and they moved on. Either way, it’s a win-win b/c they are out of your hair. Let’s hope they stay there!

    If they don’t, let me know. I’ve got your back! 😉

    1. Renn, You know, I naively never really thought about those other angles. I assumed this woman was telling the truth about her cancer and her son, but who knows? If she didn’t tell the truth in one area, why would she necessarily do so in another? No more guilt from me I guess! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  16. Nancy, somehow I missed this post. When I ready Philippa’s post today, she linked back to it and I realized my mistake.

    The ultimate flattery is imitation. But that doesn’t justify anyone’s action who plagiarizes.

    Integrity? I haven’t had blogging words stolen from me (of which I know, anyway), but I believe people lifted language from the patent applications I wrote to craft their own.

    On a personal level, I did have my heart stolen by one I trusted to the core. It will take eons for me to recover from THAT break in trust.

    I can only imagine how you felt to see your very own words written by a “blogger” with no attribution to you. I’m glad your friends came to your rescue and the result was dismantling of the blog. If this person is genuine, she will recognize the breach, and seek to rectify by finding her own words to describe her cancer experiences and loss.

    Thanks for alerting your readership to this new danger (at least to me, new). I’ll be on the prowl to protect our sister bloggers.

    1. Jan, You understand all too well about integrity and broken trust. I’m so sorry you do. That plagiarism incident was an eye-opening experience for me. It all transpired very quickly. A couple of friends stepped in and “forced” the dismantlement. I know others would have done so also, but it all happened really fast and it was all over practically as soon as it started. The speed of the internet is amazing – on many levels. Thanks so much for finding the post, reading and commenting.

  17. Oh Nancy, I’m sorry. I know I’m still quite new to the very concept of my own blog. I just know it has become a precious little space that I’ve carved out for myself, a place where I can sing my song – sometimes out of tune, sometimes not, but always my own. I’m sure many of my posts are no more than a variation on many of the themes explored by so many of you wonderful women. But they are my variations, my songs to sing, as are yours and Renn’s and AnnMarie’s and Maries’ and Jan’s and all those women whose words inspire me every single day. I’m sure you must feel such a sense of violation . I’m sorry. Keep singing your song … your voice is well-known and we won’t suffer imposters gladly.

    1. Yvonne, Yes, our own little voices/blogs are uniquely ours aren’t they? That’s exactly why each of them is so precious. Thanks for finding this post and for commenting.

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