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Please don't steal my stuff :'(

Please don't steal my stuff :'(

  02:55:25 am, by   , 837 words  
Viewed 26083 times since 09/01/13
Categories: UESP

Plagiarism of the UESP's content is a big problem. Please see our articles on common mistakes and copyright ownership. Basic rule of thumb: if you weren't the one who added some original content here, you don't have the right to take that content and publish it as your own somewhere else. It's just that simple. The rest of this is too long; don't read.

When I'm not monitoring the recent changes to the UESP or making minor edits small tweaks to pages, I'm often preparing a substantial update to one of our lore pages. TES easily has the most intricate world ever imagined for a video game, and yet much of the information we've been given about it is incomplete, ambiguous, misleading, and even intentionally contradictory (damn you, Bethesda). So please understand that trying to properly fact-check and expand a lore article is often an intensive and time-consuming endeavor. Once I find a project, I conduct a source pull: I comb through the UESP, the game data, and sometimes The Imperial Library for every scrap of relevant information I can find. Then I review it all and start a sandbox. If a page already existed, I copy and paste it, then review for inaccuracies and provide any needed citations. If I can't corroborate something, I go back to the sources, consult my fellow editors, and maybe even visit the high-functioning, usually good-natured sociopaths we keep chained up in the lore forum. If I still can't corroborate something, I remove it. Then I fill in any missing information in a logical way while trying my best to follow all the UESP policies (and we've got quite a few). This often leads to a complete overhaul of the page's layout. Even after I've finally published my revisions, I revisit the page several times over the course of several weeks to see if fresh eyes can detect any typos or other problems I had initially missed.

It is hard to do it right. Harder than it looks. This stuff doesn't just appear out of thin air. It's thanks to labors of love from people like me.

Occasionally, I check other wikis dedicated to documenting The Elder Scrolls and discover that someone else is taking credit for my words. Not Bethesda's words. My words. Instead of putting in the same efforts I did, these people decide it's far easier to essentially copy and paste onto other wikis the things I've worked so hard to put together. I'm sure it is much easier for them. Stealing is typically a lot easier than creating.

Now, to preface, I love The Imperial Library. It's not really a wiki, but I want to make clear that their contributors have not inspired this rant. Their out-of-game information is often summarized on the UESP (always giving them credit, of course). I've directed UESP readers to visit their site even if it wasn't strictly necessary to do so, such as here and the comment here, because any UESP user would benefit from a trip to TIL (so long as they can properly distinguish between in-game works, out-of-game works by developers, and pure fan fiction). I think the two sites have complementary strengths and weaknesses, and I've certainly never had to worry about anyone there plagiarizing work from the UESP.

I also don't have a problem with online videos about Elder Scrolls lore which basically lift parts (or even all) of their scripts from the UESP. I love watching them, and it's kind of a thrill to realize that a well-made video is quoting something I've written. I'm happy to indirectly assist the makers. Some other UESP editors might feel differently, but these videos aren't in direct competition with the UESP, either. We're not a video-hosting site. They're in a different media format, and their works are usually transformative enough that I don't think there's a real plagiarism issue. And, if anything, watching a video about TES will often give a viewer the urge to visit a site like the UESP to corroborate some things or to delve more deeply into a topic, so these videos probably benefit the UESP indirectly.

However, the case is entirely different when someone else decides to take my work and claim it as their own on a competitor wiki. It has happened many times before. To the best of my knowledge, it's very rare for a UESP contributor to take something from another wiki without permission. I've seen it happen maybe once in the more than two years I've spent here. Content on the UESP, however, is quite frequently added to other wikis. Most recently, I saw that a plagiarist on another site had received a formal award for his efforts - which were in large part actually my efforts for several different pages here. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but who wants to be flattered in the first place? It's uncomfortable. But I digress. Point is:

"This is not 'Nam. There are rules."
-Walter Sobchak, The Big Lebowski

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1 comment

Comment from: Nocte Canticum [Member]
Nocte Canticum

I completely agree with you. While I have never really made any large edits to the wiki, I do know how plagiarism hurts. I also think it hurts when a user plagiarises work onto our wiki (though, like you said, it is rare). It devalues the effort that the rest of us put forth to make our wiki the best it can be.

09/01/13 @ 04:16 am


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