There’s a 99% chance that you’re reading these words on news.Bitcoin.com. And there’s a 1% chance that you’re reading them on some other cryptocurrency site. It might have a similar name to this one, or it might be called something entirely different. But whatever its name, it wasn’t responsible for producing this content – it simply copied and pasted it from Bitcoin.com. Some people call plagiary the greatest form of flattery. Others call it the worst fraud of all.
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Crypto Copycats Are Copying Cats
There’s a fine but very important line between copying and plagiary. Copying is when you take another person’s idea and make it better. Plagiary is when you take another person’s idea. When Charlie Lee created litecoin, all he did was reproduce the bitcoin code and reduce the block time from 10 minutes to 2.5. It was copying, but he didn’t try to pass it off as his own work, and in the years since, the litecoin codebase has significantly deviated from bitcoin.
Copying is an integral part of human nature. It’s how we learn to speak, dress, and eat. It’s how our music evolves, through decades and genres, and it’s how our favorite internet memes are born, reborn, and then remixed to generate new laughs and new contextual applications. Most of the early hip-hop records you know and love, for example, are simply looped Motown or jazz samples. They’re not original compositions, and yet few would dispute that hip-hop represented a new musical formula that was simultaneously familiar and yet fresh.
A Plagiary on Both Your Houses
Copying is human nature. Plagiary, on the other hand, is the worst scam of all. It betrays a dearth of imagination and it’s infecting every sphere of the cryptoverse. ICOs copying chunks of their competitors’ white papers verbatim (here’s looking at you Dadi and Tron); cryptocurrencies copying the ethereum codebase and passing it off as their own (ohai there Tomochain); crypto blogs copy-pasting articles from news.Bitcoin.com and publishing them without shame.
One of the worst repositories for counterfeit content is r/bitcoin, whose users would rather link to spammy Indian websites than credit news.Bitcoin.com with breaking news that’s relevant to their interests. That’s their choice, just as it’s their choice to seek to censor and ban anything that doesn’t accord to their world view. But here’s the thing about all this rampant plagiary that’s infecting the world of cryptocurrency: the biggest losers in all this aren’t the plagiarized – it’s the plagiarists.
No One Likes a Thief
Every time an ICO gets busted for copying a white paper, they’re the only losers. Because the crypto community are very good at spotting fakes, and if you try to pass another’s work off as your own, some internet detective will take pride in calling you out on it. Similarly, for every site that reproduces this article, and every other article published by news.Bitcoin.com, the loss in traffic is negligible. But these copycat sites can forget about their Google ranking, because Google doesn’t look twice at sites that publish duplicate content.
To make it in the world of cryptocurrency, you don’t need the most original idea of all time. You just need the capability to take an existing idea and make it better. There’s no shame in emulating others. But have some decorum about it. If you’re going to plagiarize others and claim credit for their endeavors, you deserve everything you get – namely a big fat nothing.
Do you think plagiary is a major problem within the cryptocurrency space? Let us know in the comments section below.
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