This is mostly directed at people who comment at a certain web site, and who will probably never see this, but I have to get it off my chest:
Are you one of those people who copy bits from articles you find on other web sites and "forget" to mention the source? It matters not if you're liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between. Please consider the following:
You read that piece (or at least part of it) on a web site somewhere and thought enough of it to copy part (or all) of it and paste it into the comment section of a news site to bolster your position. The author of that article is flattered that you thought that much of their writing, but would appreciate it if you were to give them a little credit.
You thought that piece touched a nerve (right or wrong) with you, tickled your fancy, or simply provided a factoid you needed to make your point. Please give the author the compliment of linking back to the original article.
But..but.. someone will complain that I quoted Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow and see it as proof of my lack of intellectual stature! Well, that's their problem.
Here's what you're doing when you link back to the source:
* Yes, you're giving credit to the author. It's okay if you agree with them, but please consider that author spent time crafting those words (hopefully) checking their facts, and ensuring the grammar and spelling was correct. (And yes, editors may have been involved on the latter front, as well.)
* It gives you credibility. Stuff that gets copied and pasted over and over tends to take on a life of its own. Some people "improve" upon the writing, or change the facts to fit their agenda. Before you know it, an article on toenail fungus can morph into a screed on back hair. (I'm trying to stay apolitical. Give me a break.) A lot of people - whether or not they disagree with you - like to find the source of that factoid so they can be better informed. I've lost track of the times I've gone down an Internet rabbit hole trying to find the source of some screed that's been copied and pasted - and morphed- many times over the course of a year. And you know what? It makes you look bad because you just copied and pasted it. What if you hate toenail fungus but love back hair and the screed you copied and pasted in favor of back hair was originally an ode to toenail fungus? Well, maybe no one will see your embarrassed blushing through your back hair.
* When you give credit to an author, you're supporting them. Maybe you don't have the money to subscribe to the web site of your choice, but you're supporting the author and the web site by showing your source.
* You don't look like a complete idiot because someone with half an ounce of sense and enough brains to use Google checked up on you.
* Because plagiarism is bad. When you take someone's words and try to pass them off as your own, that's theft. And you know what? People can tell. They see they off the cuff remarks you make in the comment threads, and then suddenly you post something in a completely different style. If you don't think someone isn't going to check up on you, think again.
Be honest. Be yourself. Give credit where it's due.
Thank you for listening. And if you find this useful and want to share, please give me credit. ;-)