Google Alerts Drops a Bombshell

In previous articles, I’ve extolled the merits of Google Alerts in combating plagiarism. GA, theoretically, can be a great way to constantly search for misuse of your works on the Internet and receive notification as soon as duplicates appear. It’s the perfect substitute for doing random searches on your own and can greatly reduce the legwork in discovering plagiarism.

I use Google Alerts to check for all of my poetry on the Web. As such, I have over 130 alerts set up. Typically, I get a couple of hits every day, but lately the gmail box which receives the alerts has been unusually quiet. For the past few weeks, I’ve only gotten a hit every few days, if that.

I thought that, maybe, my increasingly proactive approach against plagiarism and my reputation as a plagiarism fighter were starting to have an effect. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

That is, not after opening up my GMail account and discovering 63 new alerts waiting on me.

Each of these letters contains an average of 3-4 incidents of suspected plagiarism for a rough total of 200 new links for me to follow up on. Given my current status as an evacuee from Hurricane Katrina, I’m very limited in what I can do regarding these alerts. I’m muddling through them the best that I can, but so much at once would be difficult even under the best of conditions, it’s downright impossible under these.

These alerts, from what I’ve been able to gather, largely deal with older incidents of plagiarism. Most seem to come from mid-August or even July. Usually, I get alerts on incidents only a few days or weeks old, nothing like what I’m seeing now.

What this tells me is that, somehow, GA fell way behind. only to get caught up completely in one night. I don’t know why or how this happened, but I’m wondering if anyone else out there has seen anything like this before? Granted, I’m not the first person to report strange GMail problems lately, but I haven’t been able to find anything like this on the Web.

If you’ve had an experience like this with GA, please either comment or write me to let me know. This has really hampered my faith in the system and I might be searching for a replacement soon.

Hopefully though, things will return to normal soon and I’ll be able to get through this one piece. I’m obviously going to have a busy few weeks ahead of me, I just wish I understood why.

Note: After writing this, I realized that the problem could be with my GMail account, not GA. I have been seeing a slowdown of mail at this account. Is it possible that GA sent the alerts and I just didn’t get them? All of the alerts are dated for the time they arrived, but that might not mean much as I’m not familiar with the GMail system for handling timestamps.

[tags]Plagiarism, Google, Google Alerts, Copyright[/tags]

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