On June 13th, 2005 I posted the first blog entry for the site that would eventually become Plagiarism Today. Though the site itself would not actually go “live” for another month and a half, on August 2nd, I was blogging on this topic in semi-secret beginning on that day.
The first post wasn’t much, just a praise for GreatestJournal, which is now defunct, and their handling of plagiarism matters.
I had no idea what would become of PT then or what it would grow to become. Now, five years later, the site is updated an average of 8-10 times per week, plays host to a weekly podcast, with my co-host Patrick O’Keefe and also saw the genesis of my copyright and plagiarism consulting practice, which is now my full-time (and a bit beyond) job.
It’s been a long and strange ride for me but has definitely helped bring me some of my greatest moments and favorite memories. I am eternally grateful for this site and, even more so, for the people who read it and support it.
So, to those of you who have been reading this site the whole time or just arrived, thank you for your support. Your feedback, your comments and your business have meant the world to me. Thank you all.
For those that want to know a bit more about the story of PT, as I take the time to look back over the years, feel free to read on. To the rest, thank you again for all of your support and time and I will be back tomorrow with a more traditional PT post.
I began thinking about Plagiarism Today in the summer of 2005. I had been dealing with plagiarists of my work for several years and had become quite good at it. However, I was starting to get into blog reading and was enjoying my first experiences with an RSS reader.
I was eager to find a Web site that dealt with this topic as it was at least a important part of my life and something I felt strongly about. However, after days of off and on searching, I found many static resources but no blogs or news sites.
So, at the encouragement of my significant other, I decided to create a site on the topic and see what happened. However, I didn’t want Plagiarism Today to be a blog that was worked on for a few months and then abandoned so I resolved to blog in private for a period of time to make sure I had enough to talk about. So, I set up a WordPress installation in a subfolder of my then-existing site and went for it.
However, I made a goof in that I didn’t disable pingbacks or search engines and was stunned to find my “hidden” blog getting a modest amount of traffic. I decided to push it live early and did so August 2nd. The blog, at that point with its hideous “desert” theme, which you can see here got its own domain and own update schedule. The site was, years later updated to the “Knights” layout that you can see here before finally moving to the current theme (I believe I’ve traded up each time).
The timing for the launch could not have been much worse though. As a New Orleanian, August 29th, just four weeks later, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and turned the lives of me and my wife upside down. Though our home was unaffected, it destroyed previous career plans and forced us into a month-long exile, three weeks of that evacuated and another week living in a city without much in the way of access.
But during the evacuation time, I largely credit Plagiarism Today for keeping me sane. Though I was deep in the upstate with only dial up access, I threw myself into the site almost 24/7 during those weeks, updating daily and trying not to think about the devastation to my city and, quite possibly, losing everything.
After getting back from the storm, I spent the next six months leading a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. Working various jobs to help rebuild New Orleans and, eventually, Key West. I lived in three different states over those months and routinely worked 12-hour days, yet, I still found time to keep up PT as much as possible, working on growing the site during down time and off hours.
But even though the site was seeing decent growth, it didn’t seem to be gaining any significant traction, that changed in May of 2006.
On May 8, 2006, reporter Maura Welch talked about Plagiarism Today in her article about online plagiarism for the Boston Globe. This was only possible thanks to the efforts of Beth from Cursed to First, who I had helped with a plagiarism case before.
The story caused a spike in traffic to Plagiarism Today and opened a floodgate of other media mentions (only a fraction of which are actually included on that page).
This traction led to a spike in traffic and subscribers to my blog, leading to a nearly 3x jump in the number of visitors and subscribers.
The momentum has remained upward ever since. To this day, I credit both Beth and Maura for much of the success of the site as, without their mentioning of PT, it is unclear when, if or how PT would have gained the following it did.
Starting a Business
Many people ask when I decided to open up a consulting business related to PT, however, there is no firm date for that decision.
When I started Plagiarism Today, I never envisioned it being a money-making site. My goal was to help like-minded people in similar situations and it remains as such. But companies and businesses began to approach me for more and more complicated and hands-on jobs and it became necessary to charge for my time.
Eventually, I was hired full-time by the copyright services firm CopyByte, a company I have since broken apart from its parent and taken the helm of myself.
When consulting, I’ve always worked to keep my rates low and still, whenever I do have the time, agree to help others with immediate needs for free, especially if they are interested in learning and doing it themselves. In short, to those who want help resolving their own cases, I’ve tried to make myself available for free as much as possible. To those who want me to take care of things for them, I’ve managed to build a decent consulting and services practice.
In addition to consulting, I’ve also done a great deal of speaking over the past few years, including talks at two WordCamp Dallas events (plus I am speaking at the upcoming OpenCamp event in August), I spoke at the 3rd International Plagiarism Conference in the UK, at an Innovation Journalism conference in the Netherlands, ConvergeSouth and many other events.
Without this site, I doubt I would have made half the friends that I have, travelled to a fraction of the places that I have or had nearly as many cherished memories. For that, I am eternally grateful.
It has been a wonderful five years for Plagiarism Today and, though it might not have grown as large as some sites started around the same time, it has done very well for me. It has given me all that I ever dreamed for it and more.
Once again, this would not have been possible without the support of you and others like you. Thank you again for all that you do for this site and, through that, for me. It means the world.
Moving forward with PT, I have several major announcements in the works, at least three of which should be ready to launch sometime within the next few weeks, so stay tuned there. In the meantime, thank you all for your support and I’m looking forward to the next five years of Plagiarism Today!