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The most common definition of plagiarism is: claiming someone else work as your own. In this age of cyber technology, so much data can be accessed by just anybody and the inevitable may happen. Although efforts have been made by some authors and websites to protect their data by using security passwords and other related measures, no one can be so sure that his/her original creation will not be copied.

 

There is now a very thin line between original and plagiarized material. Because of the rise of income generating activities online, some people, out of sheer ignorance or laziness have crossed the line and committed the worst of all crimes in writing. It is very alarming that some persons have become victims of careless and lazy internet users.

 

Sadly, web scraping can be abused and become an avenue for plagiarism. If individuals are not careful, the beauty and blessing of this new innovation in business and research may turn into an ugly curse.

 

Benefits of web scraping

 

At present, web scraping or data mining has become a popular way of doing research online. Truly, there are numberless benefits of web scraping and it has been the reason why many businesses, companies, and studies have become successful over a relatively shorter time. Never in the history of mankind has individuals been able to earn much money within the confines of their homes as is the case these days. Moreover, now is the time when predicting future trends in business has been made more realistic and attainable. Indeed web scraping has done wonders to the human life than anyone could have imagined before.

 

Risks of web scraping

 

In view of the aforementioned benefits, there are also some risks of web scraping that need to be taken careful consideration of. The issue of plagiarism has now become the focus of some serious and dedicated writers. Inevitably, there is now rampant copying and careless rewriting that is committed by certain persons and websites. Consequently, browsing the net would sometimes become frustrating because many articles that are contained in some sites are poorly written and difficult to understand because these are copied from original sources and some words are simply changed and content is rearranged to escape tests on plagiarism. Careless rewriting and spinning have mushroomed in the past few years because of the demand for SEO by many websites.

 

Caution in web scraping

 

One should always exercise caution in web scraping, since any content taken from others even if you rephrase them can be considered plagiarism without acknowledging the source or seeking permission to use such materials. It must be noted that there are other factors more important than money with regards to web research and data mining. Having received no complaints or not getting caught are not valid excuses for plagiarism. Web scraping entails responsible and reliable acts because the authors have painstakingly created their materials spending so much time and money in order to come up with factual and original works. It would surely be unfair to glean from their works and get the same benefits from it.

 

Ethical concerns

 

Web scraping is indeed beneficial and worth its value but there are more important issues to tackle before fully indulging in it and enjoying its limitless benefits.

 

Maintaining personal integrity. Having a clear conscience cannot be bought. It is as fleeting as the waves of the sea. Every now and then you are tempted to cheat because it’s the easiest way to get things done. The famous expression “copy and paste” is not only convenient, but it also seems to be legal since many people are doing it. However, please remember that not everything that everybody else does is always correct. Copy and paste is stealing in the simplest and truest sense.

 

Working honestly. To silently work your way up the ladder of success without any form of deception is the best reward one can ever have. Knowing that you do not step on another’s foot and have acknowledged every single detail of everyone else’s help can make you go miles and miles without fear. Even if it may sound old fashioned, honesty is still the best policy. You do your tasks honestly and you will gain more than just financial profits but friends and allies too.

 

Acknowledging the source. The easiest way to stay out of plagiarism’s zone is to acknowledge the source. It is like entering a neighbor’s domain by the front door and ringing the doorbell.

 

Seeking permission to repost or cite. The best way to avoid plagiarism though is asking permission from the authors to quote, cite or repost their ideas and materials. With this, you can be assured that you are not stealing anything and that you are on safe ground. Who knows the relationship you may establish with them may grow much deeper into a constant partnership. You do not only get new insights but you can also be more proud of yourself.

 

Web scraping should indeed entail both a privilege and a responsibility; benefits and accountability; as well as respect and good conscience.

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