Make Blog Not War – A Freedom of Expression Training for Bloggers

It’s not easy for bloggers to get credible information about their online rights when it comes to freedom of speech and internet censorship. If you would like to have a better understanding of the situation in India as it stands now, and how it affects everyone of us directly, then head over to the Internet Democracy Project. They’re organizing a day-long training session on freedom of expression and censorship for bloggers on the 25th of February 2012 at New Delhi.

In the course of this day-long program, a mix of short lectures and more interactive sessions will take you through:
-       the history of censorship in India and its current status;
-       the legal framework regarding online censorship and the ways in which it may affect you;
-       debates on difficult questions such as where and how to draw the line where hate speech is concerned;
-       what to do if you are served a legal notice;
-       alternatives to censorship to fight problematic content;
and much more. Throughout the training, we will of course be paying particular attention to how all of this may affect your blog and yourself.

Read more about the project, and people behind it, and how you can support it here.

The IndiBlogger forum has a discussion amongst bloggers about internet censorship here.

Make Blog Not War – A Freedom of Expression Training for Bloggers Feb22

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Delhi Bloggers in the news

The Delhi HP IndiBlogger Meet is scheduled for this weekend and the media has already expressed their enthusiasm. The Hindustan Times graciously did an eye-catching trend story on the blogging scenario in the National Capital Region.

Delhi Bloggers

We thank HT City for this wonderful story and specially Vaishali for putting the piece together.

Looking forward to meeting you all this weekend – it’s going to be one hell of a meet!

Delhi Bloggers in the news Dec07

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The Samsung “It’s Time to Tab” Contest on IndiBlogger

For those of you who aren’t aware of what we are talking about, we had announced the twenty winners of the Samsung “It’s Time to Tab” contest a few days ago. Some of the participants have been quite unhappy with the winner selection and the way the contest was run. You should probably read these first, in case you haven’t done so already:

IndiBlogger Forum: Samsung Mobilers Winners : A Disappointment!

TechJunoon: IndiBlogger-Samsung Conspiracy Against the Indian Tech Blog Community

Tech2Date: Samsung, IndiBlogger And The Rat-Trap

TodayOnTech: Indiblogger and Samsung Galaxy Tab Contest – We call it a Scam!

Firstly, we’re sorry this caused so much distress. We understand how much work goes into a quality blog post, and it’s tough when one’s efforts go unrewarded.

Secondly, there have been several things said about IndiBlogger.in, Samsung India and the winners of the contest, and we intend to shed some light on the same:

This is not a winning entry, this is the correct link.

When Samsung India sent us the list of winners, they had sent the correct link to the winning entry. We normally link to the IndiVine post from the winner’s list – and when we looked for entries by that particular blogger, we chose the wrong one. It was a human error, and it was corrected as soon as it was brought to our notice. The last tweet was also mentioned in this post, leading everyone to believe that we had awarded an entry which only had pictures to a launch event; this isn’t the case!

Extension of the contest by two days

It’s been suggested that we extended the closing date of the contest as there were not enough entries; that IndiBlogger was forced to do so because the promised number of entries was not met. The truth is, the contest was extended by two days because the Samsung Blogger Meet was re-scheduled for the 10th, and we wanted to give those who attended a chance to enter the contest after seeing the device and meeting the Samsung team.

Plagiarism

We checked all the winning entries for any sign of plagiarism before announcing the results. Considering that we burnt our fingers once before, we’re quite thorough for all our contests now. It’s been suggested that we neglected to disqualify this winning entry, because the technical specs were copied from here. We did so because technical specs are usually copied – either from the manufacturer’s website or another source, and copyscape/Google will always throw up several results for the same.

Favoritism by the judges/random selection

It’s been claimed that friends of the IndiBlogger team and Samsung have been awarded the prizes. This is not the case – IndiBlogger had no part to play in the judging and Samsung India has nothing to gain by favoring friends – the entries were judged on the selection criteria alone (see below). It’s also been mentioned that winners have been randomly selected, a misconception because we stated on the contest page that the winners are displayed in random order.

The selection criteria

As was stated on the contest page: Entries will be judged based on creativity, relevance, depth, impact and level of interaction.

Judges, in all their wisdom, are only human. Everyone has their own way of looking at things – and what is important to one, may be considered irrelevant to another. We are not aware of the weightage given to each of the criteria above – that decision belongs to the sponsors of the contest, as it should be. Some entries may have been found to be so creative that it caught the judge’s fancy, and it may have outweighed the other factors. Some entries might have been so well researched and insightful that it outweighed the need to be creative. That is why the winners are a mix of techies, fictional writers and comedians. We believe that if the judges disregarded the entries and only chose bloggers who would make good Samsung Mobilers, they would have chosen only tech bloggers (considering they tend to have better reach). In the end, 20 winners needed to be chosen out of 220, and we’re certain that Samsung India gave the judging process the time it deserved. To say that their judgement was flawed by criticizing the winning entries and the work those bloggers put into it is extreme.

Changing the contest rules

When we launched the contest, we had stipulated that only those who promoted the live webcast would be allowed to enter the contest. Unfortunately, this was a bit botched up – this announcement was made on the blogger meet page, and it led to a lot of confusion. Some bloggers said that the webcast was showing up as a blank screen; others thought that they had to attend the blogger meet in order to participate in the contest; some thought that the launch event and the blogger meet was the same; and a few were misled into thinking that the launch was postponed along with the blogger meet. We also had many new registrations during those two weeks, as bloggers were signing up with IndiBlogger purely for the contest. Our moderators had a tough time keeping up, and several bloggers were approved only after the launch event. It was to accommodate for all of this, we had to simplify the rules; and we allowed bloggers to link to the recorded version of the webcast within their entries. We realize that those who abided by the original rules and went all out to promote the live webcast on their blogs, twitter and facebook feel slighted by this change. We do apologize – it was a decision that wasn’t made lightly, and on hindsight, may have been the wrong one. On the other hand, we feel that the change increased the level of competition, and that’s always a good thing!

Former IndiBlogger staff “confessing” the truth

The person in question is a former IndiPolice of the IndiBlogger forum, which is moderated by the community. Members of our team (part time, full time and one-time) are listed here. Unfortunately, he left the IndiBlogger community a while ago, as he did not like the way we handled the plagiarism problem, and wasn’t happy with the way the forum was run. We’re still sorry he left; he brought to light several issues on the forum (carefully disguised affiliate links, for instance) which the rest of us had not realized. His advice to us before he left has proven to be invaluable, and we hope to see him back one day, assuming time really does heal. However, to use the words “staff”, “confesses”, “scam”, “inside story” and “dirty truth” is a tad misleading, to say the least.

To conclude, for today:

We’d be happy to update this post with any questions we’ve neglected to answer. If we have missed out on anything, it’s not intentional; it’s just been a long day and an even longer week. We didn’t mean for all of this to happen, and we certainly didn’t anticipate it. I (Renie Ravin) must admit, I’m not too pleased about confidential emails and personal facebook comments shared out of context, let alone being shared at all. IndiBlogger and what it represents is much more than work for all us; we live for it and we do it 24/7 (much to the dismay of friends and family.) We know this doesn’t necessarily make us right – we’re here to learn from mistakes and make changes, as we’ve done several times before. We do hope that all of you who feel disappointed right now would stick with us while we do so.

The Samsung “It’s Time to Tab” Contest on IndiBlogger Sep24

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We are 4. We blog, therefore we are!

Four years of IndiBlogger.in

Announcing the Samsung Mobiler Campaign

Come the 10th of August, Samsung officially launches the Samsung Galaxy Tab 750 in India – and IndiBloggers everywhere are invited to participate!

Samsung Galaxy Tab 750 Launch

So aside from the Samsung Galaxy Tab Blogger meet at Bangalore on the 20th of August which promises to be loads of fun, Samsung is also giving away spanking-new Galaxy Tab 750s to twenty bloggers deserving enough to become a “Samsung Mobiler”!

Samsung Galaxy Tab 750s

Learn more about the campaign here, and stay tuned for the IndiVine contest and the live webcast on the 10th of August.

It’s time to tab, and keep blogging!

Plagiarism, the scourge of bloggers everywhere

Remember Milli Vanilli, the pop band that won a Grammy award 21 years ago, only to have it revoked soon after it was found that they used someone else’s voices? It’s recently come to our attention that a fairly well known “blogger” has done the same, taking content that doesn’t belong to him, claiming it as his own, entering into competitions, garnering votes and winning prizes.

Sourav Pandey, we’re talking about you.

Thanks to the sharp eyes of Lakshmi Rajan (who first told us about it) and Eon Heath (who first blogged about it), we’ve been able to uncover a shocking betrayal of the trust placed upon him by the blogging community and his readers. The evidence speaks for itself:

Exhibit #1

Original: http://spottedjaguar.deviantart.com/art/Animal-Farm-55608516
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2011/04/contretemps.html

Original author‘s reaction: Yeah, that’s actually my piece. I wrote that my Sophomore year in high school for an English class I was taking. Let me know what I can do to help you remove my artwork. I’ve never experienced someone plagiarizing me before.
Thank you for informing me.

Exhibit #2

Original: http://octoberazriel.deviantart.com/art/Barefoot-127709686
Plagiarized: The plagiarized post was removed after being warned by Eon Heath. We have a backup copy here thanks to Lakshmi’s early warning.

Original author‘s reaction: Yes, this user has taken my work without permission and posted it as his own. As seen from my copyright information my poem was posted way back in 2009. His copy was posted just weeks ago. He did not credit me to the piece, rather he claimed ownership. I’ve also noticed several images that he has taken from deviantArt and used in his posts.

The post containing my poem has since been removed from his blog but I do happen to have a screen capture from before removal.

I’m not sure how else I can be of assistance but keep me posted. It isn’t fair to any of the parties involved that he takes credit for someone else hard work and creativity and hopefully the matter can be resolved soon.

Exhibit #3

Original: http://modnar-redrosid.deviantart.com/art/Homeless-and-Hungry-174166330
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2010/12/we-will-walk-hand-in-hand-we-are-not.html

Original author‘s reaction: I’m actually really surprised. I mean, one side, sort of annoyed because it is plagiarism, on the other, sort of honoured because of the comments of people (even though they presume it is him). But no, he didn’t get in contact with me. It’s quite sad that he didn’t just go to the effort of telling people he didn’t write it himself, and simply found inspiration there, but people do that. Thanks for messaging me about this.

The above post was submitted for the Akshaya Patra contest where more than a hundred bloggers came together for the greater cause of feeding India’s underprivileged children. Thankfully it did not win any prizes.

Exhibit #4

Original: http://andthenyou.deviantart.com/art/Real-186741075
Plagiarized copy removed by said plagiarizer, backup copy here.

Original author‘s reaction: I’m actually really surprised. I mean, one side, sort of annoyed because it is plagiarism, on the other, sort of honoured because of the comments of people (even though they presume it is him). But no, he didn’t get in contact with me. It’s quite sad that he didn’t just go to the effort of telling people he didn’t write it himself, and simply found inspiration there, but people do that. Thanks for messaging me about this.

Exhibit #5

Original: http://megumitierana.deviantart.com/art/4-am-147121119
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2010/10/just-call-away.html

Original author‘s reaction: Oh my god, I’m always so scared that this would happen. Thank you so much for spotting this. Yes, this is indeed mine. I hope this case is solved real soon.

Exhibit #6

Original: http://kjavinash.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2009/04/kashmir-unedited-and-untextable.html

Original author‘s reaction: Damm !!! This is my original Post which i wrote in 2007 !!

Exhibit #7

Original: http://inpenguin.deviantart.com/art/A-Dream-of-Death-70267821
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2011/04/dream-or-nightmare-or-just-nothing.html

Original author‘s reaction (please read the comments): No, I wrote this and posted it in 2007, as you can see. Its old, representative of my early attempts at writing, but the writing is mine with no collaboration.

Note the line at the beginning of the post, which says “Please do not leave half-baked comments, as this is a very personal post!”.

Exhibits #8 – 9

Original: http://shadowgriffen.deviantart.com/art/Opposites-attract-Perfect-day-122715247
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2011/01/fire-and-ice-wishes-and-love-in-dreams.html

Original: http://gid.deviantart.com/art/Morning-Light-8666691
Plagiarized: http://www.souravpandey.in/2011/04/while-she-drifted-among-sleep-filled.html

We have similar exhibits for almost every post on Sourav’s blog.

Sourav Pandey, now is the time to do the right thing.

  • Apologize to all your readers via the same channels you used to gain them in the first place.
  • Put up a blog post with your apology so that all your feed subscribers will know.
  • Comment on every one of your plagiarized posts so that those who commented earlier will know who the real author is.
  • Inform all your facebook fans and twitter followers.
  • Return your prize winnings so it can be given to someone who truly deserves it.

At the very least, you owe this much to the community and hard-working authors you betrayed and robbed.

Plagiarism, the scourge of bloggers everywhere May04

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