Free Advice — Damn copycat or thanks for the flattery!

Free Advice is a periodic feature in which I answer letters sent to me at This question comes directly from BloggyVille, and it has the blog’s name attached.

In fact, the question hits close to home because it’s about somebody stealing swiping borrowing copying recently starting a format that greatly resonates with a fellow blogger as exactly mostly somewhat perhaps similar to a monthly feature she already uses at her own house.

(From Cordelia's Mom's Blog)

(From Cordelia’s Mom’s Blog)

Dear Mark,

Here’s one you could maybe run with … Today, another (newer) blogger published a post in which she announced she is starting a monthly spam series. She even used the same photo I’ve used in one of my previous Spam-Bam posts (no issue there, it’s creative commons licensing).

So, here’s the question: Should I be flattered that I have finally “arrived” to the point where other bloggers are now imitating me? (Of course, I could never prove that she really did get the idea from me — but very highly suspicious, don’t you think, inasmuch as she is one of my followers.)

Or should I be pissed that someone is stealing my ideas?

— Waiting eagerly for your sage wisdom, Cordelia’s Mom

Dear Cordelia’s Mom,

Stinkin’ hey wahoo, get offa my porch, don’t ring the doorbell anymore, and no, you can’t borrow a cup of sugar!

That would be my first reaction to the neighbors who say they like the way our brownies always empty the platter first at the big block party so they’re going to make the same thing this year.

Not that we have a block party or have neighbors that would copy us by baking brownies or anything like that.

But you get my drift, CM.

Yes, when you see that somebody is taking the same route that you worked hard to cultivate, and that has earned you some degree of success, and also allowed you to feel pride, damn straight the first gut reaction could very well be, to conjugate your appropriate street term, a fine degree of piss-offed-ness.

But. But. But.

Really, now.

Everybody can make brownies, can’t they? Haven’t they for a really long time? And who’s to say my neighbors’ brownies would be better than mine? Or worse? Does it matter? Won’t the people who liked my brownies in the past still look for my brownies?

And isn’t it really kind of cool that my neighbor wants to get in on the brownie game anyhow?

So it is with you and the Spamajam. (I made that one up on the spot, by the way.)

Perhaps you indeed were the very first blogger to go into your spam folder and use the comments to make funny.

I have a feeling you were not, CM.

I Google searched, phrase: Funny Spam Comments. entry, 2009. entry, 2010. Monthly features, I can’t tell. But I only took a moment to check.

I also have the feeling that your new flatterer will not be the only one dipping her toe into this big pool. Hopefully, others to come will not somehow seem to be following your Spam recipe so closely! Can’t seem to get away from my food thought, now, can I?

Finally, I like the way you handled it here in your post. Diplomacy. Reblogging. Flattery.

Good job! Keep an even keel and full humor ahead. Brownies for everybody!

Besides, you remind me to think once more of my origins. Thank you again, Ann Landers and Dear Abby for answering all those letters and handing out all that advice in your syndicated newspaper columns I never missed while I was growing up. Not to forget the very clever Amy Dickinson, who doles out great advice in her column nowadays. Did I copy them here? No way. I bring my own touches and flair, and do things my own way, with my own opinions, of course. If I must say so myself.

Free AdviceFree Advice is a periodic feature. Send questions to Anonymity if requested is assured.

My qualifications: 57 years of open eyes and ears but no stalking charges. One dear wife Karen, one terrific daughter Elisabeth and her wonderful boyfriend George, one sensational stepson Daryl, one pet Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle and various other family members of scattered location and adjectives. Four decades of writing in public about people, places and things.

Satisfaction is the goal, but is by no means guaranteed.

66 thoughts on “Free Advice — Damn copycat or thanks for the flattery!

  1. Mr. B!!! I have missed you, my amigo. Got back last night from the Cape and ahhhhh…..yes, it was heavenly. Great weather (except for tornado watch one day), great food (including Sesuit of course), great company and great laughs.

    This is a very diplomatic and kind response to CM’s dilemma. Not surprising coming from you. I agree with your advice. Now let me get to your other posts so I can catch up. πŸ™‚


    • I am so glad you had the great week at the Cape, Mrs. B. Yum to Sesuit, of course. I want to read and hear more. Thankful you did not get swept up in a funnel or driven away in an ambulance!!


  2. Well-written! I got a spam the other day about my nice Ice Hotel, Sweden bit, and I have considered sharing it. I think it’s pretty common, as much as blog posts driven by search terms, oh those are fabulously funny! I’ve never done either, but I like knowing they’re available!


  3. Ideally, I want to give credit where credit is due. But at some point I think all this giving credit gets tedious for a detail-impaired gal like me. Since I’m not a blogger worth imitating (yet) I’m only guessing but…I would likely give benefit of the doubt to the (possible/probably) impersonator and then I would compete to be better than them at my game. And guess what, I’ve never looked at my spam folder! Details, details πŸ˜€


  4. So interesting–the different viewpoints. I like your waters-calming answer, Mark. Look-and-feel issues are tough.

    But regarding actual words or photos or drawings:

    I like the idea of putting everything I write out as a protected PDF (as if anyone would ever try to steal my words–hah!), and, if I were a photographer, or posted drawings online, I’d want to similarly protect my pieces. If feel stealing is stealing, on or offline. If for non-commercial use, do your best to credit the source. If commercial, get permission in writing, and agree on remuneration.


    • Oh, I quite agree with you on direct quoting and photos and art images, Babe. In fact, I Creative Commons copyrighted my blog last month, and I checked the box that marked I indeed want to get paid by commercial enterprises wishing to use any of my work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have decided that I’m going to change the copyright on mine to require permission even for non-commercial copying. This because initially I took no issue with reposting–it was flattering! I have been reposted only once of which I am aware. However, now that I know that there are many, many blogs for which the owners never write one original word, or write token B.S. of a line or two on occasion, but merely repost the work of others, I feel differently.


      • You mean, why should I care, Mark? I should be happy if it might gain me a reader? Perhaps you’re right. But perhaps it feels like the children who tried to copy off me back in grade school, who chose to never put forth their own effort. How dare they.


      • No, I’m not saying you should be happy. I’m saying at least you’re getting a click and your idea is being relayed to somebody that likely would not have seen it if that non-writing blogger hadn’t have chosen your work to reblog. The way I look at it, it’s less how dare they and more wow, free promo service.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. I understood that. It would be both helpful and flattering, and likely childish of me to be cutting off my nose to spite my face. Over half a century old, and still not growed up.


  5. Actually I did a whole series like this almost two years ago. It didn’t generate much interest, so I dropped it. Maybe you all got the idea from me. But I think it really IS like brownies. Or maybe … coffee? How about … um … I don’t know. Mashed potatoes? Something. It didn’t generate enough traffic to bother with continuing it. It’s an idea almost everyone tries at least once. I tried it half a dozen times and it got a totally ho-hum response. May you have better luck.


  6. Hi Mark – have a great day tomorrow! On the subject of copying – i read a couple of non wordpress blogs (so glad that’s out there now) and i can tell that one of them had the ‘take a look at my calender pictures’ posts first and the other one either just copied or found herself doing a very similar thing. The person who blogged about it first doesn’t appear to have ever got hot under the collar about this on her blog and I think that’s the way the be.


    • Hi Rachel, and thanks for the good wishes! It’s nice to hear that the other blogger kept it cool and good-natured with the calendar blog idea. Have a great weekend in London town with Steve and the teens, my friend.


  7. good answer to a tough question. i think we are letting our things go once we release them in the blogiverse, though i do always hope for a bit of common courtesy from those who borrow. like you, i see it as a compliment in a way )


  8. Oh dear, now I’m wondering if TalktoDiana is privately miffed with me for doing the Friday Bouquet, long after she started her Friday Pick. I sure hope not. Simply trying to share my favourite blogs with yall.


  9. Such wise word, and insightful perspective from both sides of the issue. I think Codeliasmom should be more flattered than anything. This is how trends get going after all, one brilliant person gets a great idea and others put their own twist on it. I, of course, have never had anything of mine imitated as far as I know, but if I had maybe I would feel a bit differently. Hmmmm?!! – maybe I will start a monthly advice column. Ha-ha – just kidding!!!!!!


  10. I did not think it was bad for the other blogger to get her idea from another blogger. I do a Mindful Monday post every week and I search the net for articles that I can contour to my own needs. I basically get my ideas from someone else then I talk about how their idea works for me. I always credit images and their blog and add other links. I think your answer was spot on Mark. There’s plenty for all of us! ❀


  11. Great post MBM. Lots of our stuffs and ideas are out here free floating and there are those who see no issue with piggy backing on ideas. Which is understandable. Ideas come from everywhere. But outright taking someone’s work would be a much different matter.


  12. I can see where that moment of — WHAT is this? — would come in but all in all I think your advice is spot on, Mr. Mark. I’ll look for your advice column from now on. What a great (if not original) idea! πŸ˜€


  13. There’s that “imitation as the best form of flattery” thing out there, but I think I’d be upset if someone used or altered my stuff w/out letting me know. Just sayin’ ☺


  14. Reblogged this on Cordelia's Mom, Still and commented:
    I’m not sure this went exactly the way I hoped, but Mark Bialczak is right on with his “advice” – I’m not sure whether to laugh it off or drive to Syracuse to confront him. (Oh, oh, I think Not CM is in my head today!) Anyway – ENJOY!


  15. Ha, ha! Nicely done, Mark. It’s good to have friends in the blogosphere who both support me and, when necessary, give me a swift kick in the …. well, you get the drift (Oh, did I just copy that phrase from you? Sorry about that.)

    Yes, there have been many, many bloggers who have done posts responding to their spam comments – most likely, that’s where I got the idea to begin with (imitation is a form of flattery). But so far as I know, I’m unique (or rather, was unique) in turning it into a monthly series.

    If I find my spammers going over to my colleague’s site, I might get a little annoyed. But somehow I don’t see that happening – there seem to be plenty of spammers to go around.

    So, may the spam-bam/spamathon/spamjam continue!

    And I’ll be over soon for those brownies since I can’t make any in my own kitchen at the moment due to that ongoing construction – but that’s a story for a different day.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Interesting topic, and interesting idea to do an advice post.I agree with you–brownies or spam–and advice–have been done before, so you can’t actually prove it’s copying. It would be different if the person actually copied a post word for word. Diplomacy and humor seem like good suggestions.


    • I started this Free Advice column hoping to be a male voice in a woman-heavy field, Merril. I’ve generated about one email a month since I started the feature at the beginning of this year, a little more at the front end. I was hoping for more. Wait until one of the posts goes viral. Eternally optimistic! Yes, it’s been done before, but not with my voice, rignt? Thanks for hanging out for a moment on the start of our Fourth Weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Interesting subject Mark, once your work is out there in the world of the net, you can really say goodbye to it, don’t think copyright or plagiarism have much meaning on the net, once found one of my poems, titled Porcelain Doll, being used on a site that was selling Porcelain Dolls, got them to remove it,mainly because they altered a few of my words.
    Don’t think we have much say on where our efforts go to after they are published, just my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.