I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because it provides me links to such entertaining reading material.
So I got an email from Grammarly a while back asking if I’d be interested in writing a sponsored post in exchange for a $10 Amazon gift card. I can’t say that I’ve ever considered the question of whether I’d write a sponsored post and I suspect that this will be the first and last I ever write. But I kind of wanted to try Grammarly out and they were also going to give me a two week free trial, so I figured, sure, might as well.
The very pleasant guy from Grammarly told me to write the first half of the above line, following it with a reason of my own. Preferably a catchy reason. (I don’t think he said that, exactly, but they do give their favorite reason of the month a $100 gift card. Mine will not be their favorite reason.)
I, of course, had to therefore try the plagiarism checker out. So I ran the first chapter — yes, one chapter, only 5000 words or so — through it. I’ll let the results speak for themselves.
Flagged as needing citation:
should be cited to http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6318423/25/Hitchups (A how to train your dragon fan fiction)
should be cited to http://www.amazon.com/Tipping-Point-ebook/dp/B0091JD008
should be cited to http://bewilderingstories.com/issue291/desperate_women.html
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4720045/3/iKiss-My-Verson (An iCarly fanfic)
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7831202/1/Bury-the-Hate (Vampire Diaries)
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5268840/5/Crash-Into-You (Transformers/Beast Wars)
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6495996/1/Escape-to-Fame (Harry Potter + WWW Raw crossover)
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8946233/1/A-change-between-us (Cartoons > Regular Show)
I feel as if there’s amazing potential for a game here. Like some kind of reverse Mad Libs, where you take the common phrases and write a completely different short story with them. I’m also impressed by my own apparent plagiaristic diversity — Yu-Gi-Oh and Glee, Transformers, and iCarly? Wow, what a wide range of taste I have.
And who knew that such a thing as Harry Potter and World-Wide-Wrestling crossovers even existed, much less that they had cornered the market on the use of the sentence, “I can help with that. Let’s get you”. I so want to know how that author finished the sentence. Let’s get you to the wrestling arena? The Gryffindor common room? Like, is it magical wrestling or is it wrestling at Hogwarts?
Anyway, I said I’d write a post and I did. It took me a surprisingly long time because I had to cut-and-paste all those phrases and citations one at a time, so I do feel like I’ve fulfilled my end of the deal. But I probably won’t submit it to get my gift card because…eh. It feels like I’m being mean. But it was so ridiculous that I had to share. Vampire Diaries and How to Train Your Dragon? Really?? It made me laugh. I’m willing to bet there are hundreds, if not thousands of stories and books in the world that include the sentence, “What’s the last thing you remember?” But, no, a Vampire Diaries fanfic gets the credit.
Postscript: You know, it did occur to me belatedly that if I was still in school, that level of citation checking would have rocked. If I was writing an academic paper, I would have loved it. It even gives you the citations in proper format — multiple types of format, depending on what you need — so you could just cut-and-paste the citations into your bibliography. Doing citations for academic papers is a pain, and I can imagine that having Grammarly as a backup to double-check that you cited everything would be seriously handy. If I hadn’t lost my hard drive, I’d run one of my papers through it and see how closely their citations matched the real papers that I used. Maybe I’ll see if I can find a backup.
Postscript 2: And yeah, no. I tried it with an academic paper and it was just as ridiculous. For example, half the titles of publications in my references got flagged as plagiarism with instructions to cite to the NCBI. That doesn’t even make sense. It’s like saying please credit the library for the books held within it. Not a useful tool!