How a WordPress pingback helped me catch a plagiarist

plagiarism-copy-failPlagiarism and counterfeit goods are rife in this world. A wine industry insider told me there is a French wine label that sells 30,000 cases of its top wine to China each year, but through audits discovers that approximately 90,000 cases are sold at retail level.

Someone’s pulling a swifty somewhere.


Likewise, online, we must ask ourselves, are our blogs being copied by unscrupulous content scrapers on the internet?

There are a number of ways to find out, including an inbuilt system in WordPress.

Perhaps the three most convenient ways to check for plagiarism online are:

  1. Run a Google search on a unique phrase from your work.
  2. Set up Google Alerts to listen out for your name or topics.
  3. Check pingbacks within WordPress.

The first two are fairly straightforward for all website owners.

Identify a word, phrase or sentence that is likely to only have been used by you and either run a Google search for it or set up a Google alert to listen out for it.

The beauty of the latter option is that the alerts run perpetually and alert you when something is added, rather than only reporting in the moment which happens we you just do a manual search.

You can set up alerts at They are self explanatory.

Google has announced it is closing the free alerts service but it is still active and some rumours suggest it has been given a new lease of life.

My advice is use it while it is around, and then search for alternatives when it closes.

The intriguing WordPress pingback

A pingback is an alert system within all WordPress sites that lets you know when somebody has published an online link to one of your web pages or blog posts.

You get notified within the comments area of WordPress (unless your webmaster has turned pingbacks off).

While you can blissfully run a WordPress site ignorant of this feature, it comes in handy when someone who plagiarises web content publishes your content with links intact.

Here is what happened to me.

A very popular post in this WordPress Wednesday series is the article, Googlebot can’t access your site – Don’t panic.

Last week, a pingback appeared in my comments queue with the heading: Why Googlebot can’t access your site ? | Pangkal Bisz Pangkalpinang.

I was curious, so I followed the link WordPress shared with the pingback, and it took me to an Indonesian website where my article was published under somebody else’s name.

The dodgy website had no human contact options other than commenting on posts, so that is what I did. I wrote words to the effect:

I am glad you enjoyed my article about Googlebot. As the original author, I would be happy to licence you for this republishing of my work, I will ask my office to send you the invoice. However, if your do not wish to licence the work, please delete this article within 48 hours.

I checked the next day and the article was gone.

So, apart from checking Comments for feedback on your articles, always be sure to check pingbacks to see if the link to your work is from a reference (legal and good) or a fully-fledged piece of direct plagiarism (illegal and dangerous).



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