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Hello. I am just starting out and had received my first assignment in which I had to write an article on '11 home remedies for colon cleansing' for someone's blog. It was a test article to see if I was the right fit, only paying $5. I proceeded to do the research online before writing the article. I took information from a few articles and paraphrased it, while giving credit to expert advice through identification and quotes. I checked my work on copyscape and when I noted some red flags I went back to revise the sentence structure in some paragraphs and replaced some wordage with synonyms.


Unfortunately I had to end the contract because the client found examples of plagiarized data using copyscape.

Although I am an inexperienced writer, I was a Journalism major and I understand the concept of researching and writing an article. My definition of Plagiarism is using someone elses's work without their permission and passing it as your own, word for word. I did not do that. When writing an article on a popular topic that has been covered by other authors, such as colon cleaner, it is unavoidable to refrain from using shared or similar terminology. I even did an experiment by re-revising my article(after I ended the contract) and checking again with copyscape. It still came up plagiarized in certain areas!


My question is, how can copyscape be such a determining factor in whether an article is plagiarized, when shared terminology and quotes come up in red as being copied? Unless you write an article on a unique topic that hasn't been covered  or you provide a unique angle to a topic that has already been tackled, how can you  possibly avoid some similarities in writing for a topic so frequently covered, like in colon cleansing?


Any advice given would be greatly appreciated!





Were the articles you used for research and \ or as a reference also the "source texts" according to Copyscape?


If yes, you probably didn't rephrase enough. And the client's concern is 100% understandable: if copyscape can detect it, google will too... and will penalize him for that.


Otherwise.. well that would be a nonsense indeed.

@Simone F wrote:

Were the articles you used for research and \ or as a reference also the "source texts" according to Copyscape?


If yes, you probably didn't rephrase enough. And the client's concern is 100% understandable: if copyscape can detect it, google will too... and will penalize him for that.


Otherwise.. well that would be a nonsense indeed.

OMG "rephrasing" is still plagiarism!



Community Guru

lmao you're an experienced writer and thought this was ok? Who cares if it passes copyscape? If you don't plagiarize, you don't ever have to run anything through copyscape. As a matter of fact, a writer who says they do it is a red flag.


Real writers don't use copyscape because they don't plagiarize.


And btw, rewording content and slapping a link on it is still plagiarism. What journalism collage taught you that plagiarism is just copying word for word? LOL

Community Guru

Your problem is that there are two realms of "writing."


Real writers and real editors do not use copyscape, and many are not even aware of its existence.


When Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol," he did not use copyscape. When Watson and Crick published ground-breaking research on the DNA helix, they did not use copyscape. If their works were submitted to copyscape today, there would probably be a lot of red flags.


If you are a "real" writer, doing original research or thoughtful synthesis, legitimately surveying published information and coalescing that information in a professional manner, or writing original fiction, you have no need for copyscape and your editors have no need to pass your writing through copyscape.


There is another realm of writing that is focused on attracting web users to websites and generating revenue through advertising and sales, and part of the strategy for doing so is hosting writing with keywords that may attract target clientele. Posting quality, original writing is not a primary concern. But there are concens about getting penalized by Google algorithms that detect duplicate work, and there are concerns about being accused of simply copying content from other sources and using that content without attribution or permission.


This "second realm" of writing is where copyscape comes into play.


Keep in mind that many project owners who work with the "second realm," and many of the "writers" who do this kind of work, are only vaguely familiar with the "first realm" of writing (which I like to call "real writing"). The people hired to do re-writes in order to re-use content without getting caught or without getting flagged by computer algorithms and programs often have no experience doing "real" writing. Their motivation is strictly financial. Their abilities are limited, but they do own a computer and they have an Internet connection.

The hilarious part about these copyscape people is that copyscape is one of the few companies that have permission from Google to scrape their results. You're not allowed to scrape Google search resutls without permission, so anyone who does risks getting their IP banned.


Copyscape lists like the first 10 results that it finds in Google, and it doesn't guarantee if I take a sentence from some part of the content that I won't find plagiarism. I used to do it all the time with the writers I had. They would tell me that it passed copyscape and sure enough I'd find the content "reworded" by just searching a sentence in the content.


I have insulting words for people like this but I think today I'll pass on getting modded.


meh the collage failed

Community Guru
What percentage of the article was identified as "plagiarised" by Copyscape? It's fairly common for such checkers to flag common phrases that a lot of writers will, naturally, tend to use in their writing as be "stolen" from another piece of work.

Plaigirism aside, the client got an article for $5.

Community Guru

@Andrea H wrote:

(...) I had to write an article on '11 home remedies for colon cleansing' for someone's blog. It was a test article to see if I was the right fit, only paying $5.


No, it was not a test article, it was the actual job. A lot of semi-fraudulent clients do this, they lurk greenhorns into cheap labor, giving them false hope for more work later.


Then, you don't spin content. Even if you're an inexperienced writer. You don't do this.


Finally, you should take care of the test scores on your profile. As a writer, you can't have English skills tests that are just above average.


Being a native English-speaker, none of your English tests can be lower than any of mines. Because I'm not a native English-speaker.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

@Rene --  You make an excellent point about the test scores,  Now, here's something that I find mystifying about "Rising Talent." Andrea and I seem to have a great deal of overlap in our skill sets. Compare her test scores, profile, and education to mine. She has the "Rising Talent" badge. Me? I have the "chopped liver" imprimatur.

Janean, my opinion is that her talent is still rising, while yours is already on the top 🙂


Other than that I have no idea why you don't have this badge or a JSS badge. There must be some criteria in play here, but whatever they are, something in the way the system is conceived is flawed.


"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Aw, shucks, Rene -- thanks!


I can certainly live without Upwork's crumbs of approval. But I really don't understand the Byzantine "Rising Talent" designation system. It is opaque, to say the very least. There is an explanation that supposedly covers the requirements, but the "explanation" is a bit murky. And there is no affirmative application process. As far as I can figure it all out, one waits breathlessly, waits like a spring debutante, all a-flutter, hoping to be plucked from the crowd by some sort of algorithmical magic... selected as (wait for it! wait for it!) "Rising Talent." O, be still my beating heart! (Or, better yet, one is chosen to have the coveted "JSS" bestowed.) I am a "Rising Talent" wallflower at Upwork's coming-out ball. Yeah, well, I'll live. I'm paying the bills. Yet, I see other freelancers who are designated as "Rising Talent," and, y'know, if the Chosen Ones happen to share my own field of expertise, I cannot help but compare my credentials to theirs. And I sometimes just shake my head in a rather befuddled way and mutter: "Really? I mean... Are ya kiddin' me?"


As one of my daughters likes to say:  "Whatevsies."

Community Guru
You could write how to cleanse your colon in 15 steps for $6 and pull a one up.

Writing about colon cleansing without plagiarizing existing work should not be a problem, but clients sometimes take the Copyscape thing to ridiculous lengths.


I write a lot of astronomy related articles, and one (past) client in particular used to have a big issue with common astronomical phrases, words, and terms. For instance, I could not ever say that the Sun is a third generation star, or that Jupiter's magnetic field is 50 000 times as strong as Earth's.


These facts can never change, but Copyscape ruled supreme in this client's world, no matter how many times I explained to him that the strength of a magnetic field will not change just because Copyscape keeps on flagging "magnetic field" and "50 000 times". There are many other examples, but the point is that common terms in any field will always return red flags. Is this plagiarism, or abuse by a client? 


Needless to say, I dumped this client when he rejected an article on the grounds that I had plagiarized an article on NASA's official site. According to him, I should have realized that I could not copy the dates on which the Moon would be full in a particular year. Really?


Did  he expect the dates to change because Copyscape would find about a gazillion other sources listing the same dates? Copyscape may have its uses in some circumstances, but for technical writing in which words, phrases, or terminology can never change, it is beyond a joke.  


these are excellent firsthand examples from your own experiences. Thank you for sharing this.


That is a good example of how this Copyscape mentality can be present in either contractors or writers.


If they're not both on the same page with this, then it will probably not be a good match.

Reiner, as a scientific writer you are probably familiar with the infinite expansion and the multiverse theories. According to those sets of theories, our universe may be one in an infinite number of others, each of them having its own laws of physics and its constants tuned differently.


Keep those clients, but just write articles about any other universes. Since there should be an infinite number of them, the likelihood of a Copyscape match with a parallel universe should be negligible.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

@Reinier B wrote:

Writing about colon cleansing without plagiarizing existing work should not be a problem... 

 ...unless you happen to be informed enough to know that colon cleansing is a ridiculously popular, potentially harmful fad with no proven benefit. That, if you happen to be a legitimate health writer, is a problem.