A few weeks ago, I spoke with a writer working on an article for Health.com about things you shouldn't say to someone with RA. I spent a good hour of my time speaking with her, thinking I was doing a good service by helping out a fellow writer and spreading awareness about rheumatoid arthritis.
Now, the topic of things you shouldn't say to people with RA is a common one- many RA bloggers, including myself, have written a variety of posts addressing some of the things we very commonly hear from other people about RA that drive us crazy. For instance, I wrote this one way back in 2008, shortly after starting my blog, on how I hate hearing from people that 'Now is the time to have RA.' There is even a blog out there called But You Don't Look Sick, another common response we RA'er's often hear. This topic is nothing new, but it remains a pertinent one for many of us.
One of my fellow RA bloggers, Kelly at RA Warrior, wrote a post back in 2009 called 20 Things Not To Say To A Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient. While I have read lots of Kelly's posts, I haven't read them all, so when I saw the recent article on Health.com which included several quotes from me, I unfortunately didn't catch the very striking similarities between Kelly's article from 2009 and the one which Health.com just published.
A reader thankfully alerted me to this fact yesterday, and I headed over to Kelly's blog to see for myself. I would encourage all of you to please head over to RA Warrior and do the same. Again, while the topic is very common and no doubt many of us have written about our own experiences with it, the evidence Kelly presents is pretty, well, damning. It really does appear that they completely ripped off her work.
When I saw this yesterday, I was mortified. All of us bloggers work very hard on maintaining our blogs as a way to create and support the RA community. Most of us don't get paid for maintaining our blogs or for the time put into our writing. I know Kelly pours tons of time into hers, and as a result, her blog is a huge resource for the community. I, too, have found my writing on other websites in the past-sometimes with attribution, sometimes not. When this happens, it really sucks. It feels like you've been suckerpunched. Most of us who write extensively on our blogs post Creative Commons licenses to help protect our work, but unfortunately, many people seem to think it's ok to steal our work anyway and post it as their own. So far, I have never found my writing on another website that is using it to make a profit, though, and this is what feels really galling about Health.com, which does make money off of the advertisements it sells next to its content. I feel really horrible and angry on behalf of Kelly, and also really angry that I was inadvertently roped into this in any way. I wish I had known better. I wish I didn't need to know better.
More than that, I wish that instead of ripping patient writers off and thinking we won't find out, that publications and websites would hire from the source and give credit where it is due. There are a lot of talented writers in the patient community who would be happy to be hired to write for other publications. Stealing the work of others is simply not OK. Shame on anyone who does it.
If you passed links on to the Health.com article, please take the time to correct it and give credit where credit is due.