This morning I am really frustrated. I published a Squidoo lens yesterday, shared it with my readers and Facebook friends, only to find a comment on FB this morning that my squidoo lens was locked. I was flabbergasted.
I quickly checked my email to see the notification Squidoo sent me. I cringed when I saw the notification. In all fairness I am including an excerpt below.
Update: My Squidoo lens was unlocked! Humans checked it and realized an error was made by their software.
Dear Squidoo Lensmaster,
You published a new lens yesterday (which is great!) but we see that it contains a high degree of duplicate content. This is a notification that your lens has been unpublished from public view:
==WHY WAS THIS LENS UNPUBLISHED?==
This lens was unpublished due to high quantities of content that exactly match content and writing posted elsewhere on the web. We call this duplicate content. A lens needs to contain original content that carries your personal point of view and words written by you, which are exclusive to your Squidoo lens and can’t be found anywhere else on the web. For content that you quote on your lens from another source, you need to be sure you’re crediting the source and including a link back to it….
Since your lens is being unpublished for having large amounts of duplicate content, or for plagiarizing, and since both are against our Terms of Service, your lens will remain locked from view and eventually deleted…
I could not believe it! I do not plagiarize. I pride myself about publishing original content. I questioned myself. Was it really possible I committed such a grave error in judgement?
My only recourse was to turn to Copyscape. It is an online (free or paid) plagiarism detection service that checks if your articles are original and whether same or similar text content appears elsewhere on the web. To make sure I had the highest quality service I purchased the premium option that allows one a thorough check for 5 cents per check.
I copied the entire content of my lens into Copyscape. To my dismay it returned 27 positive results. OUCH! Could this be the reason why my Squidoo lens was locked?
Upon examining the plagiarized/duplicate content it turned out that all 27 “violations” referred to a quote that contained a sentence “A key feature of LSI is its ability to extract the conceptual content of a body of text by establishing associations between those terms that occur in similar contexts“. This sentence was included in a quote from Wikipedia, which I placed on my lens on purpose as this definition is very complex and I could not define it any better.
When I removed the quote from the text and checked my text with Copyscape again, no duplicate content violation was detected. Below is the answer from the detection service:
No Results Found
Copyscape uses advanced statistical algorithms to search for copies of your content online. When no results are found, this is most likely because no content that is sufficiently similar to your content is currently available on the web.
There may be some rare cases where similar content exists online but Copyscape does not find it, perhaps because this content is located on a web page that is not indexed by search engines, or because the content has few identifying features.
I was so relieved! But I am still upset because I followed Squidoo rules, enclosed the quotation in quotation marks and linked it to the original source, Wikipedia. It must be that some Squidoo software checks the published lenses and that they lock any content that shows any duplication (irrespective of quote or no quote).
Of course, I immediately contacted Squidoo and disputed the lock out. This process may take up to 30 days.
What really bothers me the most is the fact that I spent many hours creating my lens. I did it in keeping with my off page optimization efforts to expose my website to a wider audience. It bothers me that my honest effort was so unilaterally dismissed by some software.
There are a couple of morals to this story. First do not include, even if allowed, known quotes in your Squidoo lenses or else they may be ruthlessly removed. Second, it seems that more and more we are at the mercy of some silly machines.
This experience really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I had great plans of publishing many more lenses. But if my Squidoo lens was locked for no other reason than a quote that complies with Squidoo TOS I am not sure I want to spend the effort of creating lenses which can be taken out of circulation at a whim of a machine.
Please leave me a comment or a “like”. I am feeling really blue.