on plagiarism.

A while ago, I posted a little essay called “Why the Gun is Civilization“. It was pretty well received, and got me a lot of positive comments from a variety of people. Some folks asked for permission to reprint and publish the essay in various newsletters and webzines, and I gladly granted it every time, only asking for attribution in return.

Recently, I have noticed my essay pop up on the Internet a lot in various forums, most of which I do not frequent. This in itself causes me no grief, but the reposts are almost invariably attributed to someone who is not me. Some are attributed to a Major L.Caudill, USMC (Ret.), and some are merely marked as “forwarded” by the same person. Others are not attributed at all, giving the impression that the person who posted the essay is also its author.

In school, we call reproduction without attribution “plagiarism”. It’s usually cause for a failing grade or even expulsion in most college codes of conduct. In the publishing world, we call the same thing “intellectual property theft”.

Now, my little blog scribblings are hardly published works in the traditional sense, nor do I incur any financial damage from this unattributed copying, but it’s still a matter of honor. I did, after all, sit down and type up that little essay. It may not make it into any print anthologies, but it’s mine, and seeing it with someone else’s name on the byline is a little annoying. Call it ego, call it vanity, but there it is.

In the end, I guess I should probably shrug it off and tell myself that I can produce something that’s worth stealing.

28 thoughts on “on plagiarism.

  1. LawDog says:

    That sucks, buddy.

    Have you tried getting in touch with Maj Caudill, USMC(ret)?

  2. Mark says:

    I’ve quoted it a couple of times, and I admit, it didn’t occour to me to ask permission for which I apologise. However, I have always attributed it to you with a link. Hope I haven’t added to your ire.

  3. Jerry says:

    I saw it linked on “Sharp as a Marble.” Thought it was a great argument. I’ve got a copy of it, with your by-line, to refer to.

    No plagiarism intended. Just want to use to refer too.

    Hope it’s okay?

  4. BobG says:

    I have quoted people numerous times, but to me it is only common courtesy to correctly attribute the quote. Otherwise you are taking credit that is not due.

  5. Christina says:

    I saved it as a wordpad document on my computer, just for my own edification, but certainly list you as the author.

  6. Eric says:


    This just turned up on http://www.warriortalk.com with the Maj. Caudill attribution. I set the record straight, and provided a link to this blog entry.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The essay has recently been posted on Free Republic with the wrong attribution. I do not have an account there & am not going to sign up for this — but if anyone reading this does have a Freeper acct, it’d be a kindness to post the correct attribution.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I posted this on Packing 4 Life, did not know who wrote it only the forwarded by, We have fixed that and have given you credit, I suspect it will show up on alot of gun forums.Great article.

  9. Kristopher says:

    Once it gets posted to someone’s email, Lusers immediately fail to properly attribute it.

    Then it spreads in corrupted form back to blogs via email.

    Googling “Why the Gun is Civilization” turns up a 50% failure rate in proper attribution.

  10. KnightErrant says:

    I created an account and left a comment over at FreeRepublic to correct the attribution of the article. It was “submitted for review”. Hopefully it will show up shortly.

  11. Anonymous says:

    You have written something worthy to be repeated. Lack of attribution comes with that territory. Most of that is lack of knowledge or poor writing habits of those repeated what you wrote.

    Attribution is important. But you know it is yours as do many others. Feel good you wrote something worth repeating. Not many people achieve that.


  12. Tess says:

    I apologize. I posted this on opencarry.org after it was sent to me. I googled it to make certain it wasn’t a hoax, too.

    Someone on opencarry.org set me straight. I will ask the person who sent it to me to re-transmit with the correct authorization.

    Sorry for the error.

  13. Bob Cavalcante says:

    Marko, what an excellent and well written piece! I would love to post this on my blog http://www.rightisright.us, with your permission.

  14. Marko says:


    you have it. Thanks for the kind words.

  15. Marko says:

    Thanks for all the support, folks. I’ve noticed quite a few corrections spurred by comments from my ‘net buddies.

    No need to apologize for unintentional misattribution. (Hell, it’s not like I’m losing royalties here.) I’d just like to have a chat with the knucklehead who first added the Major as the author before forwarding/posting the whole thing somewhere else.

  16. Matt G says:

    In all probability, it happened this way:

    The good Major found your post, and liked your words so much, he cut an pasted them to friends in an email. Either he forgot to attach the proper attribution, or did it wrong, or just plain listed it too far above or below the text, and one of the readers didn’t see it. They, in turn, copied the text and posted it in a blog, or an email, or a discussion board, and, thinking that they were properly attributing it to the author, attributed it to the guy they got it from– Maj Caudill.

    Sometimes these things are just honest, unfortunate mistakes.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This essay also showed up at AssaultWeb.net, attributed to the infamous Major L. Caudill, USMC (Ret).


    I posted a correction, giving the cite of your original essay and the note on plagiarism. The folks at AssaultWeb are good, solid people, so I’m inclined to believe that Matt G is right, and this just an honest, unfortunate mistake. Anyway, I have corrected the record there.


  18. Kristine says:

    Your original post also showed up on the Black Bear Blog today, attributed to the Major. I let Tom Remington, who writes the Black Bear Blog know, and the author of the article is now correctly named.

  19. kldimond says:


    Would that I could write so clearly and accessibly.

    May I add it to my personal sustainability and survival website http://www.live-well-survive-well.com, with full attribution and link, of course?

    Civilization without self-defense is unsustainable!

  20. Bob says:

    Hi Marko,

    I’m afraid I screwed up too. The article was sent to me by a friend, with the Col. whatsis attribution, and I stuck it up on my site because it was so well-written.

    Apologies! If you permit me to keep the article on display, what is the exact attribution you would like given? Copyright? Name? Link to site?

    I’m new here, and only found this spot because I did a search for this Colonel to see if it was okay with *him* to post it. blush


  21. R. W. Gaines says:

    I always post a link/credit when posting articles; if no author shown, I indicate “author unknown,” received via e-mail, etc.

    An extreme case, I think, of this problem here 9below)…


    Dick Gaines

  22. Bob says:

    Would you take a peek at this and see if it gives adequate attribution? Thanks..



  23. Anonymous says:

    This is a copy of the email you sent to president@vcdl.org
    Mr Cleave,

    The most recent VCDL Update 8/13/07 (section 23) claims that the
    authorship of “Why The Gun In Civilization?” is a Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret).

    To the best of my knowledge, the true author is Marko Kloos of the
    Munchkin Wrangler blog – please see his comment entitled “On plagiarism”
    dated 16 June 2007 at

    As a matter of honor I would suggest that you investigate and give
    credit where credit is due.

    Kind regards,
    Andy C

  24. Anonymous says:

    Just to let you know, I unintentionally spread this essay on Huffington Post in a similar manner to how it was spread to me (attributed to the retired Major). I have since corrected the error and given both proper credit and this blog’s web address.

    I extend my apologies. It was an excellently-written essay arguing a point I’ve argued for some time now in a manner more eloquent than I could manage. I thank you for your time, and once again apologize for not checking my sources first.

    Have a kind holiday to you and yours,


  25. Pat Cannon says:

    I just got the ‘by Maj. Caudill’ version in a marketing email from Front Site. I replied with a link to this post.

    Eventually the wavefront of the wrong version will reach the edge of the universe and be reflected back, and the correct version will catch up with it.

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