Stealing Is Stealing

I have been asked twice recently about the email etiquette of editing someone else’s message, then sending it out as one’s own.

The question is the same to me whether the medium is a memo, a letter, a report, an email message, or any kind of writing. Sometimes writers produce documents for other people, who present the work as their own. Sometimes writers contribute to a team, and the team’s written output is not linked to any particular individuals. In both those situations, the writers do not get recognition for their writing, and they don’t expect to.

But stealing is stealing. When a writer sends a message to a coworker, who then sends that message out–edited or not–as his or her own, without prior agreement, that is stealing another’s work.

Such is my view. What do you think?

Note: I will be traveling the entire week of June 4, and I do not expect to post an entry or respond to comments until June 11.




  1. Amen to honest attribution! In a former life I worked for a manager who was well-known for passing around our reports as her own work. Morale was in the toilet anyway, and this certainly didn’t help!

    Being more computer savvy than she, I devised a way of putting my own name, date of last document edit and filepath into 8 pt. type in a footer that automatically went into all my new documents.

    She didn’t know how to remove that footer, and had I been confronted about it, I could make a good case for the value of everyone knowing the date of the current document and where to find it in the system.

    I didn’t stay in the job very long.

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