For many years on the Internet, whatever was typed into a search engine, if it was found at all, appeared verbatim as the first item listed for consideration. Thus, if one typed in the title of a published article or book, this publication would immediately appear and one’s on-going investigation could proceed uninterrupted. The only problems came when a title, or its spelling, was unsure. As long as one was sure of one’s facts, the search engine provided a fast and easy way to a desired destination. Regrettably, this is no longer the case, and instead of a search for a complete title, one or two key words are selected for special treatment, which often means that several pages of unwanted listings of commercial websites are tediously scanned before the search in abandoned.
Authors of on-line articles are used to having their work taken and republished on other websites. Sometimes articles are found produced exactly as the original with both the correct attribution and even resource material and URL links. On other occasions, only the attribution is found. But there are many examples of articles being reproduced verbatim, under the same title but with a different author’s name. It can never be known how many articles are stolen and republished under a different title.
For a number of years, it was possible to find one’s articles reproduced with the same title, simply by entering the title in the search engine. This was of great help for authors seeking to trace where special interest in their articles might lie, and it revealed sources of foul practice, even if, in most cases, nothing could be done by way of redress. In the present situation, this is no longer possible. Very often, not even the original publication can be found, and when it is found it may be buried under several pages of unwanted commercial websites. For almost all searches for titles now, no publication on any other website comes to light. For example: in a search for an article entitled: ‘A Publishing Company Without People,’ the article was not found in twenty pages of listings of websites advertising publishing companies. The same negative result came from a search for an article entitled: ‘Doubt: The End of Killing?’
It is quite clear that money has now fully taken over the Internet. The system is designed to direct every enquiry to commercial websites. And present day search engines are capable of quite astonishing contortions, often turning a straight forward title into disparate fragments that are used to promote several different market segments. This is bad for authors as well as for those websites that live by publishing articles on-line. While it is understood that some priority must be accorded to those who pay, it is to be hoped that something can be done to restore a degree of the integrity of the original Internet.