I use the term "Flogging" loosely as it was coined by one of my writer-friends. And this refers to the parasitic practice of attaching links to other people's posts on the internet to deflect traffic to one's own peddling, moral or immoral.
I stumbled on this phenomenon when I began to receive an unusually high volume of comments to a post titled "Travel is Education" that I had posted on a public blog site. The initial comments to my post were complementary and interesting, but after awhile they started to deteriorate into statements that were totally out of context. However, at the end of each of these nonsensical musings were tags like "dissertation writing services available - contact (web hyperlink)" Out of curiosity, I clicked on these links and was taken to sites offering to write exams, dissertations and essays for students taking their undergraduate and post-graduate programs. I was incensed for two reasons: (a) how could these squatters be sitting on my stomping ground like those pavement hawkers peddling their wares under the awnings of official tourist shops in Venice, and (b) how could people blatantly sell (or buy) educational credentials in the first world when this was a practice once relegated only to third world countries by snobby academics in the west? Would I ever hire a college grad again without subjugating them to a handwritten, closed-computer essay to test their independent writing and thinking abilities?
I then posed my dilemma to my fellow authors on this blog site and discovered that I was not alone - they were all being flogged! Many hadn’t complained for fear of reprisal, it seemed. Sure, it's easy to attract the wrath of these anonymous bloodsuckers in the form of ugly comments and negative votes that play havoc with one's Google rankings and Klout scores and other meritocracies that claim to measure our self-worth these days. However, I felt it worth speaking out, despite the potential fallout, because writers live and die by their words and if their words are to be subverted without protest, then what is left, why participate at all in this endeavor that does not feed the belly but only feeds the soul?
Now to my other source of distress: the buying and selling of credentials. This is a plea to those students out there who are supposed to pay for my retirement through their diligent work to keep the economy humming: If you are going to cheat with your education, it leaves me little doubt that you will not cheat at other things, like shareholder investments and taxes; and if you don't pay your taxes we will end up a beggar nation, and the streets will be littered with senior citizens with their bowls tipped upward; and the first world would have fallen into third place.
And my plea to fellow writers who have been flogged: Take up your pen and flog these pests in return, expose their sins in the most brilliant and technicolored prose that you can muster. Inspire those students looking for help with dissertations to become like you and develop their art of insightful and incisive writing that will make them successful on their own steam. We do not taste freedom until we lose it, and complaisance is the first steps towards that loss.
And God bless the Flogged !