There is a lot I have to say about such a controversial process — there’s a lot that I have been through involving it. Like Pokémon, and at the beginning, some Myspace; absolutely normal things like that.
This reflects mostly onto the web aspect, so delving in to the process of mimicry regarding web development and graphic design — there are many ways to view this action. Some shun it immediately, not realizing that they do in fact, take part in it, whether knowingly or unaware. Others of course, encourage it yet shun it when it reaches a point considered as damaging. The issue here is that the line and boundary between the two are very thin, they’re never drawing completely and there is no clear mark whether you’re crossing the territory of what is acceptable or not. The only clear distinction we see between the two is the blatant, outright mimicry that is of course — extremely wrong and should definitely not be done at all costs, or the quick glance at something and desire to take a small visual bit from it, whether its the mixture of font styles or the color scheme, and so on and so forth… though even that has unclear boundaries already.
So in my own perspective, what is mimicry in itself and what are the acceptable forms of it? What are the forms of it that actually allow for personal growth rather than not? As with everyone, I have done this — I know most if not all people are no exception, especially at the beginning there are lots of people who are more lacking in creative fuel others. Being in quite weird communities throughout my years has made me really aware of the severity of such an act, though it’s much more common in tight-knit communities, and obviously lacking in professional ones. To namely (and quite embarrassingly) name them all, they consisted of the ‘Myspace’ graphic design era where people offered… glittery welcome banners with white girls who spent entire days adding friends until they hit the daily friends limit on the now-obsolete social networking site to reach thousands of friends, which was apparently equal to a status of popularity. Next was the Pokémon community, which I honestly adored since I made a lot of friends. The community was scarce and dwindling, meaning that we were all the more tight knit. As boastful as it seems it is, I recall being the person who updated the most often and with the most outrageous content. Everyone had fairly normal articles; and I recall having a fictional article about how to steal from a Pokémart. Revolutionary, I know. Finally, as with most Pokémon websites do — there was a slow transition into a graphic design website. Rather than articles, there were more graphic-oriented content as I wanted to hone my graphic design skills as well as web ones, even though they weren’t the best. However, instead of converging with all the ‘anime graphic design sites’ that still float around today, I was stuck in some weird kind of limbo wherein I offered content that I wanted to offer. I remember hopping from site to site, looking at things that would give me an idea of what to offer. That wasn’t the case in the final site before this one, however.
I made whatever I wanted, as I said. Websites like mine were scarce, teenagers these days weren’t into making cool websites with anime characters and sparkling cursors anymore, you see? So my site eventually converged into this giant clusterfuck of content — there were icons, anime icons — I remember having not watched half of the series that was on my icons page. 100×100 icons, who actually searches the dark corners of the internet to find an icon that they can use for forums. (Additionally — does anyone use forums? I only use them when I need, tech support or something.) I see no amazing prize when you see a teenager’s poorly designed icon of some random anime character with huge eyes. To be honest, I ignored the fact that it seemed like the only visitors to these sites were other people with sites. Though it seems like I am straying from the point, which I am, there’s an ultimatum that I want to bring up.
My site was a clusterfuck, it had Minecraft skins of Dangan Ronpa characters, it had angsty teenage writing that you would normally find on Wattpad, and it had more than eight-hundred icons of anime characters. It was amazing, I was astounded at the content that I had created, so utterly divine. Handcrafted by my superior technological skills at the age of twelve, there was no way that anyone could beat my masterpiece; the fact that no one else was aware of the existence of my website helped as well — but still, no one could defeat the content that I had so painstakingly strived to create. It was magnificent, akin to a creation of the gods.
Most importantly, I did not care about what content I was offering. It was for myself, my enjoyment — and very partially, what I think others would enjoy. Though there wasn’t much acknowledgement of the fact that I have personally never seen anyone using any ‘resources’ that I was offering, and that my chatbox was filled with other people who were affiliated with my site and attacks from spambots, it was pure happiness at its core. I was creating, there was so much that I had to offer! Since I was unfortunately, banned from using the computer during weekdays in order to focus on schoolwork, the weekends were my workstation. Up until the nocturnal hours wherein my parents would shout at me to sleep and wake up early to continue (who wakes up early on a weekend, pure blasphemy!) I would be sitting in front of my tiny laptop, handed down and passed on — filled with .txt documents and downloaded images on my desktop, downloading fonts for hours to create superior graphics involving my anime waifus, it was amazing. I was a monster — I wrote so much and adorned my content with pictures so delicately chosen from Google Images. Every step of the way was improvement for myself, it was a way for me to think of more creative ideas.
I was a Pokémon website that didn’t offer the usual gameplay mechanics — after all, I read it on my (miraculously) still-active favorite Pokémon website, you shouldn’t just write generic content that everyone else has! As aspiring as it is to have 11px text on your sidebar that reaches down and down, there was no substantial content in those pages. No one would bother looking through them — no one would bother looking at a copy-pasted paragraph on each and every Pokémon game with the wiki reference numbers still attached in plain text to it. In a sea of generic game information and unfinished walkthroughs of Pokémon games, here I was — twelve years old and writing about how Eevees spend their halloweens, or how one could fictionally steal from a Pokémart, as immoral as that is. I came up with my own creepypasta theories, no more were the mysterious games with the cartridge kind of ruined picked up in garage sales, I was the one who vicariously came up with absurd and not-very-spoopy-but-hey-at-least-I-tried-to-be-spoopy horror novels! But instead of novels, it was more like one thousand word bursts. And that’s right, I had (as you can see) and have a penchant for writing overtly-long articles that seem to wind on endlessly.
Here I am, with my own domain — a domain that I always dreamed of getting as it is an alias that I have stuck with over the years ever since my first usage of it in the amazing online game of AdventureQuest, which as you can clearly tell, has an astounding, revolutionary name that rivals that of Sakura Spirit, which had a lot less sakuras and spirit than I thought. I’m quite isolated in the sense of web presence, but I am free from the grasp of affiliates, the communities that I had forcefully checked on my phone every morning in order to drop by and comment on shallow conversations with. Additionally, there is no ‘standard’; no expectation for me to follow. No long list of ‘content required’ or only focus on this certain topic! My brain is free to unleash creativity, whether I want to make a game about my son, a minions fan who is desperately craving salmon sashimi or write an eight-thousand word Zankyou no Terror review that no one would read. It is a haven, an escape that truly is an escape. There are no apologies for not coming up with enough content, nothing.
At its core, my creativity and desire to be individual, to have a spotlight due to the weird thoughts and literature that the inner crevices of my mind had pondered up — is what overshadowed everything else. Mimicry is lost when I have nothing to copy from, but this is only the beginning. I was wrong about finally being safe from other aspiring teenager web developers; I really was wrong.
Secretly and amongst the shadows, I still continued to make graphics. After doing it for years, and after realizing that it was a genuine activity that I liked to do — not for the sake of empty promises for visitors that wouldn’t even come — I still continued. Whether it was freelancing although not technically freelancing since I was being paid virtual currency on a virtual pet site, or making things for my own personal self — attempting to keep up with the web standards of today by viewing other projects and trying to make something up to par with it, it was a sort of nice, hidden escape. I didn’t receive any praise from affiliates that I didn’t bother to care about — after all, it was all just exchanges of kind words that didn’t mean anything since no one was fond of providing constructive criticism except for the rare person here and there.
To my surprise, graphic design and all that suddenly rose into popularity, at school! The entrenches that fuel my hatred!
After many years of baring extinguished hate-fire towards uncentered posters and clashing color schemes, they finally realized that hey, graphic design or rather — media is actually important because it’s better to make things prettier so they can actually attract attention and incite as well as elicit the proper reactions and emotions from viewers to conform to the goal that they are trying to achieve! This was my time to shine, right? I had experience with web development, computer class was allowing me to shine on that aspect, my CSS was on another level — I didn’t even have to listen to any lesson, everything was a breeze to me, except for the fact that we had to code on iPads, which made it significantly less easier, but that’s still okay. What matters is that the lesson at its core, was already like a memorized pattern for me, it was basically engraved in my head, there was no backing out. I knew it all.
The Dawn of Exposure
Unfortunately, little did I know that it’s much harder to raise my hand and say that I can do this! in an environment that doesn’t encourage those kinds of things. Being the shy, introverted person that I am — there was little chance to volunteer, there were so many opportunities that I couldn’t take — perhaps because they were given to more vocal people, people who have made a name for themselves since they knew how to do this. But what about me? I know how to do this too! I’m used to it, I am basically an expert at taking pictures of anime people and composing them into an image that screamed brilliance, the aroma of weeaboo was a wonderful byproduct in the finale of my grand masterwork in these 800×500 pixel Photoshop canvases, DeviantArt would be so, so proud of my improvement and my exquisite repertoire of pixel tools.
Exposure, presence, all of those that I have forever been lacking in my small online webspaces proved to be a problem in real life. Tight-knit communities allowed for me to be much more confident in speaking about my skills, what I could do and all the like. When in real life, especially around people that I have never been comfortable with over the years — it was a much more nerve-wracking experience to volunteer. In fact, did anyone even know that I had the skill to do this? Do I actually have the skill to do this? Am I as good as them? Confidence slowly dissipated as I knew that even if I tried, there was no use. I wasn’t exposed to anything, no one knew the extent of what I could do — as hard-natured as I want to be, it’s still quite shameful to come into something with full and utter confidence, what if it’s shattered?
Standards had returned, expectations arose. Now I had to conform to these, as doing something in your own personal webspace is much different from performing things for the usage of other people — moreso work that would be viewed in real life! It’s easy to make things for myself or for others online, with no intention to be boastful — I rush through orders in virtual pet sites whenever I have the motivation to do so. I have never recalled spending more than twenty minutes on a single item for someone else; and although I know the quality could be much better if I tried, it was still a virtual pet site. I would gladly amp up my game if it meant that it was to be used in person, or most importantly — if I was going to be paid for such an act.
After deciding to let go of all the fear, I decided to quickly make a portfolio that didn’t involve anime characters; as beautiful as my work involving them is, it’s not what I assume people who are looking for posters and normal shit are into. Along with that came with a lot more lessons on graphic design, and the like. Typography and the importance of fonts and their usage took on a whole new level, typeface and the like is so crucial to making good design, unlike in let’s say, past Pokémon graphics where it didn’t really matter as long as it was somewhat visible (and even then, everyone had a thing for blurring things to the max, rest in peace text). It was less likely for one to need to grab existing images as a main focal point for designs, in fact — it was discouraged. There was no easy set of official artwork to use, or enough time to email an artist and ask if permission to use their work with proper credit would be granted. Renders, self-created images, vectors and all the like were given crucial importance, and I had to brave through the usage of Adobe Illustrator.
Despite the utter difference, it was still graphic design — and I love graphic design. When I used to make graphics, they all had the same identity, you could identify a distinct style as similar-styled portraits continued to remain in use. In fact, learning how to make my own vectors, use my own artwork, figure out branding and proper identities for various media forms as well as practicing by making my own things; it was all revolutionary and fun. I was still confused, however. There was so much creative work that people have made that was truly inspiring, works that I have never seen the likes of before, as abstract and minimalist as they are, or how complex; with the usage of ordinary everyday elements that seemed to make their meaning pop out even more. I began digging through behance to gain daily doses of inspiration; even the graphics on my Tumblr dashboard began to evolve as people valued minimalism over giant anime girls floating around.
In my old graphic design days, I remember one instance of someone calling me out. Their site was really neat, although there was scarcely any content I could feel the intense care placed into each and every page — as weird as it sounds. The young me, younger than twelve at that point since it was one of my first beginnings, applied to be their affiliate; and for the first time in my life, I was declined! One afternoon, I was on a roll. I wasn’t talented at making layouts yet, if I recall correctly at that point I was making use of a template from another website (very similar to mine of course) that allowed complete free use of their template. I was thrilled, it was blank and utterly customizable, and at that point I was probably a pro at changing hexadecimal codes and making header images and pasting the code wherever it had to go! I took this as an opportunity; I could redistribute a ton of these layouts, change their colors and headers and whatnot, slap them onto my website and market each one as a separate design. Though remember, the base code, the HTML — wasn’t mine at all.
That person had eventually told me, rather starkly without any politeness in my small pastel pink chatbox, that it wasn’t right to redistribute those things. At first, I was shocked — it allowed for free use! I told them that, and had even linked the original creator of the template to her. She simply said to me that just because it’s free use doesn’t mean that I gain the right to redistribute it as my own work. After all, all I did was change some of the colors, the background image, the header image, and called it some Pokémon-related thing. I mean, nobody was going to use it, nobody would even find those layouts other than her, but she did remind me of the fact. Complying and a bit scared out of my mind, I took the layouts down.
How right they were.
I’ve seen and recognized so many forms of negative mimicry that it’s been quite harrowing to say the least. The same thing over and over, a girl talks about this amazing make-up palette that she ordered (wowzee!) and her ‘close friend’ writes a review the next day of the exact same make-up palette (wowzee that must be an amazing make-up palette!) only for the content to be substantially the same, with more grammatical errors and less effort as a whole placed into it. What exactly did that achieve, I ask? What does one gain from doing such a thing? Is it more content? More publicity from blind sheep followers that adore reviews with pretty pictures and less than a paragraph, or actually a sentence — it’s pretty much just a phrase describing the picture — to compliment and praise?
Today, it stems from the smallest of things that you wouldn’t even imagine. From the layout of a profile to the text on it, perhaps some graphic used in an anime review site — I see it in one of its lowest, most disgusting and pathetic forms. There’s not much to say about it, if you copy the exact format of another person’s work and change some text, or take wonderful totally-consented not-just-a-mirror-but-it-is of someone else’s thing, that’s… great? You’ve failed at doing the most basic human tasks, I admire your proficiency in English, it must be so utterly superior that your thoughts are stars that you cannot fathom into constellations! Thus, you resort to copying… a description. Fantastic, truly an advanced movement of our time.
I used to see copies of pages in Pokémon websites, people would have little quirky pages called “do not click here,” and if you were cheeky enough to indeed move your cursor and place it over that wonderful link and follow its basic reverse-engineering, pop-up after pop-up would follow, forcing you to close all of them until you could actually do anything else on your browser, otherwise; you would have to force close it. It was honestly interesting at first, everyone would have different text appearing, some would even tell stories that would give me a good laugh or some giggles. It kind of got… dreadful and a nuisance once the quality started degrading the more and more sites added it to their own little sections. I began seeing numbers counting up to a hundred, yes. A hundred pop-ups of just a digit or two until it finally reached the salvation of the first three-digit encounter, saving you from your doom… only until it began a countdown of the alphabet… and then the alphabet backwards! This was truly a wonderful movement in the Pokémon fan site time, perhaps akin to the Renaissance, or Romantic period, or something like that.
Less depressing examples of mimicry back then came along like this; everyone’s in a close-knit friend group with one another, we regularly check up on each other’s sites and read every single page — it wasn’t that hard since most sites took at most, fifteen minutes to go over completely. Then suddenly, someone introduces a new type of content, let’s say, screencaps of Pokémon episodes! Which is amazing since I don’t think anyone in that close-knit friend group actually watches the Pokémon anime. Nevertheless, other people brave themselves and start looking at episodes of Pokémon online, and instead of actually watching it for the content — just skip through until they have a decent amount of screencaps, close the episode forever, add it to their site and then wipe the sweat off their furrowed brows. With avid and keen fingers typing away on their keyboard, they proudly announce the addition of thirty Pokémon screencaps in a new section on their page, and soon… everyone in the close-knit friend group has this form of content.
It’s not as bad, truly. It’s not like they copied the exact same episodes as each other… r-right? Neither did they just steal screencaps off of each other, but you can still tell that clearly and distinctly, the first person who thought of adding that content onto their site is the one with the original idea for it, and the fact that everyone else just closely followed immediately after that first person decided to make that decision unto their site, it’s… much more blatant.
Today, there isn’t any copying of that like, unless someone would welcome me into another community of Pokémon webmasters that actually update regularly and not every five months with just an apology and no content of usefulness. I also live in hopes that no one actually copies the content I come up with, which I cling onto either because my content is so fucking absurd and ridiculous that it would seem really obvious; or because no one actually cares about something as… strange as what I make. Anyhow, it’s just small forms that are actually quite… extreme when you know what you’re looking at. Everyone has their own style, everyone has their own distinct way of making graphics, or coding, it’s like everyone having a different process when preparing a meal. Everyone likes different meals of course, and on the off chance that they prepare something exactly the same, there’s still some difference and variation in it, nothing should be exactly alike. There is always a difference.
Though when you look at things and see your touch in it, see the techniques that you tend to do, it’s the return of it. The return of the mimicry that you had once feared. You can’t exactly call out people on it either — they’re used in real-life, in programs and such, no use being a lone person damaging the integrity of others, especially when so much more would back up their side, or tell you to get over it. Where has originality gone, the individuality and our own personal styles in doing things? Slowly, it dissipates again, slowly I see the memories of my twelve year old self materializing in the current times, the present world where I thought all of those things would be gone. Now, it’s much more difficult. There’s no calling out, like what that person had done for me and helped me see, there’s nothing that you can do really; except strive to make something even better. Something that stands out, that screams you, so that everyone would know that this is your touch, it’s you — in the form of pixels and bits.
Destructive Vs. Constructive
Of course, not all types of mimicry are bad, as I’ve made clear previously. There are some that actually constructive, that help one improve! On the other hand, destructive mimicry actually involves the deterioration of one’s ability to showcase what they can do, the removal of their own ability as the mimicked object overshadows their own personal ‘touch’. Destructive mimicry doesn’t benefit their own personal skills, except perhaps… their skills in copying a design, which isn’t the best thing — and isn’t a good thing at all, moreso if you want to be a creative individual, to make things that actually stand out. So what do I find to be destructive and constructive?
Destructive— In the beginning of the present day, I mentioned how I saw two identical reviews, with the one coming after just a poor remake of the original. This is the very premise of destructive mimicry.
What is the point of coming up with content when you offer nothing new? Maybe you can argue with the fact that you have a different viewerbase, that thus such would be exposed to yours since… they wouldn’t see the other’s work, right? Though the mere fact that you’re offering identical content is enough to stem in the fact that you aren’t that far content-wise, if it’s the exact same review with the exact same thing, then how is that a different viewer base? They Google the review, they find two versions, and deduce that yours is the shittier, less-refined one that looks like someone vomited it out for the sake of an increased post count on your website. On the other hand, perhaps you have a lot of friends or fans who only look at your content and not anyone else’s, that’s fantastic, now you have offered your loyal visitor base a piece of shit that anyone could make much better. Quality content, refined and grand.
Destructive mimicry is when you lose the essence of content, when you gain nothing; for the sake of… producing something? Making something that looks nice? I will never truly understand, but as I see it: you copy too blatantly, you take the whole thing, plagiarism and all that, so much that your own self is lost in the production of content. Though I’m not sure if I should even call it production of content — because is it really production when nothing is made at all? You have your shitty, subpar writing that a fourth grader could do better, you learn and gain nothing from the experience except to be aware of the next time someone posts content so you can quickly make your own article to tread in their footsteps, except you’re only stepping in the marks that they’ve already made. In fact, you’re rubbing it off in an attempt to make it yours.
There is no originality, creativity is gone and far lost, you improve nothing whatsoever. Someone out there believes in you, they believe that everyone can make something great, they just have to believe! That’s nice of them, though I believe that someone who has already stooped this low is not ready for a world wherein creatives survive. Though in truth, what is sad is that sometimes the replicas, the dolls of what is much better are the ones that seem to make it. Though remember, in the very essence of things, you are destructive. You have gained nothing, nothing is your own, you take too much ‘ideas’ or ‘inspiration’ that the work is still theirs and not yours; plagiarism as your English teacher would say.
Constructive— Of course, don’t take all of this ranting and rambling to mean that mimicry is bad! There is so much to learn from looking at another’s work, there is inspiration; just how a kid looks up to someone and deems them as their idol, how they want to be just like them.
Constructive mimicry is when you make sure to just take inspiration and inspiration only, or perhaps a typeface used or some colors and whatnot, though not as far as to look like the other person. The content you produce is still yours, its essence and core is yours, the images that you make have your touch, maybe you would try making something that you have never made before, that’s alright if you want to copy it entirely, to see if you get the hang of the process — the issue arises when you post that copied work and deem it as entirely your own, without credit or anything, or deeming it as your own at all. It’s a trace, it’s just a copy. If you saw someone completely, picture-perfectly mimic a famous painting, that may indeed be impressive, especially if they did it with like, only their foot or something — but that’s not their work. It belongs to the original creator, the one who actually strived to make whatever you copied.
You see a really cool design on Behance that uses a lot of cool warm tones, you decide to try making a web layout with warm tones as well, though — you don’t copy the exact hexadecimal color codes or anything, you take a loose idea, change it around; maybe in the final work you would even credit the original for giving you the idea for the color scheme, which is perfect and great! Mimicry is not harmful if done properly, if done for the sake of improving one’s work but keeping it as one’s own work, for taking ideas to make something much better, to get inspired to the fullest, to get motivated so that you can reach beyond your comfort zone and create something better than ever before.
To sum it up, constructive mimicry is all about getting a little push to make something better than you’ve ever made before. Your own work, at its core, livened up further with the ideas from someone else that have really struck you. It’s not copying every single detail, but if you finalize a work with some ideas from others here and there (of course, since sometimes it’s simply impossible to come up with something utterly original, someone else would have done it before you); it’s best to credit them somewhere. It’s seeing something, knowing that it can push you to make something better, and pushing yourself to make something original that’s better than ever before.
The territories are loose, uncharted — what have you. Though I do have my own personal stance on what borderlines on destructive mimicry and creative mimicry, and why you should do some things, why not, all those and the like. Here’s a very brief and short overview on my thoughts and ideas.
Only take something if you can make it better, and different— Although outright copying is of course, really bad; sometimes, if it regards something really general like someone else’s game mechanics page that you’ve seen that can be improved on to be actually decent — then by all means, go ahead and do it. If it’s creative writing however, that is more iffy since it’s someone else’s personal thoughts and words, the concept and construct of their idea is theirs to the core. Though again, if it’s something general like that, then go ahead and revamp it, research well, credit when credit is due, and take its idea, its concept, and make it better with content and writing of your own — make sure it’s drastically different from the original work. Not just for your sake, but for everyone’s. You’re going to amaze yourself along with other people when your final creation is superior in one or two ways, if not most. If you see a graphic on the other hand, it’s quite obvious to tell when it’s still their own work and yours. Remember that the most important thing is to truly make something original; don’t take most of their concept, nor their idea. Same thing. If you want to rehash it, do it — but make it your own, make it greater.
In the scenario regarding the review, it’s totally fine to do something on the same item, of course it’s fine, there are tons of reviews for one item — after all! Though it’s extreme when you add something a day after someone else had poster theirs, and didn’t bother to make any sort of effort into doing it. This would have been fine if for example, the review was done to be utterly comprehensive, to fix out the details that the original review had missed, to introduce your own points rather than just taking the general gist of the phrasing and passing it off as your own.
Update it— If you’ve found quality content that seems to have a missing owner and is from 2005 or so, and you’re willing to fix it up and make it even better, modernize it or something so it doesn’t seem like a relic from the past age, then by all means — go do it! If you see an image riddled with jpeg artifacts and looks millennia old, there’s no harm in doing a before and after to show how much you’ve improved it and changed it, if you can though, give credit to the original owner and make sure that the original work is still intact. You get the added benefit of seeing how much you’ve made it better. If it’s some sort of article that gives outdated information or facts, it’s not really copying — those are facts. Go ahead and do God’s work by providing vital information up-to-date with today’s standards.
Exact color scheme— Sometimes, you see a combination of colors that you’ve never thought of, and just have to make something using those colors! This is a very loose case, if you see it in a color palette that’s offered for free use, or is quite popular — then that’s alright of course, it’s made for free use anyway. Though if around the community you work with (I’m sure there would always be one) someone designs something and you decide to pick up colors exactly the same or extremely similar and make it right after they introduce their work, or even after (it’s their work and I am positive they would recognize it) that is less okay. Check on them to see if it’s fine; but then again, there isn’t exactly a trademark on colors, especially if you’re more of a teenager dabbling in the graphic design world rather than an actual company; it’s something much more loose but it would actually hurt quite a bit to see someone making something that borrows exactly from the palette of my own work, and of course — it further worsens if their end result is regarded as the superior, and worse, the original one; while you are branded as the copy. Alright.
Bits of Code/Writing— No. I know many people who do not want any part of their coding to be copied, it’s like taking a passage from the Bible and claiming it as your own. Right, you didn’t exactly write that. The same goes for absolutely anyone’s creative writing, which is why quotes are a thing in this world. You don’t take a passage and off it as your own. You don’t take a sentence, a paragraph, anyone else’s writing that they’ve poured their emotions and soul to — for the sake of your own disgusting work.
Codes however — you can’t exactly credit someone, neither would most people want to admit that their navigation only looks like that because they copied the style from someone else’s page source. If you see something really nifty that you would like to replicate, look it up or use free bits of code that people have made for free use, not someone’s own work that they have on their website. Learn it yourself, you won’t gain much from copying. In fact, if you see something that you would like to do, then why not learn it — as I’ve said, and be familiar with it on your own terms so that you could make it even better? Pasting it and changing some values here and there, perhaps shifting the order of lines — or even looking at it as you code to copy the general gist of the lines isn’t good. You can look to see how they did it, but please — don’t take it.
Topics— On the theme of topics, don’t do an absolute copy. I know that I am essentially saying the same thing as an introduction to all of these — but hear me out. If someone decides to write on the dynamics of dogs, and you decide to write on the dynamics of cats because you found the article on dogs really interesting, please make it better; substantially better rather than something really short and nothing good. What’s worse is if you follow that writer, and write after they post it you decide that you are mega-inspired and won’t copy every single section from their article for your cat article.
That’s essentially all that I have to say as this is a very vague and broad thing to talk about. There are so many exceptions and loopholes, there’s really no way to decipher what’s okay or not unless you give an extremely detailed account of what you plan to do — and even that can be unsure at times.
Remember that what matters most is that the things you produce are the works that you make; be like someone who owns a Pokémon website and puts whatever the fuck they want, it’s their decision and it’s the creativity that rules the board; nothing else. If you see something really great, then by all means get inspired but never take it and claim it for your own, it’s basic English class plagiarism lessons. If you have failed to comprehend that, I fail to look on you as a person and a human being. Anyone with decent morals could distinguish the border between what’s okay and what’s not.
Like me, if you were caught doing something that you should not have — don’t be angry, be glad that you were called out, don’t make excuses, your behavior is as it is. There is no way to defend it, no excuses that can be made. Pre-twelve year old me learned a lot from that experience, I learned that at the time, layouts weren’t my thing, absurdly out-of-the-box and weird articles were, and I emphasized my content on that aspect; and most importantly — it was fun for me to make, and I was learning a lot about writing and my own thought processes. That creativity was essential, that originality was what I should strive for — that what everyone should strive for! Although you may not be able to make something as good as someone else, if you just copy them; that’s worse than making something. Think of it as art: there are so many people that you would deem to be better than you, but what do you gain from just tracing their works over and over? When you start drawing, your art style is going to be like theirs, and it’s going to be a… horribly distorted and bad version of theirs; it’s not yours either.
Mimicry can teach if done properly; but in almost every case, it mostly takes away the essence of you in whatever you make. Web design, graphic design — they can seem like trivial things, and copying too can see weird, why would one care so much? Should it matter? But it does, and it does harm whoever performs it. Remember, just write about stealing from Pokémarts, it may be weird, it may be different; but it’s yours, original, unmimicked, at its core, your essence is flowing.