ONTD Misrepresents And Then Covers It Up
By Alex Cranz
As tongue in cheek as it may be ONTD reposted this article with a very lovely (or maybe just over the top) citation. Perhaps you think I’m an asshole for asking for proper citations but whatever, I like it when work is properly attributed to the author. Seeing as all I really wanted was an acknowledgement of the problem I’m pretty happy with this and will be closing down comments here. Thanks for the visit and if you decide to return tomorrow we’ll tackle other important issues like what happened on Rizzoli & Isles tonight and how good The Adventures of Tintin is.
And now an example of a perfectly reasonable citation that could have been used to avoid all this
This morning, I woke up with a few emails from one of the writers at FemPop. An article she wrote was linked to on Jezebel. Cause for celebration, right? We’re a small, feminist-oriented website and who wouldn’t want a link from the grand pooba of feminism online? Only the link, instead of taking you to FemPop, took you to ONTD, where the writer’s name was removed, there was no mention of FemPop, and the only note that it didn’t originate at ONTD were three small x’s with a link back to the original article.
Of course Jezebel didn’t link to FemPop. The contributor at ONTD went out of his/her way to hide the origin of the piece! I contacted Jessica Coen at Jezebel and she was very gracious and kind. She fixed the problem and we shook hands virtually over the internet. Disaster averted, and thank you Jessica for reminding me that the “p” word was a very strong word and not appropriate in the case of what happened with Jezebel! You’re awesome!
Then I contacted ONTD, because they reprinted our article without permission and didn’t acknowledge the original author. It was something so dangerously close to the “p” word that I may have used it a few times.
ONTD promptly deleted the article and all 200+ comments. Well, that’s one way to deal with this problem, but it wasn’t the way I preferred. I would rather have a proper link back and acknowledgement, you know? So I contacted ONTD on Twitter to see if they could make some note about what happened, or, at the very least, deal with the contributor who essentially stole our material.
ONTD first refused, because the article no longer existed. Then they claimed “no one saw it,” despite being up for three days, being linked by Jezebel and having over 200 comments.
I kept downgrading my request, until all I asked was that the contributor be reprimanded so what happened to us wouldn’t happen to other small blogs.
“We’re not punishing members.”
Any further requests for a dialogue so we could seek a solution that would save ONTD face, and make the editorial staff at FemPop happy, were shut down when ONTD deleted our entire Twitter conversation and linked us to Livejournal’s DMCA.
Thankfully, I use YoruFukurou, and the whole conversation was still available to me. So now you can read it, too! It goes bottom-to-top and left-to-right per each photo.
Writing this whole article, I’ve found myself questioning things. FemPop is gearing up for a big announcement and this issue comes at the worst possible moment. So should I even pen this article? Is it appropriate?
Moreover, I’m a lady and a businesswoman and the number one rule for women in business is to let sleeping dogs lie. To quietly allow things like this to happen because raising a fuss–fighting back–is inappropriate. Now, I may be labeled a shrew or an attention whore or any other number of misogynistic and irritating epithets, but folks, we strive to be ethical at FemPop. That means we don’t write about some things even though it will give us hits. We always provide links, even though it will harm our “bounce rate.” We sacrifice success for ethics.
What ONTD did was unethical in every way possible. They perpetuated a very bad model where big sites steal from little sites and tell us to be grateful that eyeballs even see our words. Their reaction was so condescending, unethical and downright nasty that we’ve now made it our policy not to use ONTD as a news source. We encourage other sites who value artists and believe credit is always deserved to stop using ONTD as well.
To comment on how damaging practices like this are to writers, here’s Rebecca Jane:
So, earlier this month, I wrote this article.
The title’s a bit incendiary, but the piece itself is a critical reflection on Diablo Cody’s career.
I went a bit bananas and fired off a couple of emails and tweets and status updates about my work having been stolen, which I then retracted…because they did link to my article, you know, the one they just posted in full, at the bottom of the page…let me know when you find it.
On FemPop.com, my article received 0 comments.
On ONTD, it received well over 200.
I’m going to be a bit more real than I typically am on Facebook (famous. last. words.). I work my ass off on every piece of ephemera that I put out on the internet. I know there are times when I must be the Facebook friend you remove from your feed, due to my love of spamming the hell out of you with all of my links, but the truth is, if I wasn’t writing as much as I was, as frantically as I do, I’m not quite sure what I’d do with myself.
See, it’s all towards the end of making this writing thing a paid deal. Because, after fourteen years, I’ve hit the roof, in terms of my tolerance for quite literally answering a phone for eight hours every day. I put the amount out on the web that I do because I want it to be seen, and I want to be hired.
In the US today, with unemployment being de rigeur, I feel like an asshole bemoaning my job, because I should be lucky to have one. Unfortunately, most of the time I don’t feel lucky. I feel really, really unhappy. I feel like maybe I’ve made bad, poor, wrong choices, and that’s why I’m 28 working a job that could not be more in opposition with what I set out to do with my life.
It’s the writing I do – good bad and ugly – that gives me a sense of purpose and a feeling that, no matter how hard things get, (and at present they are pretty rough) I’ve picked the right path: Write or die.
That’s why, when a site takes my work and does the bare minimum necessary to keep me from flinging the words “Plagiarism” off at them, it only serves to heighten that feeling of being silenced – because when do you something like this, that’s what you’re doing.
Hug a writer in your life. They mostly need hugs.