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Bloggers and ripping off content

Written By: - Date published: 5:54 pm, September 23rd, 2012 - 53 comments
Categories: Media - Tags: ,

Felix Marwick, in comments at Public Address, raises some concerning behaviour:

I was trying to draw a distinction between what I regard as genuine blogging; opinion and news gathering involving individual research vs blatant plagiarism dressed up as opinion/news.

Forgive me if I get a little pissed off at people who help themselves to my work and that of my colleagues, slap it up on their site without so much as a “please” or a “do you mind”. Journalism costs. You want to take our work? How about asking first? How about making a contribution even?

I don’t mind quotes and links. Fair use is fine. But lifting whole articles is taking the piss.

Completely fair point. It’s not just taking the piss, it’s plagiarism – and even where attributed, copy-pasting another author or site’s whole work basically means, if you or they are making money off onsite advertising, that you’re stealing from them.

(Obviously this doesn’t apply to consensual cross- or guest-posting, but duh.)

Here’s what I find super-interesting: Felix, as a member of the mainstream media, has talked about this issue as being about bloggers – and others in the PA comments have a few suggestions of who specifically might have that accusation levelled at them.

But you know who I immediately think of when people start talking about lifting whole articles and placing them on other sites to boost their own currency / activity / pageviews?

Bob fucking McCoskrie.

Evidence for the prosecution: the Protect Marriage website; the Family First website. FF’s website is particularly hilarious for the way all the posts are by the author “Bob” yet are nothing but copypasta from the mainstream media. (Or occasionally, totally-anonymous-honest “satires” about how funny gay teenagers killing themselves is.)

Oh, sure, they’re attributed, they even have a link to the original story at the end, in case you find it so fascinating you want to re-read it in a different font.

But no one writes off Bob McCoskrie as a blogging parasite. No, he gets TV interviews and mass media coverage of every twisted, inaccurate factoid he tries to create moral panic over. All the while, basically stealing shit from that very media to make his sites look active and relevant.

I’ve no doubt there are blogs out there which just churn through other sites’ posts, and that’s shitty and uncreative and goddammit go away and leave the Google rankings to us original-content creators. But at least you can snort derisively when it’s a blogger doing it.

When it’s the Moral Guiding Hand of the nation, it’s just a bit pathetic.

Cross-posted (with permission!) from QoT’s superb blog ideologically impure

53 comments on “Bloggers and ripping off content”

  1. Carol 1

    There’s good and bad practices all over, both in the MSM and from bloggers and citizen journalists. Indeed, the MSM has tended to pick on the left wingers as their targets, But it has intensified lately – struggling MSM? And there’s certainly right wing bloggers guilty of bad practices, like McCroskrie. Moral Guiding Hand?! :roll:

    Then those those (so-called) “journalists” that don’t do much more than regurgitate press releases and get paid for it.

    Meanwhile, in the current intensification of the struggle between the MSM and amateur bloggers and citizen journalists, Stuff has decided if you can’t beat them, appropriate them.

    Part of the new Stuff Nation (which aims it getting, unpaid, participation from the public), in order to bolster its ad income), is to ask the public to contribute stories.


    I don’t see any offer to pay for the stories, either.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      That’s been going on for awhile. Started out a few years ago when on-line newspapers started to ask if people wanted to submit pictures with, as you say, no mention that you’d be paid but specifically stating that the pictures would become owned by the newspaper upon submission. As it’s all voluntary it’s, supposedly, not theft.

      • weka 1.1.1

        I wouldn’t call it theft.

        I am not sure that Stuff Nation is the best name they could have some up with. It’s a bit ripe for ridicule. 

        • Draco T Bastard

          I tend to the idea that if someone makes an income from someone else’s work then they need to share that income in a reasonable fashion and that not doing so is theft.

    • weka 1.2

      Colour me cynical, but here’s part of the Privacy Policy from Stuff Nation’s sign up form. Participatory journalism, my arse. They’re collecting email and usage data so they can sell shit.

      How we use Personal Information
      We will only use your personal information for the purpose for which you have provided it, unless you consent otherwise or we are required by law to disclose it.
      The primary purpose for which we collect information about you is to provide you with information, products and services that you have requested or expressed an interest in. We may state a more specific purpose at the point that we collect your information.    If you do not provide us with information requested we may not be able to provide you with the services that you have requested. We may use this personal information to help us to  provide the services to you, verify your identity,  enforce or apply our terms and conditions,  protect the rights of Fairfax Media,  or for internal research purposes, for promoting and marketing  Fairfax Media products and services to you, and for any other use that you authorise.  You will be given the option of unsubscribing from any commercial electronic message that we send you promoting goods or services. 

      • Carol 1.2.1

        Arck! Another instance of ordinary people and their energy (their wurk) being commodified, controlled …. and sold back to them, sooner or later.

    • mike e 1.3

      I thought his site should also set up a protect children from catholic priests site as well just looking across the ditch in Victoria up to 30,000 incidents and more get covered up by Catholic Church!
      A lot of these victims have had their lives ruined by a patriarchal church no mention from McCrusty!
      To busy interfering in others sex lives typical !
      Now they are denying that Jesus was married!
      As early sects of Christians still believe.
      The Roman Empire turned his wife Mary into a prostitute to keep the Roman woman subjugated in their rewriting of the the bible 650 ad on the island of crete!
      The Roman empire used religion as a tool of colonization not unlike what the British empire and other empires have done
      Jesus was turned into a martyr by the Roman Empire something Jesus never wanted to be!

  2. Raymond A Francis 2

    Agree Carol and it not unknown for the MSM to pick up stories from the blogsphere and run them with no attribution
    Happens to poor old whaleboy all the time, so he claims

    • Mary 2.1

      “Happens to poor old whaleboy all the time, so he claims”

      Slater’s the worst offender. He chucks anything and everything up, sometimes adding a couple of lines but often not, next minute he’s got 30 posts up before lunch for his braindead bunch of nameless sycophants to spew over. Slater’s the biggest hypocritical and parasitic one out of all of them. Is all very amusing.

  3. Jokerman 3

    Here is some “news gathering”then:

    Yee Hah! Labour only 11% behind nat and Labour/Green on 46% (at this Time)

    Shearer still in denial about his communication challenges

    Catholic Church not so Victoria us (so sad all this deceptive abuse of children and young people)

    Commercially grown Celery likely to have the highest pesticide residues in fresh veges

    Howard League for Penal Reform: YES

    sensible sentencing trust-not so much
    Victim culture, Stuck on loss not so helpful

    (i don’t think so)

    Loss is a rock in the road to find one’s own way a round (often a rocky road)

    G.E-hairy mutant calves and parasites inseminated into a woman’s womb
    Be careful what you ask for

  4. Pete 4

    On the other hand, there are some particularly good services for sharing content that have been a boon to blogging. Embedding video from YouTube, for example. Or the Daily Show. Radio New Zealand provides embeddable audio too. I’m a little surprised that TVNZ and TV3 have failed to provide embeddable links to their news content as they could then get more eyeballs on their ads.

    • …It’s like you’ve read a review of an orchard, and are complaining that at least their oranges are good. 😉

      Yes, those services are excellent. but they inherently involve attribution through linking and branding. You can click a little “youtube” button on embedded videos and go to the relevant page. Likewise for most other embedded players or services. That is the equivalent of cross-posting and nothing to complain about.

      The equivalent, in the world of online video, would be someone re-posting an original video you uploaded to YouTube under their account and trying to take credit for authoring it. Imagine Kony 2012 on the Family First website and you get the drift. 😉

  5. Jackal 5

    QoT is very good at attributing other people’s work, and so is the Standard come to think of it. Much better than I am anyway :)

    I’d never heard of Bob fucking McCoskrie before, and fail to see the relevance for his site McBlog. Maybe that should be McFlop or McFried. Most RSS readers can do a better job.

    • David H 5.1

      Makes you wonder if he’s tied to the ‘bob , ben or fierce guppy of posting nastiness in to comments section of some of the pages i read. ie Stuff, Herald,

  6. captain hook 6

    the media is the massage.

  7. captain hook 7

    I just made that up!
    I feel very clever tonite!
    and the thing is that if you disagree with whaleshit then he cuts you off but any can come here.
    spot the fundamental difference.

    • Jokerman 7.1

      once upon a time, on a cloud far, far, away from here, i took my mischief to WO and he warned me that i was being annoying and that it was not a “good idea” (didn’t you cam)
      as i have said, people all a round the sphere can read national blogs; who immigrates to a sewer?
      (Farrer? well ask yourself)

    • weka 7.2

      I’ve been thinking lately about how people say TS is worse than WO or KB (in terms of behaviour or levels of abuse I suppose). But I don’t see it. Leaving the politics aside, the behaviours are quite different. Would love to see a post on that some time, comparing each side (is the Right simply more vicious than the Left? and comparing that to political values)

      • Carol 7.2.1

        I suspect it’s partly to do with the position or POV we each view the blogs from – ie whether we see ourselves or views under attack – goes for both left and righties. Though to me those other sites are happy to allow the kinds of personalised (misogynist etc) abuse that I find unacceptable.

      • BernyD 7.2.2

        I can’t comment on the other sites, but have thought this site deserves an AO rating.
        Impossible to enforce of course (They’d have to block it), but worth telling parents perhaps.
        The only saving grace is it’s buried in the comments.
        And this site is not an educational facility although it may feel that way sometimes.

        • Carol

          Try this research:

          Lexicon of unemployment in New Zealand
          Tamsin Porter


          includes this:

          For less conventional language use, the infamous blogs Tumeke!,
          Kiwiblog, Whale Oil Beef Hooked (Whale Oil) and The Standard were selected as these provide a range of political opinions and writing styles. All of these blogs also allow comments from the public. Blogs allow writers to tag posts according to the themes and issues. The blogs were searched via tags that were considered relevant
          to this domain, such as Welfare, State Housing and Paula Bennett.

          I think this is the research that Stuff reported on this morning – been looking for it since:


          But the research doesn’t seem to have produced any significant comparisons between the blogs – only that blogs/commenters use the term Paula Benefit a lot.

          • Pete

            One thing that might be illuminating is taking a sample of New Zealand blog posts (and their comments) and running them through a Fleisch-Kincaid test, to see what level people are writing at on each site.

            • BernyD

              Not a bad idea, u could probably do it with a simple pearl script.
              (sum(word length)/no of words), little caption for the moderators too look at when they start a thread.
              The lower the average the more AO, strangley.
              The higher the average the more ?Wisdom?.

            • Pete

              OK, so I’ve done it. I entered the text of each of the last five posts (skipping the General Debates, Open Mikes, Mental Health Breaks and re-posts of YouTube clips etc) on a number of blogs into this readability index calculator. I didn’t include the blog comments. Wikipedia gives a good explanation of what the Flesch-Kincaid test measures. The lower the reading ease, the more complex. A reading ease score of 0.0-30.0 is best understood by university graduates, while 60.0-70.0 should be easily understood by 15 year-olds and 90.0-100.0 by 11 year-olds. The grade level corresponds to the number of years of education required by a reader to understand a passage.

              There seems to be a correlation between the level of comprehension required to understand a post and where the author sits on the political spectrum. It should be remembered, though, that simplicity is not necessarily a vice. Especially when trying to communicate with a large community and trying to persuade them to a particular point of view. Hemmingway, for example, liked short bold sentences.

              Anyway, ranked from most complex to least:

              Bowalley Road Grade: 15.8; Reading ease: 20
              The Standard Grade: 14.4; Reading ease: 36.6
              Gordon Campbell Grade: 14.2; Reading ease: 34.2
              Bryce Edwards Grade: 13.8; Reading ease: 35.2
              Frogblog Grade: 13.2; Reading ease: 38.8
              Public Address Grade: 13; Reading ease: 40.2
              Pundit Grade: 13; Reading ease: 41.2
              Red Alert Grade: 13; Reading ease: 41.2
              Tumeke Grade: 12.6; Reading ease: 40.6
              John Armstrong Grade: 12.4; Reading ease: 40.2
              John Roughan Grade: 12.4; Reading ease: 41
              Whale Oil Grade: 11.6; Reading ease: 49.4
              Kiwiblog Grade: 9.4; Reading ease: 53.8

              A spreadsheet with links to the individual posts and their scores is here.

          • BernyD

            It’s such a transient thing, what’s true today might not be in a year.
            The reality is, it’s us that use blogs for positive debate,
            If we hear our views being expressed, then chances are we’ll stop commenting.
            Are we still blogging if we don’t comment? … yes.
            And the AO is more about R ratings, bit over the top sometimes, and moderation will always be retrospective unfortunately)
            Y’know I think they are scared, coz it works, as long as everyone repects the reality of what blogs are and what they can achieve we have another voice, and that will always be a good thing.

        • jcuknz

          Originally I migrated from Kiwiblog to The Standard because of the senseless slagging but as time passes I have returned to Kiwiblog for the same reason. I guess it is the frustration of the Left with nothing to say but name calling compared to the satisfaction of the Right knowing they are doing a good job in difficult conditions.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.2.3

        (is the Right simply more vicious than the Left? and comparing that to political values)

        Right and left

        There have been a number of other attempts to identify “left-wing authoritarians” in the United States and Canada. These would be people who submit to leftist authorities, are highly conventional to liberal viewpoints, and are aggressive to people who oppose left-wing ideology. These attempts have failed because measures of authoritarianism always correlate at least slightly with the right. There are certainly extremists across the political spectrum, but most psychologists now believe that authoritarianism is a predominantly right-wing phenomenon.

        Which become interesting when you take the bit at the top:

        Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to societal conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them. They value uniformity and are in favour of using group authority, including coercion, to achieve it.

        It has been studied, the political right are more vicious than the left.

        • BernyD

          Ya just can’t beat Observational realities, both statements are well said.
          The “Evil” is in the implementation, when the participant doesn’t understand the “Qualifying” left or right perspective and over react.
          Ya have too have both otherwise the equation has no balance.

        • ianmac

          DTB: “Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, ….”
          That sort of fits when the supporters of National Standards seemed to concentrate on, “You teachers must obey the Government,” rather than debate the merits or otherwise of the issue.

  8. Dr Terry 8

    The tragedy of morons like McCroskie is that what they mouth represents what so many people actually want to hear and believe. The Right just loves this, of course. McCroskie is constantly cited as spokesman for the Nation (when there are plenty of true experts for the media to consult, if they would only take the trouble to do so).
    I guess there is some consolation in that Garth McVicar, his moronic companion, is pulling out, though he assures us unkindly that he will be replaced by 9 spokesmen (not women) throughout the Nation. Imagine people like this pair being multiplied several times over! Key will be delighted by that!

  9. BernyD 9

    Chances are they cut and paste because they have no context of their own to portray.
    We should b glad we could expand their minds for them 😀
    But a gentle reminder that words and thought exist for a reason may b rqrd sometimes.

    There’s still a real person behind that alias, and we use them for a reason, no way do we want our families/friends/workplace/employer affected by a blog discussion.

    For them it’s a job for us it’s our lives, maybe we should just accept the benefits and accept their relevance in the 21st century.

    And yes I think bloggers should bear that in mind, people ask for a reason.

  10. Jokerman 10

    Wow! Guess What? someone anonymously gave our fellowship 15K. it has gone towards a new kitchen for community meals and towards supporting the care of young women in prostitution in Calcutta.
    It is also clear to see that many friends of communities are turning out more free stuff for the people around them, like meals and domestic support etc;

    better a culture of hope than a culture of tragedy (anthropological terms)

    btw, imo, let us call a spade a spade, ie, digs a hole

    -alcohol=ethanol=solve n’t

    (and much tourism is glorified retail+think of all that jet fuel)

  11. blue leopard 11

    …I fail to see the point of a blogger copying and pasting an MSM article…unless this was in order to show the dearth of information possible in one piece of writing, I just do not see the advantage of anyone doing this….people would soon stop visiting their site….and that they should pay for it is laughable…just doesn’t make sense why anyone would BUY the stuff….indignant snort…

  12. kiwi_prometheus 12

    ” from QoT’s superb blog ” – shameless promo.

    Has anyone bothered to check out QofTs revamped site?

    I wouldn’t describe purple lightning and peroxide blond hair as “superb”, lol.

    QofT what were you thinking?

    Is that ketch fantasy fiction character how you fancy yourself or is it the girl of your dreams?

    Well at least the fantasy fiction graphic theme is an appropriate one for your blogging attempt.

    Team Jesus vs Team Manhater in a battle for the Universe!, lol.

    Still the usual foul mouthed expletives from QofT. Guess she thinks that being ‘radical’ and ‘feminist’ means using words like “shit” and “fuck” a lot, because you know women aren’t suppose to. :roll:

    • fatty 12.1

      Any chance of a critique on one of her posts?…I thought you’d at least say something like ‘gays can’t marry cause I don’t want them to’…blah blah blah.
      Still, its one of your more logical efforts KP…you are improving, chin up buddy.

      • kiwi_prometheus 12.1.1

        “I thought you’d at least say something like ‘gays can’t marry cause I don’t want them to’…blah blah blah.”

        Marriage is between a man and a woman, anything else is a redefinition that renders it meaningless.

        At least the Aussies are smart enough to see through the Lifestyle Liberal/Coffee Table Feminist propaganda “Let me marry who I love!” and smashed down their attempts to wreck marriage even more.

        Hope it happens here but I think the rot has set in.

        As for critiquing the rants of a radfem who seems to identify with some kind of fantasy fiction “tough girl” caricature – I’ve said plenty about the fembots and their extreme views.

        The Left does not need them.

        • fatty

          Most people in NZ now think that by redefining marriage to include gay marriage will improve it and make it more meaningful. Although you view does exist and used to dominate, it is no longer the norm. Also Australia will change, at the moment you are right, but if you look at what age groups hold that view, it is just a matter of time. You call it the “rot”…most call it progressive movements towards equality.

          “The Left does not need them.”

          Its pretty clear that the left needs feminist viewpoints now as much as they ever have, particularly if they also acknowledge economic inequalities…which is what QoT often does.
          Are QoT’s rants really that radical? What are her extreme views?

        • felix

          “Marriage is between a man and a woman, anything else is a redefinition that renders it meaningless.”

          k_p you still don’t know where babies come from, do you?

          How many times am I going to have to explain this to you?

        • Colonial Viper

          Marriage is between a man and a woman, anything else is a redefinition that renders it meaningless.

          Please explain how this redefinition might render your marriage or my marriage meaningless.

          Be specific.

    • QoT 12.2

      Oh shit, k_p doesn’t approve of my banner image because he doesn’t get the reference. Truly I have been cut to the quick today.

      He has a point though, I *do* think that swearing can be a feminist act, because [insert feminism 101 about gender socialisation here].

      But he still thinks I’m a radfem. It is to laugh. Still, if all I succeed in at life is making misogynist trolls prove all my points for me I’ll count that as a success.

      • kiwi_prometheus 12.2.1

        Not buying in to your feminist nonsense makes me a misogynist does it?

        Why don’t you strike me with your purple lightning then , Power Girl! lol

        • Draco T Bastard

          Not buying in to your feminist nonsense makes me a misogynist does it?

          Yep, it does. Specifically because you won’t even listen to what she says, read the statistics that back her up and you certainly won’t even consider that she may actually be right. And you won’t do it because she happens to be a woman. All you do is whinge that men aren’t all bad and that it’s all the radfems fault anyway.

      • kiwi_prometheus 12.2.2

        “k_p doesn’t approve of my banner image because he doesn’t get the reference.”

        I think the fantasy fiction theme is appropriate for your blogging efforts, like I said before.

        Reference? It must be one of those lesbian subculture insider ones.

        Who is your audience suppose to be besides the fembots?

        • QoT

          Yes, well you have a point there, k_p, Warhammer 40k is well-known as a radical lesbian fandom.

          • felix

            I’m having trouble finding the “rad fem” angle in your post. Or even the fem angle.

            But it must be there because k_p thinks it is and I’m pretty sure he’s not a delusional obsessive with shit for brains.

        • blue leopard


          really, why don’t you quit banging on.

          harping on like a harping thing

          whittering on and on and on

          about nothing

          for days

          Will it stop?

          what’s your problem?

          NO! I don’t want to know!

  13. kiwi_prometheus 13

    It’s cynical of Queen of Manhaters to exploit suicide rate of young men to score points against Team Jesus.

    As if a rad fem gives a flying fuck* about young men – “men are rapists!”, “men are abusers!”, “men are dangerous!”, “men are violent!”, “men are the problem!”.

    Does the message the feminists send out about men help? No.

    * presumably I can use swear words if QofT is free too or does she think only girls are allowed.

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