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February 23, 2009 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Optamystic's comment of February 20th.

User Friendly, today.

Could the two be related somehow?
posted by motty to MetaFilter-Related at 7:03 AM (826 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

I will never forgive the Internet for confusing "being funny" with "UserFriendly".
posted by DU at 7:28 AM on February 23, 2009 [38 favorites]


Has anyone thought to, I don't know, ask either party?
posted by jerseygirl at 7:29 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's a pretty straightforward rip-off, especially since it's more or less verbatim. The sad thing is that User Friendly is so fucking bad it can take a funny comment and turn it into a shitty, shitty, shitty cartoon.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:31 AM on February 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


*hugs internet*

Thank you, especially for that certain thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


"All images, characters, content and text are copyrighted and trademarks of J.D. Frazer except where other ownership applies. Don't do bad things, we have lawyers."

c,waa
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:32 AM on February 23, 2009


The sad thing is that it took him two days to come up with the rest of that strip.
posted by googly at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Optimus Chyme: "The sad thing is that User Friendly is so fucking bad it can take a funny comment and turn it into a shitty, shitty, shitty cartoon."

Holy cow, it really really is.
posted by Science! at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2009


It's okay, he changed "an utter dick" to "a total jerk".
posted by Rhomboid at 7:38 AM on February 23, 2009


Wow. That was somehow worse than that shitty Obama assassination cartoon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:39 AM on February 23, 2009


I am not User Friendly.
posted by gman at 7:39 AM on February 23, 2009


It's 100% definitely not Optamystic's strip, right? 'Cuz otherwise I'll post a link to his comment on UserFriendly and then we can have a pool on how long it takes for it to be deleted.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:42 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. Yeah, I tend to defend parallel joke evolution when it's something short and snappy, but that's an awful lot of words to arrange in almost precisely the same fashion.

I have no idea if Frazer is a mefite, though. And lifting something heard on the street, so to speak, is hardly new.

But there's no usable standard for citing "a guy on the subway, if I heard him right, it was pretty noise and I was like 'wtf'". The web's a little bit easier to work with, as far as attribution goes, and comedy in print is a lot different from standup work; when you're doing one joke a day or a week instead of five every minute, you've got all the time in the world to stop afterward and explain yourself.

From googling (to see if this had been, like, an instameme or retweet gold over the last couple days—answer: no), here are the few other things people will never forgive the internet for:

- "making news boring
- "those images
- "causing me to say “lol” out loud when I hear something funny
- "ruining pirates and ninjas.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:45 AM on February 23, 2009


Deleted, eh? The main association that UF has in my mind is Slashdot. I always knew they were equally unfunny but I didn't know they were also equally fascist.
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on February 23, 2009


The creator of User Friendly is Illiad, who to the best of my knowledge is a mefite, but not Optamystic.

Let's watch what happens now.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:48 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


UserFriendly is such a horrible cartoon. And the art sucks.
posted by chunking express at 7:52 AM on February 23, 2009


yeah, this happened to me too a little while ago (as pointed out by fuzzbean):

http://www.metafilter.com/78032/End-Times#2401559
http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20090112&mode=classic

if you're going to rip off somebody, at least try to make the cartoon, y'know, funny.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:53 AM on February 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


Oh it's a pattern.

I've got the tar. Anyone have feathers?
posted by jerseygirl at 7:56 AM on February 23, 2009


I'm pretty sure he stole this from me when I was maybe five.
posted by katillathehun at 7:56 AM on February 23, 2009


yeah, this happened to me too a little while ago (as pointed out by fuzzbean):

http://www.metafilter.com/78032/End-Times#2401559
http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20090112&mode=classic

if you're going to rip off somebody, at least try to make the cartoon, y'know, funny.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:53 AM on February 23


holy shit
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:58 AM on February 23, 2009


Ew. That tiny fluttering ribbon of benefit of the doubt just got caught by a stiff westerly wind.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:59 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow. That's excruciatingly lame.

Haaaack.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:59 AM on February 23, 2009


IS IT ROCK THROWING TIME YET?
posted by Science! at 8:00 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone should go through the UF archives and try to ID the source of every "joke".

NOT IT!
posted by DU at 8:05 AM on February 23, 2009


Now we play the waiting game.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:07 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


The waiting game sucks1. Let's make fun of him for a while instead.

GET YER FIVE BUCKS WORTH YET, BUDDY?
posted by dirtdirt at 8:13 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If your comment is deleted on the basis of the "bad word", may I suggest you repost with this altered quote:

"I will never forgive the internet for making people confuse 'being funny' with 'being an utter plagiarist'."
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Damn Optamystic and his bad words!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:17 AM on February 23, 2009


Sweet Jesus in the rushes, that's a horrible comic. May the ghost of Charles Schulz haunt that motherfucker, depriving him of sleep every night by manifesting right next to his pillow and whispering bleak, depressing shit into his ears well into the small hours of the night.
posted by COBRA! at 8:19 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing the "bad word" comment there is talking about this comment right below the one in question, in the mefi thread, not Alvy's comment text itself there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:22 AM on February 23, 2009


This reminds me of the time that Garfield totally ripped off my comment about loving lasagna and hating that stupid fucking dog.
posted by quin at 8:23 AM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


Stinky.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:23 AM on February 23, 2009


MODS... bad word in the 1st link. Sorry (n/t)

i didn't know i could hate a site more than i hated ebaum's world but i guess you learn something every day
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:24 AM on February 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


Also this and this.
posted by milquetoast at 8:38 AM on February 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


Dude this is going to turn into one of those snuff cartoons where the cartoonist is actually hacking away at his arm as he doodles, losing more and more blood, becoming incoherent with pain as he proceeds, until he finally succumbs midway through the second panel, leaving us wondering what ever will become of Ziggy's little dog?
posted by Mister_A at 8:40 AM on February 23, 2009


Oh my fucking shit, the guy is shameless.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:40 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wish I could find a video of that interview where Vanilla Ice talks about how "Under Pressure" goes doo-do-do-dodo-do-doo, do doo-do-do-dodo-do-doo, but "Ice Ice Baby" goes doo-do-do-dodo-do-doo, tch do doo-do-do-dodo-do-doo, and it's that one little change that makes it not plagiarism, but alas, no dice.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:40 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


But there's no usable standard for citing "a guy on the subway, if I heard him right, it was pretty noise and I was like 'wtf'".

I really like the way Alison Bechdel does it; between panels, she gives "a tip o' the nib" to people who came up with jokes she's using. It's delightfully obsessive! She takes credit for what she comes up with, but she makes sure to thank other people when they've done the heavy lifting (for example, consistently pointing out that "The Rule" is a creation of her friend Liz Wallace, not herself). She is a great cartoonist! This "userfriendly" dude is just awful.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:41 AM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also this and this. Basically, search MeFi for the keywords in the last panel of any given strip.
posted by milquetoast at 8:41 AM on February 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


Oh my goodness, this really is rather appalling. Kill the fucktard in the broadsword pit, forthwith!
posted by Mister_A at 8:42 AM on February 23, 2009


This stinks to high heaven, but let's maybe ixnay on the ynchlay stuff. Curry, drop me a line if that's an issue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:43 AM on February 23, 2009


The funny thing is that so few of us read that comic, this is genuinely news.
posted by batmonkey at 8:43 AM on February 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


And this and this, etc.
posted by milquetoast at 8:44 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jesus, what a shitty thing to do.
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on February 23, 2009


Wow, I'm actually surprisingly pissed at this guy. Realistically, though, is there much anyone can do?
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:46 AM on February 23, 2009


This message has been moderated down, score -1 :)

Fiddling christ.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2009


This is egregious. But it's also horribly imbalanced. You can be sure that no one is surreptitiously stealing "ideas" from User Friendly and passing them off as their own. In kind retribution will not do.
posted by kosem at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2009


Let's eviscerate the motherfucker.
posted by Curry at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2009


My score! T_T
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:49 AM on February 23, 2009


I bet this guy has a tator comic strip.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:50 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


[J.D. Frazer] began his career in law enforcement and served as a corrections officer, hoping eventually to join the RCMP. But he changed his mind, leaving law enforcement to pursue more creative endeavours.

....OR DID HE?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:50 AM on February 23, 2009


The thing that gets me is that some of the comments that he copied aren't that unique (so, maybe in a very generous mood one or two of them might be happenstance), but the fact they consistently appeared in UserFriendly mere days after the comment was posted. Well, that seems to pretty much seal it.
posted by skynxnex at 8:51 AM on February 23, 2009


Oh man, he's even got a page full of ethical guidelines!

I WILL ALWAYS be the author of the daily cartoon.

...except for those parts I have scavenged from better minds. Son of a gun, what a maroon!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on February 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


So he deleted Alvy's pointed query?

Not just a thief, but a coward. Charming.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:55 AM on February 23, 2009


Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Ack!
posted by roll truck roll at 8:56 AM on February 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


Maybe he'll make a comic book strip about this metatalk post.
posted by chunking express at 8:56 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


What a sneaky little no-talent shitheel. Shameful.
posted by lysistrata at 8:56 AM on February 23, 2009


If there were only some kind of neutral third party that could evaluate webcomics for intellectual property integrity, and inform readers that the ideas portrayed were donated and used ethically. Call it "GagWell", maybe.
posted by ardgedee at 8:56 AM on February 23, 2009


From the FAQ on the site:

Q. Where do you get your inspiration?

A. Real life, from years of working in I.T., and from being a geek myself since as long as I could remember. The first (user-programmable) computer I ever used a Hewlett-Packard 2000 mini, with thermal-paper printouts. I continue to be inspired by geeks I hang around with, absorbing tech industry and science news, and the occasional visit to tech companies who oddly enough invite me out to observe their staff for ideas.

I suppose you are the geeks he hangs around with?

Not the first accusation of this, apparently:
http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/read.cgi?id=20050410&tid=1614950
posted by angry jonny at 8:58 AM on February 23, 2009


Yeah, I've found a few more -- but honestly, searching his archives for these correlations is like evaluating sandpaper by rubbing it on your naked eyeballs. Or something.
posted by milquetoast at 8:59 AM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


YOU WILL NOT use an ad blocker, particularly when you can turn the ads off by buying a membership.

Heh.
posted by Science! at 8:59 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


On the page where Alvy's comment used to be is a link called "open comment", which leads to this.

W.
T.
F.
posted by rtha at 9:00 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wondering if this was new or a longstanding practice, I searched for the originals of January 2008's comics. I didn't find any, so maybe this a recent thing. At least with the source being MeFi.

BTW, a wager: If you repost your comment without any "profanity" and linking to *this* thread instead of the originals to avoid the immediate profanity there, you'll still be deleted. The reason given will be "spamming".
posted by DU at 9:00 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was invited by someone named Ampersand to join this thread, so here I am.

I plead guilty to the first link mentioned here. I really liked it and succumbed. I unequivocally deserve said tarring.

I plead not entirely guilty to today's cartoon. That quote I received in e-mail from a reader, and I thought it was his/hers. I get a lot of those, and it's my fault I don't check them as religiously as I should.

Either way, I promise to be a lot more careful about it from here on. I sincerely apologize.

(I have a size 15 1/2 neck, if you're looking to size the noose anyway)
posted by illiad at 9:00 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


As likely as anything, it's someone else who does moderation on the site who deleted it.

Tone deaf, gasoline-splashing way to respond to it regardless. If the link-to-a-thread-that-has-the-word-"asshole"-in-it thing is an unacceptable breach of the comment guidelines over there, someone needs to address that clearly and find a way not to seem like they're trying to quash the issue in the mean time.

Actually addressing the situation is the smart move here, UF.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:00 AM on February 23, 2009


Heh. Timing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:01 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


*boggles* It's like a scavenger hunt!

Here's another one.
posted by taz at 9:01 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow. Simply wow. One case, I'd have been able to give some benefit of the doubt that it was just something he'd read and it just kinda burrowed into his brain, and he made a comic out of it without remembering the original source. Two cases, the matter is pretty much settled, but at least it can be explained as a simple ethical lapse.

But this blatant, repeated plagiarism is appalling. I'm trying to think what goes through the head of a prominent comic author to assume he wouldn't get called out on this. Surely he realized that with each new ripoff he was increasing the likelihood that somewhere there would be someone in both the set of {MeFi readers} and {UF readers} who would pick up on it. This isn't something you really come back from, or at least it shouldn't be. This isn't hobbyist copyright infringement of the bittorrent variety, this is profiting off of someone else's ideas without credit or permission.

What was going through his brain? My mind is reeling with speculation about deadlines and writer's block, and that the stress of that must have addled his judgement. It makes me feel a small twinge of pity for him. Not nearly enough to forgive something like this, though.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:02 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just want Illiad to know that for $10 and two pizza slices he can pretty much have my entire Internet commenting history.
posted by The Straightener at 9:03 AM on February 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


illiad, there's a lot more than those two comics under contention here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on February 23, 2009


I plead not entirely guilty to today's cartoon. That quote I received in e-mail from a reader, and I thought it was his/hers.

This will end well, I am sure.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:05 AM on February 23, 2009


I plead guilty to the first link mentioned here. I really liked it and succumbed. I unequivocally deserve said tarring.

I plead not entirely guilty to today's cartoon. That quote I received in e-mail from a reader, and I thought it was his/hers. I get a lot of those, and it's my fault I don't check them as religiously as I should.


And what do you plead to all the the other examples of blatant plagiarism listed in this thread?
posted by lysistrata at 9:06 AM on February 23, 2009


Either way, I promise to be a lot more careful about it from here on. I sincerely apologize.

You promise to be more careful about cutting and pasting comments from Metafilter verbatim and then using them without attribution in your comic strip? How much more careful can you be? You seem to be getting them right.
posted by kosem at 9:06 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


This could all be resolved with a simple cartoon about Givewell.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 AM on February 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


Both MeFi and UF have been around a long time and UF has published books. One wonders what the publisher would think if an item in one of the books could be shown to be plagiarized.
posted by DU at 9:07 AM on February 23, 2009


total unrepentant bullshit
posted by illiad at 9:00 AM on February 23


What about the other four cartoons where you stole verbatim from members here, you fucking plagiarist? 1, 2, 3, 4
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:07 AM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also, I'd like to thank baby Jesus for this thread. I am stuck in the house today with a bad cold and really thought I'd have to do something terrifying to occupy myself like watch The Young and the Restless or some shit like that. Now I can just obsessively refresh this thread and wallow in my own irrelevant outrage instead. Yay!
posted by lysistrata at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2009 [29 favorites]


*boggles* It's like a scavenger hunt!

It dawned on me with some cold chills that this might have happened more than once. I get a flurry of submissions and one-liners every week, and I haven't checked many of them at all, because I rarely had to in the past. This just makes me look like an ass, either way.

Sorry, MeFi. I confess to one such infraction freely, but if there are others...well. I don't know if it matters what I say.
posted by illiad at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


This isn't hobbyist copyright infringement of the bittorrent variety, this is profiting off of someone else's ideas without credit or permission.

So, I'm playing the Devil's advocate a little, but how is this different from the semi-frequent occurence of Ze Frank jokes showing up on the Colbert Report, or late night monologues borrowing topical one-liners from each other? Is it simply that those things are funnier? Or is there a feeling that jokes about current events are more of a free-for-all than non-time-specific blog comments?

Just to be clear, I'd never heard of User Friendly before today. And in every example posted in this thread, not only is the original comment funnier, but it seems like maybe the cartoonist didn't completely get what was funny about the comments.

Maybe I just answered my own question.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2009


I'll probably still watch The Young and the Restless though. Oooh that Victor Newman makes me so angry!
posted by lysistrata at 9:09 AM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Are you trying to say that people send you Metafilter comments? Because, no offense to the authors, none of the ones I've seen so far are brilliant enough to forward. Clever, yes. Forwardable, not so much.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2009


Oh. I didn't notice you were here, Illiad. Sorry if my comment sounded dickish.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2009


I don't know if it matters what I say.

It matters if you say something along the lines of, "Gosh, golly, so sorry! I'll take the offending comics down today and post an apology on the front page of my website, and also I'll ask my readers and the people who send me submissions to not cut-and-paste from copyrighted material anymore."
posted by carsonb at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm prepared to forgive the occasional bit of plagiarism, but there comes a point when someone has replicated so much content that it's time to invite Deckard to the retirement party.

and by "Deckard" I mean the revolutionary forces of Mefistan, and by retirement party I mean "lug out the longboat and bitch about it for 5000 comments until the blogosphere takes notice for a few minutes and maybe Time magazine uses the plagarism as a throwaway example but in the end nothing changes and oh look Apple just released an iPhone app that lets you track your poop as it careens down the pipes toward the sewage plant OMG teh future is now! what were we talking about hy whr dd my vwls dsspr t?"
posted by bunnytricks at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2009 [22 favorites]


You: Why do you steal from others?
God: It was the only thing I could think of.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 AM on February 23, 2009


Of course it matters what you say, illiad. Either you're claiming that all of the others were sent to you (leaving aside the questionable artistic strategy of using random unsourced comments regularly), or you're avoiding admitting to more of them.

It matters.
posted by mediareport at 9:11 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


WHEN WILL YOU STEAL MY SHIT ILLIAD??
posted by Mister_A at 9:11 AM on February 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


My doubts would be assuaged by seeing an email with the content of a MetaFilter comment in question in it. This most recent case is probably easiset to find, yes?

Headers intact, please. Address in the profile.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:13 AM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I get a flurry of submissions and one-liners every week, and I haven't checked many of them at all, because I rarely had to in the past. This just makes me look like an ass, either way.

So instead of ripping off Metafilter comments and posting them without attribution you rip off submitted emails and post them without attribution? And that makes it all better how?
posted by lysistrata at 9:13 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you continue using text from emails, maybe you should note that on the comic somewhere. Or just note the ones you think of yourself, whichever is easier. (You could also try googling the omghilarious punchlines people send you.)
posted by DU at 9:13 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What's especially great is that the guy only has to draw the fellow at his computer once, then redraw the eyes in one panel! That saves so much time! Add to that a stolen punchline, and a flipper touching the mouse, and the cartoon only took him about five minutes! I can totally see why he bothers to have a comic!
posted by interrobang at 9:14 AM on February 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


there comes a point when someone has replicated so much content that it's time to invite Deckard to the retirement party.
posted by bunnytricks at 11:10 AM on February 23


I'm stealing that.
posted by Curry at 9:14 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ok, I confess! I sometimes put witty comments in Favorite Quotes section in Facebook...without linking to the thread because Facebook doesn't do HTML!
posted by niles at 9:14 AM on February 23, 2009


Holy hell.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2009



Sorry, MeFi. I confess to one such infraction freely, but if there are others...well. I don't know if it matters what I say.

Sure it does. It can establish if you are a plagiarist who will admit to being caught, post a public apology on his site, and do his best to reform.

Or, it can establish if you are a lying plagiarist who will in the face of mounting evidence continue to claim it was all a big misunderstanding by blaming the very fans of your own site.

So, let's hear you say something.
posted by mikepop at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Both MeFi and UF have been around a long time and UF has published books. One wonders what the publisher would think if an item in one of the books could be shown to be plagiarized.

Something like this?


Illiad,

You're fired. Clean out your desk.

The Publisher.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


And check it out: he used that guy sitting at his desk a couple of days ago, too, which means he probably gets to halfass his comic all the time.
posted by interrobang at 9:16 AM on February 23, 2009


there comes a point when someone has replicated so much content that it's time to invite Deckard to the retirement party.

Wikipedia helped me get that joke.
posted by Science! at 9:16 AM on February 23, 2009


I can totally see why he bothers to have a comic!

Yeah, well, I'd like to see you do bet—oh right.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Hampton Fancher thought of it first, but it was edited out of a rough draft.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:18 AM on February 23, 2009


Sorry, MeFi. I confess to one such infraction freely

Your confession is totally fucking immaterial. The overwhelming evidence against you is stronger than a confession.

So are you claiming, or aren't you claiming, that if, by chance, many more than one of your comics contain verbatim or near-verbatim lifts from comments taken from Metafilter, that those comments come from unsolicited emailed "one-liners" from your buddies or "fans"? I feel pretty good calling that a lie. Nobody's emailing you and saying "Yo, illiad, I was totally reading this thing and this guy said Ayn Rand garlic stake, &c. And I said OMG that's so User Friendly material." On the other hand, the instinct to follow bullshit with more bullshit has to be hard to resist.
posted by kosem at 9:19 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia helped me get that joke.

Over a thousand comments on Metafilter and you've never seen Blade Runner? For shame.
posted by bunnytricks at 9:19 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've seen it lots of times, it just didn't click.
posted by Science! at 9:19 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the "ethical guidelines":

# YOU UNDERSTAND that you don't have a right to free content on the 'Net.
# YOU WILL ALWAYS remain within the boundaries of ethical behaviour and will let your conscience be your guide.


Maybe he's been sleep-deprived lately.
posted by EarBucket at 9:20 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Twinkies. Too many twinkies.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:20 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


roll truck roll:
"And in every example posted in this thread, not only is the original comment funnier, but it seems like maybe the cartoonist didn't completely get what was funny about the comments."

Precisely my feelings on it. I've read it before (from when it first came out, in fact) and left bewildered at how so many of my friends could invest time in something that often seems like someone desperately trying to slam non-sequiturs in a door long enough to make them fit a whine stretched into an attempt at relevance beyond the whiner.

No offense to illiad - I'm sure my non-existent webcomic would be unfunny to him, too.

illiad:
"I get a flurry of submissions and one-liners every week"

Cite?

P.S.: many comedians hire joke writers when their own well runs dry. There is a long tradition of paying joke writers. You might consider that option as a form of apologia which does not rankle and makes things fair, since you live off of your work and have included the words of others with neither attribution nor recompense.
posted by batmonkey at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bribes are nice. I like money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on February 23, 2009


...you've never seen Blade Runner?

I've put it in the DVD player, but I don't think anyone without nightvision goggles can really see Blade Runner.
posted by DU at 9:22 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


My favorite part is how unreasonable folks here in MetaTalk are being! He copped to that one mistake, and "explained" the others. No wonder he feels like MeTa commenters are being unreasonable.
posted by OmieWise at 9:22 AM on February 23, 2009


Yeah that's my favorite part, too.
posted by Curry at 9:25 AM on February 23, 2009


My favorite part is that I'm not witty enough to ever have to worry about this happening to me!
posted by Grither at 9:26 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey we are douche-cocks, no one has ever doubted that.

DOUCHE-COCKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!!

DO YOU DOUBT IT??


Something seems to be wrong with my CAPS LOCK key.
posted by Mister_A at 9:26 AM on February 23, 2009


Aww. How come he never plagiarizes me? Am I not funny enough? Is it because I can't spell?
posted by klangklangston at 9:26 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


DOUCHE-COCKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!!

Look for this phrase in tomorrow's comic strip.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:27 AM on February 23, 2009 [12 favorites]


klang you totally stole that idea from me. Ready thy broadsword for the pit!
posted by Mister_A at 9:27 AM on February 23, 2009


Here is the contact information for his publisher:

http://www.manning.com/about/contactus.html

My favorite: infringement@manning.com
To report illegal use of our books and materials online.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:27 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


It matters if you say something along the lines of, "Gosh, golly, so sorry! I'll take the offending comics down today and post an apology on the front page of my website, and also I'll ask my readers and the people who send me submissions to not cut-and-paste from copyrighted material anymore."

Done. Please give me a few hours.

I don't think anyone here's being unreasonable. Regardless of who or what was involved, no one has to wear this except for me. I accept full responsibility and will make it right, somehow. Someone said my apology was "fucking immaterial" but I want to offer one to the MeFites involved anyway.
posted by illiad at 9:27 AM on February 23, 2009 [17 favorites]


Personally, I wouldn't care so much if he was using jokes sent by readers -claiming authorship - without attribution. I'm unconvinced that's what's happening though.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:28 AM on February 23, 2009


This will end Givewell, I am sure.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:05 AM on February 23
posted by the other side at 9:30 AM on February 23, 2009


but I don't think anyone without nightvision goggles can really see Blade Runner.

Don't watch it this way. It's like the watermelon from Buckaroo Banzai. Once you know, you will always know and the mystery is lost.
posted by quin at 9:30 AM on February 23, 2009


This should givewell.
posted by dersins at 9:31 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just realized that for the last couple of years every time I read the word "Resveratrol" I pronounced it "Reverseatrol" in my mind. I'm a pretty bad scientist.
posted by Science! at 9:31 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Keep in mind that illiad has been a Metafilter member for years, and his commenting and favoriting activity indicates that he was an active reader of the blue while the plagiarism was taking place.

Given that, which source for the plagiarism seems more likely: a mass of anonymous fans who all began forwarding mildly clever comments from the same site within a few weeks of each other? Or the author of the comic who had been reading said site regularly all along?
posted by Rhaomi at 9:32 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


(story submitted to Slashdot, the unfunny geek weblog of record)
posted by DU at 9:32 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Regardless of who or what was involved

Are you still contending that you only took one quote directly, and the rest of the mounting pile of quotes were sent to you?

Will you also be working out some sort of payment scheme to the original authors for those words you took that ended up in your books?
posted by mikepop at 9:33 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, illiad, you're really fudging and it's painfully obvious exactly what you're avoiding admitting to. You might want to not blame hordes of nameless readers for this one when you post your apology, given the likelihood that you yourself are the one who's been regularly borrowing from MeFites.
posted by mediareport at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2009


Speaking only for myself, it doesn't bother me much. I look at it the way I would if someone repeated a joke I told them at a party. It's kind of flattering. If I made my living as a writer or a comic, and someone quoted me without attribution, then I think I would see it differently, since that would directly affect my livelihood. But since that's not the case, I'm willing to let it slide. God knows I've quoted from this place enough over the years.

So, I hereby grant illiad perpetual and unrestricted license to use that quote.
posted by Optamystic at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


Are you still contending that you only took one quote directly, and the rest of the mounting pile of quotes were sent to you?

No. I accept responsibility for taking all of the quotes directly. It amounts to the same thing.

If the authors of said words wish to contact me, I'd be happy to talk to them about setting things right.
posted by illiad at 9:39 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was wondering whether the mods have any evidence of illiad having favourited any of the plagiarised comments?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:39 AM on February 23, 2009


The main association that UF has in my mind is Slashdot. I always knew they were equally unfunny but I didn't know they were also equally fascist.

Yeah, if something gets modpoints on slashdot for being "funny," it's pretty much guaranteed to be anything but. Last I checked, people over there are still making "Step 1 ..... Step 3 : Profit!" jokes.

I mean, you wanna talk about repetitive humor. Slashdot humor makes "eponysterical" look like George fucking Carlin.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:40 AM on February 23, 2009


Someone said my apology was "fucking immaterial"

No. I called your confession immaterial. There is a big difference. Your lame, half-measure confession was immaterial because what you did is plain and there for all to see. Because your guilt is more or less established by the documentary record in this thread, the fact that you copped to one of the many obvious, cut-and-dried instances of plagarism is neither here nor there.

Your apology is definitely not immaterial. It's crucial that you apologize.
posted by kosem at 9:40 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, this always goes the same way. There's some hints of shenanigans and I get excited. It starts to come out fully, it's a great time but I start to have a little tiny squicky feeling. Then, the dumbassery is laid bare and in its wake I am left torn between wanting to twist the knife and wanting to go somewhere quiet and find a puppy to pet.

The squeals of the hopeless prey, whether of denial or high-minded talk of reparations, are always the same, and they always leave me feeling a bit sick, and a bit more convinced that the benefit of the doubt is basically always wasted.
posted by dirtdirt at 9:40 AM on February 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


Here's another one, going back to 2007: MF : UF

Protip: userfriendly word search avoids the sandpaper in the eyes effect.
posted by jamaro at 9:41 AM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not only was he an active reader of the site, he also commented in the threads of two of the four pilfered comments -- and that's not counting the one he admitted to (which he actually favorited).

Stolen comment, comment by illiad

Stolen comment #2, comment by iliad
posted by Rhaomi at 9:42 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


OOOooohhh! Cold busted!

When I was in middle school, "cold busted" was what you screamed when your friend totally got called out on something. Cold busted! In seventh grade English, our intercom buzzed and the school's admin asked a pupil to come to the office. It was probably so she could get checked out by her mom to go to the orthodontist, but I screamed Cold busted! to imply that she was in trouble. Cold busted!

I didn't know that the vice principal of discipline was within earshot of the office intercom speaker, and three seconds later our class intercom buzzed again, this time asking to "Please send that student that just yelled to my office. Thank you." I was Cold busted!

I got there and immediately confessed. Yes, I was an idiot. My bad. He looked at me, nodded, calmly opened his desk drawer, and removed a wooden paddle. I must have turned white as a ghost. I thought I was going to pass out. I blurted "Look, I really don't think that's necessary. I understood I was out of line when I shouted in the classroom, and I promise I'll think about my words before I use them in the future. Sir, if you could just not paddle me for this I promise I'll use more restraint going forward. Honestly, I've learned my lesson from this." That's almost verbatim. I think he was impressed with my plea, and on second thought decided a paddling was a little too severe for my infraction. And I was serious, I'd never shout out in the classroom again for something like that.

You, Illiad, have been Cold busted!, and you have given us your plea, but you should still be paddled.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:43 AM on February 23, 2009 [42 favorites]


Then, the dumbassery is laid bare and in its wake I am left torn between wanting to twist the knife and wanting to go somewhere quiet and find a puppy to pet.

Awww, doggies.
posted by katillathehun at 9:43 AM on February 23, 2009


No. I accept responsibility for taking all of the quotes directly.
posted by illiad at 9:39 AM on February 23


I will let this go and not follow up with your publishers or other media if you make a cartoon tomorrow admitting that you're not funny, you're a thief, and that it will be your last time drawing or writing anything.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:44 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I was wondering whether the mods have any evidence of illiad having favourited any of the plagiarised comments?

It's not really a mod-specific question. Favorites are public record, and if anybody is worried about sudden removal-sprees by Illiad there are old copies of the Infodump fave stats sitting around.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:44 AM on February 23, 2009


You might want to not blame hordes of nameless readers for this one when you post your apology, given the likelihood that you yourself are the one who's been regularly borrowing from MeFites.

I won't be blaming anyone other than myself.
posted by illiad at 9:45 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This favorite of his amused me.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:47 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I say we hack off his right arm.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2009


No. I accept responsibility for taking all of the quotes directly. It amounts to the same thing.

This is still kind of weaselly. This could be read as, "well darn, I didn't check out those email quotes like I should have. So I will accept all responsibility for the comments that were used without attribution." Whereas, I'd like to know if you will admit to directly taking, yourself, the quotes from users here, or if you are still claiming you only did that with one.

Sorry if I am not being clear in my question. I'll try to break it down here:

There are many comments from MetaFilter users appearing in UF comics without attribution. What is your response to this?
[ ] I used most, if not all, of them after seeing them in MeFi threads
[ ] I copied one or two from MeFi threads, but most were sent to me by other users, but still I'll accept responsibility for that as if it were the same thing as me copying them directly from MetaFilter.

Please check the appropriate box.
posted by mikepop at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure which is worse (and by worse, I mean funnier): That the author of this so-called "comic" strip has to resort to stealing witticisms and one-liners from random internet people, or that the author of the so-called "comic" strip actually expects people to believe that his "comic" strip is so funny, and inspires so much joy in other random internet people, that random internet people send him flurries of one-liners every week! And then they sit there at their computers, day after day, waiting, mouth-breathing, hoping that the brilliant one-liner they read on Metafilter and emailed to "comic" strip guy will !!MAYBE TODAY!! end up in that "comic" strip that sort of sounds like how a precocious 7th grader would have replicated Dilbert back in 1996.

Nope, not sure which is worse. (Or funnier.)
posted by mudpuppie at 9:49 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


No. I accept responsibility for taking all of the quotes directly. It amounts to the same thing.

To be really painstakingly clear: the above can read like you're saying you're willing to be the nice guy and accept responsibility for using quotes that people emailed to you—the "it amounts to the same thing" tag underscores this ambiguity.

It'd be nice if you'd just flatly clarify whether you still contend that you're the unwitting victim of second-hand plagiarism or if you are acknowledging that you actually lifted the quotes yourself. Neither is good, but dressing up the latter as something that could be read as the former is pretty pointedly equivocal, and that's something that's not helping you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


The conspiracy goes even deeper than this, my friends! Optamystic may have ripped off User Friendly, but... and get this... User Friendly ripped off The Office! Remember the pilot episode, when Michael fake-fired Pam and then when she cried he was all like "just kidding!" BAM! Right there is where the inspiration for that User Friendly strip came from.

And get this! The US version of The Office was just a re-make of a UK series by the same name. Yeah, I know. Can you believe that? And that British series called The Office? It basically just ripped off a US movie called Office Space. Which ripped off and so on and so on...

We're through the looking glass here, people.*

*I ripped off this line from an episode of The Simpsons, which basically ripped off Lewis Carroll, who ripped off...
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:51 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or, yeah, what mikepop said.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:52 AM on February 23, 2009


Loal.

Please let me come back to that guy's user page later today and see "This account has been disabled - COLD BUSTED!!"

I would enjoy that a lot.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:55 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Or was it the other way round (User Friendly ripped off Optamystic)? I forget now.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:57 AM on February 23, 2009


Both Offices had the fake firing bit in their pilot episodes I believe. The difference being that they weren't verbatim the same skit word for word, and Gervais has a producer credit on the US show.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:57 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The financial and emotional damages suffered by the victims of this egregious pilfering are utterly staggering. The unavoidable litigation is sure to result in a massive distribution of wealth.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 9:58 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's not that weaselly, I think he's admitted to stealing the comments. I think a proper apology would be a front page post on his own site, and a link added to every comic where he did this that says "Punchline borrowed from MetaFilter comment here."

People who have no stake in this who are acting like he just donkeypunched a nun on Sesame Street should probably chillax and roast some wienies on those torches while you're waiting. This isn't exactly a top tier scandal, even for a Monday.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:00 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


illiad : MetaFilter :: Todd Goldman : The Internet
posted by mattdidthat at 10:01 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


ooooh... how about this and this?

I might have made this up.
posted by taz at 10:01 AM on February 23, 2009 [31 favorites]



If the authors of said words wish to contact me, I'd be happy to talk to them about setting things right.

Also, you will be providing a list of links to all comics where this happens right? Or does this only apply to ones other people discover?
posted by mikepop at 10:02 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I support Potomac Avenue's suggested remedy, provided the word "borrowed" is replaced by "plaigarized."
posted by ook at 10:03 AM on February 23, 2009


I don't even get why the lines were used verbatim in the first place. Removed from context it's not like they couldn't have been rewritten. It seems like half the time they're not going for the same meaning anyway.
posted by ODiV at 10:07 AM on February 23, 2009


Wow. Tempest in a teapot. I doubt if any of the people in these threads would have denied him permission to use their material if illiad had only bothered to ask. I can see getting upset for being ripped off, and while I do agree the originals were generally funnier, they all seemed to be throw away lines. UF isn't a comic of substance, the stolen comments weren't substantive either.

I'm not defending him having done this, but I think the level of negative reaction is a bit out of whack to the offense. Especially since he's apologized for it.

To threaten to contact his publisher...sure, go ahead. If your comment was stolen. But to take offense for others...not such a good thing. Some people might even be honored to find their joke made it into a webcomic.

I've had entire blog posts reproduced on sites that even used my name without credit or even a link back to my site. Yeah, I got mad, but in every case, a polite note got me a link back, preserved the person as a fan, and in one case ends up being my 2nd best referrer.

Yeah, it's crappy, but in the greater evils of the world this ranks up there with the cold I currently am suffering from. Annoying, irritating, but far from tragic.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:08 AM on February 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


To threaten to contact his publisher...sure, go ahead. If your comment was stolen. But to take offense for others...not such a good thing.

See people? That's why you don't call the police when you see your neighbor get robbed. It's not your place to.
posted by Science! at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow. This is amazing for a few reasons. Firstly, as a member, how often does someone send you an out of context quote from a MetaFilter thread and you find it funny enough to reproduce, still out of context, somewhere else like it was from /b/? That's not a question directed at illiad, but really at any member. Second, how many times have you found it necessary to send an out of context MeFi comment to someone without including a link to the original thread so that the recipient can participate or even read the remainder of the discussion? Again, a question for any member to ponder while wondering just how guilty illiad is. For me the answer is none. Is it even possible to believe that illiad, who is a member here somehow gets a ton of email with non-attributed out of context MeFi quotes?

I call bullshit.

And finally, this thread starts by talking about how unfunny UF is and ends with the shocking revelation that the entire comic is composed of lifted MeFi quotes. Teh intertubes haz now implodz.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:11 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Dang, people. Guy owns up to a mistake and you're all about the mouth-shooting. Yes, the guy did a bad thing. He has, however, apologized in what appears to be good faith and some folks here seem to be trying to hyper-parse his language in order to spot weasel words that aren't really there.

User-Friendly sucks, and stopped being funny right around the time that referring to Microsoft as "M$" stopped being funny. Still, I think his apology was genuine and ought to be treated as such.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:12 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


People, people! It's okay! illiad was just crowdsourcing!
posted by mattdidthat at 10:14 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


And on the same day as this question. Spooky. Actually, not really.
posted by ob at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2009


No. I accept responsibility for taking all of the quotes directly. It amounts to the same thing.

Aww man. How did I scroll over the one crucial comment in the thread. My bad. I will douse my flaming pitchfork and put my torch back into the barn.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2009


As for the use of my quote, an attribution of some kind would have been nice, but not even really so that I got credit for it, I don't get paid for this, so someone using my words doesn't really affect me one way or another.

No, I'd like to have seen an attribution simply to show readers that there is much good stuff here and that if they found one line funny, they might enjoy some of the other, better comments than mine that can be seen throughout the different incarnations of MeFi.

In this case, I would think that citing the source wouldn't have diminished the joke, and could have actually benefited both sites.
posted by quin at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


For a moment there, it seemed as if Darren Hoyt's new identity in the Clueless Protection program had been fatally compromised.
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


UserFriendly sucks, as I said up thread, but yeah, people need to chill out. Shiot.
posted by chunking express at 10:18 AM on February 23, 2009


And finally, this thread starts by talking about how unfunny UF is and ends with the shocking revelation that the entire comic is composed of lifted MeFi quotes. Teh intertubes haz now implodz.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:11 AM on February 23


Well, that's for two reasons: one, he has to invent a new context for the stolen material, and he's not good at that, so it makes it cripplingly unfunny. Two, if King Midas had a cousin who turned everything he touched into shit, it would be J.D. Frazer. Who can still draw so poorly after ten years of doing it every day?

Still, I think his apology was genuine and ought to be treated as such.

He only apologized because he got caught. Then he tried to blame it on his readers. Then he "accepted full responsibility" but still blamed it on his readers.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:19 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also posted to Wikipedia, the real NERD log of record.
posted by DU at 10:20 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am shocked and appalled that anyone still reads userfriendly
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:20 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whoever updated the Wikipedia page somehow dragged this controversy back in time by a year. It's 2009 people, but February you should be used to writing it on your checks ;).
posted by eyeballkid at 10:22 AM on February 23, 2009


by February
posted by eyeballkid at 10:25 AM on February 23, 2009


If only some one other than the original author could edit a wiki article.
posted by Science! at 10:25 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Being unable to remember what year to write on the check is exactly why I use debit cards.
posted by DU at 10:26 AM on February 23, 2009


A Priest, a Rabbi and a Witch Doctor walk into a bar and later they fight a Yeti.

^not mine^
posted by studentbaker at 10:26 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems just about every gag and one liner on that painfully terrible comic is lifted from elsewhere.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on February 23, 2009


Oh, dear.
posted by Ugh at 10:29 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've found 5 blatant examples in the last 6 weeks. And several other examples of us talking about the same thing, which I think could certainly be legitimate. But even though I haven't read UF in years I do seem to remember having a couple wtf moments where he seemed to have been reading the same things I was.

I'm not going back any further, since he's admitted copy-pasting from MetaFilter. But 2-3 examples per month of plagiarism would seem to be grounds for termination in most civilized places. Obviously Illiad isn't going to fire himself, but put things in perspective.

"Especially since he's apologized for it."

Plagiarizing things when you are a professional writer isn't an, "I'm sorry" sort of thing. Especially when you've posted warnings about lawsuits if people do the same to you.
posted by Ragma at 10:30 AM on February 23, 2009 [20 favorites]


Is it bad that I just don't get the comic on the Wikipedia page? The first two frames are setting up for a great joke, and then it's like the punchline got swapped out. :/
posted by niles at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2009


If only some one other than the original author could edit a wiki article.

Please. I only care about it enough to bitch on this site.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


As promised, there'll be apology on the front page; it updates at the top of the hour. I'll need more time to make the corrections to the comics. The posting should read:

----

I'm not really sure how to start this, so I'll use some links to help:

* Example
* Example
* Example

I don't doubt there are several more.

These cartoons have punch-lines derived or directly taken from comments posted on the weblog MetaFilter.

Some of the users of MeFi rightfully became upset. I'm not a fan of making people angry (other than, say, extreme-[right|left]-wingers), so I'm posting this for full disclosure in an attempt to make it right.

Over the last couple of years I've infringed on the expression of ideas of some (who I think are) clever people, without attribution. Plagarized. My hypocrisy seems to know no bounds, as an infamous gunman was once heard saying.

I sincerely apologize to my readers and to the original authors. I offer no excuses and accept full blame and responsibility. As a result, I'll be modifying the cartoons in question.

This has a vague connection to the April Fools Joke of 1999 in feeling. Bad judgement, bad result.

----

Also, you will be providing a list of links to all comics where this happens right? Or does this only apply to ones other people discover?

I'm going to ask for a break here. I can't recall all, or even a few of them. But if come across one and you send me the link, I promise to take care of it.
posted by illiad at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2009 [22 favorites]


illiad: So you're going to quit then, and donate all your past earnings to a some kind of legal trust that deals with copyright issues?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 AM on February 23, 2009


In all seriousness, because I'm sincerely curious, did you never think someone would notice?
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:35 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


All in a day's work for MetaFilter.
posted by Curry at 10:37 AM on February 23, 2009


"I can't recall all, or even a few of them. But if come across one and you send me the link, I promise to take care of it."

So we need to go back and google every punchline from the last few years.......
posted by Ragma at 10:38 AM on February 23, 2009


I should apologize for the snark in my callout comment above. Regarding attribution, quin nailed it right here as far as I'm concerned. I don't care if I personally get credit for what you borrowed; I'm not especially witty or intelligent or a good storyteller, but there are plenty of people on Metafilter who are. If you make that fact known to your audience (which is a pretty large one from what I understand), and they check us out and stick around and make a worthy contribution of their own, then that's good enough for me.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:39 AM on February 23, 2009


Wow, this thread is hilarious. There is MONTHS worth of material for illiad here!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:40 AM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's like i'm having Kaycee Nicole deja vu.
posted by Ugh at 10:40 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


There is MONTHS worth of material for illiad here!

Except he isn't going to do it anymore. With (one of?) his source of punchlines cut off, one wonders how much worse UF is going to get.
posted by DU at 10:42 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Science!: "See people? That's why you don't call the police when you see your neighbor get robbed. It's not your place to."

And this is pretty much exactly what I am talking about. He lifted some lines, she didn't break into a house and kill your dog. Yet people are acting like he's declawing other people's kittens.

It poor taste, he should have asked permission, but if you're not the one ripped off it's not yours to seek recourse. Copyright is pretty clear on this. Optamystic doesn't really care, quin doesn't really care, so why should you?

I also find irony in the fact that metafilter only exists because of other people's content. I'm guessing 15% of the stories I see posted to the blue lack any attribution, yet a good number of times I've already seen the story on slashdot, digg, fark, or CNN. And no one's calling those people out (or seldom do in any case).

This isn't a case of theft either. illiad's use is more like file sharing, in that he's not depriving the original person of the use. So it's more like you have a friend in an indie band, putting out his own discs, and you find someone using one of his song's in a commercial. Sure, it's wrong, but you have no responsibility or standing to do anything other than to inform your friend. It's up to him on how to deal with it. Some people would find it flattering to be quoted. I doubt anyone would say the same thing about a B&E.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:44 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing 15% of the stories I see posted to the blue lack any attribution

The links are the attribution, dummy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:45 AM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


It's 2009 people, but February you should be used to writing it on your checks ;).
posted by eyeballkid

Methinks your name needs changing. Might I suggest: eyeballoldmangetoffmylawnyoudamnkids!
posted by Grither at 10:46 AM on February 23, 2009


And this is pretty much exactly what I am talking about. He lifted some lines, she didn't break into a house and kill your dog. Yet people are acting like he's declawing other people's kittens.

He apparently also swapped gender mid-sentence.

You know, I do call the cops when I see someone breaking into a neighbor's house, even if the neighbor doesn't mind. Because they'll be breaking into my house next, and I sure as fuck do mind.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Optamystic doesn't really care, quin doesn't really care, so why should you?

Because s/he makes comments on MetaFilter and might be the next unwilling donator of soon-to-be-copyrighted-by-someone-else content?
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on February 23, 2009


illiad, good start with the apology. But you should put in a part where you vow to never do it again and only use original material you come up with.
posted by cashman at 10:48 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


But you should put in a part where you vow to never do it again and only use original material you come up with.

How many careers must Metafilter destroy?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:49 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Before you all start saying things you can't take back, you should consider the UF archives as an excellent source of hilarious non sequitor comments. For instance:

Been avoiding trouble? Escaping it is more like it. This is a rough game.
(Strip Date:May 29, 2006)

Release the hounds. *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* *hammer*
(Strip Date:Mar 21, 2006)

This is a pretty cool shoot-em-up. But it's taking forever to get to the bonus round...
annihilated
(Strip Date:Sep 30, 2006)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:49 AM on February 23, 2009


illiad's use is more like file sharing, in that he's not depriving the original person of the use.

No but he's making money by recycling other people's quips.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:49 AM on February 23, 2009


Thanks illiad for coming clean. Honestly, I'm somewhere in the middle as I'm used to comedy involving a heck of a lot of borrowing and the lines are often blurred between plagiarism and inspiration, but some of these examples are nearly copy/paste jobs. I haven't had a one-liner I authored show up in the strip, but as an outsider (who happens to run this site), having a link to the original comment on mefi for those strips would be nice, since your readers could see them in context and maybe enjoy another site.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:51 AM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oooh that Victor Newman makes me so angry!

Really? I think he's more amusing than annoying; the one who ticks me off is Gloria.
posted by nomisxid at 10:51 AM on February 23, 2009


mathowie: Consider it done, just give me some time to make it so.
posted by illiad at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2009


I don't have much sympathy for illiad and agree that what he did is pretty clearly plagiarizing. That said, stuff like this ---

I will let this go and not follow up with your publishers or other media if you make a cartoon tomorrow admitting that you're not funny, you're a thief, and that it will be your last time drawing or writing anything.

-- and this --

illiad: So you're going to quit then, and donate all your past earnings to a some kind of legal trust that deals with copyright issues?

-- and numerous ad hominem attacks are overkill at this point. The guy accepted an invitation to participate in this thread and has repeatedly apologized for what he did. But now the hordes smell blood in the water and want to extract additional pounds of flesh via demands for more elaborate apologies and virtual grovelling. Please don't confuse "being just" with "being an utter dick."
posted by googly at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2009 [44 favorites]


If only he'd used "taters" as a punchline I'm sure we'd all be happy.
posted by ob at 10:54 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


The links are the attribution, dummy.

Not when I read a 600 word essay, about some obscure site, over on daringfireball.net, then miraculously it's posted her 20 minutes later without attribution to DF. Same thing with Wired, etc. My point is that the FPPosters should be crediting where they found the material as well, or they are just doing the same thing as illiad.

And yes, it's possible many of these links are parallel discoveries, but it happens was too often for that to always be the case. So it becomes a matter of "look at this cool site I found," not, "I'm sharing this cool site that CNN wrote about."
posted by cjorgensen at 10:55 AM on February 23, 2009


mathowie: Consider it done, just give me some time to make it so.

He's rippin' off "Star Trek", now!
posted by interrobang at 10:55 AM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


It should go without saying that attribution regardless of the source would be a really, really good idea going forward, and that if there are any sources other than metafilter in the backlog, you ought to be apologizing to and crediting them as well, regardless of whether they've caught you out yet.

This is just, man, it's really disappointing to see.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:56 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I also find irony in the fact that metafilter only exists because of other people's content. I'm guessing 15% of the stories I see posted to the blue lack any attribution, yet a good number of times I've already seen the story on slashdot, digg, fark, or CNN. And no one's calling those people out (or seldom do in any case).

This analogy is inapposite. No one posting to the blue claims to be the creative guy who authored the story he's linking to. In fact, if you are the author of the story, you will be banned. It's presumed that I found my FPP material somewhere else on the internet. It may be good form to tell everyone that I first saw link X on blog Y, but it's not stealing.

Illiad's behavior, however, is straight theft--as in "This punchline is copyright ME. I am the funny motherfucker from whose font of hilariousness this cartoon flows." And that is a LIE. It is cheating, low level sociopath shit. Maybe it's harmelss because quin and Optamysitc don't care, or because illiad apologized after being confronted with the evidence. But I'm going to have to go ahead and agree with Ragma.
posted by kosem at 10:56 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


"But if WE come across them, you'll 'take care' of it."

Why is this on others to discover?
What do you mean, to 'take care'? Take down the link, leave it up with attribution?

nitpicky:
you need a proofreader (including for inspection of teh funny)
Plagiarize. Two 'i's in this word.

posted by Busithoth at 10:56 AM on February 23, 2009


Nice catch, motty.
posted by lunit at 10:57 AM on February 23, 2009


I'm guessing 15% of the stories I see posted to the blue lack any attribution, yet a good number of times I've already seen the story on slashdot, digg, fark, or CNN.

It's always nice to throw in a "via", but since those people probably didn't stumble upon the original link by entering random URLs into Firefox, it's hardly an act of creation that could be plagerized.

But I guess I might as well confess: My FPP from Saturday? I found it on Google.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:01 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


illiad's already apologized. Now he needs to contact the people whose lines he borrowed, ask forgiveness and permission, and link back to the original comment (as he's agreed to do), or when denied permission take that comic down. Anything past this should be up to the offended party to pursue.

I hate being the voice of reason.

And, kosem "No one posting to the blue claims to be the creative guy who authored the story he's linking to."

But if you fail to cite your source you are implying that you're the kind of guy that just happens to find FPP worthy stuff all on your own. You're right, "it's not stealing," but in a legal sense neither is what illiad's doing. In both cases though it's using something without giving credit.

Sure, Illiad's actually compensated in a measurable manner for his unauthorized use, but by denying the secondary source of posted material credit you are denying them compensation as well.

It's is an analogy though, and breaks down if pushed. But the irony is still there.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:07 AM on February 23, 2009


I always try to via, but not providing a via is a breach of internet etiquette and not plagiarism. They don't really compare.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:08 AM on February 23, 2009


Never mind what that Moneybags Huaghey asks for - start drawing up some strips with blank voice balloons and run them with whatever text mefites want or vote for.
posted by ~ at 11:09 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


quin, I've always assumed that the writer of that webpage didn't know the truth, which is that it's an homage to a classic Beserker story, where an entire killing ship is taken out by a single watermelon.
posted by nomisxid at 11:09 AM on February 23, 2009


Really? I think he's more amusing than annoying; the one who ticks me off is Gloria.

Oh yeah, Gloria gets on my last nerve. Victor is amusing at times but I hate the way he's been treating Nicki lately. I kind of love Jack just a little bit for referring to him as "the Moustache."
posted by lysistrata at 11:11 AM on February 23, 2009


As what appears to be the single member of the set of people who read both MeFi and UF, I'm feeling kind of weird right now.

UF was the very first webcomic I started reading regularly, maybe ten years ago, and I still have a soft spot for it despite everything. It isn't the best webcomic on the internets but it's by no means the worst.

I'm glad that following this post Illiad is having a good go at doing the right thing - the apology is on the front page now - but even so, as cortex said, it's really disappointing to see.
posted by motty at 11:11 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, I know you think you're being the voice of reason, cjorgensen, but I think you're simply demonstrating that you don't get the seriousness of plagiarism. If you plagiarize in a school paper, they don't ask you to contact the original author and apologize. They kick you out of school. If you plagiarize in publishing, it often ends your career. It is one of the most profound ethical breaches a writer can make.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 AM on February 23, 2009 [15 favorites]


"I always try to via, but not providing a via is a breach of internet etiquette and not plagiarism. They don't really compare."

You're right. I withdraw everything except my amusement over this. I have the rights to retain that.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:12 AM on February 23, 2009


I withdraw everything except my amusement over this. I have the rights to retain that.

No you don't.

*Extends hand palm up, waits*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:14 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aww, look at everybody take a break from advocating the casual violation of copyrights to pile on to some dude who ripped off internet one-liners to make a webcomic. You all care so much about justice. Maybe he could hook everybody who had their precious gems plagiarized up with some free unsightly bellyfat reduction.

You know what my reaction to finding some web forum comment of mine in a webcomic would be? I give a fuck.

But I guess I might as well confess: My FPP from Saturday? I found it on Google.

All that googling for "Lucifer" and "Anger" finally paid off!
posted by nanojath at 11:17 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Self-righteous-indignation-Filter.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2009


I would like to commend Illiad on his swift and serious response to this thread. It's rare to see authors stay un-defensive when their lazy reliance on other sources is called into question.

I hope what he takes from this is not just that he needs to pop a "Tip O'The Pin" on to borrowed/stolen jokes in the future, but that he may be bored with the whole comedic premise of this strip. Maybe it is time to shut the whole "IT Guys chattin about IT stuff" gag and try something different?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:19 AM on February 23, 2009


Is it really your amusement? I think we need a [via] on that.
posted by nomisxid at 11:21 AM on February 23, 2009


Maybe he could hook everybody who had their precious gems plagiarized up with some free unsightly bellyfat reduction.

Oh man, if I see ONE MORE of those stupid "one rule to reduce belly fat - OBEY" ads I think I'm going to reduce some of my brain matter all over the walls.
posted by lysistrata at 11:21 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I think you're simply demonstrating that you don't get the seriousness of plagiarism."

Well, I would fully support one of the wronged individuals if they decided to contact his publisher. I'd probably disrespect the nanny who decided to do it on behalf of the wronged individual.

I'm pretty sure "evisceration," killing the "fucktard in the broadsword pit," and the comment cortex deleted don't register as reasonable responses to you either.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:22 AM on February 23, 2009


Some people will always grab their pitchforks. That doesn't mean there isn't a monster.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:26 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow. I hadn't even heard about User Friendly until now, but somehow it reminds me of Garfield.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:26 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would like to commend Illiad on his swift and serious response to this thread. It's rare to see authors stay un-defensive when their lazy reliance on other sources is called into question.

I agree. I thought this would drag on for quite a while, with Illiad getting indignant and maybe siccing his followers on us. It's nice to see how reasonable he's being about all this.
posted by lysistrata at 11:27 AM on February 23, 2009


Information wants to be free. And by information, I specifically means MP3s and Adobe Photoshop. But not quotations from Metafilter. That's off-limits, boyo.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 AM on February 23, 2009 [35 favorites]


I'm amused at the healthy amount of bitching that the strip isn't any good, when apparently we've only ourselves to blame.

I hadn't heard of the strip and don't have a dog in this fight, but it seems like you're trying to do the right thing now, illiad. I appreciate that.
posted by juliplease at 11:28 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


How is this any different than interrobang's illustrated comments?!

Sry
posted by mullacc at 11:29 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I can't believe no one called out my plagiarism of Idiocracy. 20th Century Fox, I'd like to apologize.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2009


You know what my reaction to finding some web forum comment of mine in a webcomic would be? I give a fuck.

In my world, "give a fuck" = "care", "am bothered".

"[can't, don't, wouldn't, couldn't] give a fuck" = "don't care", "aren't bothered"
posted by CKmtl at 11:30 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


How is this any different than interrobang's illustrated comments?!

Colorness, humority.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:32 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


How is this any different than interrobang's illustrated comments?!

Well, Interrobang's set of drawings is CALLED "Drawn Metafilter Comments", for one...
posted by dirtdirt at 11:33 AM on February 23, 2009


How is this any different than interrobang's illustrated comments?!

For one, interrobang isn't selling them for $75.00.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:34 AM on February 23, 2009


And each drawing has a link to the comment, and presumably flickr isn't paying for them.
posted by Science! at 11:35 AM on February 23, 2009


I think you're simply demonstrating that you don't get the seriousness of plagiarism.

I think you're simply demonstrating that you don't get the greater seriousness of nearly everything else.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 11:35 AM on February 23, 2009


And interrobang's were funny. Or on preview what I think Blazecock Pileon might have said.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2009


How many careers must Metafilter destroy?

The answer, my friend, is blowing
in the wind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on February 23, 2009


Yes, those are most of the reasons I was thinking of. Good job, team!
posted by mullacc at 11:38 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Speaking of links back to the source...
posted by Rhaomi at 11:39 AM on February 23, 2009


Wow, and just to pile on a bit more: here's some what his book "Money For Content and Your Clicks for Free" has to offer:

# Make wise decisions that protect your intellectual property and your interests
# Approach the subject of paying for content without alienating your audience

posted by Burhanistan at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2009


I really felt bad for Steven C. den Beste, but my imagination was forever warped by interrobang's brilliant caricature of one of his comments. I don't think I've ever laughed as hard or as long. This is the power that good cartoonists wield over us.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:41 AM on February 23, 2009


Information wants to be free. And by information, I specifically means MP3s and Adobe Photoshop. But not quotations from Metafilter. That's off-limits, boyo.

And as soon as I start releasing an album of songs I downloaded from The Pirate Bay as my own work, I fully expect you guys to be all over my ass too.

Nobody's going to believe this but this weekend I was talking about turning some of the more ridiculous AskMe relationship/roommate drama questions into comic strips.* But I can't draw and don't plan on learning. Still though, the timing amuses me.

* - And still, though, I would have attributed the source. Just like I try to do on my blog whenever I steal something clever from somebody else.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Obscure cartoonist steals from obscure website.
posted by Zambrano at 11:43 AM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


wait wait wait...

UserFriendly still exists?! I thought he'd finally given up years ago. Jesus, can't keep a bad strip down, I guess.
posted by shmegegge at 11:43 AM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I cite all of you when I am reporting on my day over dinner. I am starting to suspect that Mrs. Everichon does not much care what I read on Metafilter all day.
posted by everichon at 11:46 AM on February 23, 2009


In my world, "give a fuck" = "care", "am bothered".

Your world makes more sense than mine but I use them pretty much interchangeably. I guess you have to derive the value of the fuck I give from context.

How is this any different than interrobang's illustrated comments?!

Yeah, each drawing includes a link to the specific comments. The outrage is at least consistent: people don't believe in rights to intellectual property, just the necessity of attribution.

Expect my fully attributed, bizarre non sequitur webcomic Fucktard in the Broadsword Pit, with dialog lifted Metafilter comments coming soon!
posted by nanojath at 11:46 AM on February 23, 2009


I could care less. I seriously could. Much less.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on February 23, 2009


This thread is the first in a long time that I found worth refreshing. I'd like to give a big thumbs up to the participants*.


*Offer void where considered to be in good taste.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:48 AM on February 23, 2009


I will give you one rat's ass for one fuck. No, wait. What?
posted by everichon at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2009


posted by shmegegge UserFriendly still exists?! I thought he'd finally given up years ago. Jesus, can't keep a bad strip down, I guess.

Well, writing and drawing a comic is much easier and profitable when you get all your jokes from a free talent pool of 30,000 people.
posted by mattdidthat at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2009


I guess you have to derive the value of the fuck I give from context.

Ah, but the value of a fuck is independent of the context in which said fuck occurs. Thus, 20$SAIT.
posted by CKmtl at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2009


The outrage is at least consistent: people don't believe in rights to intellectual property, just the necessity of attribution.

"People" are not a homogeneous, undifferentiated mass who subscribe en masse to your two broad caricatures, though; suggesting that there's some kind of 1:1 correlation here where anyone on metafilter who argues for unchecked filesharing regardless of copyright also argues against plagiarism and lack of attribution and vice versa is ridiculous. It's a lazy, broad swipe.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would like to commend Illiad on his swift and serious response to this thread.

Seconded. Y'all are really raking him over the coals, but from what I've seen he didn't take long at all to come around and do his best to make it right.
posted by lostburner at 11:56 AM on February 23, 2009


interrobang's brilliant caricature of one of his comments

Holy shit incredible. Whatever happened to Steven?
posted by Curry at 11:57 AM on February 23, 2009


As one who had my repartee pilfered by Illiad for his comic, I urge you to consider plumbing a much friendlier forum for inspiration/unattributed quoting.

The posters at the Friendlier Forum will be incredibly excited about your uncredited quoting, and will honor you in many ways.
posted by terranova at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


the comic strip writer
would follow him around
and use his jewels
for internet prime time -
of this he was convinced.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:01 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seconded. Y'all are really raking him over the coals, but from what I've seen he didn't take long at all to come around and do his best to make it right.

Yes, I'm sure this was done for moral/ethical reasons, and not out of concern for legal challenges and adverse publicity.
posted by terranova at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Obscure cartoonist steals from obscure website.

And yet significant enough for metacommentary.
posted by ardgedee at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2009


A mea culpa is now posted on his website, with comments enabled, and something about vinegar.
posted by ~ at 12:04 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's note just on metafilter.

Comic, from Feb 14; Blog comment with same joke.
Comics from Feb 12-13 were taken from metafilter.
Comic from Feb 11; Forum comment with same joke.
Comic from Feb 10; Slashdot comment with same joke.

I'm sure someone else could keep going.
posted by Pants! at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


And yet significant enough for metacommentary.

You just proved my point.
posted by Zambrano at 12:09 PM on February 23, 2009


Yes, I'm sure this was done for moral/ethical reasons, and not out of concern for legal challenges and adverse publicity.

I'm sure many here won't believe this, but I'm doing this principally because I feel like a total ass. I'm not a dick, but I did do a dickish thing, and it's only right that I do my best to make amends.
posted by illiad at 12:11 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


A mea culpa is now posted on his website, with comments enabled, and something about vinegar.

Unless the goal is to continue berating him or pursue legal action, perhaps the mods can consider shutting this down. Points made. Apologies proffered. What more can be accomplished?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on February 23, 2009


Y'all are really raking him over the coals, but from what I've seen he didn't take long at all to come around and do his best to make it right.

Upon being caught. It's not like he had a change of heart.

He got caught using other people's material, without attribution, at something that he claims authorship of and protects with stern legal warnings, and presumably makes his living from, and in response first blamed it (mostly) on anonymous sources and then posted a brief mea culpa under the fold that is already well on its way down the site.

I think he is getting off fairly easy.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:11 PM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


And today's lifted punchline is still up above the fold with no tip o' the hat to MeFi.
posted by mediareport at 12:13 PM on February 23, 2009


Unless the goal is to continue berating him or pursue legal action, perhaps the mods can consider shutting this down. Points made. Apologies proffered. What more can be accomplished?

I'm not really wanting to see any more (or even as much) over-the-top beration action, and I don't think it's likely that anyone in this thread is actively pursuing legal action at this point, but by illiad's own acknowledgment we're still pretty actively in the discovery phase as far as what was lifted.

Closing this right now would be weirdly premature.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:17 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


And today's lifted punchline is still up above the fold with no tip o' the hat to MeFi.

You might want to refresh. There's a credit to "Optamystic @ MetaFilter" on panel 2 and it's been there since 11:15 Pacific.
posted by illiad at 12:17 PM on February 23, 2009


How many careers must Metafilter destroy?

The answer, my friend, is blowing
in the wind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on February 23 [+] [!]


Dude, you totally ripped that off!

It's a lazy, broad swipe.
posted by cortex at 1:53 PM on February 23 [+] [!]


Granted. However, I don't think it's inaccurate to suggest that there is pervasive inconsistency on where the lines of intellectual property are rationally and ethically drawn strongly represented in the culture of this site.

Duty calls, must dash.
posted by nanojath at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2009


SOLUTION: Post UserFriendly to Projects, and bill it as a remix of Metafilter comments in comic strip format. Instant favorites guaranteed!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:20 PM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


we're still pretty actively in the discovery phase as far as what was lifted

It's safe to say this ain't no Givewell.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:21 PM on February 23, 2009


Cobra:

Sweet Jesus in the rushes, that's a horrible comic.

What I find fascinating is that even such a poor comic can have commenters and mods! for chrissakes!
posted by mmrtnt at 12:21 PM on February 23, 2009


Ah, there's no justice like Angry Mob Justice.
posted by kanuck at 12:22 PM on February 23, 2009


And yet significant enough for metacommentary.

You just proved my point.


The point where you didn't have a point, other than being a jackass that no one likes?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:22 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a credit to "Optamystic @ MetaFilter" on panel 2 and it's been there since 11:15 Pacific.


If you click on the toon to see the tiny print better it vanishes. Might want to fix that.

I take this seriously because I hang out with a gaggle of professional cartoonists and I know how hard they work to scratch out a living, and they would never think of lifting material in such a blatant way.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:22 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's safe to say this ain't no Givewell.

"Failing to surpass Givewell" is not the criterion by which we decide when to close threads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2009 [13 favorites]


Who else are you ripping off?
posted by cellphone at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2009


If you click on the toon to see the tiny print better it vanishes. Might want to fix that.

Refresh the larger 'toon as well. The credit is there and has also been up since 11:15.
posted by illiad at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2009


He's been doing this for years, at least since 1998. This comic is a direct rip-off of a story I submitted to a site about helpdesk stories (helpdeskfunnies/helpdeskhorrors or something). I don't think that site exists anymore, or I would have linked to the submission.

Also, I think it's pretty funny that mac mouses work that way now, so the joke doesn't even make sense anymore.
posted by splatta at 12:25 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It poor taste, he should have asked permission, but if you're not the one ripped off it's not yours to seek recourse. Copyright is pretty clear on this.

Copyright, yes. Plagiarism, no. The two are separate issues, though they may both exist within the same work. (And these are clearly plagiarism, though it's unclear whether they're also copyright infringement; they're short enough that a fair use defense might be reasonable against claims of copyright infringement. But that doesn't help against plagiarism.) In copyright infringement, only the copyright holder is harmed. Plagiarism is more invidious, and people who weren't directly plagiarized still have a right to demand that the plagiarism is corrected. Kudos to Frazer for recognizing that, even if some of the people in this thread still don't.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:26 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pants: Those are just really obvious jokes, not plagiarism. Why don't people expend their energy ferreting out other instances of MeFi-lifting, particularly from a time before the earliest known instance, where he takes long, unique phrases verbatim? Then we'll know the scope of the problem. I'd do it myself but I have to record a podcast where I rip off old Greaseman routines. GobbledeGOO.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:26 PM on February 23, 2009


Oh man, if I see ONE MORE of those stupid "one rule to reduce belly fat - OBEY" ads I think I'm going to reduce credit to lysistrata @ MetaFilter some of my brain matter all over the walls.
posted by brownpau at 12:27 PM on February 23, 2009


You might want to refresh. There's a credit to "Optamystic @ MetaFilter" on panel 2 and it's been there since 11:15 Pacific.

I realize this is probably a work in progress, but finding some way to actually include a link as attribution would make a lot of sense, here. You run a webcomic, after all; linking to things is pretty much how people do it on the web, and tiny infix credit with no link to the material in question comes off as a pretty weak hedge, honestly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:27 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember the end of a friendship, just after high school, as Jon told me a story in the parking lot while we waited for his Festiva to gas up.
"Dude, Jon, that happened to me. That's my story."
"No, it didn't."
"Fine, whatever."

That was it. I'm vaguely chastened by the fact that I can't remember what story it was that he stole from me.

On the other hand, I often find myself repeating things that I've picked up, God knows where, as one-liners. I do my best to say, hey, my friend Doug had a good line about that, but other times I forget or I think knowing the source is part of the joke.

Just looking at these, it seems far more likely that MeFi is a regular part of his reading and he's just been kinda lazy and lax about attribution, thinking that he's pulling things from the ether. Bucking up will make him a better writer, hopefully.
posted by klangklangston at 12:28 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


This whole thread just more of the usual U.S.-Canada tension on MeFi that I read about on Slate noticed on my own.
posted by Balonious Assault at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Failing to surpass Givewell" is not the criterion by which we decide when to close threads.

Oh sure, not saying that. Do whatever you please. Just pointing out that throwing around words like "discovery" makes this sound serious, like "legal action" serious, which is a ridiculous notion on a website where a good portion of its members are outspoken about defending similar actions, like file sharing, for example. The thread right above us even calls for links to TPB to redistribute copyrighted material, for goodness sakes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2009


I realize this is probably a work in progress, but finding some way to actually include a link as attribution would make a lot of sense, here.

Obviously this can't be done in the strip, at least not with the software I have on the site. What I can do is post a link at the top of each day's forum back to the quote in question.
posted by illiad at 12:30 PM on February 23, 2009


splatta: Oh man. Were you also the source of the CD Tray as coffee holder mishap?
posted by ODiV at 12:31 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found out about this via Techdirt's RSS feed, and what really grates my cheese about this and UserFriendly is that I keep up with things via RSS a lot more often and thoroughly than I do by accessing sites directly.

For a long time I've looked for an easy RSS feed from UserFriendly that will show me the comic inline. When I couldn't find one, I went looking for an explanation as to why and I was surprised to find out that Iliad was claiming that RSS feed views that included inline comic images were what he considered "stealing". I assume that the "stealing" is something like stealing bandwidth without generating proper Ad revenue.

So I set up a Yahoo Pipes RSS feed that just sends me a link for the comics only that I click on and go to the UserFriendly comic page.

But now I find out that Iliad's editorial policies allow "stealing" in the sense of using other folks' quotes uncredited in order to generate traffic that generates revenue.

And the kicker, of course, is that the RSS feed for Techdirt, that I used to find this post, includes inline ads.

So I'm hoping that maybe Iliad will figure out how to make that revenue stream work and maybe also figure out what "stealing" really is and stick to that definition with some consisstency.
posted by kalessin at 12:31 PM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I was the source of "what's up with airline food, amirite?"
posted by found missing at 12:32 PM on February 23, 2009


Does anyone else think that if this guy had just titled his strip "MetaFun"
or included something along the lines of "Inspired by comments on various message
boards" - sort of like "Ovehread in New York" - that he wouldn't have
engendered this outrage, even if his work was still weak?
posted by mmrtnt at 12:33 PM on February 23, 2009


ODiV: "splatta: Oh man. Were you also the source of the CD Tray as coffee holder mishap?"

Haha touché, but if the site were still around you'd see it was a word-for-word rip-off.
posted by splatta at 12:33 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, honestly, I appreciate that he is trying to make amends by fessing up. If he just told the truth from the beginning instead of trying to put the blame on his readers, I'd be a lot more impressed. But I'll back off for a bit and give him the chance to try to make it right.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:33 PM on February 23, 2009


Okay, goddamnit, I have a confession to make. Most of my status messages on AIM/gtalk, etc, are totally plagiarized. I mean copy-and-pasted. And people think they're hilarious.

Also, I totally stole the name of my girlfriend's sister's late cat (Guz Fang Fuzz a.k.a. Gustav von Silkenfuzz) from a "name-my-pet" thread.

Also, I don't really have any opinions of my own. My coworkers think I'm well-informed, but I just regurgitate what I read here.

Also, I can't find my way home without referring to my favorites. Are you my mother?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:33 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


So does this mean we're going to hunt down Bob Dylan and get him for that "Love & Theft" LP too? Because that pissed me off.
posted by terrapin at 12:34 PM on February 23, 2009


If you plagiarize in publishing, it often ends your career.

And yet, if you plagiarize in comedy, you often get your own show on Comedy Central.
posted by GuyZero at 12:35 PM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


Why not just post a text link back to the comment below the comic image?
posted by Rhaomi at 12:35 PM on February 23, 2009


You know, now that User Friendly is going to be written with original material, illiad could do some really cool stuff here: Character-driven story arcs, love interests, and every now and then a dive out into left-field with surrealist humor.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:35 PM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just pointing out that throwing around words like "discovery" makes this sound serious, like "legal action" serious

I think that's a stretch, but fair enough: I should have known better than to use a legally-loaded term like "discovery" in that context, yeah. Let me amend that comment:

People are still looking around and discovering stuff, and illiad has acknowledged that he can't even remember when he stole stuff and is leaving it up to the plagiarized to do the groundwork of finding out when and where he was nicking their words. We're still very much in the stuff-is-being-discovered-by-people phase.

Just looking at these, it seems far more likely that MeFi is a regular part of his reading and he's just been kinda lazy and lax about attribution, thinking that he's pulling things from the ether.

I'd buy that as a one-off on a short phrase. A half a dozen essentially verbatim repurposings have been called out here, so far, however, and that doesn't fit your (otherwise charitable and reasonable) take.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:36 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


These cartoons have punch-lines derived or directly taken from comments posted on the weblog MetaFilter. I used them unthinkingly without attribution.

Illiad, exactly what does "I used them unthinkingly" mean? You mean you weren't thinking when you did it? Or you didn't think you needed to attribute them?
posted by mattdidthat at 12:36 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's an easy solution to all of this. Open-sourcing "User Friendly."

1. Immediate name-change to CartoonFilter.
2. Metafilter posters (by user id #) take turns posting their favorite comments to cartoons (since that's already being done).
3. ?
4. ?
5. Profit!
posted by terranova at 12:37 PM on February 23, 2009


...that he wouldn't have engendered this outrage, even if his work was still weak?

I think it was the initial combination of "someone sent it to me!" and his own contract where he got all "thou shall not steal my shit!"
posted by jerseygirl at 12:38 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: probably a work in progress

credited to cortex @ metafilter
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:40 PM on February 23, 2009


And yet, if you plagiarize in comedy, you often get your own show on Comedy Central.

I'm not sure the benefits of appearing on Comedy Central are outweighted by the pain in the ass of having Joe Rogan in your face.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:40 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


it was a word-for-word rip-off.

Fair enough. Verbatim is an entirely different matter.

Just thought that, like Pants!, it could've been a similar joke issue. ('Too small to be allowed to survive' seems like an obvious joke.)
posted by ODiV at 12:40 PM on February 23, 2009


cortex: "I realize this is probably a work in progress, but finding some way to actually include a link as attribution would make a lot of sense, here."

illiad: "Obviously this can't be done in the strip, at least not with the software I have on the site."

I don't see why not. For instance, right below the main page's comic there's an image bar ad linking to some domain registrar. It integrates seamlessly with the strip, as if it's part of it, and yet it's clickable. If you can do that for ads, why not do the same with attribution?
posted by Rhaomi at 12:42 PM on February 23, 2009


To be fair, on his own webpage he makes reference to the plagiarism (emph. original):
YOU UNDERSTAND that content is not actually "free"; someone has to put their time, money and/or effort into creating and distributing it.
For some comics, "someone" just happens to not be "Illiad".
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:43 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


we're still pretty actively in the discovery phase as far as what was lifted.

Could you possibly take yourself more seriously?

"Failing to surpass Givewell" is not the criterion by which we decide when to close threads.

Oh. Of course you can.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 12:44 PM on February 23, 2009


Obviously this can't be done in the strip, at least not with the software I have on the site. What I can do is post a link at the top of each day's forum back to the quote in question.

A stickie-at-the-top comment with the attribution details and link would be a decent step forward, yes, though if that's not visible for readers who have comments set to hide (which I gather is the default stat), it's effectively not there, which isn't great.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:46 PM on February 23, 2009


Could you possibly take yourself more seriously?

Could you possibly be any more of a broken record? Why are you here? What exactly do you get out of trotting out the same "I care so much less than everyone else who is also commenting in this metatalk thread" shit, that you keep at it?
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:48 PM on February 23, 2009 [25 favorites]


I have to agree with Rhaomi. It should be possible to link to the comment itself on the comic, possibly with an image map or with a linked image just below, like the ad for the registrar at the bottom of today's comic.
posted by kalessin at 12:49 PM on February 23, 2009


Illiad, exactly what does "I used them unthinkingly" mean?

I didn't think when I did it. If I had, I wouldn't have done it.

I don't see why not. For instance, right below the main page's comic there's an image bar ad linking to some domain registrar.

That image bar ad only exists on the front page, and the page is updated daily. The link needs to be in the archives where there is persistence. Under the cartoon, as the top message in the forum for that day.
posted by illiad at 12:49 PM on February 23, 2009


Why are you here? What exactly do you get out of trotting out the same "I care so much less than everyone else who is also commenting in this metatalk thread" shit, that you keep at it?

A deep, abiding sense of well-being, actually.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 12:55 PM on February 23, 2009


A stickie-at-the-top comment with the attribution details and link would be a decent step forward, yes, though if that's not visible for readers who have comments set to hide (which I gather is the default stat), it's effectively not there, which isn't great.

Yes, that's grief. I'll think of a way around that.

In the meantime, I'm going back into the archives to search for others. I might miss some, so please understand that if I do it's not on purpose.
posted by illiad at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2009


illiad: "That image bar ad only exists on the front page, and the page is updated daily. The link needs to be in the archives where there is persistence. Under the cartoon, as the top message in the forum for that day."

So what's the problem? Just place a similar image bar below the archived version of the comic. Presumably it won't be happening too often in the future so it shouldn't add that much work to the archival process, right?

(I harp on the image bar only because it seems right that the people who provide content for the comic should get as much prominence on-page as the people who pay the bills.)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:56 PM on February 23, 2009


Admins, have there been any thoughts to adding a preference check box or something that would allow users to declare a specific license for all of their own comments like Flickr does for photos?

We could have "Free to use, go nuts", "Free to use with citation", or "don't use".
posted by Science! at 12:57 PM on February 23, 2009


Isn't "Wha Wha Wibble" something that Slurms McKenzie said in that one Futurama?
posted by jtron at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2009


Just place a similar image bar below the archived version of the comic. Presumably it won't be happening too often in the future so it shouldn't add that much work to the archival process, right?

The issue is the way the archive pages are generated. Adding a bar under specific cartoons isn't easy, at least not for a non-coder. But I'll find a way, whether it's with ALT text or whatever. I'll get it done. I know I don't deserve your patience, but I do appreciate what you can give me.
posted by illiad at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2009


Ok, I'll be a bastard since I already outed Den Beste Class Goat. Hovercraft Eel has to be Quonsar. Admit it, gramps.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:02 PM on February 23, 2009


Why are you here? What exactly do you get out of trotting out the same "I care so much less than everyone else who is also commenting in this metatalk thread" shit, that you keep at it?

A deep, abiding sense of well-being, actually.


I will never forgive the internet for making people confuse "well being" with "being an trollish dick".
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:02 PM on February 23, 2009


That being said, illiad, kudos to your mea culpa and also your stated intention to make things right, to the extent that they can be made right.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:03 PM on February 23, 2009


...donkeypunched a nun on Sesame Street...

I missed that episode!
posted by mmrtnt at 1:04 PM on February 23, 2009


In a pathetic bid to increase my reader base, I invite all MeFites to browse seven years worth of a comic strip I wrote, and recently concluded, to try to find pinched lines.

This is also a bit in Illiad's defense: honestly, I've probably written over 2000 Man-Man strips, in mental states ranging from raging drunk to suicidally depressed, on fire with enthusiasm to just wanting to never see the damn thing again, inspired with teh comediez to feeling like I'm the unfunniest man on the planet.

I'm sure there are punchlines I've boosted in there. I can't cite any direct examples of me reading something funny, pulling it, and using it, but that's because I do mainly plot-driven stories where the punchline has to serve the continuity. Were I doing more one-off gag strips, I may well have pulled "funny lines found in random places" and tossed them in the mix every once in a while, with the vague back-of-the-head "seen on the Internet!" idea that it doesn't require attribution, because it's just kind of a sluice of stuff Out There and there's no harm in borrowing.

Lord knows it ain't right, but in the Big List of Crimes, after several thousand strips, I can forgive shortcuts pulled from semi-anonymous message boards. I definitely think calls for evisceration are a bit beyond the pale.
posted by Shepherd at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2009


Is quonsar the exception that proves the rule that there are no trollish dicks on MetaFilter or something?
posted by kalessin at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2009



In the meantime, I'm going back into the archives to search for others. I might miss some, so please understand that if I do it's not on purpose.


Serious question:

The MeFi episode today is being picked up by Waxy and a few other sites, it won't take long for someone to find other material from other forums that you copied and pasted. What are your plans for attributing that material?

Also, you might want to adjust your 'contract' a bit.
posted by jerseygirl at 1:05 PM on February 23, 2009


posted by illiad I didn't think when I did it. If I had, I wouldn't have done it.

I find this very hard to believe. You read MetaFilter, found a funny remark, copied it, and wrote a comic around it, all without thinking?
posted by mattdidthat at 1:06 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find this very hard to believe. You read MetaFilter, found a funny remark, copied it, and wrote a comic around it, all without thinking?

Well, he thought. He just did so unsmartly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:09 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


jtron: "Isn't "Wha Wha Wibble" something that Slurms McKenzie said in that one Futurama?"

I've been thinking that all day, but in Futurama it's something like "Whimmy Whim Wham Wazzel!" and it's used as a positive excited declaration, not a depressed muttering.
posted by Science! at 1:10 PM on February 23, 2009


I didn't think when I did it. If I had, I wouldn't have done it.

Did you know it was plagiarism? How would you feel if people lifted your words for their competing webcomic, espcially given your out-there and draconian "WE HAVE LAWYERS!" notes sprinkled all over your site? I mean, I am trying to understand you here, man, I'm not trying to trick you into anything.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:10 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think my biggest beef with User Friendly is how much illiad harps on it being a moneymaking endeavor, to the point of telling us not to use Adblock- and yet the cartoon is so humorless and artistically crippled that his protestations seem rather... sad.

Other webcomics (Sam and Fuzzy, Scary Go Round, Sinfest!) make money without any of the toolbaggery and are actually funny.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:11 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What are your plans for attributing that material?

Assuming that any others do exist -- and I'm really hoping that's not the case*, they'll receive the same treatment.

*I'm sure my credibility here is hovering around, if not on, zero, but my lifting comments has been restricted to MeFi. There's one cartoon way in the past that I later learned to be a direct lift of an old UNIX manual cartoon, which I foolishly drew and posted thanks to a "suggestion" by a reader I met at a conference. I still get to wear the egg on face.
posted by illiad at 1:11 PM on February 23, 2009


Admins, have there been any thoughts to adding a preference check box or something that would allow users to declare a specific license for all of their own comments like Flickr does for photos?

It's a nice idea on the surface, but there's a lot of wrinkles there. A few biggies: What about users quoting other users' comments? What about users whose comments contain quoted material from non-mefi contexts? What happens when the generous license on one comment is conflated by some comment-collector as applying to adjacent comments by other users with different licenses?

The copyright message in the footer is pretty straightforward and matches the default expectation of copyright on written works, and that's a very simple way to handle it. Encouraging folks to pursue attribution responsibly isn't really a bad place to be, and having folks thus contacted turn around and say "hey, no problem" is a pretty satisfactory outcome on all sides.

Aside from that, we've heard from basically no one expressing a need for the feature. If someone really wants to disclaim their alternative licensing of their own comments, they could do so in bold text at the top of their user page, I suppose, but what Mefi does vs. what Flickr does—and the relative likeliness of reuse/attribution issues being common here—makes it seem like a pretty low-priority issue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:16 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did you know it was plagiarism? How would you feel if people lifted your words for their competing webcomic, espcially given your out-there and draconian "WE HAVE LAWYERS!" notes sprinkled all over your site? I mean, I am trying to understand you here, man, I'm not trying to trick you into anything.

At the time I honestly didn't think anything of it. In hindsight it was utterly stupid. I've had my words lifted several times to my knowledge, for other comics. Of course it wasn't fun to discover.

The "WE HAVE LAWYERS" comment is only on the footer of the site, not all over. It's there in response to cracking attempts, and that's what I mean about "doing Bad Things." As far as having my content sucked away for zero compensation, I know it happens and I know there's precious little I can do about it, other than appeal to my core readers.
posted by illiad at 1:17 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it was the initial combination of "someone sent it to me!" and his own contract where he got all "thou shall not steal my shit!"

What I find way more maddening is this portion:

I WILL PROVIDE one cartoon a day, every day, 365 days a year (366 on leap years).
I WILL ALWAYS be the author of the daily cartoon. I will not feature guest cartoonists to fill in for an absence.


There are plenty of cartoonists who decide to hold themselves to a one-new-comic-per-day rule. Some of them do it for a contract with a syndicate, some of them do it as a way to make their comics better. The latter category is always particularly interesting to me.

James Kochalka, for example, has had his American Elf comics going at one-a-day for years, and when you look at them, it's clear that he isn't always entirely comfortable with the idea -- some are about how annoying it is to have to draw a new comic every day, some involve him bugging his wife solely to get a reasonably-okay story for a strip, and a some are about how few events happen on a daily basis that he thinks are important enough to write down.

They're really neat, though! You get to see how a reasonably creative person reacts to a self-imposed constraint, and that in itself is entertaining, even if there's nothing inherently "funny" about, say, a cat playing with a rubber band.

That kind of mundanity is at least rising to meet a challenge, and when the comic gets a little meta, it's acknowledging that the challenge is just too much; the plagiarism examples, on the other hand, is backing right the fuck away from the challenge while pretending that that's not what's happening.

So what really riles me about it is that there's NOTHING that's forcing Frazer to do a new strip every day other than his own decision to value quantity over quality. You look at Chris Onstad's Achewood, there aren't always new comics every day; some days, you get a halfhearted apology along the lines of, "Sorry, I'm moving to a new house, just don't have time today. Please bear with me." And people do, because people are understanding. But to churn out possibly-plagiarized dreck every day with more regard for consistency than creativity strikes me as a much more icky disrespect toward an audience, a kind of, "Well, you people will be satisfied with anything, won't you?"

I dunno, I mean, there's an apology and an admission for the ripoffs on his site, but I guess I feel unsatisfied with how this all went down because the most discomforting thing about this whole fiasco, to me, is getting a front-row seat to someone making a virtue out of phoning it in. I suppose the one comment that sums up my take more than any other is interrobang's sarcastic "I can totally see why he bothers to have a comic!"
posted by Greg Nog at 1:18 PM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I remember the end of a friendship, just after high school, as Jon told me a story in the parking lot while we waited for his Festiva to gas up.
"Dude, Jon, that happened to me. That's my story."
"No, it didn't."
"Fine, whatever."


You know, my best friend and I have a similar thing like this, but we've thankfully managed to remain friends throughout the ordeals. There are two jokes that we both insist we came up with, even to this day, and neither is very good. the first is how, if you recall, in the first Austin Powers Seth Green calls Cinemax "Skinemax" in a neat little play on words that still gets usage to this day. Well, as I imagine many friends of underdeveloped emotional maturity did at the time my friends and I sat around coming up with other similar substitutions for the other cable movie channels. Our argument is over who came up with "Fell-hbo." it was me, no matter what he says.

The other one is so nerdy I hesitate to mention it, but fuck it, it's the internet, right? Back when we used to... ah fuck it. back when we used to play Dungeons & Dragons (I know, I know) we often opted for silly or stupid names for our characters because we were unable to take the fake fantasy names seriously. Sometimes this meant something cartoonishly silly, other times it just meant naming our guy John Harris, or something pedestrian like that. One of our friends always went full boat on the "fake fantasy name" generation kick, though. No matter the game, he was always named something like Shal'Falanel or the like. One day, he very proudly told us that his character's name was Calador, which sounded to the rest of us remarkably like the chain store Caldor nearby, so we made fun of him. Our argument is over who then named their character "Bed, Bath and Beyondicus" in parody of this friend. no matter what he says, it was me.
posted by shmegegge at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2009 [13 favorites]


I really think it would be wise not to take "suggestions" from your "readers" anymore. Don't just check them for originality. Don't even use them. It's your webcomic. Why are you not coming up with your own material? How can you feel right about selling a $75 book based on someone else's jokes? Attribution aside! I have my own series and, while it's not a webcomic, I do get a fair amount of suggestions. And I don't take them. What I do take is pride in my work, and I'd like to continue taking pride in my work. I can't do so if my work isn't wholly mine. Do you honestly take pride in regurgitating other peoples' one-liners (and using the same scribbly drawings over and over again)? Good on you for apologizing publicly. I mean that. But if I were you, I'd be questioning the point of the whole series. A long time ago.
posted by katillathehun at 1:19 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are punchlines I've boosted

It happens. I re-read something I'd had published once and realized, oh shit, I stole that joke from P.J. O'Rourke. I live in constant fear of being told my best ideas are accidental rip-offs. I used to think I invented the word "ginormous."

But ...

as cortex mentioned above in response to klang, these are multiple examples of near word-for-word lifts, and several were lifted mere days from the original utterance, which make accidental hazy plagerism far, far less likely.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:20 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK.
posted by Science! at 1:24 PM on February 23, 2009


I invite all MeFites to browse seven years worth of a comic strip I wrote, and recently concluded, to try to find pinched lines.

Human-man was a bit from an early Tom the Dancing Bug published in 1992. It was part of the first TtDB compilation/comic published in 1995. He too was bit by a radioactive human.

Quick picture here.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:25 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Illiad, exactly what does "I used them unthinkingly" mean?

mattdidthat, thanks for bringing that up - saved me a lot of typing.

posted by mmrtnt at 1:28 PM on February 23, 2009


MetaFilter: I will never forgive the Internet
posted by Curry at 1:30 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


illiad, you could add very easily a watermark to all the image files on the strips where plagiarism has occurred. Here I put one in the top right corner. Add yours anywhere!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:31 PM on February 23, 2009 [19 favorites]


I once wrote an email to a guy for ripping off something I had written. The wording of aseveral sentences was identical and everything. And then he wrote back a surprisingly kind email asking me to check the publication date of his story. It was published before mine.

I must have seen his story when I was researching and accidentally cribbed what he had written. Humiliating.

Then there was a guy I knew in Hollywood. Brody. Big lug of a fellow, kind of mean. I once told him my theory about casting Brando as Kurz in Apocalypse Now. That there had to be madness at the end of the river. I couldn't imagine a better casting choice, because Brando seemed utterly a lunatic, and we knew it was him, and that he may actually have gone a little mad in life. A few days later, I heard Brody say my theory of Brando to someone else, as though he had thought of it himself. Oh well, whatever.

Later I heard him tell an amusing anecdote about something that had happened to him. Except it hadn't happened to him. It had happened to me. He apparently forgot the source of the story, as he was telling it to me.

It's hard not to experience some plagiarism in your life, but the real dicks do it chroncally and deliberately.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:33 PM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Potomac: I like that idea and it's a lot more do-able (that is, it requires only me and Photoshop) than the other suggestions. If no one else is against the idea, I'll go with that.
posted by illiad at 1:34 PM on February 23, 2009


" I'd like to give a big thumbs up to all the participants"

Dammit, now Roger Ebert's getting ripped off. Will the horrors never cease?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:35 PM on February 23, 2009


Well illiad, I hereby retract all broadsword-related threats directed against your person.
posted by Mister_A at 1:39 PM on February 23, 2009


Oh, brother.
posted by katillathehun at 1:44 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Physically shaking with anger!
posted by Science! at 1:49 PM on February 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


And now I have to depart. Please MeMail if you find something that needs my attention. Otherwise, I'm off to concentrate on making this as right as I can.
posted by illiad at 1:49 PM on February 23, 2009


Later I heard him tell an amusing anecdote about something that had happened to him. Except it hadn't happened to him. It had happened to me. He apparently forgot the source of the story, as he was telling it to me.

I used to hang with a compulsive liar/ con-artist that did this kind of thing all the time. I would tell him a story, "This one time in high-school, I was cruising down the road in a Pontiac Catalina at about 120 miles an hour, in the middle of the night, with no headlights on..."

And a week or two later he would relate the story to me and some friends in a bar "This one time in high-school, I was cruising down the road in a Chrysler Cordoba at about 120, in the middle of the night, no headlights at all..."

at which point I would stop him and say, "No. You were in Catalina. We've been over this! How many times do I have to remind you?"

This usually created enough confusion to force him to re-establish his honesty credentials all over again, which was great fun to watch. He was an interesting guy, but boy that kind of personality can be tiring to associate with for any length of time and I was happy to see him leave the state.
posted by quin at 1:50 PM on February 23, 2009


So that's what this foam is around my mouth.
posted by cashman at 1:50 PM on February 23, 2009


Oh, brother.

Let's accept it as a given that the regulars at UF are going to unload whuffies on illiad at UF and not make too much of human nature in action on that front, okay?

On the other hand, illiad? It seems like your news posts get approximately zero traffic/commentary compared to the de facto open thread that is the daily strip page. I know it doesn't sound like any fun, but putting some sort of official "this is what happened" in the place where people on your site actually are might make for a much more visible acknowledgment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:51 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was 12 or so, we were given a project to write a War Poem.

(Every child in the UK since the late sixties gets given between 3 and 5 assignments in their school life that is a variation on "Write a poem from the point of view of a soldier in the trenches in 1916." It is the law.)

Anyway, in the middle of mine - a free verse masterpiece of some 20 lines or so - I chose to leap suddenly into conventional meter with the following:

"And it was dark.
So dark at night.
And we held onto each other
Like brother to brother
And promised our Mothers we'd write."



So I guess what I'm saying is, that there are worse things in life than getting caught ripping someone off. Sometimes the shame of knowing that you ripped someone off is enough.

Then, some other times, the shame of knowing that you ripped someone off, combined with the pain of inadvertently winning the poetry competition, combined with the shame of having to read it to the entire school in assembly one morning, combined with the final, brutal, awful shame of knowing that anyone who had noticed would further know that you thought enough of the work of Billy Joel to quote a whole verse from one of his most famous fucking songs, is enough.

It feels good to finally get that off my chest.
posted by Jofus at 1:51 PM on February 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


iliad's audience is coming to his defence. Rabid asshats, indeed.
posted by jokeefe at 1:51 PM on February 23, 2009


Or... what katillathehun said.
posted by jokeefe at 1:52 PM on February 23, 2009


firehawk: I just got back from the thread over there (NOT going to link it), and I was physically shaking with anger by the time I got back.

HULK ANGRY! HULK SMASH!
posted by mattdidthat at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2009


I just remembered - I've had original writing plagiarized. I'm not talking about one-liners, but a several-hundred-word essay that a writer with a name in the field passed off as his own. Fortunately, I could prove that I'd published it earlier, and he owned up immediately. Attribution was corrected, etc. Nobody made any money from it, AFAIK.

It still sucked.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2009


Can someone point me to the place where Iliiad has written:

These were NOT sent to me in email as I originally claimed, I lifted them myself

or

some of them were sent to me in email, others I cribbed myself

or are we still at the part where there's no substantial difference between the two?
posted by mmrtnt at 1:56 PM on February 23, 2009


Well, while we're at it:

I tried to pass off Amazing Grace as my own original melody in a sixth grade music composition assignment. I didn't even know Amazing Grace was a widespread classic, I'd just heard Scotty playing it on his bagpipe at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and figured our music teacher probably didn't watch Star Trek so he wouldn't know some obscure sci-fi musical interlude.

When the old man played the submitted melodies in front of class on his upright piano, he paused a bit at mine while playing, but didn't say anything.

I got a C.
posted by brownpau at 1:56 PM on February 23, 2009 [49 favorites]


What cortex said.
posted by HopperFan at 1:57 PM on February 23, 2009


I should say that I'm only aware of the Human-Man/Man-Man thing I posted above because I ripped off that same strip for a skit I used at a sketch comedy troupe audition back in '97.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:01 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


UserFriendly is blocked at work for me, so I have to imagine all the plagiarized comics (and readers physically shaking with anger) myself. It will be interesting to get home tonight and see what resemblence there is between the imaginary bad comics and the actual bad comics.
posted by scody at 2:05 PM on February 23, 2009


brownpau: "Well, while we're at it:

I tried to pass off Amazing Grace as my own original melody in a sixth grade music composition assignment. I didn't even know Amazing Grace was a widespread classic, I'd just heard Scotty playing it on his bagpipe at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and figured our music teacher probably didn't watch Star Trek so he wouldn't know some obscure sci-fi musical interlude.
"

You are my new hero.
posted by Science! at 2:09 PM on February 23, 2009


Years ago, I was fairly convinced I had bits and pieces of my music journalism copied in the AV Club and in other smaller publications. Not so much entire sentences, but uniquely stylistic phrasings of descriptions of a band and its music that I felt I had originated.

You learn to live with people deriving from their experiences of snippets of your work, even if it hurts a little that you don't get credit. Likewise, your own experiences sum up to make your own voice. It all adds up to the human condition.

For someone who is caught plagiarizing, who is a chronic offender, the worst crime is to realize that you never really developed your own voice. You didn't really add much to human experience. What was the point, really?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:10 PM on February 23, 2009


Amazing Grace is in the public domain. At least you robbed from the commons.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:12 PM on February 23, 2009


At least you robbed from the commons.

So did Gilligan's Island
posted by mmrtnt at 2:19 PM on February 23, 2009


Considering half the comments on this website - mine included - are riffs on Simpsons gags, I'm not sure what all this finger-pointing is about. People who live in bamboo houses shouldn't throw pandas.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:25 PM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, I had this entire post taken, (even had the graphic hotlinked) and while I did get name credit, there wasn't even a link back to my site. I wasn't sure how to deal with it. All the while my girlfriend was telling me to basically do some of the things suggested in this thread to him. She's more protective of me than I am. I decided to contact him and ask for a link. He over obliged and gave me like 5. It's since turned into my 2nd highest referrer.

And I had this guy steal/hotlink one of my graphics, (link NSFW) which I probably would have allowed if asked, and probably wouldn't have even cared if it hadn't been used in an obnoixious thread (or I had been feeling charitible that day). I decided to deal with this one in a less polite manner. Disclosure: graphic isn't mine, but was listed as public domain.

And I've had entire posts taken and put on those ad farm sites that don't even list contact info, they just steal your body copy to generate words that adsense will trigger off of. Write a home mortgage post, use some unique identifiers, and create a google alert for those words, and see how long it takes for you to be ripped off.

I go through my weblogs fairly consistently, have google alerts set on things like my name, site name, and username, and I find my stuff out there a lot. It also amazes me how many people like a site enough to link to it, without even bothering to write and say, "Hey, linking to your site."

I've also guest posted on two humor blogs, and had people ask to use portions of my stuff. I've never denied a request yet.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:29 PM on February 23, 2009


Amazing Grace is in the public domain.

Used to be. I've penned alternate lyrics ("...please sit on my face," etc.) which are vastly more popular (and relevant to today's face-sitting world) than the original--I have petitioned the courts and feel sure my claims will be upheld very soon now. The RIAA will be in touch, sixth grade or not.*

* Isn't sixth grade where you learn the "real" lyrics for Amazing Grace, Strangers in the Night, et al?
posted by maxwelton at 2:29 PM on February 23, 2009


turgid dahlia: "Considering half the comments on this website - mine included - are riffs on Simpsons gags, I'm not sure what all this finger-pointing is about. People who live in bamboo houses shouldn't throw pandas."

I would pay cash money for videos of people throwing pandas.
posted by Science! at 2:29 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Life in America has taught me that stolen zingers make people very angry.
posted by anniecat at 2:29 PM on February 23, 2009


"Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another."
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I tried to pass off Amazing Grace as my own original melody in a sixth grade music composition assignment. I didn't even know Amazing Grace was a widespread classic, I'd just heard Scotty playing it on his bagpipe at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and figured our music teacher probably didn't watch Star Trek so he wouldn't know some obscure sci-fi musical interlude.

This story single-handedly just made my day ENTIRELY AWESOME.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:32 PM on February 23, 2009


To all visiting User Friendly readers,

I am sorry if we are saying mean things about one of your internet "homes". It's just that your home is an unsightly ad-plastered eyesore and the person that lives there has been stealing our bike and, when caught, tried to play his theft off as someone else dropping our bike off at his house without telling him it was stolen. If part of your identity comes from being a reader of that comic strip and a contributor to its forums, I in all honestly recommend you look for a better place to spend your time, because there are much better websites out there and much funnier and better drawn webcomics.

Sincerely,

A dude on Metafilter who was not personally ripped off and so who barely has a dog in this fight but who will never be visiting User Friendly again because, plagiarism aside, he just doesn't like ugly.
posted by ND¢ at 2:39 PM on February 23, 2009 [28 favorites]


I wonder how we'd focus our self-righteousness if iliad had trotted out the old "I wasn't going to buy it anyway" defense that seems to be the mainstay of tightwad mp3 aficionados. Something along the lines of: "Well, if I have to attribute ownership, I won't use it. Since I'm not using it, I don't have to attribute ownership. Since I don't have to attribute ownership, I'll go ahead and use it."

For the record, I enjoy User Friendly (but I wouldn't pay for it, so I guess it's alright to read it.)
posted by joaquim at 2:40 PM on February 23, 2009


You guys are never going to believe what I just found out about George Lucas and Akira Kurosawa.
posted by GuyZero at 2:40 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love how these episodes introduce me to other communities online.
posted by mediareport at 2:43 PM on February 23, 2009


*snarf* *steals UserFriendly's hilarious zombie meme* (n/t)
posted by mrnutty at 2:43 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amazing Grace is in the public domain.

Thus further emphasizing my point about plagiarism and copyright infringement being separate issues.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:45 PM on February 23, 2009


I guess I'm just being picky, but I think there is more than a passing difference between:

"These cartoons have punch-lines derived or directly taken from comments posted on the weblog MetaFilter."

and

"I created punch lines for these cartoons from comments posted on the weblog MetaFilter"

The first sounds more like "It happened on my watch" than it does "I did it"


OK. I'll shut up now.
posted by mmrtnt at 2:45 PM on February 23, 2009


What I think may make me the angriest about this whole ordeal is having to navigate a messageboard where every single stupid one-line comment requires a whole page-load to view. Geez! It's unconscionable!
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:50 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll dork out about passive constructions with you any day, mmrtnt—I was being pedantic about the phrasing of illiad's early mea culpa upthread—but I figure in this case the implied expected-authorship on his part is pretty clear on the pages of UF itself, so, eh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:51 PM on February 23, 2009


That's quite a powerful and thick sycophantic miasma in the comments over there.

Curls the nose-hairs.
posted by CKmtl at 2:53 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is NOT the same as downloading an mp3. These are completely different issues.
Downloading an mp3 is NOT:
-taking credit for the music
-making money off of the music
-stealing
Plagiarizing someone else's work is all of the above.

It's all well and good that iliad seems to be taking the high road now, after being discovered, but that really means next to nothing.

Also, the idea that "comedians steal jokes all the time" surely doesn't excuse them for being hacks, does it?
posted by graventy at 2:57 PM on February 23, 2009


You can alter the board behavior to show all comments using the radio buttons at the top, Ms. Saint.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:59 PM on February 23, 2009


I still get to wear the egg on face.

You really need to cut these carefully worded "apologies" and excuses out, illiad. You are so clearly full of it that my bullshit detector just fell off the shelf.
posted by dhammond at 3:02 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder how we'd focus our self-righteousness if iliad had trotted out the old "I wasn't going to buy it anyway" defense that seems to be the mainstay of tightwad mp3 aficionados. Something along the lines of: "Well, if I have to attribute ownership, I won't use it. Since I'm not using it, I don't have to attribute ownership. Since I don't have to attribute ownership, I'll go ahead and use it."

oh man, that's a good one! I bet it would go however you think it would go that would allow you to go "aha!" and point at us self-righteously!
posted by shmegegge at 3:02 PM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Can we not do that derail, please. Downloading a copyrighted audio work is in fact, stealing, because if you had not downloaded it , you would have paid the producer for it, and they would have gotten their money for your listening enjoyment. Since you did not pay them, and you are still enjoying it, you have frakken infringed and "stolen" it, where it is the money they should be seeing for you having enjoyed it. Damn it.
posted by cavalier at 3:02 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's quite a powerful and thick sycophantic miasma in the comments over there.

No kidding. I find it quite baffling, too.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:04 PM on February 23, 2009


What I think may make me the angriest about this whole ordeal is having to navigate a messageboard where every single stupid one-line comment requires a whole page-load to view. Geez! It's unconscionable!

Oh, me too! It's even worse than those forums where everyone has their own glitter avatar and wacky subtitle and a signature that includes a bunch of quotes and self-made banners featuring their assorted Harry Potter ships and a list of every My Little Pony they have for trade, all of which you see every single time they comment, and they comment about twelve times an hour, and the text of each comment is "lol i agree." And I hate that kind of forum.

(on preview: oh, good to know, Rhaomi, thank you!)
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:08 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


lol i agree
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:09 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


lol i agree
posted by Greg Nog at 3:09 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


what
posted by Curry at 3:10 PM on February 23, 2009


This thread needs at least one

*YOINK!*

... because that is the universal sound of thievery.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:11 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I met a guy yesterday who lost almost all his money to Madoff. Seemed saddest because Madoff is a great guy, and hopes his friend will be all right.

Fandom inspires a lot of lunacy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:11 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a fuckin' gift this thread was to read. I came home after a somewhat stressful day, smoked a joint, and found this. Cheers, people.
posted by gman at 3:19 PM on February 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


Swiper, no swiping!
posted by niles at 3:22 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I have a confession: I've used pita's comments in more than one email.
posted by gman at 3:24 PM on February 23, 2009


I once wrote an email to a guy for ripping off something I had written. The wording of aseveral sentences was identical and everything. And then he wrote back a surprisingly kind email asking me to check the publication date of his story. It was published before mine.

I must have seen his story when I was researching and accidentally cribbed what he had written. Humiliating.

Then there was a guy I knew in Hollywood. Brody. Big lug of a fellow, kind of mean. I once told him my theory about casting Brando as Kurz in Apocalypse Now. That there had to be madness at the end of the river. I couldn't imagine a better casting choice, because Brando seemed utterly a lunatic, and we knew it was him, and that he may actually have gone a little mad in life. A few days later, I heard Brody say my theory of Brando to someone else, as though he had thought of it himself. Oh well, whatever.

Later I heard him tell an amusing anecdote about something that had happened to him. Except it hadn't happened to him. It had happened to me. He apparently forgot the source of the story, as he was telling it to me.

It's hard not to experience some plagiarism in your life, but the real dicks do it chroncally and deliberately.
posted by grouse at 3:25 PM on February 23, 2009 [27 favorites]


oh man, that's a good one! I bet it would go however you think it would go that would allow you to go "aha!" and point at us self-righteously!
Oh, my, shmegegge -- please understand that I wasn't talking about class acts like you guys. I was talking about that group of assholes standing over there.
posted by joaquim at 3:29 PM on February 23, 2009


peter was here.
posted by pwally at 3:31 PM on February 23, 2009


and i'd like to add that I turned on the april fools day color fade for fun again before opening this thread... and I now have the worst f'ing headache imaginable.
posted by pwally at 3:33 PM on February 23, 2009


So I guess we won't be calling him "Mefi's own" illiad, then?
posted by jtron at 3:34 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Were you miffed that none of your jests was copied? I comfort myself that my humor is too subtle for illustration by said cartoonist...
posted by Cranberry at 3:36 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how in the strip comments over there, someone, in one breath, accuses us of being trolls and then goes on about how much better their community is because of their forgiving nature.
posted by quin at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least this thread brings back fond memories of one of my profs getting absolutely apoplectic and assuring the class that anyone whose paper spelled Iliad with two l's would immediately fail the whole course. (I doubt he carried through with it, but he seemed very serious and very angry. He would also freak the fuck out if you used Roman names for the gods or characters, but had a sense of humor when asked if we could at least use the Roman alphabet.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't mind that you took my story, grouse. But I will never be able to forgive you for stealing my favorites.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:49 PM on February 23, 2009


Maybe, but how many UFies have been turned off your site, because of the behaviour of the people on it?

oh no what have we done :(
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:50 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: the real dicks do it chroncally
posted by dersins at 3:51 PM on February 23, 2009


I didnt know about Metafilter, but I can see its filled with a bunch of trolls looking for a bridge. Maybe there is wit, but to be honest, i'd rather have the community we have here. We forgive mistakes, we dont try to upset the people making them by pointing out their spelling mistakes and poor grammar, or the fact that their dog c4s on the road or something.

Plagiarism, bad grammar and misspellings I can forgive but I draw the line at using your dog as an explosive and I'm not afraid to say it.

Seriously, I just spent five minutes trying to figure out what "c4s" means. Craps? Courses? Crosses? What kind of f5d up profanity filter are they using over there?
posted by lysistrata at 3:52 PM on February 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


pwally: "peter was here."
Pitr was here.

FTFY
posted by Science! at 3:53 PM on February 23, 2009


What kind of f5d up profanity filter are they using over there?

That made me laugh. Nice one. Thank you.
posted by mmrtnt at 3:58 PM on February 23, 2009


I'm pretty sure I'm being overly cautious/explicit about this considering there's only been one crossover comment from a mefite on UF and it was civil and lucid, but just to be clear: it'd be great if folks could refrain from barnstorming the site.

We're annoyed about the plagiarism, they're annoyed about us not being huggy best friends about the plagiarism, and neither crowd is likely to change their opinions on that front. I find the reaction over there pretty cloying too, and I worry what would happen if anybody offended by this Metatalk thread ever ended up stuck in an elevator with 4chan, but, eh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:00 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your favorite webcomic sucks.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:00 PM on February 23, 2009


*speechless*
posted by loquacious at 4:01 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I'm being overly cautious/explicit about this considering there's only been one crossover comment from a mefite on UF and it was civil and lucid, but just to be clear: it'd be great if folks could refrain from barnstorming the site.

Sorry, cortex. I hope the UFies checking in on this thread know that my comment above was meant in good humor. I'll refrain from bringing anything else over here.
posted by lysistrata at 4:03 PM on February 23, 2009


Do you ever read an entire thread like this and go "wow, an hour and a half... for what?" We should have rankings of long threads like these.

Educational: 2
Plagiarism = bad. More plagiarism occurs than I realized. When plagiarized, one should start by sending a polite email asking for a link. lysistrata is home with a bad cold, as am I.

Thought-Provoking: 3
Is cribbing one-liners worse than downloading free MP3s?

Human Drama: 5.5
An web comic who is self-righteous about copyright observance gets caught having cribbed many of his punchlines. How will he respond? Watch his initial evasion, the discovery of additional evidence, his ultimate apology, and his offers of penance. Watch as a worked-up crowd and the community's moderators decide how to respond.
posted by salvia at 4:04 PM on February 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I'm being overly cautious/explicit about this considering there's only been one crossover comment from a mefite on UF and it was civil and lucid, but just to be clear: it'd be great if folks could refrain from barnstorming the site.

I wholeheartedly welcome "UFies" to comment in this thread.
posted by gman at 4:04 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


lysistrata, I'm guessing it's a leetspeak thing. I saw another person using "B5" where you'd expect "BS", so maybe "c4" is short for "ca (ca)" -- or "crap", basically.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:05 PM on February 23, 2009


Speaking as the 8-year old boy who wanted to wait a few years to record "Crocodile Rock" as his own, because grown-ups always forget stuff (DAMN YOU, classic rock stations and your obsession with Tiny Dancer and Crocodile Rock!!!!), I give you Michael Jackson's "inspiration" - Take a bow and doff your cap to Mr Fosse.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:06 PM on February 23, 2009


What I find tragic about this whole thing: I doubt if any of the stolen comments would have been begrudged had illiad bothered to ask permission (or gave credit), no one bothered to ask the wronged people how they felt before the threats of violence came out, and I totally miffed the difference between copyright/fair use and plagiarism.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:12 PM on February 23, 2009


In software development, "internationalization" is commonly referred to as i18n because it's a lot of letters for lazy developers to type into their project plans. "Localization" similarly becomes l10n.

I expect that either:

a) ufies are too lazy to type any word longer than three letters
b) there's a profanity filter
c) they have really, really delicate sensibilities and "crap" is obviously tough stuff
posted by GuyZero at 4:13 PM on February 23, 2009


*speechless*

Not good enough, loquacious. I expect better from you.

And I have an English Lit. tutorial discussion in the morning on plagiarism, and really need some informed material, so... well, you know...
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:14 PM on February 23, 2009


Seriously, I just spent five minutes trying to figure out what "c4s" means.
Has sex with its owner ;-)
posted by tellurian at 4:16 PM on February 23, 2009


Yeah, loquacious so totally stole that whole *speechless* thing.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:18 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Q. Can I print one of your strips on a t-shirt or mug?

A. Occasionally it's fine. Please ask first. Contact David Barton at our "biz" address with a request for a reprint contract. A license fee may be involved.

Q. Can I use one of your strips on our Intranet, in a e-mail newsletter, or in a presentation?

A. Yes. Please Contact David Barton at our "biz" address with a request for a reprint contract. Again, there might be a license fee.

Q. Can I print User Friendly strips in a book or other print form?

A. Yes. For anything commercial print-related, please contact my agent David Fugate at 'david' -at- 'launchbooks' -dot- 'com'.



Now that's fuckin' rich!
posted by gman at 4:21 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


stuck in an elevator with 4chan

Best. Movie. Pitch. EVAR.
posted by GuyZero at 4:21 PM on February 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Maybe, but how many UFies have been turned off your site, because of the behaviour of the people on it?

AT LEAST WE HAVE EVOLVED ELBOWS YOU MIGHT WANT TO LOOK INTO THEM.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:27 PM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Human-man was a bit from an early Tom the Dancing Bug published in 1992. It was part of the first TtDB compilation/comic published in 1995. He too was bit by a radioactive human.

I hate you.

In my defense (1), the updated 2002-onward version of the strip has him bitten by a genetically modified human, in deference to Raimi's update of the Spider-Man legend; and (2), the core idea was first used by MAD magazine sometime in the late '70s and has also appeared (after us) on Conan O'Brien, Q107, some FM station in Kansas, and many other places besides.
posted by Shepherd at 4:32 PM on February 23, 2009


Plagiarism, copyright infringement, tribute and parody can be roughly related, but are not the same thing. The wiki article on plagiarism sums it up nicely:
Plagiarism is not copyright infringement. While both terms may apply to a particular act, they are different transgressions. Copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of a copyright holder, when material protected by copyright is used without consent. On the other hand, plagiarism is concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author's reputation that is achieved through false claims of authorship.
Tribute or homage to the work of another requires some reference to the original author, either directly or clearly in style to a widely known artist or author, as does the parody. Without knowledge of the original artist or author, the work would seem original. Part of the humor of tribute or imitation jokes comes from knowing the original, like with re-wording jokes from The Simpsons.

My parting kick to this dead horse: Illiad plagiarized those lines from others. It's a shady move for someone whose livihood is 3 to 4 panel comic strips. While no less an act of plagiarism, copying a few odd lines in a 400 page novel might get lost in the shuffle. But when you write less than 100 words a day, a copied line means a lot (especially when that line is the funny one of the day).

If you want to live off of the words of others, fine. Take credit for it. Chicken Soup for the whatever are just compilations of people's stories, intended to be endearing or something. The editors / compilers of the stories are just reaping the rewards of something they started over a decade ago. If Illiad does the same, just say so and go on with life. I doubt the Chicken Soup story submitters get much if they get picked, but at least they're recognized.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:34 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Shepherd and robocop is bleeding - no credit to They Might Be Giants or Man Man the band? (Though it seems Man Man may or may not pre-date the comic Man Man).
posted by filthy light thief at 4:41 PM on February 23, 2009


Is this week's podcast gonna be awesome or what?
posted by butterstick at 4:47 PM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


User Unfriendly #1
posted by mattdidthat at 4:47 PM on February 23, 2009 [12 favorites]


I accidentally read that was "plagiarizing all over my material," which is just... ewwww.
posted by katillathehun at 4:51 PM on February 23, 2009


This reminds me of this fellow. Harvesting the gold mine of meta.
posted by JohnR at 4:51 PM on February 23, 2009


Illiad: if I ever happened to write anything that you stole, my user profile states "If I ever say anything funny, insightful, or witty, you may steal it for your own use." I'll stand by that disclaimer.

That said, not providing attributions was sure a jerkface move.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:53 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find the "UFies" and their defense of illiad's actions just kind of sad, especially given that he's pretty much tried to blame them for what were almost certainly actions of his own doing.
posted by dhammond at 4:54 PM on February 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow. I hadn't even heard about User Friendly until now, but somehow it reminds me of Garfield.

Someone needs to do "User Friendly Minus MetaFilter", like, nowish.
posted by flashboy at 5:00 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shepherd, hate me too.
I crave ding-dongs (1992) & (2007). More importantly, why is this not said more often?
posted by tellurian at 5:07 PM on February 23, 2009


Only once that I'm aware of have I been plagiarized. When I was twelve I drew the artwork that was used on my grandfather's headstone. A couple years ago I was walking through the cemetery and saw the same design I drew on another grave marker. They must have just added it into their stock art catalog.
posted by Tenuki at 5:08 PM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I find the complaisant attitudes of many to be astounding. On no less than 7 occassions1 dating back to 2007, J.D. Frazer plagiarized MetaFilter comments with an exactitude and punctuality that leaves no doubt that it was calculated. While he admitted to appropriating the first comic mentioned, he has not admitted to willfully and deliberately copying the others, instead nebulously stating that he has infringed on the expression of ideas [of others]. Is there any reason to believe that Frazer's plagiarism isn't even more prolific than the instances found in this thread? If Frazer stole writing from Metafilter dating back to 2007, I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised that he's stolen writing even further back.

I'm not writing this in attempt to extract elaborate apologies and virtual grovelling, but to express the gravity of this situation. Some have compared him to eBaum. He isn't eBaum; he's worse. If I view content on eBaum I know that it wasn't created there. Prior to today, if I was viewing one of Frazer's comics, I would have been under every impression that he had created it himself.

I think J.D. Frazer used to write a true web comic. He probably worked hard and put his heart into it. But who can write a fresh comic about the same people for 10 years? Instead of giving it up though, he figured he might as well milk it. That's why we have today's thread and that's why UserFriendly is a site with 5 above-the-fold advertisements. I'm not surprised that Frazer has said whatever he thinks is necessary to calm the commotion. I also won't be surprised if it happens again.

[1]
Comic (02/23/09) - Comment (02/20/09)
Comic (02/16/09) - Comment (01/26/09)
Comic (02/13/09) - Comment (01/26/09)
Comic (02/12/09) - Comment (02/08/09)
Comic (01/27/09) - Comment (01/21/09)
Comic (01/12/09) - Comment (01/07/09)
Comic (07/17/07) - Comment (06/06/07)

posted by christonabike at 5:12 PM on February 23, 2009 [23 favorites]


Ok, I'll be a bastard since I already outed Den Beste Class Goat. Hovercraft Eel has to be Quonsar. Admit it, gramps.

Are you serious about the Goat? I don't think the resemblance is strong at all. They're probably in the same quadrant of a two-axis politics, but their styles are really different.
posted by grobstein at 5:16 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


peter was here

Pitr was here


And pita was here!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:20 PM on February 23, 2009


outed Den Beste Class Goat

Like grobstein, I am far from being convinced of this. Den Beste has a particular tone I find not at all in evidence in the Goat's œuvre.
posted by Wolof at 5:34 PM on February 23, 2009


Are you serious about the Goat? I don't think the resemblance is strong at all.

Really? I thought it matched nicely. If you need a clincher, this will do, but the pattern of discussion is very, very much the same.
posted by mediareport at 5:34 PM on February 23, 2009


I doubt that SCDB is the only dude of his political persuasion who is aware of the existence of yaoi and bishounen.
posted by CKmtl at 5:39 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm also frequently wrong and tone-deaf on occasion.

I note that Class Goat's account was disabled on or after the 22nd of this month, which is suggestive.
posted by Wolof at 5:44 PM on February 23, 2009


I have a confession to make. I did a comic strip for a year and a half, and I didn't draw a single panel of it. It's all stolen art.
posted by notmydesk at 5:46 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sure my credibility here is hovering around, if not on, zero, but my lifting comments has been restricted to MeFi.

What about the comment up there from Pants! showing three strips taken from non-Mefi sources?

(and yes, I am calling illiad a liar, just to be clear)
posted by shelleycat at 5:58 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Come on. You can call out plagiarism on UserFriendly without saying it's not funny or it's stupid. They're two separate complaints in that first is valid, legitimate, and good for discussion and the other is off-topic, childish, and below-the-belt.
posted by shadytrees at 5:59 PM on February 23, 2009


Am I the only one that would love to see the weblogs for "User Friendly" tomorrow? I am betting illiad's going to have his biggest traffic day in 10 years of running.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:05 PM on February 23, 2009


Hey Cortex, nice job with the reasonable responses over there. I'd be way pissier.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:12 PM on February 23, 2009


I wonder how his advertising is set up or if out of all this, he ends up making money for the thievery.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:14 PM on February 23, 2009


Illiad: It must've seeped into my subconscious. Puddy has MetaFilter bedsheets.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:23 PM on February 23, 2009


Found another 2007:

Comic - Jun 29, 2007 (Mirror)
Comment - October 19, 2006

For what it's worth, I read a random month from 2006 and another from 2005 and didn't find any obvious plagiarism.
posted by reishus at 6:24 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


posted by cjorgensen I am betting illiad's going to have his biggest traffic day in 10 years of running.

Anyone who reads User Friendly probably also likes Milli Vanilli concerts.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:27 PM on February 23, 2009


I do like the delicious irony of UF folks hating on a site which has provided their punchlines for the past year.
posted by maxwelton at 6:30 PM on February 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


I think I've figured out what's bugging me the most - Illiad, it's all well and good to thank Metafilter for the punchlines you were caught stealing, but I don't think the credit you give yourself is accurate. If you copy and paste lines off of forums - if, to your mind, a comic cribbed from jokes that fans e-mail in is acceptable, then I think you need to change your own attribution on the site. At this point, it's clear that the only part of your comic that you're responsible for, that you and you alone created, is the art. (right?)

You aren't writing your own material, so make this as clear as you can in the credits.

User Friendly, featuring J.D. Frazer's art and The Internet's writing. If it catches on, maybe Todd Goldman will make a t-shirt out of it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:31 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


That does NOT excuse blowing up, ranting, and fulmination to the extent I've seen. The proper response from the Metafilter bloggers would have been a polite email asking for an apology and proper attribution.

Oh fiddlesticks, someone is new to the internet.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:33 PM on February 23, 2009


Really? I thought it matched nicely. If you need a clincher, this will do, but the pattern of discussion is very, very much the same.

Hm, y'know what? Now that I've waded through Class Goat's AskMe contributions, I definitely see the resemblance. Very similar knowledge-base (I didn't see anything about cellphones, but CG makes points about anime for which the best source are SCDB writings), similar blunted helpful style. I still think the flavors of their comments on the Blue are different -- Class Goat was cleverer, snarkier, less constructive -- but I now agree that they are likely the same person.
posted by grobstein at 6:34 PM on February 23, 2009


1. I didn't get a (via) from Reddit when they went hog-wild with my Unknown Family post a few days ago. That really hurts, man.

2. I've been snarking furiously on Metafilter for over 4 years, and UF never found me worthy of ripping off? That really hurts, man.

Oh, and I love it when you guys go all internet sleuth, and out these kinds of shenanigans. They always make for great reading. Keep fighting the good fight! (I think I might have borrowed that last phrase from somewhere, BTW)
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:35 PM on February 23, 2009


It's interesting, and instructive, to note how ham-handedly most of these zingers are shoehorned into the comic strip. A good primer on what the phrase "a hack borrows, an artist steals" means.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:37 PM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think I've figured out what's bugging me the most - Illiad, it's all well and good to thank Metafilter for the punchlines...

Speaking of that... "Thanks to MetaFilter.com for the punchline!" sounds like some entity called MetaFilter.com sent in the punchline as part of a send-in-your-jokes contest. Also, MetaFilter.com isn't the author of the punchline.
posted by CKmtl at 6:44 PM on February 23, 2009


Hovercraft Eel has to be Quonsar. Admit it, gramps.

I have an eel. In my hovercraft. That guy had a lower-case "q".
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 6:50 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's still a little slimy - I'm hoping he makes good on his word to matthowie about eventually linking back to the original comments.

I'd honestly prefer if he just left them down. And didn't update again until he'd read Comics & Sequential Art or Making Comics. And also started writing his own material.

But, I also kind of hope they wind up making Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure into a trilogy. I've learned to accept disappointment.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:52 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If anyone is wondering "what am I missing? should I read what's going on over there?" I'll say, it was not worth it to me. (A theme of mine today. Fool me once...)
posted by salvia at 6:55 PM on February 23, 2009


the only part of your comic that you're responsible for, that you and you alone created, is the art. (right?)

Oh, snap!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:56 PM on February 23, 2009


Not good enough, loquacious. I expect better from you.

And I have an English Lit. tutorial discussion in the morning on plagiarism, and really need some informed material, so... well, you know...


Fine.

*copies and pastes long essay from Lawrence Lessig without attribution*

That'll learn 'em. Because you can never know who is plagiarizing whom.
posted by loquacious at 7:03 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This post, and the threads over there, serve as an excellent reminder that hiriing cortex as third mod was an excellent decision. In fights like these, he always serves as a cool head and a great representative to send among the crazies to speak on the site's behalf.

So...thanks, cortex.
posted by graventy at 7:04 PM on February 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


Reminds me of his diplomatic mission to the insular dittoheads at BoingBoing and Making Light.
This is a consular ship! We're on a diplomatic mission. . . .
posted by grobstein at 7:09 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one that can't wait to see tomorrow's "User Friendly" comic?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:22 PM on February 23, 2009


Soon after Dilbert made it big, I met a former co-worker of Scott Adams who told me he was getting so many "In MY Office..." emails from fans that he never had to come up with any ideas himself anymore. I believe Scott came out and admitted as much, some years later. UserFriendly, having run daily for over 10 years and having a rather large, strong and likely fanatical community built up around it, many of whom work in similar environments to the setting of the comic, I can certainly imagine Illiad could have gone into autopilot and gotten some or most of the stolen punchlines second hand. I can certainly imagine the possibility of an asshat who's a member of both communities feeding MetaComments to Illiad and telling his offline friends "I gave him that joke" on a regular basis just as much as a conscious campaign of plagiarism on the cartoonist's part.

(Then again, considering some definite overlap between Dilbert and MetaFilter fans (not to mention how many active MeFites are frustrated cubicle dwellers), I'm almost surprised we've never seen some MetaBonMots second-hand-plagiarized in Dilbert. But he has a several-week syndication lead time, making memories of any lines later stolen a lot less fresh.)

In fact, when I was blogging about comics, I noticed a Mother Goose & Grimm comic with one of the more random non-regular-character-gags that was basically identical to an edition of the little-known-but-deeply-loved-by-me webcomic Truck Bearing Kibble, 3 months earlier, which would have been a perfect timeframe for a plagiarizing syndicated cartoonist. (I had saved copies of both for the blog post, which is archived but unlinkable due to a broken WordPress format... eh.)

Also, I saw one of my personal office stories that I wrote here in MetaFilter copied in the webcomic My Life In A Cube. Oh, wait, that was when I did a Guest Comic there. Nevermind.

And for those of you who consider UF unfunny, boring or ugly (it is one of the few long running webcomics where the art has never improved), compare it to the similarly themed and equally long-running Help Desk and count your blessings.
posted by wendell at 7:24 PM on February 23, 2009


This is a consular ship! We're on a diplomatic mission. . . .

Then where is the Ambassador?
posted by Tenuki at 7:39 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


What graventy said. He's one of us! And he's also one of... them...

It looks like illiad fucked up. Their sustained involvement in this thread however is about as good as it gets in a case like this, so I can only say kudos. Same goes for almost everyone else in here. I don't really have any opinion as to crime and punishment, wronging and amends, and all that; but this thread at least is a moderately pleasant read, and that's saying something. Yay.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:40 PM on February 23, 2009


For what it's worth, I read a random month from 2006 and another from 2005 and didn't find any obvious plagiarism.

What months? A more transparent and coordinated effort would probably prevent people from inefficiently repeating the same searches.

I checked August 2006. What I did was scroll through rather quickly, and if I saw a unique, colorful, or incongruous-looking phrase I plugged it into Google. I didn't find anything this way... though it's possible I missed things.

What dates have others checked?
posted by dgaicun at 7:40 PM on February 23, 2009


I do like the delicious irony of UF folks hating on a site which has provided their punchlines for the past year.

Beauty
posted by mmrtnt at 7:45 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I checked a random birthday, found a colorful punchline, googled it and found the same line in a Library Thing post. I was all ready to post a big J'ACCUSE until I saw the comment post dated the comic. People steal from Illiad too, I guess. They just don't make money off him.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:47 PM on February 23, 2009


wendell, it is one thing to send your favorite cartoonist an idea you think would make a great strip. It is another thing entirely to copy verbatim statements from someone else.
posted by graventy at 7:58 PM on February 23, 2009


Shit, nobody comes out of this looking good, least of all the people in this thread.

I just hope that somebody with more time than me does a Userfriendly comic-mashup generator using the MeFi markov generator thing, because that would be funny for about 3 minutes.

And maybe get this taste out of my fucking mouth.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:41 PM on February 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


But graventy, within the population of people who send ideas to their favorite cartoonist are a few who WILL send them stolen material... and a cartoonist on autopilot may not see the signs that something's wrong, just think "geez, this guy writes great lines!" I just think it might be the situation - not at all convinced that it is.
posted by wendell at 8:47 PM on February 23, 2009


I guess this is as good a place to mention that I've plagiarized exactly twice in my life. The first was my sophomore year of high school in response to what I perceived as a pointless 5 page report on some president that was pretty obviously busy work. That teacher pissed me off so much that I went out of my way to purposefully plagiarize every single work of that report from as many sources as I could find just as a big "fuck you". I got an A and didn't feel bad in the slightest. The second time was when I passed off a "reggie and the full effect" song as my own poetry to get extra credit in my high school senior english class. Of course, I also single handedly edited, published, formatted and printed the poetry magazine that it was a part of so I think that kinda balanced out.

Now that I'm in college I would never think of plagiarizing anything, because they will straight kick your ass out of school for that.
posted by dead cousin ted at 8:52 PM on February 23, 2009


It looks like illiad fucked up.

by all means, let's keep hectoring him for it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:27 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


by all means, let's keep hectoring him for it

But(t), what about Patroclus?
posted by ericb at 9:42 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was under the impression that Scott Adams had been entirely forthcoming from the start about the fact that a lot of his strips were either inspired by or verbatim from emails people sent him about their jobs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, wait, that was when I did a Guest Comic there. Nevermind.

Do you need a hug or something?
posted by dhammond at 9:45 PM on February 23, 2009


That teacher pissed me off so much that I went out of my way to purposefully plagiarize every single work of that report from as many sources as I could find

You gotta love teenage thinking. It makes so much sense!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like that's the first story you've heard that ended predictably with "seemed like a good idea at the time".
posted by dead cousin ted at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2009


It's still a fun laugh. The case in point is, rephrased, "I'll show him… I'll make an extra effort." Such rebellion!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 PM on February 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that actually dawned on me a couple years later when I was telling someone else about it. Damn teenage years.
posted by dead cousin ted at 10:27 PM on February 23, 2009


"Thanks to MetaFilter.com for the punchline!" doesn't cut it. I want to see the mefite's username in the image and a hyperlink back to the comment. Hyperlink can be below or above the image, but not hidden in the comments.
posted by ryanrs at 11:14 PM on February 23, 2009


I just got back from the thread over there (NOT going to link it), and I was physically shaking with anger by the time I got back.

Dear Anger Shakin' Guy: You can't link to it, because there are bad words here and then your comment will get flagged and deleted and you will lose a point on your UF credit score.

Yes, I am still bitter - no one deletes my comments, NO ONE!

Noted rural librarians and pun-prone rock n' rolling longhairs excepted.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:16 PM on February 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I misread "pun-prone rock" as "prune rock" and wondered if cortex was into making rock music for old people to evacuate by.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 PM on February 23, 2009


I think he posted something like that to Projects but it sort of dropped off after three entries. Lotta balls in the air, that guy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:26 PM on February 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes yes, lets send more traffic to his ad infested poorly designed house of shame.
In the spirit of stealing other peoples jokes

Step 1 - Steal Content long enough to get noticed and linked to by site I'm stealing jokes from.
Step 2 - ???
Step 3 - Profit!

But man. I used to like UF. I've now removed it from my bookmarks. I'll be forwarding this to my friends who also read it so they can do the same. Crap like this is why I bitch to people who think Carlos Mencia or Dane Cook are funny.

The part that upsets me the most is I've paid for his stuff in the past. Whether or not the people hes cribbed from here are OK with it, I spent my hard earned money supporting someone who I felt was talented. And while he may have been at one time, it seems like its all copy-pasta and reusing the same resources over and over. Come on man. If this is how you want to make your living at it, then put the effort into it that it deserves. Don't phone this shit. I agree with the things said previously about quantity Vs. quality. Yeah, he may have his rabid fans, but there are also people out there that think 2girls1cup is art too.

I'm not mad, just disappointed...
posted by JonnyRotten at 12:16 AM on February 24, 2009


I wonder if someone with more time than me does a Userfriendly comic-mashup generator using the MeFi markov generator thing, because that would be funny for about 3 minutes.


...but seriously, +450 comments? The front page has been way better than anything going on in here.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:49 AM on February 24, 2009


I meant to say, ... but seriously
posted by From Bklyn at 2:26 AM on February 24, 2009


I'm into this thread very late, but I've read it through and feel a distinction is being missed viz. the attribution/plagiarism angle.

I liked UF a lot in high school, even went to a meetup. This is back when I was amused with the challenges which attended reinstalling slackware weekly, and when I thought that Phish lyrics were the pinnacle of comedic genius. Kuro5hin and google were also promising new players at the time. Whatever.

These sites gradually sifted out and I ended up, among other places, here. I love Metafilter. Love. Meanwhile, we have a userbase around 30,000. I'd wager that's well more than thirty times what UF has going now.

I love this place because I can browse here for ten minutes and in that time come across at least a handful of noteworthy comments. The abundance thereof might owe to this site's particular history, or the 5USD entry fee, or the fact that people here read a lot of books, or are otherwise better educated, or any of many other speculative reasons. It doesn't matter. What's notable is that these comments rise above the background drawn by the aforementioned 30,000 users.

So, when Illiad appropriates this material, whether intentionally or not, he's skimming the cream off a much more prolific site and packaging it for consumption in his overly-advertised, desperately-monetized niche. As mentioned, Metafilter's rights and ownership policy is well established. Judging from comments in this thread, it seems that most users would readily grant permission for a one-off use of their writing. What Illiad seems to have done, though, amounts to a systematic culling of the discourse from this site, rarified and presented as an uncontextualized sideblog supplying third panels to a webcomic with late 90s artwork.

This site has certain clear-cut definitions of abuse, the most notable of which is the forbearance on self-linking. Here we witness a converse of this scenario, wherein a user benefits not from the exposure, but from the content this site provides. Beyond an individual's right to his/her comments, then, this poses a threat to the community at large, and this goes to explain the community's response.
posted by 7segment at 2:31 AM on February 24, 2009 [13 favorites]


Meta: Your hand is in my pocket
Illia: Not it isn't
Meta: Yes it is
Illia: Well, not my whole hand.
Meta: The only parts of your hand which aren't in my pocket is your thumb and palm
Illia: Oh. Hm. Well it appears as though my hand is in your pocket, but I'm taking it out. I accept full responsibility
Meta: Thank you
Illia: Gotta go now. I'm going to go search my own pockets just to make sure, like, there aren't some coins or house keys or something of yours in there. Bye.
posted by mmrtnt at 3:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [12 favorites]


I don't think it's such a great crime as others are making out. Many authors have often lifted lines or comments that they overhear spoken by friends and strangers.

It's just that the comments on Metafilter don't vanish into the air, they stay and get indexed by Google.

Having said that, attribution has become an accepted part of web culture, and it's rude for him not to at least point to the authors for inspiration.
posted by Magnakai at 4:03 AM on February 24, 2009


Also: Hug.
posted by Magnakai at 4:03 AM on February 24, 2009


I was under the impression that Scott Adams had been entirely forthcoming from the start about the fact that a lot of his strips were either inspired by or verbatim from emails people sent him about their jobs.

He's not so forthcoming about his marketing of the addresses of everyone who signs up for his email list. It's like signing up for unlimited spam.


User Friendly seems to have a lot of ads. I don't know for sure, because I go there with AdBlock on. Which I think is only appropriate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:15 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


On no less than 7 occassions dating back to 2007....

8 now. UF needs a watchdog blog (watchblog?) that tries to source every day's comic. Also, of those that wrote to the book publishers, did any hear back?
posted by DU at 4:25 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ok, I checked October-December 2008. No plagiarized text discovered. I did find several more jokes that appeared elsewhere first, but nothing I considered suspicious.
posted by dgaicun at 4:29 AM on February 24, 2009


Also, of those that wrote to the book publishers, did any hear back?

Really? Does that need to happen? I hope it was one of the people affected by this, because this is sounding more like a witch hunt and kind of despicable to boot.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:57 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it more despicable or less despicable than quoting others' work as your own, putting it under copyright and making money off of it?
posted by DU at 5:01 AM on February 24, 2009


Phew! I am coming to this thread very late(via Waxy), after reading through all the comments and it clearly seems that what illiad did is not a one-off off-the-top-of-Internet heads. He is systematically copying/lifting/plagiarising headlines/comments off popular boards for years. Maybe he got so used to it that he didn't even find it plagiarising anymore.

I googled for "illiad lifted" and found this everything2 thread way back from Jan'2001, where he's accused of lifting Slashdot headlines. Excerpt:
First (and really the only part that I feel hasn't been expressed somewhere on Everything2) substantial part of this diatribe: the writing/jokes/whatever the hell it is. When you really look at the comic, the realization sets in that the vast majority of Illiad's ideas are actually just Slashdot headlines. Not that Slashdot is a bad thing, but to base an entire comic strip on it is both insane. This is especially apparent in the Sunday strips, but it shows up often enough in the regular strips to be annoying. The Metallica ordeal is an ideal example because the transition from headline to strip was virtually frictionless. Simply personify Metallica's request to ban Napster users into an overzealous man in black, and you get the same shit, only a different color. Don't even get me started about the tech support jokes.

Maybe someone here can sleuth-up enough to figure out which ones were during that time period. It'd go on to prove conclusively step that this guys is successfully ripping off other's works for profit. Not to mention his ethics/copyrights page. Quite Rich!
posted by forwebsites at 5:04 AM on February 24, 2009


Please let it die, already.
posted by Optamystic at 5:05 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


*illiad lifted* "userfriendly lifted".
posted by forwebsites at 5:08 AM on February 24, 2009


You know what? I'm one of the aggrieved bystanders and though I do think Iliad has/had some explaining to do (like why say you hadn't lifted content from any place but Metafilter when that's demonstrably not true?), and I do think he could work a bit more on atoning (I still don't understand why a direct link from an imagemapped image that cites attribution is so tricky/unworkable), I am not entirely sure that escalating to the publisher is the best-faith way to enforce "our side" of the conversation.

The internet/the world isn't about making people who are going to act like bastards start doing right. It's their choice. We don't have to do extra damage to career and reputation to exactingly get our eyes for eyes.

If Iliad thinks he's done enough to atone and you think he's wrong, can't you just tell him so and be done with it?
posted by kalessin at 5:14 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think ripping off other people's comments in public forums (not work) makes him asshole. Copywriting them and such is despicable, but last I checked he has publicly apologized and is trying to make up for this. Which includes giving up rights on said stolen items.
At this point your effing with his life and livelihood, which is very despicable being that the majority in on this feeding frenzy hasn't been affected whatsoever. He stole from you DU? If so have at it, otherwise maybe you should back off?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:16 AM on February 24, 2009


I guess my question about whether people had heard back from publishers was over the line? Let me soften it a little. Has anybody else heard if people have heard back from publishers? Or better yet, does anybody know if anybody else heard if people have heard back from publishers.
posted by DU at 5:20 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is just like that time Metafilter invented the internet and Al Gore stole it from us.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 5:23 AM on February 24, 2009


this is sounding more like a witch hunt and kind of despicable to boot.

You are forgetting the fact that HE'S A WITCH. He has plagiarized. Multiple times. Almost word-for-word. As the punchline of his comic strip, adding almost nothing to the stolen content. I'm not sure how much more plagiarizy this guy has to get before people quit telling us to ease up on him.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:47 AM on February 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I don't see anybody here saying he didn't plagiarize.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:50 AM on February 24, 2009


I don't see anybody here saying he didn't plagiarize.

So then why not fuck with his livelihood? David Bowie and Queen fucked with Vanilla Ice's livelihood when he stole their material. The New York Times fucked with Jayson Blair's livelihood when he stole stories from other reporters. I am sometimes willing to cut a plagiarist some slack when the appropriation seems to be accidental, or when the stolen material is a small part of a larger and independently created whole, but neither of those are the case here.

As someone who once lost a job for breaking a rule (unintentionally, in my case), I feel perfectly reasonable saying that I don't think that illiad should make any more money off his stolen comic strips.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:25 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he's claiming copyright on the purloined material, I think it's appropriate to cause him grief. In case everyone's forgotten, down at the bottom of this and every MetFilter page, you'll find this:
© 1999-2009 MetaFilter Network LLC
All posts are © their original authors.
I'm not a copyright expert, but it looks to me like he can't use this stuff the way he's been doing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:43 AM on February 24, 2009


A) He stole from you?
B) It was something of value?

If the first one is yes, then you should take a good long minute and think what that value is to you before you have another go at this.

If neither of the answers are yes, I'm not sure why you're still making noise in an nonconstructive manner.

Please let it die, already. The previous remark was originally made by Optamystic here.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2009


To those dismissing us as unaffected bystanders, I wonder what brilliant and original webcomic author I'm unable to enjoy because Illiad was stealing his piece of the advertising dollar pie.

Plagiarism fucks with our collective culture.

What's done is done and I don't think the myriad voices of this community are the appropriate arbiters of justice in this case, but let's not diminish the grave sin the man's committed.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Please let it die, already.

STOP GIVING DUDE PUNCHLINES.
posted by gman at 6:46 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Iliad thinks he's done enough to atone and you think he's wrong, can't you just tell him so and be done with it?

The simple fact is that he's made money from this, however much or little. If someone steals money or merchandise, is it ok to just say "sorry, I was wrong...won't do it again?". No, that person is expected to make restitution. Just apologizing without following it up with some effort of reciprocity is hypocritical and a bit sociopathic.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why you're still making noise in an nonconstructive manner.

Just who are you addressing with that?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:52 AM on February 24, 2009


This ... the whole thing. Seriously, the most satisfying thing I've experienced in months, (including my private obsessive reading of Twilight, left behind in the bathroom by my teenage daughter.) I pretend I'm here for the sidebars, but damn this relenteless meandering is brilliant, and honestly, so very meta. It sets me thinking about ... well, lots of Big Topics like How We Read, How We Write, How We Communicate, How We Engage on the Internet. Thank you.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:02 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Please let it die, already.

Indeed, please do so. You don't think claiming other people's work as your own is all that big a deal, we get it. Why are you commenting in a thread that's so boring to you?
posted by DU at 7:03 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


So this means all those webcomics that recycle memes or quotes and have a Paypal donate link need to be burned at the stake too, right?
posted by stelas at 7:07 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Exactly my point stella. I really find it amusing people keep saying he's stealing other people's work. Besides the mods and Matt, who is actually getting paid to type on Metafilter?
When did I say I was bored DU?

Just who are you addressing with that?

I would answer you but obviously you guys need to keep the torch lit to fight the good fight. Let me know how it turns out.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:21 AM on February 24, 2009


I'm with Rock Steady - this is just the kind of thing that should harm a career. This is also the kind of thing a publisher needs to know about - no, his whole-cloth swipes from Metafilter probably won't get him sued. Probably not his Slashdot swipes, either. But it has been established, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he's a habitual swiper who's willing to use the Todd Goldman defense ("My fans did it!") - so, who knows who else he's pinched lines from? And who knows how litigious those aggrieved parties might be? By printing the "work" of a joke-thief, the publisher could be exposing themselves to some risk on Illiad's behalf. They deserve an awareness of this risk, especially in light of how risky publishing is in general.

Plagiarizing is some cowardly shit. Doing something creative is to put yourself out on limb, to put your creative abilities to the test in a very public way. Your reputation grows or diminishes based on the work you produce and how it is marketed. And you know what unfunny professional artists do when they reckon their writing ain't up to par? They hire writers - a perfectly acceptable practice. Simply lifting lines, using them at zero cost and hoping you don't get caught is several kinds of unacceptable. And as much as I admire the compassion of my fellow MeFites who are asking that we ease up on this guy, the fact is that he only tried to "make it right" after getting ColdBusted!

The "right" thing to do would have been writing his own material, or geez, even notifying and asking for permission from the people he was lifting from. What he's doing right now is damage control - necessary but not impressive.

In a way, Illiad's own craft is a victim of his sloth. Ten years of daily output? Almost 3650 strips? If I encountered that kind of statistic, I'd reckon the artist had forged himself into another Bill Watterson by getting all that practice, regardless of his starting skills. Why, a cartoonist friend of mine only started doing daily strips two months ago and she's already twice the artist she was setting out. So it's really a shame to see what a low quality level a UF strip needs to reach to be "finished" and publishable. If Illiad had been coming up with his own material these last ten years, rather than trying to wrench his strips around lifted punchlines, he would have been getting the practice in timing and characterization that would make today's UF a much better strip.

The writers he stole from are harmed because their work appears under his name. His publishers could well be harmed by Illiad's irresponsible practices by no fault of their own. And ultimately, Illiad and UF are harmed because, by using other people's work, he's denying himself the pleasure and challenge of doing that work himself, expanding his skills and becoming a better creator.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:21 AM on February 24, 2009 [20 favorites]


Sorry, stelas.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:22 AM on February 24, 2009


It's even worse than those forums where everyone has their own glitter avatar and wacky subtitle and a signature that includes a bunch of quotes and self-made banners featuring their assorted Harry Potter ships and a list of every My Little Pony they have for trade, all of which you see every single time they comment

I once ended up in some horror movie forum where everyone had the biggest, most thread-ruining signatures I had ever seen. There was no limit to how wide they were, so any time someone's giant hi-res Halloween screenshot or The Shining poster sig was posted, it would stretch out everyone's comments on the page. The entire forum was a giant scroll-fest.

So, as a joke, I created an account called "Huge Annoying Sig Guy" and set my signature to a bunch of random images I found on a Google Image search with the Large Images Only setting, along with some giant italicized underlined bright red text. I posted a dozen or so one-sentence comments on the forum, thinking that either I would be banned or they would wise up and create some reasonable rules about signatures. But instead, nobody cared, because my purposely stupid sig wasn't much worse than anyone else's.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:34 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, the idea that "comedians steal jokes all the time" surely doesn't excuse them for being hacks, does it?

As a decidedly amateur comedian (I've never made money at it) who sometimes hangs out with comedians, I'd like to say that one of the cardinal sins of comedy is stealing someone else's original material. It's one of the things comedians talk about behind each others backs all the time:

"And then I showed up to one of her shows, and she couldn't do half of her jokes because she saw me in the audience!"

"That guy ... he only has one joke, but it's a good one. (Other comedian) came up to him and said he'd write him a check for it, the guy refused, and (other comedian) told he was just going to flat out steal it! And he just laughed!" "Man, if that happened to me, I'd punch the guy ..."

"That guy did one of MY JOKES to my face!"

It's way worse than in anything published, because there are no publication dates or anything. And if you've been struck by a brilliant idea, and you've worked for weeks and weeks to get the wording _just right_, it's _so easy_ for some other guy just to go "DUR HEY THAT IS FUNNY I WILL TELL IT NOW", and it sucks, and there's very little you can do.
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:36 AM on February 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I really find it amusing people keep saying he's stealing other people's work. Besides the mods and Matt, who is actually getting paid to type on Metafilter?

I could write an essay on how many things are wrong with that statement.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:36 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Iliad: You fucked up. You know it, and even though this is all probably just the tip of the iceberg, and there is probably a lot more you aren't 'fessing up to, I think you have probably learned your lesson. The fact that there are a bunch more eyeballs watching your every move is probably enough to keep you on the straight and narrow. But it appears the angry mob is fixated on the "he made money" off of it part of the situation. That and your silly posted rules. Many want your head and for your revenue to dry up. Personally, I would like to suggest that you donate some of the money you are making from the comic to a charity or two. Maybe Creative Commons, or some other group that works in some area that deals with protecting people's artistic rights? I don't know the answer to that.

I wish people would get this worked up about all the fucked up shit going on in the world and use that energy to fix it instead wanting blood from a guy on the Internet. I wish I knew what it was like to be so perfect so that i could share in this indignation. Like brownpau (thanks for that story, buddy) I cribbed someone else's work in high school. My teacher gave me a poor grade but didn't bring up the plagiarism even though I know she must have known if she gave me the grade she did. I am grateful for her treatment of the situation and I learned my lesson. A few years later I was accused of plagiarism in the form of a teacher who claimed some code I wrote for a beginner's programming class was not my own because it was very close to another student's. I didn't cheat, I didn't even know the other student, but I was forced to agree to a lesser grade or else the teacher was going to bring it to the attention of the Powers That Be, and if they decided I had cheated I would have been kicked out of university. I had to agree to get 2 grades lower for my FINAL grade. I ended up acing the rest of the class and still got a C because of the incident. The last day of class I went back to the teacher and again repeated that I was innocent, that I had no idea how the similarities showed up in my work and the other students, but she insisted on staying the course on her decision. She even went so far as to claim that it was her "catching" me was the reason I worked harder for the grade I got. For me if was that the class was super easy, but instead, I told her I was sorry she felt the way she did and walked away.
posted by terrapin at 7:37 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: HE'S A WITCH.
posted by EarBucket at 7:39 AM on February 24, 2009


I could write an essay on how many things are wrong with that statement.

Sure you could. I also could write essays about the self-righteousness, and bully tactics in this thread.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:41 AM on February 24, 2009


le morte de bea arthur: "I really find it amusing people keep saying he's stealing other people's work. Besides the mods and Matt, who is actually getting paid to type on Metafilter?

I could write an essay on how many things are wrong with that statement.
"

Are you crazy? For fifty bucks you can have someone on the internet write it for you while you party.
posted by Science! at 7:42 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish people would get this worked up about all the fucked up shit going on in the world and use that energy to fix it instead wanting blood from a guy on the Internet.

Yeah, I hate how it's impossible to care about more than one thing at a time, too.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:43 AM on February 24, 2009 [15 favorites]


I wish I knew what it was like to be so perfect so that i could share in this indignation.

You're missing out, man, it's a fucking blast!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:45 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Question for those that don't think this is a big deal: What if every one of his lines were plagiarized? Would that be a big deal? Or what if we found out it was a recluse neighbor of his doing these drawings and that Frazer was posting them as his own unbeknownst to the neighbor? What that be a big deal?

I will definitely agree that there are shades of seriousness to claiming other people's work (however trivial) as your own. I will probably not agree that doing so repeatedly over the space of two years1 falls on the "trivial" side of that scale.

1That have been discovered so far.
posted by DU at 7:51 AM on February 24, 2009


yup. wii, twitter, oscars. we're dealing with import shit here.
posted by terrapin at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2009


To whoever is posting as "mefite" over there, the defenders of Illiad aren't looking for a guide to metafilter, they are saying they can't find the bit in this thread where any convincing evidence is laid out. They keep dismissing this as our silly little hissy fit over one toon. Why not link them directly to christonabike's roundup?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:58 AM on February 24, 2009


I really find it amusing people keep saying he's stealing other people's work. Besides the mods and Matt, who is actually getting paid to type on Metafilter?

Dude that's just like that time I told everyone I wrote Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and posted a big notice that it was copyright ME and anyone else who uses it would be subject to legal harassment and so? It's not like anyone got PAID to write that song in the first place.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:01 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Illiad had been coming up with his own material these last ten years, rather than trying to wrench his strips around lifted punchlines...

This is presuming far more than the evidence warrants. It seems that he really started doing this only this month. We have four lifts from February 09, two lifts from January 09, and then nothing for the previous 3 months before that. 2 more lifts are from 2007, and then no more examples.

My feeling is that he's just now starting to burn-out, and we are seeing the accelerating symptoms of that. His comic has lasted longer than Calvin and Hobbes (1985-1995). Perhaps it's time to move on to a different creative project, or take a little break.
posted by dgaicun at 8:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really find it amusing people keep saying he's stealing other people's work. Besides the mods and Matt, who is actually getting paid to type on Metafilter?

I am.

Actually, this is a preposterously naive statement. We may not be getting paid for what we type here, but Illiad is getting paid to steal it. I am happy to freely share my comments with people in an online forum. I am not happy to be an unpaid content generator for a profit-making online cartoon.

As others have said, if you think this is no big deal, why don't you excuse yourself out of the conversation. There is very little difference between what you are doing and someone poking their head into any thread at all and saying "Jeez, why do you losers care so much about any of this?" It's really just a form of trolling, it contributes nothing, and it should stop. Some of us care about plagiarism. Maybe you should let us talk about it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:18 AM on February 24, 2009 [11 favorites]


I agree with those who feel that it's the money-making aspect of the plagiarism that doesn't sit particularly well.

So, how about this:

Each UserFriendly comic strip is worth roughly the following amount: (Total lifetime dollars earned from comic strip) divided by (total number of comic strips).

Then we figure out how many comics UserFriendly has plagiarized from Metafilter. It looks like it is at least eight by my count. Maybe there are more that no one will find, but it's the gesture that's important, not the exact amount.

UserFriendly dude sends Matt a check for the value of the units he plagiarized to help subsidize the continuing existence of Metafilter.

I think I would forgive and (mostly) forget if that happened.
posted by Kwine at 8:23 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Could whoever decided to take a crap in today's comic-of-the-day thread over on UF please not do that again? It's ten steps forward and nine steps back trying to have a civil discussion with them regarding (a) whether illiad did what he clearly acknowledged doing and (b) whether plagiarism is even a bad thing to do, so setting them off with "Hey, FU" bombs isn't gonna help anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:23 AM on February 24, 2009


We have four lifts from February 09, two lifts from January 09, and then nothing for the previous 3 months before that. 2 more lifts are from 2007, and then no more examples.

Well, the strips are dangerously unfunny, so it isn't safe to read too many in a row.

But as others have noted, Illiad is completely committed to dealing with this issue fairly, so I know he's going to be combing through the archives one by one himself and expunging all non-original content as well as posting a comprehensive list both online and to his publishers. The current 3 example list on uf.org is just the beginning. Oh yes. I have no doubt.
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I totally now agree with everyone who says its not an issue.
I have been convinced.
Congratulations internet champions. You have made me change my mind on a issue and switch sides.
Now I am off to work on my book of my favorite meta filter questions, answers and suggestions. All attributed to me of course.
Who wants to buy a copy?
posted by JonnyRotten at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


CunningLinguist: "Why not link them directly to christonabike's roundup?"

It looks like illiad has removed the offending comics, pending replacement. There doesn't appear to be a cache of them, either -- Google has the removed versions already, and Archive.org is blocked by robots.txt.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:33 AM on February 24, 2009


I will say this for Frazer: he has a fucking army of sycophants over there. I don't know why they're falling all over themselves to excuse this, or why all these supposedly intelligent IT people have the analytical skills of dull children, but it is astounding. I like Matt, but if it turned out he was into ethically shady shit I'd be just as critical of him as I would a stranger.

Por ejemplo:

It's a public blog, hello? If you're going to be territorial about your postings, add a copyright notice or, better yet, don't post it. (yes, I'm an author and yes, I understand about intellectual property, but I see no reason to go nuts if someone quotes me from a public source. Geez)

See, you dummy, this here, what I'm doing now is a quote. I am indicating that these are not my words and I am linking to the source.

This would be not a quote:

MY BRAND NEW ALL ORIGINAL COPYRIGHTED WEB COMIC "FEAR TEH PENGUIN"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I clicked a link at the top on this page and found out this site has a blue page too!
posted by cjorgensen at 8:36 AM on February 24, 2009


Optymus, they titled that post "fiddlesticks." I think it is fair to assume it was meant in jest. Because the other option is that we are dealing with characters from The Music Man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2009


I will say this for Frazer: he has a fucking army of sycophants over there.

One of the great mysteries that puzzle me is the way a given webcomic will develop an army of sycophants. It seems to happen randomly, totally irrespective of quality.

So where are my fucking sycophants?
posted by COBRA! at 8:43 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Someone also said ''balderdash!" and "Phooey!"

so maybe they just like talking in old-timey style. Maybe there's a UF barbershop quartet, too.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:47 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of the great mysteries that puzzle me is the way a given webcomic will develop an army of sycophants.

This is why all cults eventually fail, incidentally. Who needs enemies when you have friends like this?

What I still dont get is this: They seem to claim JD plagiarized their site over a spread of months!

And it took them till today to actually find this and start clubbing it to death, like a little canadian Seal cub? Makes no sense.


It's not plagiarism if people don't find out immediately, I guess.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:49 AM on February 24, 2009


Bunt Cake only ever netted me a fire team of idle, unhopeful prodders. I should have kept at it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:50 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


COBRA - If Dominic Deegan can have a bloody damn fan community then anything's possible.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:55 AM on February 24, 2009


I was ready to be a Laundry Room Swap Meet sycophant, but you totally left me standing at the altar. But, then, not a webcomic.
posted by COBRA! at 8:55 AM on February 24, 2009


Plus the landlady got rid of the table, and then I moved out of that apartment building.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2009


I am not happy to be an unpaid content generator for a profit-making online cartoon community weblog.
posted by fleacircus at 8:57 AM on February 24, 2009


Hilarious, cortex! I'm totally stealing that!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:57 AM on February 24, 2009


I don't think matthaughey gets paid based on the quality of my comments, fleacircus. If he does, he should find a new line of work.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2009


I truly feel bad for and understand the reactions by the User Friendly users. They have a community they think is superior to meta. They're being made fun of on this site, so it's not too hard to see why they feel that way. I don't like the comic, many people in this thread don't like the comic, but they're feeling pissed just because they happen to like the comic. That might not be the reality, but that's the perception, and I can see their view from here.

I know their anger is misdirected, since it was illiad's admitted errors that opened up his site to ridicule, but I don't think metafilter is coming off very well in this fight either.

Posting alienating comments over there, mocking here, suggesting 92 different way for illiad to make up for the error of his ways...it is starting to seem like some people here will never be satisfied.

No facts are in dispute here. illiad plagiarized, he got caught, he's apologized, he's taking steps to make it right. It's barely been a day since this call out. Please be patient before jumping on illiad with cries of "not good enough!" And in the meantime, minimize the asshatery (see what I did there?).

By all means, discuss the ramifications, the issue, the ethics, but maybe, as a favor to his army of sycophants we can elevate the discourse just a tiny bit?
posted by cjorgensen at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2009


Wait wait--cortex was the Laundry Room guy??

*is not worthy*
posted by DU at 9:00 AM on February 24, 2009


Okay. Yes, Iliad stole (or through editorial laziness - there's a reason the publishing industry in general spends money on both fact checking and on minimizing liability of one of their authors does get caught lifting lines, paragraphs and/or pages), got caught, sorta hafl-assed fessed up to it, and now has a bunch of long-time fans coming to his rescue and a bunch of trollers making it harder for everyone both here and on UF's forums.

I do agree with Kwine about remediation. I think that sort of thing would do nicely. Iliad in fact has more accurate figures from analytics packages and revenue statements from the ads that he could potentially produce that would help everyone think he were treating them fairly.

I don't think, knowing the publishing industry as I do (as the long-time partner of a writer) that it's necessary for us to make a huge stink about Iliad's reputation in order to affect his bottom line, his ability to make a living off of his comics, his ability to continue publishing our copyrighted work as his own in hardcopies of his comics.

I think that what damage was possible through doing that is already done. It's enough that a story about it was covered in as relatively minor a newsblog as Techdirt. People now know. It's in Google that he's pissed us all off, and folks who want to find out more details can.

I am not a lawyer, but:

From a legal and liability standpoint, though, I am not surprised that the offending comics have been taken down. It's enough that some of us threatened legal action. If I were Iliad, I would have done the same thing. I'm not sure if we'll ever see them return, honestly.

Honestly if anyone's going to start real legal action about this, now's the time, and you don't do it by contacting the publishers of his books. You hire a lawyer or you, as a lawyer do the following: Cease and Desist, possibly negotiate, then file suit.
posted by kalessin at 9:01 AM on February 24, 2009


I like that comment over there that says, (I'm paraphrasing here), "I've read User Friendly from day one, I read it first thing in the morning every day and have for 20 years, I even named my kid 'Poorly Drawn'. I am the world's biggest UF Fan so I am singularly qualified to tell you FOR SURE that Illiad is innocent of all crimes"

You think maaaaaybe you are having a hard time maintaining objectivity here, pal?
posted by dirtdirt at 9:03 AM on February 24, 2009


P.o.B: I really find it amusing people keep saying he's stealing other people's work. Besides the mods and Matt, who is actually getting paid to type on Metafilter?

Nobody gets paid to post songs on MeFiMusic either. So, it'd be cool for me to snatch all the best tracks, burn them on to stacks of CDs, make a cute cover/tracklist insert, and sell them as my own recordings?

Nobody was paid to write the lyrics, compose the music, practice it, record it, and edit it... so I wouldn't be stealing anybody's work, right?
posted by CKmtl at 9:04 AM on February 24, 2009


Sorry, stelas.

You'd be amazed how often that happens. Or maybe not.

Taking it logically further, does this mean we have to ban memes from Metafilter without strict citation? Effectively, the staff of this site are making money based upon the quality of the content and the extent to which it brings in newer users who pony up the $5. Meanwhile those users themselves are, according to the copyright notice at the bottom of the site, declaring that the contents of their posts are their own property. I've seen plenty of people quoting from other sources or modifying things that I think we're a bit beyond 100% adherence to Fair Use Law. If a user quotes, references, or parodys then, without citation, they are providing value to the site that may be considered some percentage of a real world gain of a $5 sign-up and additionally claiming ownership of content that isn't necessarily theirs to begin with.

There's got to be a point where people can put their hands up and go 'okay, no, I'm done, this is getting way too silly and serious, let's get out of this vicious circle'. Like optamystic did way upthread, for instance.
posted by stelas at 9:06 AM on February 24, 2009


I wish people would get this worked up about all the fucked up shit going on in the world and use that energy to fix it instead wanting blood from a guy on the Internet.


I understand reading and commenting in a thread that deals with something you care about. I don't understand rebuking the people who care when you are spending the same time and energy commenting in a thread you apparently don't care about. How exactly does this give you the moral high ground?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:09 AM on February 24, 2009 [7 favorites]


Nobody in their right mind would steal a song from Sailor Martin. He'll cut you with a broken bottle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:09 AM on February 24, 2009


I once ended up in some horror movie forum where everyone had the biggest, most thread-ruining signatures I had ever see

Image sigs, yes. The pink flamingos of the Internet.
posted by lysdexic at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


To whoever is posting as "mefite" over there, the defenders of Illiad aren't looking for a guide to metafilter

Yeah - and even if their heart is in the right place, I'm a little leery of anyone who identifies themselves as a member of MeFi and uses the royal 'we' without making it clear which member they are.

And don't get me started on the FiMeMe guy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:16 AM on February 24, 2009


Sure, we're a bunch of stand-up comics at our favorite club bitching about how some other guy might be trying to monetize the stuff we do here. I'm just pointing at the owner over there, standing behind the bar there being real quiet.

Yeah I need to work on my routine.
posted by fleacircus at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2009


Taking it logically further, does this mean we have to ban memes from Metafilter without strict citation?

Are people claiming these memes as their own work, including copyright and royalties?
posted by DU at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2009


stelas: There's got to be a point where people can put their hands up and go 'okay, no, I'm done, this is getting way too silly and serious, let's get out of this vicious circle'.

Yeah, about halfway through your ¶. Check your equivalences; they're f4ing c4tastic.
I've slept on it, and upon g3d4 waking today have come to the motherf4ing decision that the s4ty First Letter + # of Letters in Swear Word cursing convention is the g3d4 motherf4ing bada3 way to go.
posted by carsonb at 9:20 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


To whoever is posting as "mefite" over there

I'm too f4ing lazy to find it again, but they owned up last night as Rhaomi.
posted by carsonb at 9:22 AM on February 24, 2009


And don't get me started on the FiMeMe guy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:16 AM on February 24


That's pretty obviously a false flag operation, dude.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2009


Lotta balls in the air, that guy

There are many things I wanted to know about cortex, Alvy. That, however, is most decidedly not one of them.
posted by dersins at 9:26 AM on February 24, 2009


Then you may not want to visit cortexairball.ru (NSFW).
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:31 AM on February 24, 2009


NSFW unless you work in a Russian Testicular Atmospheric Suspension Center, which, if I know MeFites most of us do.
posted by Science! at 9:38 AM on February 24, 2009


cortexairball.ru is so NSFW they seem to have blocked it at the DNS or router here!
posted by cjorgensen at 9:38 AM on February 24, 2009


>NSFW unless you work in a Russian Testicular Atmospheric Suspension Center, which, if I know MeFites most of us do.
posted by Science! at 12:38 PM on February 24


Eponysterical?
posted by xbonesgt at 9:41 AM on February 24, 2009


also, I am both disappointed yet strangely proud that I had a hand in this.
posted by xbonesgt at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2009


For twenty bucks I'll clue you in.
posted by Science! at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2009


I wish I had a chance to see the offending comics. Everything awesome happens when I'm not around.

(Coincidence?)
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2009


I wish I had a chance to see the offending comics. Everything awesome happens when I'm not around.

Don't sweat it. The comics actually ruined the punchlines.
posted by gman at 9:50 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


"As others have said, if you think this is no big deal, why don't you excuse yourself out of the conversation."

Because a voice of moderating reason can be valuable, and because a bunch of people who all agree with each other will end up being more extreme in their total views than any of them individually?
posted by klangklangston at 9:52 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes?
posted by gman at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2009


Five hundred-plus comments and nobody has branded this the "Illiad Odyssey" yet?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is the "Illiad Odyssey".
posted by gman at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ooh bagsy me Hermes!
posted by Jofus at 10:02 AM on February 24, 2009


I wish I had a chance to see the offending comics. Everything awesome happens when I'm not around.

He's got a separate domain for mistakes.
UFmistakes.org
I believe some of the regular readers/commentors over there have already submitted the old comics, though I don't think the person who runs that domain has put them up yet.
posted by carsonb at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2009


Then you may not want to visit cortexairball.ru (NSFW).

For some reason, I've never wanted to click on a link more and couldn't because I was at W. Must remember this for later.

By the way, since this post started, I, who am not necessarily the world's best multi-tasker, have, in no particular order and just off the top of my head:

Written an 34 page requirements document (somewhat amusingly, given this thread, since I was putting together notes, emails, diagrams, and documents written by others for different purposes and projects, I was basically plagiarizing this -- but the difference is that's what I was asked to do), read some blogs, posted to my blog, read a couple of chapters of a book, took the train home from work, gone to a party to meet a guy who is running to replace Rahm Emmanuel, played some sudoku, watched 24, played with my cat, talked my boyfriend into not freaking out about his job interview although we desperately need to become a two income household again, played some poker (play money), watched 24, ate three pieces of chocolate French toast, watched a documentary about those guys in the Civil War who wore red jackets whose name escapes me, slept for 9 hours, decided not to wake up early for free pancakes at IHOP, went to a clinic for my morning dose of happy, attended a conference call where I was so uncomfortable listening to two people argue that I held turned down the volume on my headset and only pretended to listen, and found out that provolone cheese is great on a hamburger so I'm not sure why the guy at the grill was apologizing for that being all that they had.

Still though, I've managed to follow the arguments in this post, understand what's going on, and still don't think people have blown this out of proportion. What I'm saying is please come up with a better argument for a post/issue of which you don't agree with the general consensus than "Don't you have anything better to do."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:07 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah? Well I don't even own a TV.
posted by Science! at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Because a voice of moderating reason can be valuable, and because a bunch of people who all agree with each other will end up being more extreme in their total views than any of them individually?

So you're saying that a voice that says, in essence, "why don't you all just shut up now?" is moderate? Funny. Stufling conversation has always seemed immoderate to me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course, I mean "sturfling." Or "Struffling."
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:33 AM on February 24, 2009


MCMike, I want to know the name of the guy at the grill. I've been putting Provolone on burgers for years, and he owes me royalties.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:33 AM on February 24, 2009


please come up with a better argument for a post/issue of which you don't agree with the general consensus than "Don't you have anything better to do."

While I don't think that things are blown "out of" proportion, I would second the idea that of all the wrong things in the world to get worked up about and make phone calls about, there are some places to put that effort that might have a bigger impact on overall goodness in the world. The question to me is not "is the reaction disproportionate to the mistake?" but "is the benefit to the world from taking action greater than the benefit to the world from taking some other action?" For example:
On December 22nd, in the largest coal ash disaster in American history, a massive spill at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant flooded more than 400 acres in Roane County, Tennessee, with one billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge...

Local residents are understandably worried about ... health risks from polluted air and soil in their neighborhoods. But many these families, who are already dealing with disrupted lives and damaged property, cannot afford the medical tests necessary to determine if they have been exposed to toxics in the coal ash. NRDC and local groups are urging the TVA to cover all costs associated with medical testing and health care for the victims of this disaster, something the TVA has not yet volunteered to do.

Send a message urging the TVA to promptly make funds available so that residents in the affected area can get independent, third-party medical testing and health services free of charge.rea can get independent, third-party medical testing and health services free of charge.
link, (update: TVA to citizens: Do Not Disturb)
Maybe we could channel the outrage in this thread into fighting for justice for the Roane County families.

And then in the press release about how Metafilter got involved, we could specifically diss UF. Win-win!
posted by salvia at 10:38 AM on February 24, 2009


chocolate French toast??!!
posted by yarrow at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2009


please come up with a better argument for a post/issue of which you don't agree with the general consensus than "Don't you have anything better to do."

It's kind of fallacious to equate spouting off in yet another MeTa thread with directing your energies to change the world, no? It's not like anyone is launching any new initiative, they're just refreshing a thread and typing and clicking links like they would anyways. This kind of thinking falls under the same general incorrect presumption that makes people say things like "why are we planning missions to outer space when we haven't yet cured all of our problems down here on Earth?". There isn't some universal pool of effort and will that everyone just draws from, at least not directly.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2009


I don't know why I waste all my time on MetaFilter when that time could much better be wasted smoking weed.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:49 AM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's SAT analogy party time:

NBC Dateline : MetaTalk :: Stone Phillips : __________
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 AM on February 24, 2009


The question to me is not "is the reaction disproportionate to the mistake?" but "is the benefit to the world from taking action greater than the benefit to the world from taking some other action?"

The problem is that such a question presupposes that only one action can be taken. People can be worked up about, and act on, both things.
posted by CKmtl at 10:55 AM on February 24, 2009


NBC Dateline : MetaTalk :: Stone Phillips : __________

○ A. mathowie
○ B. jessamyn
○ C. cortex
◍ D. TATERS
posted by dersins at 11:02 AM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe we could channel the outrage in this thread into fighting for justice for the Roane County families.

Why focus on one county and only the families? Your myopic focus on this tiny, local issue is making MeTa look bad.

I know an "effort that might have a bigger impact on overall goodness in the world". The outrage in this thread should be channeled into the optimal well-being of every subatomic particle in the universe, regardless of race, creed, sex or charge. That's the only possible worthwhile pursuit.
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


"So you're saying that a voice that says, in essence, "why don't you all just shut up now?" is moderate? Funny. Stufling conversation has always seemed immoderate to me."

I'm saying that a mob can benefit from being told to calm down, yeah, just as much as I'd say that your characterization of "Don't you have something better to do?" as "Stifling conversation" shows that you could probably use someone telling you to calm down.
posted by klangklangston at 11:11 AM on February 24, 2009


The problem is that such a question presupposes that only one action can be taken. People can be worked up about, and act on, both things.

Great. But assuming someone only had a five minute break and had to choose...?

the optimal well-being of every subatomic particle in the universe, regardless of race, creed, sex or charge

Awesome. Just tell me what phone call to make.
posted by salvia at 11:12 AM on February 24, 2009


the first Austin Powers Seth Green calls Cinemax "Skinemax" in a neat little play on words that still gets usage to this day.

And, got usage long, long, long before an "Austin Powers" movie was ever penned. I heard a babysitter say it at least as early as 1983 or '84.

Mark me down in the camp who thinks that coming into MeTa to wave around one's superiority with comments like "this is so trivial you should all STFU and then be ashamed of yourselves" is bush league and not even in the same zip code as what I would call "a voice of moderating reason."
posted by pineapple at 11:14 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm saying that a mob can benefit from being told to calm down, yeah, just as much as I'd say that your characterization of "Don't you have something better to do?" as "Stifling conversation" shows that you could probably use someone telling you to calm down.

Mob? seriously?

Calmer than you are, dude.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


a mob can benefit from being told to calm down

I agree with this.

It's also largely not has what happened in this particular thread.
posted by pineapple at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2009


salvia, you've spent more than 5 minutes on this thread, so you must be responsible for the deaths of how many millions of starving children? You terrible terrible person, get back to work saving the planet.
posted by nomisxid at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


is the benefit to the world from taking action greater than the benefit to the world from taking some other action?

Specious argument, heal thyself.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2009


salvia, you've spent more than 5 minutes on this thread, so you must be responsible for the deaths of how many millions of starving children? You terrible terrible person, get back to work saving the planet.

I thought your comment was funny, but just to be clear, I'm not calling anyone terrible.

Reading a thread is one thing, but mobilizing to call publishers and calculating formulas for compensation (if I'm not mischaracterizing where things were going) -- that's the same kind of energy that could be directed to better ends.

Plus, I'm sick.
posted by salvia at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2009


Great. But assuming someone only had a five minute break and had to choose...?

That also assumes that the problems are somehow time-limited; that if you don't do something about either plagiarism or sick miners, they'll disappear and you'll have lost your chance to do something.

But, to address your point, if you strictly approach it with that mindset, you'd probably use up the entire five minutes trying to figure out what action had the greatest impact.

"Why should I do something about one instance of someone plagiarizing someone on the internet when these coal miners can't get proper medical care? Oh, wait. Why should I do something about these coal miners when First Nations people have it much worse? Oh, wait. Why should I do something about problems on reservations, they at least have the option of moving to the big cities in search of prosperity, when there are helpless little girls in Africa having their genitals mutilated? Oh, wait. African FGM victims can at least survive it, I should do something about HIV instead. Oh, wait. Other people are throwing gobs of money at HIV in Africa, so my time/money/effort would be better spent on poverty in Eastern Europe, which doesn't get as much media attention. Oh, wait. Oh, wait..."
posted by CKmtl at 11:29 AM on February 24, 2009


"Calmer than you are, dude."

No, I'm way calmer. Look at my hands!

Seriously, this started with someone (it's against my religion to scroll upwards, a task that should be reserved for God) saying, Not a big deal. You said that folks who don't think this is a big deal should all leave the thread so that the rest of the Big Dealers can all cogitate in peace, or whatever. Then came back the, Well, don't you have anything better to do? Which you characterized as stifling. Which was a total ba-wha? moment, because, hey, all you have to do is say, This is important to me, though I realize it's not a federal case to everyone. (I think my lack of interest is more because I thought User Friendly died off years ago, and I find it hard to get all that aroused over Hack Writer Hack Writes Some Hackery Hack Hack Like Dudes In A Circle With One Of Those Bead-filled Sacks.)

Instead, you seem to me to be off on some "Silenced all my life" trip because some dude was like, You seriously care about this?
posted by klangklangston at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2009


Exposure to ash from TVA spill could have 'severe health implications'

TVA reworded press release to downplay disaster -- describes fly ash as "inert material not harmful to the environment"

And as soon as I start releasing an album of songs I downloaded from The Pirate Bay as my own work allow an industry I regulate to spill cancer-causing ash across an entire county without asking them to pay for health care, I fully expect you guys to be all over my ass too.
posted by salvia at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2009


Instead, you seem to me to be off on some "Silenced all my life" trip because some dude was like, You seriously care about this?

It just bothers me in general. I really don't see it as being any different than poking your head into any thread and saying "Who cares? We got better things to do."
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2009


I'm just commenting here so I don't have to crash my phone's browser by refreshing the page repeatedly. I would have pasted the text of someone else's comment here in an attempt to be relevant and less like I have no opinion, but I lack copy and paste.
posted by subbes at 12:07 PM on February 24, 2009


salvia: "salvia, you've spent more than 5 minutes on this thread, so you must be responsible for the deaths of how many millions of starving children? You terrible terrible person, get back to work saving the planet.

I thought your comment was funny, but just to be clear, I'm not calling anyone terrible.

Reading a thread is one thing, but mobilizing to call publishers and calculating formulas for compensation (if I'm not mischaracterizing where things were going) -- that's the same kind of energy that could be directed to better ends.

Plus, I'm sick.
"

Mobilizing to call publishers: I saw none of that other than a few singular people who volunteered to contact appropriate companies, some of who quickly decided not to.

Who wrote up a formula for compensation? Anyway that's pretty easy to calculate a rough number for. UF publishes every day of the year, so take the yearly revenue from advertisers, divide by 365, and multiply it by the number of known stolen comics for a rough estimate and disperse to the wronged authors as they want. Refine to suite your tastes and or logic. That paragraph took me a minute, and it's not even double checked by another person. The points is, people arent' really spending that much time on this topic and to claim otherwise is a wayt o distract from the central issue.

Really, if MeFites have shown anythings since Mathowie set up this site it's that they can perform a ridiculously wide range of tasks at the same time.
posted by Science! at 12:12 PM on February 24, 2009


Wait, your sick. Nevermind.
posted by Science! at 12:13 PM on February 24, 2009


*you're

3 minute editing, I demand it!
posted by Science! at 12:20 PM on February 24, 2009


Man. You guys.

*hides*
posted by motty at 12:21 PM on February 24, 2009


Protip: most forum scripts (e.g. VB and IPB) have an option in your profile to disable the display of signatures (and avatars and inline images, as well, if desired.) So when you find yourself on one of those horrifically craptacular boards where morons like to list endless inane details about themselves in their sigs, just create an account and disable that shit.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2009


motty: no one wakes up in the morning and plans on posting an epic thread. It just doesn't work that way, no matter how much a person might want it. No, the epic thread finds the man when he least expects it. Or maybe they meet halfway in a dark alley because they were both looking for the same drug dealer. Whatever.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2009


no one wakes up in the morning and plans on posting an epic thread.
You haven't met 4chan* have you? *Not fit for human consumption.
posted by Science! at 12:36 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


HEY, DID YOU GUYS SEE . . .

oh. God fucking damn it.
posted by Skot at 12:43 PM on February 24, 2009


I find it hard to get all that aroused over Hack Writer Hack Writes Some Hackery Hack Hack Like Dudes In A Circle With One Of Those Bead-filled Sacks.

You start smoking again, or is it the fly ash?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:48 PM on February 24, 2009


Heh, no I'm here at work. The boredom makes me high.
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2009


Justice for one does not require injustice for everyone else.
posted by nomisxid at 1:00 PM on February 24, 2009


that if you don't do something about either plagiarism or sick miners, they'll disappear and you'll have lost your chance to do something

Aren't both issues time sensitive? Having just had ash flood all over their houses, wouldn't now be a good time for those families to get some metal chelation therapy or whatever doctors do?

you'd probably use up the entire five minutes trying to figure out what action had the greatest impact

I agree this is tricky. But I imagine we could balance the need for speed with the need to use our time wisely.

For me, particularly since this guy has already promised not to do it again, "fucking with his livelihood" falls below the threshold of action, even without a point of comparison. (What good would it do? Ruin this guy's life? Maybe, but is that really what we want? Scare others out of stealing words? Doubtful; there have been other, higher-profile plagiarization disgraces. Cause some funds to change hands? A possible benefit, but it seems like a small amount, and nobody who deserves it seems to really want it.)

But for those to whom it falls above the threshold, I'm presenting another option. Before anyone heads off to the phones in outrage, I'm saying "wait a second! I have something that might outrage you even more!!" (Seriously, doesn't it?)

In general, yeah, we can't really evaluate and rank all possible actions in the universe to pick the top five. But even evaluating a few might be time well spent. If we quickly determined which are at the lower and higher ends of the spectrum, we could each take actions that are further up our personal "worth spending time on" scales. To that end, before people start calling publishers, I'm saying "hey, here's another idea!" (They even turned off their email address to stop getting public comments!)

That paragraph took me a minute

Yeah, I'm not saying there should be less "blah blah let's talk about this" (or, I'd better not be, after this long comment here).

The "I'm sick" bit was just supposed to be a joke about why I couldn't save the world's children today. Though it appears the sickness might be affecting my joke delivery as well.
posted by salvia at 1:09 PM on February 24, 2009


Aren't both issues time sensitive? Having just had ash flood all over their houses, wouldn't now be a good time for those families to get some metal chelation therapy or whatever doctors do?

What I meant by 'time-limited' is the idea that your one and only chance to act is during your five-minute break.

Choosing to act on plagiarism during your break doesn't mean that you wouldn't be able to act on the sick-miners issue a minute from now, an hour later, when you get home, or tomorrow.
posted by CKmtl at 1:31 PM on February 24, 2009


One is a horse, the other is a saddle. Do we understand now?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:32 PM on February 24, 2009


Protip: most forum scripts (e.g. VB and IPB) have an option in your profile to disable the display of signatures (and avatars and inline images, as well, if desired.)

That's nothing, I've got a greasemonkey script that adds image sigs to metafilter postings. It's godlike.
posted by stet at 1:44 PM on February 24, 2009


Choosing to act on plagiarism during your break doesn't mean that you wouldn't be able to act on the sick-miners issue a minute from now, an hour later, when you get home, or tomorrow.

As a reforming multitasker who used to plan as though time is unlimited but who now works two jobs, I'm currently big on prioritization (at least in theory) and starting with the most important thing on your To Do list, knowing that 60% of it's going to fall off the bottom, or not get done for three weeks.
posted by salvia at 1:53 PM on February 24, 2009


I'm currently big on prioritization

Worst. Derail. Ever.

Where's my tators?
posted by carsonb at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm with carsonb on this one, salvia.

If you're big no prioritizing, why not take the time to make an FPP on the blue about the families suffering from the ash of the TVA spill instead?
posted by misha at 2:13 PM on February 24, 2009


Worst. Derail. Ever.

Seriously.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:14 PM on February 24, 2009


Ack! ON. on, on, on. NOT no. Jeez.
posted by misha at 2:14 PM on February 24, 2009


Alright, alright.

*slinks away*
posted by salvia at 2:15 PM on February 24, 2009


The best thing about this thread for me is the way these two concepts orbit each other throughout.

1. How dare this prick steal all our good work?
2. How can such a diabolically unfunny "webcomic" be at least partly based on us?

I know, I know, it's taking them out of context, forcing them into a dire strip, etc etc, but there is an irony there.

Also, and I know this will sound like snark, but I feel genuinely sorry for this plagiarist hack. He's found his way into doing something he's not very good at, at best, but which makes him a living, and he can't see a way out that doesn't involve going back to the corporate grind. You can surely smell the fear, the desperation?

My advice? Take a sabbatical. Do something different for a while. Anything.
posted by imperium at 2:42 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


After my annoyance with the cognitive dissonance exhibited in UserFriendly's apologist threads wore off, I began to find his fanbase very inspirational. Here we have proof positive that absolutely any web comic that runs long enough will find readers to provide it with irrational loyalty, no matter how abysmal the work. This is tremendously encouraging news to an amateur cartoonist. I mean, imagine how far a guy could go if he puts actual effort into his strip, right?

I've been drawing all morning. I plan to draw all afternoon. Between seeing this plagiarist exposed and a night spent reading the snide, overwrought reviews available here, I've had a hankering to cook up some comics!

Without this thread, I might have spent these precious hours on something frivolous like homework or housekeeping instead. Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:04 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Always happy to help prioritize.
posted by box at 3:31 PM on February 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you try doing both at once?
posted by salvia at 3:41 PM on February 24, 2009


I thought you were supposed to be slinking?
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:54 PM on February 24, 2009


I finished already.
posted by salvia at 3:59 PM on February 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Shirker.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 PM on February 24, 2009


Here we have proof positive that absolutely any web comic that runs long enough will find readers to provide it with irrational loyalty, no matter how abysmal the work.

Oh good Lord no. See my link above.
posted by Shepherd at 4:48 PM on February 24, 2009


dirtdirt writes "My doubts would be assuaged by seeing an email with the content of a MetaFilter comment in question in it. This most recent case is probably easiset to find, yes?

"Headers intact, please. Address in the profile."


Ya! Maybe he could publish all his MeFiMail while he's at it.

splatta writes "He's been doing this for years, at least since 1998. This comic is a direct rip-off of a story I submitted to a site about helpdesk stories (helpdeskfunnies/helpdeskhorrors or something). I don't think that site exists anymore, or I would have linked to the submission."

Years of tech support have proven to me that very few users have original problems.

Afroblanco writes "Yeah, if something gets modpoints on slashdot for being 'funny,' it's pretty much guaranteed to be anything but. Last I checked, people over there are still making 'Step 1 ..... Step 3 : Profit!' jokes."

Good thing that never happens around here anymore.

cjorgensen writes "It also amazes me how many people like a site enough to link to it, without even bothering to write and say, 'Hey, linking to your site.'"

That seems a bit over the top for a plain link. Hot link sure but asking permission to just link to a site would be like phoning up my plumber before handing out his business card.
posted by Mitheral at 7:16 PM on February 24, 2009


What the fuck goes on on that site? And what is he welcoming her with? At the very least, they seemed to have learned their lesson.
posted by gman at 7:17 PM on February 24, 2009


But how can we be trolls if we're not over there?

How can we start over when the fighting never ends, baby...

How can we make love if we can't make amends...

Tell me, how we can be lovers if we can't be... can't be friends...

posted by katillathehun at 7:55 PM on February 24, 2009


Hey, it's only $500 to advertise over there.

And, Mitheral, sorry I wasn't clear. I was more referring to when they write a blog post about your site, but don't clue you in. Or again, when wholesale content is taken, that uses your content and site name, but no link. In this last instance I think that's so their site won't show in my logs. That's the only reason I can think of anyway.

And it's strange that people will do these things without contacting the site owner. But I guess it also kind of depends on the link. I have links to css tutorials, software, etc, and I never wrote them to say I added a link, but if I mention a personal site I usually drop a note. I guess my rational is if I liked it enough to link to, I want the person to know I dug their stuff.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:37 PM on February 24, 2009


He's welcoming her with his longsword.
posted by HopperFan at 8:39 PM on February 24, 2009


Ya that would be different.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 PM on February 24, 2009


> Mister_A

Yeah, not very broad.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:22 PM on February 24, 2009


I'd like to address one of my comments taken extremely out of context before I disappear again (with a shrug and a sigh)

Astro Zombie: Actually, this is a preposterously naive statement. We may not be getting paid for what we type here, but Illiad is getting paid to steal it. I am happy to freely share my comments with people in an online forum. I am not happy to be an unpaid content generator for a profit-making online cartoon.

As others have said, if you think this is no big deal, why don't you excuse yourself out of the conversation. There is very little difference between what you are doing and someone poking their head into any thread at all and saying "Jeez, why do you losers care so much about any of this?" It's really just a form of trolling, it contributes nothing, and it should stop. Some of us care about plagiarism. Maybe you should let us talk about it.


Let's talk about my naive statement, and yours (ZING! See what I did there?)
First, I do think plagiarism is a big deal and something should be done about it. I think Kwine had a great idea. If you got money paid back to you in that manner would that ease some of your pain or do you think Frazer should still be tarred and feathered as someone earlier suggested?
As far as your second paragraph is concerned...I never said any of those things...so...by all means please do talk about it, otherwise let it die. BUT calling up publishers or his advertisers is much more than talking/reasoning it out.

CKmtl: Nobody gets paid to post songs on MeFiMusic either. So, it'd be cool for me to snatch all the best tracks, burn them on to stacks of CDs, make a cute cover/tracklist insert, and sell them as my own recordings?


Ah, the nitty gritty of what I think this conversation is about, and what people keep by-passing. What is work and what isn't? If it is work, how much value should be placed on it? Why do we keep saying something such as someone spouting or rambling off their thoughts (and yes, I understand this isn't necessarily true) is the same as taking the time and brain power to compose a song? This is really where I think people are stretching this argument a little thin and tight.

DU: Are people claiming these memes as their own work, including copyright and royalties?

Aside from the royalties, (although if somebody else makes money off of it, that seems to change that) this is exactly what people are claiming. Did you forget?:
© 1999-2009 MetaFilter Network LLC
All posts are © their original authors.

posted by P.o.B. at 10:15 PM on February 24, 2009


P.o.B., whether I spout, mutter, whisper, ramble, or spew my words, they are my words. If someone else takes those words and misrepresents them as their own, they're doing something wrong. The degree to which they continue to plagiarise, and to profit from that plagiarism, is a reasonable measure of the extent to which they have done wrong. Whether I placed much value on my words is irrelevant. I don't just let myself into someone's house and take things because I don't think the owner appeciated them, do I?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:04 AM on February 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


So by that logic if you farted. He recorded. Sells the recording. You would go apeshit over that?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:36 AM on February 25, 2009


By the way, we aren't arguing plagiarism here. That's been established.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:38 AM on February 25, 2009


It has? Where?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:39 AM on February 25, 2009


Oh, you mean that the plagiarism's been established, not the reverse.

Carry on.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on February 25, 2009


So by that logic if you farted. He recorded. Sells the recording. You would go apeshit over that?

No, I wouldn't go 'apeshit'. But if I'd put recordings of my farts on the Internet, along with a statement about copyright, and he used my recordings as the main basis for a commercial product, I would expect him either to ask permission or at the very least to give some kind of credit. Having said that, a fart is a very poor analogy for the type of (usually) well-written material that appears on MetaFilter; reductionism isn't going to win that argument.

By the way, we aren't arguing plagiarism here. That's been established.

No, that's what you're trying to establish by going off on some kind of "it's not stealing if I don't consider it valuable" tangent.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:11 AM on February 25, 2009


I would expect him either to ask permission or at the very least to give some kind of credit.

I would expect him to get permission AND to give some kind of credit.

Receiving permission from the copyright owner means it is not copyright infringement. Receiving permission, in and of itself, does not mean it is not plagiarism.

Giving proper credit means it is not plagiarism. Giving proper credit, in and of itself, does not mean it is not copyright infringement.

Two distinct issues. Do not confuse them.

The profit the copyright owner is deprived of is a factor in determining how serious the copyright infringement is. The profit the owner is deprived of is irrelevant in determining how serious the plagiarism is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:43 AM on February 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


No, that's what you're trying to establish by going off on some kind of "it's not stealing if I don't consider it valuable" tangent.

I'm not going off on that tangent, and everything I've said thus far would disprove that.

What I said may be reductionist. But what is equating "some words you spouted, muttered, whispered, rambled, or spewed in a public forum" with "hard work that people put many, many hours into"? Holism?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:57 AM on February 25, 2009


But what is equating "some words you spouted, muttered, whispered, rambled, or spewed in a public forum" with "hard work that people put many, many hours into"?

It's like Duchamp's Fountain A thing doesn't earn its value from the amount of physical (or mental) effort that went into it.

The root of the matter is that someone's been using copyrighted material from a public forum for their own profit and the users of that forum are expressing their views on that (largely that it was a pretty shameful thing to do). Nobody's seriously discussing a real monetary loss that they've sufferered due to those plagiarised comments, and it's unlikely anybody will. The degree to which something is wrong can't always be measured in dollars and cents, although as DevilsAdvocate said, that's a consideration in copyright law.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:24 AM on February 25, 2009


Has anyone sent this in to the gang at BoingBoing yet? They always seem interested in stuff like this.
posted by Jonsnews at 6:41 AM on February 25, 2009


The new jokes are about sweaters. haha.
posted by Pants! at 6:55 AM on February 25, 2009


If I put two minutes thought into composing a pithy comment, that's creative work on my part. If it takes me thirty seconds, it's work that I did quickly. In either case, it's my work.

I'm not using work in some dramatic "oh that really took it out of me" sense, but in the basic straightforward sense that this is a work of my hands; through my efforts, through the exercise of my creative ability, however nominal it might be on any given per-instance basis, this thing came to be.

Misrepresentation by someone of acquisition as creation is plagiarism. And yes, there's a great swampy morass of casual plagiarism out in the world—the suggestion here is not that illiad is the only person every to reuse someone else's work without attribution or that no one ever recycles a joke or that cornball t-shirt manufacturers don't screenprint memes onto American Apparel ring-tees and sell them for profit.

That all of that happens does not make it not matter; in practice, most of it just doesn't cross the threshold of actionable, because (a) no one can definitively source the material being ripped, so meme-y or collective-culture has it become [see lolcats, Yakov Smirnoff parodies], and/or (b) the plagiarist is so low-profile that no one is likely to notice [where illiad was treading until motty made a chance connection, say] and/or (c) the context in which the plagiarism is happening is so explicitly casual that even the folks who see it happening don't think it crosses the threshold of legit creative-ethical concern [one-off riffing on twitter, telling jokes in a bar].

This is a case where there is definitive sourcing, where the connection has been made at least, what, eight times over now through semi-casual searching of the UF archives and has been confirmed by illiad as plagiarism, and took place in a commercial creative context in which illiad trades on his reputation as author and font of original ideas. As much as some of the faithful over on the UF forums want to hand wave away points (a) and (c)—and to some extent that seems like what you're doing, too, P.o.B.—it's a concrete and very clearcut case of serial plagiarism by a commercial author.

That's pretty fucked up on his part; whether that merits going to his publisher, etc., is in my opinion more a matter of personal conviction than anything. Folks have very much gone to the publishers of other plagiarists in more or less equivalent contexts; people lose their jobs, get kicked out of school, see careers wither or outright end because of this sort of thing.

I'm not in a place where I particularly want to see that happen. I don't think most people in this thread are, judging by the comments. But that illiad is a reportedly nice guy and has shown a lot of character in the last couple days in fessing up to serial plagiarism doesn't make him not a serial plagiarist. And plagiarism doesn't suddenly become no big deal because you were nice about it afterwards.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 AM on February 25, 2009 [36 favorites]


Thanks for making my point about 50x better than I did, Cortex.
How much will it cost me for you to go and rewrite all my other stuff?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:44 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, thanks to cortext for writing my next blog post! Love to give you credit man, but it would just confuse my readers.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:02 AM on February 25, 2009


It's plagiarism (fourth time I've said that).
The points that I have brought up is:
A) Going to his publishers and advertisers seemed a bit drastic.
B) If your content was stolen by Frazer, how should that be rectified.
C) The inflation of off-hand comments into "work".
I don't expect anyone to agree with my opinion on the last point, especially since there are quite a few artists here. But as someone who has done a fair amount of writing of my own, I believe I have earned a right to own that opinion. I don't think it's necessarily uncommon for writers take content - reading, writing, what they've heard, and come up with something interesting to put down. Personally, I would never word-for-word copy something. That is ridiculous. Frazer is an asshole for doing that(second time I've said that). I also don't think I'm out of line by trying to calm down the "call for blood" in this thread.
Now stating my opinions/concerns I would like to ask, could everyone please stop saying I don't think he is plagiarizing. Also please stop saying I'm implying "xyz". I'm not. I would have said "xyz".
posted by P.o.B. at 8:14 AM on February 25, 2009


The inflation of off-hand comments into "work".

I'm watching Obama's speech with you last night. Bobby Jindal come afterwards and you say "Bobby JACKOFF more like, amirite?" and I laugh (I'm easily amused). Then cortex walks in and asks what we're doing. I reply "We're watching Bobby JACKOFF." Cortex laughs appreciatively and says "nice one".

How do you feel?
posted by DU at 8:27 AM on February 25, 2009


A) Going to his publishers and advertisers seemed a bit drastic.

This is a judgement call. Not everyone agrees with you about that. Plagiarism is a pretty damned serious offense in the creative community; arguably it is the offense.

B) If your content was stolen by Frazer, how should that be rectified.

Taken as a question to a single victim of the plagiarism, that's a personal question. I can't tell you how any single person should want the situation redressed.

I expect that someone who is a fan of his, or who just doesn't care much about plagiarism, or who is embarrassed to be put in the position of having to ask for rectitude, would ask for little to nothing. "I don't care, go crazy, a credit would be nice."

If it was me? I'd be pissed. I'd sure as hell ask for a public apology and amended credit including a link (even if it was Hard To Do With The Software, yes). If I was feeling sassy, I might push for youtube footage of a sandwich-board sidewalk apology, but I wouldn't count on it happening.

But I'm not going to tell other people how they should feel, individually, about being plagiarized. From the perspective of the victimized, it's, again, a personal call.

But to ask about it in that context implies that the total offense here is equal exactly and only to the sum of the individual offense to each of the plagiarized, which is letting serial plagiarism off easy. "I had a moment of bad judgement" is one thing; "I've been doing this for years" is another entirely, and I think folks have very good reason to be more upset about the pattern of behavior than they might even be about a one-off, or about eight distinct one-offs from eight different authors in eight different incidents.

And anybody who cares about this sort of thing has every right to take a stake in it regardless of whether they, personally, were plagiarized. Plagiarism is not just a personal offense, it's a transgression against the whole creative community.

I also don't think I'm out of line by trying to calm down the "call for blood" in this thread.

I think the less-than-one percent of "tear this fucker apart" comments were out of line. I removed the worst one as soon as I saw it, and the rest while within the rough-and-tumble bounds of metatalk are still shitty and make everyone else here look bad.

I don't, however, think someone would be out of line, at all, for contacting his publisher. If that's what you see as "calling for blood", I'll say that I don't think you're out of line for expressing the opinion that that'd be going too far, but I do think you're very wrong ont hat point and functioning as an apologist for plagiarism by trying to argue away consequences for what is, however little you may think of the value of comments on metafilter, a huge ethical breach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on February 25, 2009 [12 favorites]


You guys watch gay porn at meetups?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:35 AM on February 25, 2009


How do you feel?

That wouldn't be a big deal to me. I seriously wouldn't care that much. Laugh it off. If I'm hanging with you, you're my friend. Then again, you're kind of asking how I deal with the group dynamics at that point.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:45 AM on February 25, 2009


And if I then do that 7 more times? You don't even look at me askance or say "duuuuude" or anything?
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on February 25, 2009


I wouldn't come here cortex, if I thought the comments were valueless. I also don't think, as far as I can tell, he is done apologizing or explaining (or at least he shouldn't be).
posted by P.o.B. at 8:52 AM on February 25, 2009


Well, DU, your still asking how I deal with friends. If you're a friend of mine, what's mine is yours. Realistically, if it bothered me, I would ask another friend about. "Hey, cortex, does DU crib your lines to try to impress other people?" If yes, I would just commiserate with him over it. If no, I would then kind wonder what that's about.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:04 AM on February 25, 2009


Are you in here arguing (discussing) just for the sake of an argument? That's what the last few pages read like. You feel your comments are less valuable then someone else. That's cool. If you agree that someone else's opinion of their comments is what they're worth, why do you care if they seek redress for it?
posted by cavalier at 9:07 AM on February 25, 2009


Fountain? Really? Talk about the cardinal case of appropriation as art. Why didn't Duchamp credit the folks who designed that urinal? He unmistakably profited off of someone else's work. And Cortex, by stripping baseball players outside of the cards they appeared on, you're violating copyright and alienating those photographers from their work.

I'm just noting this as we start to wander into hardline copyright defense here…
posted by klangklangston at 9:14 AM on February 25, 2009


If yes, I would just commiserate with him over it. If no, I would then kind wonder what that's about.

And in this moment, you are enlightened. Welcome to the topic of the thread.
posted by DU at 9:18 AM on February 25, 2009


I also don't think, as far as I can tell, he is done apologizing or explaining

For the moment at least, he's yanked all his lifted cartoons, removing evidence of his plagiarism and making it possible for his fans to continue to airily minimize what he did.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just noting this as we start to wander into hardline copyright defense here…

I was wandering into hardline plagiarism-is-bad-and-actionable, actually. I sure as heck haven't claimed to have taken the pictures on those baseball cards, or pretended that they are anything other than baseball cards, for example, and as far as I know Marcel Duchamp never claimed to be a designer and manufacturer of urinals.

And I am dead certain that illiad was not intentionally playing with the idea of appropriation-of-metafilter-comments-as-art.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, if your addressing me cavalier. I understand it is sometimes hard to follow every line of thought in a forum, especially over 670+ posts. I've made a couple of statements, but my last few posts were answers/clarifications on where I stand. So I don't see how I'm keeping things going for the sake of it. Since I seem to be difference of opinion I also seem to be an easy target here. Most recently, I'm your friendly "apologists for plagiarism" (which I would disagree with, but I guess someone has to be villain).
I've said this before also, but I actually do think the people who he stole from should "seek redress for it". I also don't see this being solved yet, so I'm wondering why your asking me this when I've only tried to add to the conversation

And in this moment, you are enlightened. Welcome to the topic of the thread.

Yeah, no shit. That's why we're here. Does anybody else want to do some really bad mind reading and tell me who I am, what I've said, and how I feel?

Like I said I don't think he's done CunningLinguist, but my opinion is that it is up to the people he stole from. I don't visit his site, and I probably never will now.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:38 AM on February 25, 2009


You said we were inflating offhand comments into "work". But then you admitted that you would in fact be bothered if someone repeated took offhand comments of yours and pretended (implicitly or explicitly) that they were theirs. Therefore you consider these comments to be your "work" in the same sense as everyone else in this thread. QED.
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on February 25, 2009


*Has anyone sent this in to the gang at BoingBoing yet? They always seem interested in stuff like this.

*For the moment at least, he's yanked all his lifted cartoons, removing evidence of his plagiarism and making it possible for his fans to continue to airily minimize what he did.

Dude, this would be perfect for BoingBoing.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:48 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


That wouldn't be a big deal to me. I seriously wouldn't care that much.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:50 AM on February 25, 2009


P.o.B: Why do we keep saying something such as someone spouting or rambling off their thoughts (and yes, I understand this isn't necessarily true) is the same as taking the time and brain power to compose a song? This is really where I think people are stretching this argument a little thin and tight.

What if the song is a hilarious 10-second voice-and-tambourine jingle that took the musician all of 30 seconds to record in a fit of inspiration? Would that make it any less valuable, or any more ethically stealable?
posted by CKmtl at 9:51 AM on February 25, 2009


So, are y'all be obtuse, or do you really not see a subtantative difference between R.Mutt/Bunt Cake/et al and what Illiad did here?
posted by dirtdirt at 9:51 AM on February 25, 2009


Metafilter: no big deal because you were nice about it afterwards.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2009


CKmtl, I don't think those equate. Writing is writing. Music is music. It is bad to steal.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2009


I just want to point out again that while a wrong did occur and action could be taken to redress that wrong, focusing and taking action on that precludes -- in that instant at least -- focusing on and taking action on other things. I am still curious why people would choose to actively work for justice against a small-time web cartoon plagiarist instead of other things. Is it because it happened on our watch here? Or...? I agree that it's wrong, but as soon as I think "it's just wrong, so we should do something about it," my mind gets flooded with all the other wrongs in the world that I could devote one phone call toward addressing.

Supposedly this question of mine is the "worst derail ever" but we're already analyzing this plate of beans, what's wrong with examining the fork, too?
posted by salvia at 10:10 AM on February 25, 2009


I agree that it's wrong, but as soon as I think "it's just wrong, so we should do something about it," my mind gets flooded with all the other wrongs in the world that I could devote one phone call toward addressing.

Supposedly this question of mine is the "worst derail ever" but we're already analyzing this plate of beans, what's wrong with examining the fork, too?


I imagine it's something like your motivation in talking about this aspect of this issue instead of making that one phone call. Sure there are other issues in the world, but this one grabs your attention for a little bit. Add to that the fact that this affronts (to some) a fairly important rule in a community that we value, and the fact that this is something reasonably contained, reasonably understandable, and reasonably solvable (the comics were taken down, after all), and there you go.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:18 AM on February 25, 2009


I don't think those equate. Writing is writing. Music is music.

Why? Just as much brain-power and time went into the jingle as some equally funny off-hand comment, so why should the jingle be held up as more of a piece of work than the comment?
posted by CKmtl at 10:19 AM on February 25, 2009


but as soon as I think "it's just wrong, so we should do something about it," my mind gets flooded with all the other wrongs in the world that I could devote one phone call toward addressing.

That is your problem, not ours.
posted by languagehat at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Salvia, when someone talks about the tragic death of a family of four in a car crash, are you one of those people who's all, "Yes, but what about the TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TRAGIC DEATHS EVERY YEAR IN DARFUR?"
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am still curious why people would choose to actively work for justice against a small-time web cartoon plagiarist instead of other things.

i'm curious as to why you think bitching on a webboard is active work
posted by pyramid termite at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2009


Salvia, why does anyone do anything when there's some other thing they could do that would be better for the greater good of humankind?

Because we're human. We can give our life savings to a humanitarian cause and get pissed off about the neighbour's dog.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:30 AM on February 25, 2009


we're already analyzing this plate of beans, what's wrong with examining the fork, too?

Why just this fork? What's wrong with examining that fork over there, or all the forks? Proximity in time and space and relationship have to factor into our decision making process when it comes to what we consider and act upon. Some guy plagiarized MetaFilter; as MeFites it is our concern. We discuss it, and act upon it without consideration of other matters that may or may not be more important, but exert a lesser (or less direct) force on our lives. Doesn't mean those other matters are inherently less important, only that they are relatively distant compared to the immediacy of the current predicament.

Also, when one says "Hey, look at this plate of beans" you fucking look at the plate of beans. You don't go, "where's the fork?" Unless you're hungry.
posted by carsonb at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


salvia, why are you still here? Since your time is so limited, why don't you go make those phone calls instead of posting here about why everyone else should make those phone calls. You're unlikely to accomplish anything here other than piss people off by repeatedly proclaiming that what they find important is not important to you.

So please go make your phone calls, improve the world in the way you think is best, stop wasting your time in this thread, and leave us alone.
posted by grouse at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2009


and... 700?
posted by Rhomboid at 10:37 AM on February 25, 2009


Because we're human. We can give our life savings to a humanitarian cause and get pissed off about the neighbour's dog.

Oh shit, I've been getting that backwards for years.

*Stops spitting on a doctor without borders, throws a rock at Mr. Muffin's Prius*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:41 AM on February 25, 2009


I just cured cancer!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, CKmtl. I'm not a copywright lawyer. AFAIK, people sue over these types of things all the time. What makes the "10-second voice-and-tambourine jingle" so distinctive? Where is it recorded? How closely was it copied? Copied for what? Is it copyrighted?
Stealing is bad. Plagiarism sucks. "Good artists borrow, great artists steal". Oddly enough, found this while googling.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2009


It's odd that people want to philosophize and come up with all sorts of quasi-related equivalencies when it's been made patently clear that the plagiarism that took place here was a direct 1:1 lifting. What more needs to be made clear about that?

I'm going go cure autism so don't bother me with your specious rebuttals.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:59 AM on February 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, I guess you missed the part where no one is disagreeing with that. Specious arguments indeed. Have fun fellas.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:08 AM on February 25, 2009


P.o.B, unless you've developed a perfect system for measuring the value of everything and thereby solve all questions of worth, please share it with the rest of us. Otherwise please go away and let people decide for themselves what's important or worth discussing.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:09 AM on February 25, 2009


I've perfected a system for knowing when someone is being an asshole. Would you like to see that?
posted by P.o.B. at 11:13 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems like you are out to show us that already.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2009


I have snarkers remorse I'm sorry. I hate when I do that.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2009


Yeah, well I guess birds of a feather and all that.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2009


Me too. Hugs?
posted by P.o.B. at 11:18 AM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


but as soon as I think "it's just wrong, so we should do something about it," my mind gets flooded with all the other wrongs in the world that I could devote one phone call toward addressing.

That strikes me as being a recipe for paralysis. Like, I'm concerned about crime in my neighborhood, so I go to a community meeting. But why am I not as concerned about worse crime in a different neighborhood? Why shouldn't I go to a meeting there, too? And Oakland's crime problem is awful...Richmond's is even worse....I'm sure there are neighborhoods in L.A. with even worse crime....etc.

One can't do everything, and doing one thing does not actually preclude one from being concerned about and/or taking action on Some Other Bad Thing.

The plagiarism issue hits particularly close to home for me because I'm an editor, and because I've caught writers plagiarizing and had to deal with it (letter to writer, firing). I'm sorry if if caring about this makes it seem like I don't care about other things, but that's just not how it really works.
posted by rtha at 11:22 AM on February 25, 2009


Come here, you.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:26 AM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I am still curious why people would choose to actively work for justice against a small-time web cartoon plagiarist instead of other things."

Salvia, I get what you're saying here. The answer is simple - they get some kind of value from it. It's kind of like what cortex was saying earlier, that's it's up to each person to decide what their reaction is going to be. It's true that not everyone's comments were appropriated, but in most people's minds, it's the MeFi community at large that's been affected. The difference lies in how serious each of us thinks that is. You will never be able to convince most of the commenters here to dial down their reaction to this - they're not interested, and it kind of offends them to have someone suggest it. They want to keep talking about how serious it is, what the repercussions are, and what's going to happen next. (I direct you to Balisong's recent MetaTalk post/fiasco as evidence of this phenomenon.) For me, and I suspect for you, the issue is not quite so important, which is fine - so we go off to focus on other things, and let the ones who do find it meaningful continue this discussion.
posted by HopperFan at 11:30 AM on February 25, 2009


I get grabby though. Just go with it.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:31 AM on February 25, 2009


when someone talks about...why you think bitching on a webboard

Again, I am not talking about talking. Just about making phone calls. So, when someone talks about the tragic death of a family of four in a car crash, I'm sympathetic. But at the point where they're like "let's start a campaign to get a stop light on this teensy corner!" I might say "you know, 32 fatal car crashes happened three blocks up, and only 1 has happened here, maybe we should work for a stop light there."

Salvia, why does anyone do anything when there's some other thing they could do that would be better for the greater good of humankind?

Where I work is a somewhat political organization, where coworkers get frequent requests to fight X or do Y or save Z. X, Y, and Z range from incredibly important to incredibly kooky. So, we have created a triage and prioritization system -- a decision tree with clear criteria about how to answer that phone call. So, in my work day, why do I do one thing over another? I could tell you.

I don't run my personal life (or my sick days) like that, it's true, but I do kinda feel like I should. Even for random personal activism, I get like five action alerts a day about phone calls I should make, and I generally don't make them. So seeing people spurred to make phone calls makes me curious about what triggers that and why. For those who really do feel like calling, why would they call about this as opposed to other stuff, I wonder. (I guess I'm assuming other people have five action alerts in their inbox, too.)

salvia, why are you still here? ... please go make your phone calls, improve the world in the way you think is best, stop wasting your time in this thread, and leave us alone.

grouse, if you think it's so important, why don't you go call his publisher and all his professional contacts, stop wasting your time with my silly questions, and leave us alone?

People are just talking here. People have come to this thread expressing a range of opinions ("I care." "Well I don't care." "The comments on Metafilter are equivalent to farts." "It's not even plagiarism." "I steal intellectual property all the time." "Let's skin him." "Seriously, I don't care at all.") Participation in this thread is not limited to people who are like "OMG this is the worst thing I've ever heard."

I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm asking, curiously, "I think what he did is totally wrong. But some people care about this enough that it crosses into action mode. Why is that? How'd you decide?" It seems no less philosophical a question than many that have been discussed with much less hostility.

If people want to take my question as a personal insult on their priorities, they can, but it is not meant that way. I could see a lot of reasons that would make sense, for example, "because this is our 'home turf' so we're the only people who will watch out for right and wrong here." For me, that's the closest there is to a reason to call. (There are also reasons I wouldn't call, so on balance, I'm not going to.)
posted by salvia at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2009


But anyway, despite my eight paragraph comment above, I'd rather read about people's hugs than be debating anything right now. I apologize if it sounded like I was saying "this issue is stupid and trivial and you should feel stupid and trivial." Thanks for those who did explain their thinking, like rtha and Hopperfan and carsonb.

And -- whoa, where did P.o.B. and dirtdirt go? ;)
posted by salvia at 12:26 PM on February 25, 2009


I agree that it's wrong, but as soon as I think "it's just wrong, so we should do something about it," my mind gets flooded with all the other wrongs in the world that I could devote one phone call toward addressing.

And yet, here you are not only NOT doing anything about those other wrongs, but bitching at us for trying to do something about THIS wrong. Can you see why people are annoyed by your high-handedness?

And, in answer to your last question (on preview): Because this directly affects people we feel that we know, if only in a superficial, "Hey, that's my contact on Mefi" way, which makes it more personal, because it happened on our turf, and because a lot of us are writers and don't like someone making money pretending to write what others actually did.
posted by misha at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2009


I'm somewhere in the middle. I'm asking, curiously, "I think what he did is totally wrong. But some people care about this enough that it crosses into action mode. Why is that? How'd you decide?" It seems no less philosophical a question than many that have been discussed with much less hostility.

If you must know, when I was in college I had my material stolen and entered into a contest by an untalented hack who won a couple grand I could have really used at the time. Now I take it real fuckin' personal, even when it's not my material. I hope that will help you understand.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:50 PM on February 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Can you see why people are annoyed by your high-handedness?

You can call it high-handedness. If it came across that way and annoyed you, I'm sorry. (And I don't mean that in a dismissive "sorry it bothered you" way -- I'll think about it.) But I don't think I'm really that far from where most people are in this thread, and when I hear "well, it's our backyard so we defend it," or "because these are my friends," I don't think "oh you provincial peons;" that makes sense to me and I respect it.
posted by salvia at 1:30 PM on February 25, 2009


For god's sake, people, this is no way to longboat a thread. All this reasonableness and apologizing and clarifying and hugging just makes everyone wander off in a contented haze instead of staying glued to their computers, ready to take offense and be offensive!
posted by rtha at 1:44 PM on February 25, 2009


salvia, the thing that irritated me about your comments was that you were making a binary out of people supporting causes. Like I can only support one cause at a time. I can either 1) be irritated with Iliad OR 2) be concerned with humanitarian issues in Darfur. I can either 1) help my godson out by saving for his future college education OR 2) donate a little something to the Fund for Women Artists every month. What about both?

Can I not be both:
1) irritated with Iliad
AND
2) try to do something about Darfur?
posted by kalessin at 1:48 PM on February 25, 2009


kalessin, go right ahead.

rtha, what an offensive thing to say!
posted by salvia at 1:52 PM on February 25, 2009


Does anybody else want to look for more plagiarism in 2008? Grab another month or two? We've got 2 verbatim lifts from 2007 and 6 from 2009, so it's likely there's more in 2008.
posted by dgaicun at 2:15 PM on February 25, 2009


Ooh, scavengiarism hunt!
posted by quin at 2:20 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Penny Arcade made their feelings known about Mr Illiad nearly a decade ago, back when their strip was still about people, not hair and a chin.
posted by paisley henosis at 3:48 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Only someone with a masochistic street wants to look for more plagiarism in those comics. It's second only to having one's eyes clawed out. I don't care how much of my writing he plagiarised, it isn't worth the suffering.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:30 PM on February 25, 2009


OK, I decided to dip myself back into the masochistic waters got lucky(?) in under five minutes. (Thank you, text search). It's a twofer from one MF post.

Nov. 16, 2008 Metafilter
Nov. 28, 2008 User Friendly

and

Nov 16 2008 Metafilter
Nov 29, 2008 User Friendly
posted by jamaro at 5:26 PM on February 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's a twofer from one MF post.

Jesus fuck does that guy have an original bone in his body?
posted by dersins at 5:40 PM on February 25, 2009


Damn dude, awesome catches. Goes to show that I'm not very good at this at all, since I checked that month. (My quote mark method was insensitive to trivial para-phrasing)

Here's another one from the same thread (Nov 16 MF, Nov 27 UF); so he got three consecutive days worth of paid material out a single MetaFilter thread. I actually did find that one on my initial search but was willing to let it slide under the benefit of the doubt (I found the same joke in places that pre-date that comment thread), but I think we can safely say that that was Illiad's source material, given that he also cribbed two quotes from that same thread!)

I saved the three comics here, here, and here, to protect against memory-holing.
posted by dgaicun at 6:06 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus jumping christ, illiad. Is it really so hard to come up with jokes that you have to plagiarize my (not especially funny) comment as a punchline?

You imaginationless hack.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:18 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is pretty instructive. He can't have forgotten those?
posted by Pants! at 6:27 PM on February 25, 2009


Illiad is pathetic.

I'm not sure how we deal with pathos around here. Do we savage it or pity it? It's kinda like picking on the Special Olympics.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:54 PM on February 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is he really gonna make MeFites dig all these up? Couldn't he save himself some grief and just zap these all himself?
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:00 PM on February 25, 2009


This is pretty instructive. He can't have forgotten those?

He made it very clear earlier in this thread that he wasn't going to admit to anything he wasn't caught doing, which in my opinion argues against the "he's acting with character now" statements some of y'all are making.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:06 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


EatTheWeak: "Is he really gonna make MeFites dig all these up? Couldn't he save himself some grief and just zap these all himself?"

No, because then he'd have to admit to others and himself that he's a plagiarist.

Or: he's done it so many times he can't remember them all.
posted by subbes at 7:13 PM on February 25, 2009


No, because then he'd have to admit to others and himself that he's a plagiarist.

Or: he's done it so many times he can't remember them all.


He has, in his admission/apology message.

To the first point: "...over the last couple of years I've infringed on the expression of ideas of some (who I think are) clever people. Plagiarized."

To the second: "I don't doubt there are several more."
posted by CKmtl at 7:21 PM on February 25, 2009


To be fair, the NCC-90210 joke predates both the MF and UF posts, according to Google. I took TwelveTwo's mentioning it not as a quip but a reference to fan discussions that have been ongoing ever since Abrams was announced as director. Shit, am I actually outing myself as a ST fan here?
posted by jamaro at 7:33 PM on February 25, 2009


Oops, and now I read the rest of daicun's post. Yeah, you're right. I thought the whole set of UF Star Trek posts mirrored the MF ST post pretty closely.

So I outed myself for nothing. Nothing! Oh, the shame.
posted by jamaro at 7:37 PM on February 25, 2009


Hey, I took the liberty of posting the newest discoveries in the UserFriendly forum, as there were some accusations there that the original claims were either exagerrated or false, and the first few offending comics had been removed already.

The post has already been flagged for deletion, since one of the Metafilter comments had some, um, raunchy language. Honestly, I don't see how a discussion board of that size gets by when both the discussions and all outbound links have to be grade-school safe. Maybe that contributes to the insular feel.

(Also, I hope you'll forgive me for not linking back to jamaro and dgaicun's comments in the post over there. I figured the directing them to the flush of rage set off by the newest finds would be... unconstructive.)
posted by Rhaomi at 7:42 PM on February 25, 2009


jamaro - fair enough, but there's two other swipes from that thread. For me, illiad's benefit of the doubt expired after the third swipe was revealed. You know, "once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action" and all of that ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:43 PM on February 25, 2009


Boy, they have a very strange obsession with keeping language clean over there. Sounds like they want to delete "mefite's" comment because of nasty words in a link even after another person inserted a language warning? I've never seen such fluttering delicacy on the intertubes before. It's bizarre. The site appears to be geared to adults, too.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:46 PM on February 25, 2009


CunningLinguist, I looked at their rules again after the deletion -- they say it's because they have readers as young as 11. So they institute a "14-year-old sister" rule to keep things clean -- no language or content that 'd be inappropriate for tweens. I'd missed that the ban included links, though, even ones with warnings.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:51 PM on February 25, 2009


Rhaomi - I posted notice to his apology thread - no cursing, no links.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:55 PM on February 25, 2009


Someone with the username "da-gimp" being a stickler for G-rated language is just delicious.
posted by CKmtl at 8:01 PM on February 25, 2009


I thought that exact thing, CKmtl. Big props to cortex yet again for being a voice of reason and civility over there, as well as to the Mefite who introduced the concept of 'confirmation bias' to that forum.
posted by jtron at 8:15 PM on February 25, 2009


To the second: "I don't doubt there are several more."

Right, in his apology he linked to three comics we uncovered and asserted there must be "several" more, when he damn well knew there was more than "several" more.

So even in his apology he only apologized for what was found, and continued to lie about the extent of his behaviors. Just like when he tried to initially pin the blame on reader submissions. (which, by the way he also needed to apologize for -- foremost to his own libeled fans -- but didn't. And it's no wonder, when his fans show about as much self-respect as Rihanna. Somehow he has transcended all artistic accountability to his fanbase; it's no wonder he has increasingly felt at liberty to mock and neglect his own craft)
posted by dgaicun at 8:15 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


dgaicun - Good work. What was your search method, so that the rest of us can help with this case?

I just got done checking last December, using google to site-search Mefi .... it looks clean but I feel like I need to take ten showers now anyway.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:26 PM on February 25, 2009


jamaro good work. My search method was ass.
posted by dgaicun at 8:30 PM on February 25, 2009


jamaro, jamaro, that's who I meant to ask *facepalm*

my search method, and my name-recognition, apparently, where also ass
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:34 PM on February 25, 2009


That back in time Star Trek killin' joke was one that I think nearly every group of friends came up with independently… which makes it really, you know, sad, that he stole it.
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 PM on February 25, 2009


I'd hoped it wouldn't happen, but there you go: one user is already questioning (mildly, I'll give them that) whether dgaicun's Photobucket backups of the offending comics constitute copyright infringement.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:56 PM on February 25, 2009


You've got to be kidding. They've gone from straw-manning to just grasping at straws.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:04 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Again, I am not talking about talking. Just about making phone calls.

what do you do, just breathe heavy?

your reply was utterly incoherent - i suppose there are more useful things in the world to be doing than bitching about this guy's plagarism but surrendering oneself to whatever cause or philosophy or save-the-worldism someone else thinks is more important utterly ignores the secret of life - that you never really do everything you could have done - that people sometimes NEED to do stupid useless or dubious things because they're not some kind of fancy laptops you can plug into your ideology and shove your hand up their asses so they can rattle off what you want them to say - they're people, and they have a godgiven right to futility and folly - if you deny them that, they will be utterly staid, humorless shits that you couldn't stand being around - and the end result would be much like stalin's russia, in which everyone slavishly followed WHAT WAS MOST IMPORTANT, comrade, up to the point where they were thanking the executioner for the bullets they were about to receive to their head because it was for the GOOD OF THE PARTY

that's where your "prioritizing" eventually leads, and FUCK IT

frankly, i think this whole thing has probably gone on long enough and unless one is hiring a lawyer, there's not much more useful action to be done with this, but, i'm not going to tell anyone that they could be out getting donations for the society to cure compulsively masturbating monkeys instead - whatever - do as you will, let off steam ...

but did you realize that 43 percent of all zoo monkeys have serious cases of carpal tunnel? - please people, instead of wasting your time here, can't you like go to cafe press and have them make a t-shirt that reads ex-monkey-masturbator?

wait until the pharisees in YOUR fundamentalist group see THAT
posted by pyramid termite at 9:09 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love it when people post after a few drinks. +1 for the Stalin reference.
posted by HopperFan at 9:15 PM on February 25, 2009


Actually, I want to know how many of pyramid termite's comments were lifted by UF, because looking back over them, there's a ton of comedy gold. (100% snark free just then)

As a geek, I love this one:

"Hardly worth the screen ink this callout used up.

i think you've got the connections to your monitor and your printer switched around

posted to MetaTalk by pyramid termite at 5:30 AM on February 14, 2009"
posted by HopperFan at 9:24 PM on February 25, 2009


I submitted this to Digg, if anyone wants to digg it up.
posted by JonnyRotten at 10:14 PM on February 25, 2009


What was your search method, so that the rest of us can help with this case?

For the link I found the other day, I used UFs site text search for words associated with...uhrm, typically geeky topics. SCO, Star Trek/Wars, Hadron Collider, phrases from RPGs, etc. One of the words I happened to randomly pick was "barbarians." It turned up a hit, the punchline seemed atypically effortless for UF so I did an exact phrase search for what I considered the most the most distinctive part of it ("barbarians at the gate, boo-hoo. Does that about") on Google. Got the match to Metafilter.

For the second set of matches I did the same but this time restricted the UF search to 2008 (since I was curious to see if there were any hits in that year). I picked Star Trek first, due to remembering much net noise about the new movie trailer. Clicking on UFs text search results brings up the strip graphics; I read UFs sequence about the new ST movie, searched Metafilter for the same topic then page-searched the comments of the Blue post using words which appeared in the the more punchy UF punchlines: tribbles, time travel, 90210 and found three matches. I cross-checked the matched phrases on Google and discarded one match because it appeared elsewhere earlier.
posted by jamaro at 10:14 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope that this kerfuffle doesn't result in people posting comments in the hope that they will make the third panel somewhere.
posted by vapidave at 10:33 PM on February 25, 2009


Following up on christonabike's post upthread. Most of the comics with plagiarized content have been removed from the site, but there is no memory hole.

6/29/07 | 7/17/07 | 1/12/09 | 1/27/09 | 2/12/09 | 2/13/09 | 2/16/09 | 2/23/09

posted by Balonious Assault at 11:29 PM on February 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are these people thick or what? In response to three new ripoffs, posted by Rhaomi there, someone called jdelphiki posted the foll:
BTW...I understand that by capturing Illiad's strips, you're just wanting to illustrate your post. But aren't you crossing the "copyrighted material" boundary by copying samples of the strip and putting them out on Photobucket? I mean, I'm not trying to snark you or anything...I'm just not sure that dropping them out there would be within the "fair use" of Illiad's material...especially in the open where anyone can stumble across it without seeing the corresponding copyright warnings.

That said, I'm aware of the irony there, given the uproar that Illiad's use of MeFi's phrases stirred up. I'm just not sure if I, personally, would want to go there to illustrate my point.

I'll bow out now...again, no disrespect intended.
Yeah! I'm aware of the irony, but I'll still go ahead and like an asshole and cast shadowy accusations on the investigator for coming out with smoking guns in the courtroom. No disrespect, just saying!
posted by forwebsites at 11:55 PM on February 25, 2009


For what it's worth, I think some of the UFites are dealing with this in a very mature fashion - chief among them being DesiredUsername.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:19 AM on February 26, 2009


User Friendly: kinda like picking on the Special Olympics
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:59 AM on February 26, 2009


I hope that this kerfuffle doesn't result in people posting comments in the hope that they will make the third panel somewhere.

Well with friends like THIS, who needs the INTERNETS?

That's the problem with Microsoft - their profits make BILL GATES as desirable as FABIO!

You can always tell a TRUE geek by his D&D ALIGNMENT!

That what LINUX said!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:58 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Okay, this is clearly a pattern of shameless theft. Are any of these cartoons original? Even one? I'm contacting his publisher. Anyone who wants to wring their little hands about that can go fuck themselves.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:15 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


dgaicun: [He] asserted there must be "several" more, when he damn well knew there was more than "several" more.

So even in his apology he only apologized for what was found, and continued to lie about the extent of his behaviors.


I feel a bit weird defending the guy, but... how is that lying? He said there's probably more, and there are more. It's not like the discovery of more lifted punchlines contradicts what he's said in the apology statement.
posted by CKmtl at 8:37 AM on February 26, 2009


Optimus Chyme, according to Wikipedia the last time UserFriendly was published in book form was back in 2003, and no comic posted later than November 17th, 2001 has seen print. This plagiarism looks like a more recent phenomena. Do what you want, but I don't think the publishers should be contacted until plagiarism is discovered in strips that they've actually printed. (Unless of course illiad is currently negotiating a new book deal, which I doubt is the case.)
posted by Rhaomi at 8:52 AM on February 26, 2009


Rhaomi: Check the 'Plagiarism' section of that entry, it mentions a 2008 book that contains one of the removed strips.
posted by CKmtl at 8:59 AM on February 26, 2009


the last time UserFriendly was published in book form was back in 2003, and no comic posted later than November 17th, 2001 has seen print.

This is incorrect, as noted by the same Wikipedia link. At least two comics with plagiarism dialogue should be in that book. (6/29/07, 7/17/07)


I submitted this to Digg, if anyone wants to digg it up

The Digg link is wrong. There have been no instances of plagiarized quotes shown from any website but MetaFilter.

how is that lying? He said there's probably more, and there are more.

Does this really require explanation? If a woman asked Wilt Chamberlain about his sexual history, and he told her there were "probably" "several" others, then he would be lying. There are definitely many others.

Unless Illiad is Ronald Reagan, then he knows he's been doing this habitually for months, from one website, and that "several" is a mendacious estimate.
posted by dgaicun at 9:05 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


"... plagiarized dialogue."
posted by dgaicun at 9:07 AM on February 26, 2009


Oops, thanks for the correction; I was going by the Bibliography section only. Carry on, then!
posted by Rhaomi at 9:09 AM on February 26, 2009


Holy FUCK this is a lot to wade through when you're hung over from Mardi Gras.

But let me try.

Yeah, at first blush stealing one line from one forum post to use as a web comic may seem small potatoes. But -- it happened repeatedly, and the more examples where it happened, the less inoccuous it looks.

Plus, the fact that the mods have a copyright symbol on here trumps everything; whatever you may think about the inherant rightness or wrongness of lifting things from a regular forum, the fact that this has a copyright notice in here puts things in a different realm.

I'm not calling for the guy's head on a pike, but that's largely because I just don't roll that way. But I do definitely agree that this is something that should be worth pursuing in some fashion -- as soon as I heard the copyright was on our site, I realized, "oh, damn, then yeah, this is a problem."

As to why it matters about stealing text -- look. I'm a writer, and I work damn hard when I write. Damn straight I want the credit. I want to be the one that is known for my work.

Now some other tangents:

I am still curious why people would choose to actively work for justice against a small-time web cartoon plagiarist instead of other things.

salvia, it is simply not possible for every human being to care about every single ill on the planet -- and that is why each one of us makes whatever choice they deem best about what to strive for. And -- everyone is going to make different choices. I mean, would it make sense for me to barge into your office and carp about "why are you wasting your time on a stupid ash spill when the rate of AIDS cases in Africa is off the charts? Come on, prioritize a little and work for a real problem!"

But no. The case you have chosen is one that is important to you, so you work for it. Others are more moved by AIDS in Africa, so that is what they work for. Still others in here have intellectual property as a concern, so they work for that.

The good news, though, is that it all works out into "you know, there are a lot of problems with the world, but collectively the human race is working on all of them -- 'I'll handle this, you can handle that' -- and so we all benefit after all."

Then, some other times, the shame of knowing that you ripped someone off, combined with the pain of inadvertently winning the poetry competition, combined with the shame of having to read it to the entire school in assembly one morning, combined with the final, brutal, awful shame of knowing that anyone who had noticed would further know that you thought enough of the work of Billy Joel to quote a whole verse from one of his most famous fucking songs, is enough.

I had the opposite happen to me. I lost a poetry contest in seventh grade -- came in second -- but then when the school published the literary magazine with its "contest winners" in it, I opened it and saw that the winning poem was actually not by Wanda Esquivel (name changed) but was instead by Robert Louis Stevenson. I alerted the teacher who ran the magazine, and that afternoon an announcement was made over the school loudspeaker announcing Wanda's deposition and my assumption of the grand prize.

Ironically, though, that same second-then-first-place winning poem that I'd written had also been censored by the school; I had written in the voice of a boy from the Dominican Republic who had just moved to the U.S. and was wondering why everyone was picking on him and calling him names. He quotes some of the names, and one of the names was indeed an ethnic slur. I was called to a teachers' office and gently informed that my poem was very very good, but we're just going to change this one word here because it's a bad word and we don't want to hurt people's feelings...I remember sitting there thinking "but that's the whole point," but not knowing how to say anything because they were a teacher and... And. And then when they printed the "sanitized" version I remember thinking "damn, they made it suck."

Long story short, I ended up becoming an anti-plagiarism and anti-censorship advocate in one fell swoop at the age of twelve.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:39 AM on February 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'm going to form a covers band and name it "User Friendly Third Panel."

(Illiad, you have my permission to use this in your comic. It'd be so fucking meta)
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:40 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I submitted this to Digg, if anyone wants to digg it up.

Ew. Why would you submit this page? It's near 800 comments and half of them are about Dafur (okay, maybe just three). We need an executive summary somewhere with clear excerpts of examples. As it stands no one will even bother reading to the important bits.

I could replace you with a suggestion box made of meat, JonnyRotten.
posted by ODiV at 9:43 AM on February 26, 2009


Does this really require explanation?

Yes, it does. I think that those grounds are pretty weak sauce for an accusation of lying about it.

If a woman asked Wilt Chamberlain about his sexual history, and he told her there were "probably" "several" others, then he would be lying. There are definitely many others.

"Probably" was my word, one that I often use without noticing it; his words were "I don't doubt there are several others."

As far as I'm concerned, the difference between "I don't doubt X" and "I'm sure that X" is negligible. It's a matter of phrasing. He was admitting to a trend of plagiarism: "I've been doing a bad thing. Here are some examples; I'm sure there are others."

"several" is a mendacious estimate.

This is pretty nitpicky.
posted by CKmtl at 9:47 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Probably" was my word, one that I often use without noticing it; his words were "I don't doubt there are several others."

Ha, no, it was your word because "I don't doubt" used in such a context certainly does mean "probably, based on common sense" not "certainty, based on direct knowledge". What it means is that he can't recall doing it, but that it is highly likely it happened.

I can give you an example. I don't recall ever watching an episode of Diff'rent Strokes in my life. I have no direct memories of this ever happening. But I watched a lot of TV during the period when it aired, and during the time slots it would have aired. I don't doubt that I have actually seen an episode.

That does not mean I have proof of this through direct recollection. It means that the evidence lines up in such a way that it would be very strange if it wasn't true.

This is why if you ask someone if they ate steak for dinner last night, they don't respond absurdly by saying "I don't doubt that I ate steak last night," they respond "yes, I ate steak last night"

And so Illiad lied. He has been consciously and habitually recycling MetaFilter comments as UF punchlines for months now. He knows that he has been doing this. He has direct access to this knowledge. The correct response is not "I don't doubt" there are more, the correct, non-weaselly, non-purposely misleading/dishonest response is "I have done this for X other strips " with X being the correct appraisal (i.e. "many," "dozens," "hundreds," etc).

This is pretty nitpicky.

No, "several" has an English language meaning ("more than two, but not very many"), and so far we've found quite a bit more than "several" already with a limited search effort. 2008 remains basically unexplored.

So for the record, at what point do you believe "several" is a dishonest claim? 20 comics? 50 comics? 100 comics?
posted by dgaicun at 10:48 AM on February 26, 2009


Here's another one from the same thread (Nov 16 MF, Nov 27 UF); so he got three consecutive days worth of paid material out a single MetaFilter thread.

Unbelievable. His original excuse (i.e. people e-mail me stuff all the time) continues to be even more absurd.
posted by ericb at 10:52 AM on February 26, 2009


I'm gonna suggest here that "several" is a reasonable word for the number of instances we've seen so far, in my usage, but that how folks break down the cardinality of the word is probably going to vary a lot and arguing over it won't probably get anyone anywhere.

The distinction between "several" and "many" here might be as much as anything one of emotional tone, of intensity—I might have several (S) coins in my pocket whereas a serial plagiarist has stolen material on many (M) occasions, even if S = M. Let's not read too much into the expressive details of these words.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:58 AM on February 26, 2009


the fact that this has a copyright notice in here puts things in a different realm.

Under the Berne Convention, works receive copyright protection once they are fixed in a tangible medium. A copyright notice is not necessary to receive copyright protection.

Of course, removal of a copyright notice or addition of a copyright notice for fraudulent purposes is a criminal offense (17 USC §506). I bet Illiad is sorry that he plastered his copyright notice so liberally all over the place now.
posted by grouse at 11:00 AM on February 26, 2009


Look, it's a casual statement. He admitted do a trend of lifting his punchlines, and didn't minimize it to the just the examples that were found at the time of his writing the statement. The discovery of further lifted punchlines doesn't violate the spirit of the statement. I don't think it's right to pick at it like it's a legal document and we're all on Law & Order: Pedant Squad.

And so Illiad lied. He has been consciously and habitually recycling MetaFilter comments as UF punchlines for months now. He knows that he has been doing this. He has direct access to this knowledge.

He does not necessarily have direct access to that knowledge. He's been doing one strip a day for 10+ years. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that he could forget the creation of all but the most recent ones.

The creation process of all those older strips could fall closer, in his memory, to what you watched in the 80s than whether or not you ate steak last night.

So for the record, at what point do you believe "several" is a dishonest claim? 20 comics? 50 comics? 100 comics?

I don't know how he uses "several". It could be his go-to word for anything more than "a few". Yes, the word has a dictionary definition, but that doesn't mean that people use it the same way.

We might as well argue about the precise temperature of "hot".
posted by CKmtl at 11:49 AM on February 26, 2009


We might as well argue about the precise temperature of "hot".
posted by CKmtl at 11:49 AM on February 26


Anything above 305.928 kelvin, and damn you to hell if you think otherwise.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:56 AM on February 26, 2009


If hell is only 306K, that's not much of a threat.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:10 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "Long story short, I ended up becoming an anti-plagiarism and anti-censorship advocate in one fell swoop at the age of twelve."

Same things happened to me. In 7th grade there was a contest to write a Halloween story, voted on by the students, and my gruesome tale of a boy who dressed as an axe murderer and accidentally decapitated himself lost to a story by a girl who rewrote The Green Ribbon, only she called it The Red Ribbon, so I guess she was off the hook. But what the fuck does that shitty story have to do with Halloween, anyway? It's worst when someone is rewarded for being a plagiarist while simultaneously "creating" shitty work.
posted by team lowkey at 12:25 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's worst when someone is rewarded for being a plagiarist while simultaneously "creating" shitty, Billy Joel themed work.

FTFY
posted by Jofus at 1:58 PM on February 26, 2009


As far as I'm concerned, the difference between "I don't doubt X" and "I'm sure that X" is negligible.

Really? I don't feel that way at all. I think they're substantially, substantively different. I would say in this case the first is weaseling, and he knew the appropriate thing to say would have been the second.
posted by Nabubrush at 2:40 PM on February 26, 2009


I am disappointed that Illiad has sunk out of sight, refusing to deal with this issue.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:55 PM on February 26, 2009


Hey, everybody: Check out illiad's new method of attribution. It's pretty nice -- big, hard-to-miss crediting of the original Mefi commenter, and a conspicuous notice to see the comments for the link back to the source.

It's not my ideal method -- I'd rather see the source link right below the comic, not buried in the comments board (which usually fills with dozens of discussion threads after a comic is posted), but it's a big improvement, and meets most of Mefi's requests. Bravo, I say.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:00 PM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


illiad seems to be around and working on it, fff—see here, with presumably stuff happening in some sense or another today.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2009


Heh. Timing.

Tip 'o the keyboard to Josh in Portland, OR.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:06 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


team lowkey, I can't believe whoever judged that contest had never heard that story before. I think I must have heard or read at least a dozen different variations.

"'The Green Ribbon' is based on a European folk motif in which a red thread is worn around a person's neck. The thread marks the place where the head was cut off, then reattached."

First seen in an anthology by Washington Irving, then called "The Red Velvet Ribbon."
posted by HopperFan at 5:58 PM on February 26, 2009


Thanks for finding the back-ups, Balonious Assault. Now I finally get the "Wha Wha Wibble" title.

I mean, it still doesn't make any sense, but I see where it came from, anyway.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:14 PM on February 26, 2009


*sigh*
posted by Tenuki at 6:27 PM on February 26, 2009


Hey, all, so I still had bad feelings about the interactions here and a lingering sense that I was a jerk in the way that some of you were pointing out, so this is a quick apology and explanation.

There were two things going on in my head, my personal opinion ("meh, uncool, but I don't want to call up anybody's publisher and get them in trouble") and some abstract questions that I think about a lot ("you can't fight every battle, so how do you decide which battles to fight and which to let others handle?" and "with people in general being really good, how can all this bad stuff go on without massive public outrage forcing it to change?").

Those things on their own are totally valid I'd say, which is why it took me so long to come around to apologizing. But they'd melded together in my head in a way that actually wasn't cool. So what I said was not some grounded personal opinion that actually engaged the debate directly ("plagiarism sucks, but my opinion is let's not call because..."), nor some really abstract and curious question (that I could probably have asked somewhere else), but "don't care about this, instead care about these other things." Really, the issues are totally separate, and mixing them the way I did (a personal opinion about what to do getting expressed as an abstract opinion about right and wrong and where people should put effort) really was high-handed and uncool. What you got was my personal sense of pity wrapped in other stuff that came in from elsewhere, acting all high and self-righteous. So, I definitely get why it annoyed people, and I'm sorry for doing that and for derailing the thread.

Just for the record, I don't think it's dumb to care about this. I totally understand the urge to root out plagiarism.
posted by salvia at 6:47 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I checked April and September 2008 without finding anything, but I may not have jamaro's skills. I just googled "blah blah blah site:metafilter.com" whenever a phrase looked somewhat distinctive.
posted by salvia at 6:49 PM on February 26, 2009


It's nice to see the mefites whose material was plagiarized being credited by name on the website now. I'm not sure what that does for the books, magazines, and newspapers (50+ print publications, according to the faq) in which plagiarized content may have appeared, but that aside, I'm still holding out hope that a plagiarized comment from someone with a name like Christ, what an asshole or fishfucker can be found, just to see how the dilemma of crediting someone with a name that can't appear on the website is handled.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:40 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


On further review, it looks like the issue with plagiarized content in the User Friendly book is already being addressed. Good on ya', illiad.
posted by Balonious Assault at 10:54 PM on February 26, 2009


Why do the links back to the MeFi comments go through this, instead of just linking?

Honestly curious, I can't think of any reason to bother, especially since the description box is empty.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:57 PM on February 26, 2009


illiad seems to be around and working on it, fff

I'd thought he might think to pop his head in around here, let us know what he's doing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 PM on February 26, 2009


Why do the links back to the MeFi comments go through this, instead of just linking?

It's a policy on the UserFriendly forums. There's a brief explanation here.
posted by Balonious Assault at 11:12 PM on February 26, 2009


Thanks
posted by paisley henosis at 12:12 AM on February 27, 2009


Right on. You know, I think that's all the demands I can remember having. Thanks, illiad.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:03 AM on February 27, 2009


Actually, forget what I said about the linkback being buried. All the plagiarized comments are months or years old, so the comment noting the source will almost certainly stay at the top. And presumably this won't be happening again, so future notes being buried under new comments are hopefully something we won't have to worry about.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:41 AM on February 27, 2009


We almost need a recap post that points out his apology and attribution. (or an update to the OP)
posted by dreamling at 8:06 AM on February 27, 2009


If someone would like to put together a concise roundup on the mefi wiki, I could just toss a little "here's what happened" link into the post text like we did with the Givewell thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:19 AM on February 27, 2009


Thanks, salvia, that was classy. I understood where you were coming from and figured you were having some kind of inappropriate melding like that, but I'm glad you realized and spelled it out.
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on February 27, 2009


Also, just for the record: Wha Wha Whibble.
posted by languagehat at 9:09 AM on February 27, 2009


A) Illiad appears to be doing the right thing now. He still needs to apologize for initially lying about it like an absolute douchebag. He doesn't deserve much praise now either way.

B) Why o why couldn't've a shrill fucking shitstripe made more witty comments in Star Trek threads? Wouldn't that really make those printed apologies something beautiful.

C) Illiad's fanbase scares the shit out of me.
posted by dgaicun at 11:46 AM on February 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


dgaicun:
"when his fans show about as much self-respect as Rihanna"

Hey, now. That's unnecessary and cruel.
posted by batmonkey at 12:32 PM on February 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Law & Order: Pedant Squad
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:10 PM on February 27, 2009


Reply from Manning (the people that put out the 10 year book that includes at least one plagiarized comic):
We are aware of this issue and are taking steps to resolve the problem. Thank you for letting us know; Manning appreciates the vigilance and attention of our readers.
posted by DU at 5:12 AM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


~~owned~~
posted by Damn That Television at 1:37 PM on March 5, 2009


Props, DU.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:49 PM on March 5, 2009


Oh, we all know that no one will be satisfied until Illiad is homeless and drawing caricatures of tourists on some boardwalk pier for crack money.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2009


Actually, you might be on to something with the last bit there, since it might explain his lapses in judgement as well as how desperately he was trying to monetize that site.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:00 PM on March 5, 2009


There's a new(ish) post up over there. (Up)dated the 26th of Feb and mentions him going through the archives as well as emailing purchasers of the book with an "errata PDF". He found 13 total, including 3 from the "10 Years" book. (I don't get how that could be, but whatever.)

Did he google all that stuff that fast or did he keep track of what he plagiarized? In any case, he seems interested in erasing the crime. Is this the usual steps for plagiarism? I'm kind of surprised the people who got their comments in the book aren't being contacted with damages checks or something. (Not that the damages would be so huge, but corps like to cover their asses that way.) Or maybe they have been contacted and we just haven't heard about it.
posted by DU at 6:44 AM on March 9, 2009


He found 13 purchases of the book? That's rather more than I expected.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:08 AM on March 9, 2009


Anyone who would shell out $75 for that book really deserves to be stolen from.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:17 AM on March 9, 2009


Thanks for the update.


I'm trying to restrain the snark, but really, reading those forums gives one a whole new appreciation of Mefi. It occurs to me to wonder what I would have done with the last eight years if I couldn't come here.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:31 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


some productive work, perhaps?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:41 PM on March 9, 2009


Eh. Doubtful.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:53 PM on March 9, 2009


reading those forums gives one a whole new appreciation of Mefi

You should count yourself lucky. The official forums at my university just got invaded by 9.11 truthers, and we had a ROTC dude who would rant about how 'the only good muzzie is a dead muzzie'. I wonder if he'll be coming back from Iraq.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:01 PM on March 9, 2009


invaded by 9.11 truthers

That's nothing. The local conspiracy radio station in Austin talks about that all the time. What floored me was when there was a serious discussion about whether or not there really were lizard people from the fourth dimension who transform into humans using string theory and can control people's minds to hide the evidence.
posted by Pants! at 10:14 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well duh. I mean, really, like that's some sort of news?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 PM on March 9, 2009


It takes time for the major stories to trickle down to Texas.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:54 PM on March 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tom Spurgeon, of The Comics Reporter: " ...speaking of stories I totally whiffed on, my e-mail -- which is like a pneumatic tube system overrun with gerbils and sporting occasional side trips to the moon -- just spit up a note with a link to what seems like a story whereby someone was plagiarizing site content for cartoons? Can anyone out there update me on this?"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:38 AM on March 19, 2009


I just dropped him a line with a quick recap and an offer for more if he wants it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on March 19, 2009


> What floored me was when there was a serious discussion about whether or not there really were lizard people from the fourth dimension who transform into humans using string theory and can control people's minds to hide the evidence.

It's only amazing that the Texan lizard people are depending on crap physics like strings to do their mind control. That you never hear people in Cambridge or Berkley discussing the lizard people should indicate the quality of theoretical physics research there.
posted by ardgedee at 10:38 AM on March 19, 2009


Ghah - In the interests of full disclosure, I'm the one who sent Spurgeon the initial e-mail1. That should have been appended to the quote in my previous comment, but this thread gobbles up my PC's meager memory and it seized up something fierce2 after I pasted in the quote and link to TCR.


1Which I thought was fairly succinct and clear, so I'm not sure what he means by "... what seems like a story...", but that's neither here nor there, I reckon.

2Moseying over the the Green to learn more about installing more RAM.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:52 AM on March 19, 2009


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