November 17, 2008
I was recently the victim of plagiarism.
Oh, I’ve had a piece or two ripped off before. You can’t spew as much drivel as I have in the past five-and-a-half years without a snippet or two making their way into scoundrels’ wayward and non-attributing mitts. A MySpacer lifts this, some forum hound copies that… in the grand scheme of things, it’s more trouble than it’s worth to scream, ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!‘ every time an old post makes an appearance attached to someone else’s name.
(And where’s the harm, anyway? If some LJ geek wants his three measly friends to believe he’s the ‘bestest Alton Brown fan evar!!!1!eleventy’, why should I be jealous?
I’m actually more interested to know how he managed to make three whole friends. Maybe I should be stealing from him.)
This time, though, it was different.
This was no one-time pilfering, nor some obscure site dawdling its days on the obscure outskirts of the interwebs. Instead, it was what appears to be a highly motivated, hyperly active and heavily advertising individual, pulling eyeballs and attention from every available avenue to read his site.
Which was full, to the overflowing brim, of my words. For eight months in his site’s most recent incarnation, and apparently for some time before that. Until a couple of days ago, I was entirely unaware. And quite taken aback when I made the discovery. It’s like there was another me out there, running around and saying the same (often verbatim) silly nonsense that I say. Quoting my quotes. Re-turning my phrases. Repeating every ridiculous, outlandish, filthy word I uttered.
It’s like the little brother my mother never wanted me to have. She’d be mortified.
And in my own way, so was I. My posts may be many things — goofy, long-winded, scandalous, dubiously fact-checked, incomprehensible, offensive to nuns, nubiles and Nebraskans — but above all, dammit, they’re mine.
So I’ve done some digging on the man who stole the words right offa my page for nearly a year. Since he felt compelled to tell the world about ‘himself’ in my voice, I thought I’d tell you something about him in my own.
The name of the (most recent) offending weblog was ‘Monkey Fables and Tales’. It exists only as a ghost in Google’s memory now; when I discovered my words frolicking on someone else’s site, I left comments asking for removal, or proper attribution to the originals. The ‘author’, going by the name Monkey Tales, evidently chose the former, deleting the entire weblog (and others he ran) within an hour of first contact.
Still, thanks to the caching prowess of ‘Big G’, I can show you something of what was there. On the last cached version of the site, there are three entries. Please for your enjoyment to be comparing them to earlier posts from my own archives:
11/14/2008: “A Different Type of Wing Man” to Interlude with a Vampire (11/01/2006)
11/13/2008: “Do They Leave Chalk in the Ladies’ Room?” to Man’s New Best Friend? (06/26/2003)
11/11/2008: “Belligerence Can Be Your Friend” to Whatever the Question, ‘Belligerent’ is Always the Answer (06/05/2005)
(I give him points for brevity in the title for that last one. But why no post on the 12th? What kind of self-respecting plagiarist was he?
For a good portion of my time here, I wrote one of those ridiculous posts every day. The least the guy could have done is steal them at the same rate. Slacker.)
The scope of this gentleman’s re-post self-gifting was not limited to the current holiday season, I’m afraid. The archives stretched all the way back to February, when love was in the air — and when I was still posting here regularly, to boot. Some Monkeys are apparently cheekier than others.
I haven’t scoured the entire cached archive, and I wouldn’t waste your time with a blow-by-blow rundown if I had. Suffice to point out that my August 10, 2005 was his March 6, 2008, my August 24st of the same year was his May 31st of the current one. November ’03 becomes August ’08, three years ago October is reprised this September, and an old number from 2003 reappears more than five years later.
(He took the time to change ‘Boston drivers’ in that last one to ‘Midwest drivers’, but didn’t think to remove a derogatory reference to Yankees fans, to the apparent chagrin of one of his New Yahkah commenters. Nice catch, sparky.)
Frankly flabbergasted, I dug for more on this mystery Monkey man. And I found it.
Turns out he was quite the busy bee, maintaining four weblogs (all shut down at once soon after my comments were submitted) and advertising them relentlessly using social networking communities, EntreCard and BlogCatalog in particular. I joined the former to learn — and teach — a little more about the culprit, and used the latter to track down more specific information, as well.
It turns out that Monkey Tale (‘monkeytale’ on BlogCatalog, ‘mikster’ on MyBlogLog, StumbleUpon and elsewhere) used to have another weblog called ‘Reality is Over Rated’. And shockingly, it was composed, to a large degree, of the same content as his more current (lack of) effort. Namely, my content.
(Fortunately for my sleuthing activities, FeedShow has kept a log of his old blog’s content, with preview text. Astute — and even not-so-particularly-astute-until-you’ve-had-your-morning-coffee — readers will recognize February 5, 2008’s “Do They Leave Chalk in the Ladies’ Room?”, January 26, 2008’s “Some People Are So Touchy” and January 4, 2008’s “Make a Decision Already!” from the links above.
For my part, I recognize the opening riffs of the very 2nd post (“Presumptuous Bastard Anyway”, 09/27/2007) as the intro to I Don’t Think So, Beermonger, the 3rd (“At Least There Are Less Rules Now”, 09/30/2007) as Slacking Off for Sunday, and right on up to the last post on 04/08/2008, “Has Someone Turned Big Bird Loose?”
Indeed. I did, on July 5th, 2005. Thanks for asking, boyo.)
I had uncovered a great deal of stolen material by this point. But my Herculean Holmesian heaving hadn’t yet produced any real information about this mikster/Monkey himself. Other than a ‘Midwest’ subbed for a ‘Boston’ here, a ‘Red Sox’ replaced by a ‘Packers’ there, I really didn’t know much about the man behind the malingering.
Until, that is, I stumbled onto his profile on StumbleUpon.
And there I found the face — well, the alleged face, anyway; he may have yoinked that from someone, too — of my personal (and perversively perserverant) plagiarist. He’s 48. He’s from Wisconsin. And he’s been a member since mid-September, 2007 — just a few days before the first proof I have that he’s been ripping my shit off as his own for well over a year, on at least two (now-defunct) weblogs.
And I’m satisfied. I ‘ve stared into the cold digital eyes of my online identity thief, the offending materials have been removed, and now I can go back to whatever the hell it was I was doing before obsessing over this little brouhaha. Probably reading comic books, or counting toes or playing chicken with the garbage disposal. Something brainy like that.
In an odd way, this experience has encouraged me to think about writing on my own site again.
(I mean, obviously. Look how many freaking paragraphs we’ve come so far.)
I’ve been on ‘hiatus’ for a few months now, but I do miss putting fingertips to keyboard. And — if the popularity of this Monkey guy’s ‘writing’ and the number of people wondering what happened to his site(s) is any indication — there might be at least a modest audience who’d enjoy my particular brand of drivel. We’ll see about that soon. For now, it’s enough to take one more good look at the plagiarist’s face, turn off the light, and get a sound night’s sleep.
(And just look at the guy. Seriously. How could people think those words were coming from him?
He doesn’t look anything like Joe Piscopo. Or Fozzie Bear. Or even (I still don’t get this one…) Tim Curry! Packer Backer, please.)Permalink | 19 Comments