As you may or may not have read, due to an admittedly stupid mistake I made doing my usual sweeping up of the shop, Engadget’s reputation is being called into question by a number of publications. Of course, for any publication to have its reputation called into question is immediately damaging (even if the accuser isn’t itself entirely credible), so one can only try to be transparent, respectful, and rational, and hope for their readership to decide for themselves.
Without getting too verbose, earlier today a site called DAPreview publicly accused us of certain plagiarism, stealing links, etc. I’ve spoken with Austin and Robert from DAPreview on a number of occasions in the past on the very topic of mis-attribution or non-attribution between blogs — in both directions (i.e. theirs and ours). Basically: it happens, send an email, get a correction, move on. Things worked fairly well for a while; any problems that arose would be solved amicably, and we had a decent enough working relationship until last year when they took a shot across our bow in the headline of a post (“Creative Zen Touch now shipping? Or has Engadget lost its Touch?” — it’s easy enough to find on their site). Taking potshots at peers isn’t exactly in best form, but we tried to look past it and move on. I’ll spare you the details. (More after the break.)
Things got worse, however, and we eventually removed DAPreview from our OPML. Feeds come and go (we’ve compiled over 400 we scan many times daily), and we supplanted our coverage with a half dozen or more newer digital audio news sources. DAPreview would occasionally show up with a scoop or some interesting original news, which would always go properly credited. They admit this. The post in question today is one I later edited under pretenses that the watermark was autogenerated — as they very often are — by the wrong party, which I believed to be DAPreview. It was a stupid error, one I’ll fess up to making (and why not?). Removing a DAPreview watermark from a DAPreview picture is akin to theft — I realize this, but what I find especially interesting is that anyone would think that someone who’s dealt with dozens (hundreds?) of bloggers and sites for years — me — would be stupid or green enough to try pull a fast one while running one of the biggest, most trafficked blogs in the world. Especially knowing people like Austin and Robert are watching closely.
Fact of the matter is, as anyone will readily tell you, Pete, Jason, myself, and everyone at Engadget are all great people who only hope to garner the utmost respect of the community. At the end of the day that respect is our lifeblood, and without it Engadget would not exist (in other words I’d have to go get a real job, which I may just yet). I find it interesting that my and Engadget’s honesty and integrity would be directly questioned (with words like “vendetta,” no less) even given the fact that I’ve always been very clearly interested in righting wrongs, letting bygones be bygones, and attempting to re-establish a working relationship where there had long been none.
So if you’re still with me (I know, I know, long post), perhaps you might ask how would I have handled this were I them? The same way I handle this very scenario with the dozens of other publications (large and small) that crib, swipe, and occasionally outright steal from us every day, every week of the year. If I believe it’s an especially grevious offense, I merely write to them and kindly ask for a correction to the problem — no matter how hard I have to grit my teeth to do so. And you know what? I can’t think of a single one that’s ever said, “no.”