Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Funny story for the day:

Here is how this works:

Step 1: write an original article on your blog about a useful thing (like OpenAL) (we will call this the ‘original post’ and the ‘original blogger’)
Step 2: someone else likes your article and cuts and pastes it into their blog, they change a few words here and there, but mostly it is left identical (errors and everything) (let’s call him ‘copy blogger’, and we will call this the ‘copy post’)
Step 3: wait a while
Step 4: somebody notices that ‘copy post’ is very similar to ‘original post’ and tells ‘Copy Blogger’ that someone has copied his post! Mon Dieu!
Step 5: Copy Blogger emails Original Blogger and tells him that if he is going to be copying his (plagiarised) posts then Original Blogger should have the common courtesy to provide a linkback to the ‘Copy post’ from the ‘Original post’!
Step 6: Original Blogger laughs and laughs.

If this is all too abstract, then I will simplify it: I wrote a post about OpenAL on the iPhone in 2008, right after the NDA was lifted. This single article is in the top 5 for traffic for my site. Lots of people have seen it. Presumably there are lots of OpenAL codebases out there that have snippets of code from that article, which is great!

That article has a bunch of code snippets and instructions on how to build your own simple OpenAL sound player. (but does not provide a working version, you have to do that yourself :-)

Someone (whom shall remain nameless) took that article and copied it into his website, and claimed authorship of it. This was in early 2009. Now to his credit, he did change a few words here and there, and he took the code snippets and put them into a single file and filled in the gaps. This is exactly what I had hoped people would do! (with the exception of claiming authorship of my words, that is kinda dickish)

I actually noticed that this had happened and made a fleeting mention of it at the top of my post about ‘lots of sounds’ in OpenAL. But to be honest, I didnt really care all that much about it. Hey, it’s the internet, people steal anything that isn’t bolted down, and they sometimes steal that stuff too.

However, this morning, I get an email from our random internet plagiarist telling me: (and I quote) “just want to notice that someone told me it seems your article has alot in common with my own article postet on [RADACTED]. If your article is related to that, you should post a linkback or something like that. ”

He wasn’t a dick about it, he was pretty cool. He is probably a stand-up kinda guy.

To be honest, it has been a looooong time since I noticed that he had copied me, and I had basically forgotten about it. I dutifully went to his site and had a look (because I was curious, and had forgotten about the whole thing, and frankly OpenAL isn’t that complicated, and there are only so many ways to do it, so really most articles on OpenAL on the iphone could be considered ‘similar’ on many ways, and if his site was good, then I would link to it anyway) and when I saw my own words staring back at me I remembered the whole thing from last year and I laughed and laughed.

Then I sent him a kinda shitty reply, sorry about that internet plagiarist dude, I probably should have waited till I had breakfast before replying to your email.

At the end of the day, I post stuff here so that people hopefully get something out of it. If you want to copy all the code here and all the txt here and post it on your site, well, that is perfectly possible, and not illegal. But taking ownership of my words is a bit of a douchebag move. At least have the common courtesy to re-word it.

Cheers!
-Ben

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