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Engadget accused of Unethical Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of March 2006 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

There’s an interesting story emerging on Digg with regards to Engadget and their acknowledging of sources of stories. The controversy is around this story at dapreview.net.

Whether Engadget are at fault or not I’m not in a position to say – but the story is an important one for bloggers to consider when they are bouncing off what others are writing.

I know that this can be a real challenge for many popular blogs which get pitched ideas all day. Problems often arise when a story appears in multiple places at once, all using the same pictures and information. I would imagine that Engadget get many emails notifying them of each story – each one is after one thing, simply to get the link as the source which guarantees traffic and Google Juice. This would be complicated by the blog being a multi-author blog.

Of course this doesn’t give an excuse for unethical blogging and they have a responsibility to check and acknowledge sources like any other blog.

I’ll be interested to see how and if Engadget respond to the criticism as the story is gaining real momentum at Digg (652 diggs at present and rising quickly).

update: Ryan Block, managing editor of Engadget, has added an apology to the post in question.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Peter Rojas says: 03/21/2006 at 11:01 am

    Yeah, we made a mistake. It’s our policy to always credit and link back to our sources, and in this case we made in error in judgment combined with a misunderstanding about the source of the image (we mistakenly thought that DAPreview watermarked a photo that wasn’t theirs — clearly that was not the case).

    Regardless, I take full responsibility for the mistake and that this will not happen again. We do a 1000 posts a month and occassionally we do screw up.

  2. That’s what I figured Peter – I know how easy it is to make mistakes in this area. Unfortunately it’s easy for mistakes to blow up on the web (very quickly) and for people to get angry very quickly and start seeing conspiracy theories.

    For me the key is to do everything possible to make sure mistakes are not there but when they do happen (and they do for everyone eventually) to acknowledge mistakes, explain them (where appropriate), fix them and move on – all as quickly as possible.

    I think you’ve done that in this situation.

  3. This happened to an image that I created when it got posted on dsfanboy (another weblogsinc blog) . I didn’t really think much about the cropping of my sites watermark (They gave me a link back though).

    Things get amplified times 10 over the Internet. I own a fairly large forum and I see the same thing there as well. If I move a thread or do something minute then tons of protestors take to the web streets and blow things way out of proportion. I guess that’s net culture and probloggers need to be ready to deal with it. :)

  4. […] The famous tech blog, Engadget, is under fire tonight for allegedly plagiarizing stories. I first heard of this story via RSS from the Blog Herald (the entry is now removed for unknown reasons) and subsequently from ProBlogger. The story is surfacing over at Digg which could mean legitimacy or a wildfire case of mistaken understanding. I don’t know and I’m not willing to pass judgement because I really don’t know both sides of the story. […]

  5. Yikes. I just realized that they actually changed the [ Read ] link as well as the water mark.

    Theres a discussion about this on fark.com as well.

    The engadget team seems to be out in full force trying to do some damage control. It’s probably going to all blow over in 2 days.

  6. Engadget isn’t the only Weblogs, Inc. blog to do this leeching off lesser known blogs – it’s nice to see that at least they got caught. Too bad they seem to be managing to weasel out of accepting real responsibility for something that seems pretty common in their multimillion dollar network.

  7. Everyone needs to remember that blogging is NOT a competition. There is a difference online than there is in the real world. If I have a choice between two gas stations, only ONE gets my money. On the internet, that isn’t the case. As I posted on my blog:

    Check this out:


    That link was live after we broke the KidZone story, citing our internal source at TiVo. Now, you can’t find it at Engadget, UNLESS you go straight to that URL. You will NOT find it by searching for it. You will NOT find it by browsing their Home Entertainment category – even if you scroll to March 1 (the day it was posted.) It’s as if it doesn’t exist.

  8. Peter Rojas says: 03/21/2006 at 1:01 pm

    I’m not sure what Andru is talking about: it’s clear that the post is still on Engadget and that it DOES exist. You can see that by clicking on the link in his comment. I’m not sure what else he wants. Our search tool and archives have been really screwy since we switched to newer blogging software, another problem we’ve found is that lots of older posts got cut off or had images disappear.

  9. He means that direct links work but if you scroll backwards to March 1st then the post isn’t there.

    Example: http://www.engadget.com/page/13/ and http://www.engadget.com/page/14/ have posts from March 1st but the “KILL TiVo’s big announcement: “KidZone” parental controls?” is not on those pages.

    I don’t see a big issue with that because what posts appear where is entirely your decision. It is thought provoking, however, because it is not clear if that is somehow a strategic move or if your software just doesn’t display all posts (or neither). :)

    I find my self sympathizing with Engadget a bit because I know how non-issues can become huge mountains because of a misunderstanding.

  10. Peter Rojas says: 03/21/2006 at 1:27 pm

    Wait, so he’s upset that you can’t find the post in an archive page that no one visits but that you CAN get their directly via a URL? I could see being upset about the opposite situation, but not this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get bent out of shape over something like this.

  11. I never had problems with Engadget, but what really makes me sad is the fact that once it hits the big sites, small fries think they can get away with anything. For example you post about “Product X from Acme” and post a picture. A couple of your friends will link to you. Engadget will link to you. Then other sites simply grab the image (that you created!) and start spreading the news as it was their scoop.

    I’ve seem this happening a lot lately. In this case I believe it was a mistake. But in others I can see clearly a trend.

  12. Nick Aziz says: 03/21/2006 at 2:38 pm

    Peter, you’re obviously lying, so just shut up, and save us the sob story.

    I’ve been told by Weblogs Inc staffers that they do not link to real competition. That means they’ll link to some obscure blog instead of a bigger, more complete site.

    And you know what? I think that’s a good idea. This is COMPETITION after all. This should be no different than the real, mainstream media.

    Engadget should not have to apologize. And I absoultely HATE when someone does something like this, then goes back on it when a bit of heat comes on. Be a man and stick to your guns.

    I HATE when blogs steal copyrighted material, but I also HATE when bloggers cry foul when someone “steals” non-copyrighted material from “them.” please…

  13. Sometimes a good picture helps a story .. Yes, I will often at times try to locate a good picture or right click and save the picture for use in the story. I try to keep the filename the same and give credit (i.e. not hide it) Sometimes, people and other platforms somehow have bitmap images .bmp and my wordpress plugin does not upload .bmp’s … So, I use my screen image cropper (I use 5-Clicks) and take a screen image of a .bmp and it saves as a .jpg. Sometimes, even though you try to crop a picture around its border, it often cuts off around the edges. When you get used to this, you know better to leave a little white around the edges.

    I noticed on the FARK pages, where there are screen images of the two pictures (1 with watermark) is called engadget1mini6ie.png and the other (without watermark) is called engadget2mini5hi.png .. I would be more curious to know how engadget names files like above how they end up to be named (e.g.. is it a time stamp?)

    Other than I was noticing the different picture filenames, I really had no opinion on this, except that (i.m.h.o.) I get sick of reading outrage stories like these. It’s more than the story .. it’s as if it’s a reason to create content and practice your Jerry Springer Audience chant .. Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!

  14. […] – ProBlogger heard about the news at digg.com […]

  15. I don’t buy this isolated incident copy. I’ve had my share of similar troubles with you guys, I’ve written a lengthy article about it. While I appreciate your efforts in dealing with the situation, I feel that you’re just trying to put a spin on things, and I, for one, am not buying.

  16. How to get publicity for everyone involved, start a war, and divert everyone away from writing their own content.

    Well done. 10 out of 10 everyone.

  17. This is blow WAAAAAY out of proportion. The Blogsphere is HUGE, mistakes get made. Engadget apoligized and corrected it, there is no need to beat this story to death. Missattribution happens all the time in the blog world get used to it. The worst thing you can do is complain about it, like the children at dapreview.

  18. Now, I’m not an Engadget reader, but I have looked at this issue a little bit and I agree with HART (last paragraph). The thing is… most people with large websites will understand that this happens. And then a fair bit of people without will be outraged. When you have thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of entries and people post linking to one mentioning how there isn’t a link or how there is this or that and oh my gosh, can you believe it, evil!!!!! No. Come up with 250 entries and then post. To say that someone unethically blogs based on 1 entry or a handful of entries over a long period of time is not fair. When you post as much as they do, have as much staff as they do, talk about the subject that they do – this sort of thing is really unavoidable. It will happen again. If you ever get lucky enough to receive 1/10 the traffic they do, it will happen to you. And it will happen to me, I imagine, regardless of how hard I work to quote reasonable pieces of content, to include credit links (I’m via crazy)… it’ll happen. It happens. That’s life. It doesn’t mean you’re bad, evil, unethical, a bad example, etc. etc. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone unknowingly adds content that they may not have a right to. This is why “report” and “contact” links exist. You report it and it’s taken care of. People report things to me, I investigate them and handle them. I think the way they have handled it is good and appropriate. It’s over.

  19. David (#15): Good to see you speaking your mind on your blog, especially since you’re one of the good guys who takes the time to link and give attribution properly. :)

    Still, this stuff happens. I’ve had experiences with one of the major tech blogs pulling several story ideas (and similar images) from my site, linking to two or three other sources before mine. The first time could have been a coincidence, but after that it becomes slightly implausible. I didn’t throw a tantrum, though, because it brings traffic and it’s nice to know they’re reading my stuff.

  20. I posted this post about Norwegian airline Widerøe giving passengers PSPs to play with during flights.

    Engadget posted it, but never linked to me. They did thank me though:



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  22. Austin here, from DAPreview.net

    To clarify, the issue is not relevent with Engadget and ALL blogs, just some – including DAPreview. Peter and Ryan have a personal problem with us dating back to 2004, as I explained in the article.

    So, do you buy their response?

    “Ooops, we didn’t really mean to do that, it was all an accident.”

    Let’s review the facts. They took the time to go back and edit an article that was already published, from another author. They took the time to rewrite the credit, removing all reference to DAPreview. They took the time to edit the picture and repost it, cutting out the DAPreview logo. They did all this – for no apparent reason – and without checking a single fact?

    Keep in mind, out of the 100+ items that they credited to us before August 2005, only a handful of our images were ever watermarked. The few that were, had been originals of ours taken at CES or CeBIT… never once have we watermarked somebody’s else’s photo.

    Their explanation is ridiclous, but what else can they say? We didn’t expect them to admit anything.

    Anyway… we had to call them out, but it’s done and we’re moving on.

    Thanks for bringing this issue to light on your blog.


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