It is with apprehension and a heavy heart that we have to bring the following information to light.
There are updates at the bottom of this post, with full details and email snippets of the resolution, as well as a lengthy FAQ for the questions we’ve come across on Social Media, Comments, Reddit, and More.
First off though, we’d just like to emphasize how much work we here at TechRaptor do to try to to do things right. We will most assuredly fail every now and again and expect the feedback we receive to only make us better.
We put a lot of effort into our original ethics policies, and an even larger amount of time and consideration into the new one we fully rolled out. The same can be said for anything we have rolled out for TechRaptor, like the information included on our Patreon.
We’re all about better journalism and know that it will do some great things for the community. However, we can not just stand by as someone capitalized on our hard work without a mention that it was taken from us. It’s worth mentioning that after some digging, both of these particular pages have been this way for months, and TechRaptor was never notified of the use of our ethics policy or Patreon page.
It has recently come out our attention that GamesNosh copied our original ethics policy nearly word for word, basically just changing “TechRaptor” to “GamesNosh.”
Unfortunately, it does not stop there. There are significant pieces of their Patreon page that take direct phrases/sentences from our Patreon page.
Here is the live version of their Patreon and the archive of it. According to a tweet they sent out, their Patreon went live in March of 2015. Here they even acknowledge we have one back in January of 2015.
Here are just a few examples between the two live versions of the Patreon as of this posting (what is in bold and underlined is word for word copying):
TechRaptor: TechRaptor is a website built by gamers and techies, for gamers and techies.
GamesNosh: GamesNosh is a website built by gamers for gamers.
TechRaptor: We cover everything from AAA titles to indie mobile games, from iPhones to the N-Gage. We don’t care who has the most money behind a title or product, we just try to review it as objectively as possible. If we enjoyed a game we’ll tell you all about it, if it wasn’t all that great, we’ll let you know that too. We bring you the current gaming news every day, including the stuff other websites may not cover!
GamesNosh: We cover all manner of subjects related to the gaming industry, everything from AAA titles to indie mobile games – to the latest news to developer interviews. We don’t care who has the most money behind a title or product, we just try to review it as objectively as possible. If we enjoyed a game we’ll tell you all about it, if it wasn’t all that great, we’ll let you know that too. We bring you the current gaming news every day, including the stuff other websites may not cover!
TechRaptor: TechRaptor has a wide and diverse range of contributors, people from all backgrounds, and from countries all over the world. Such a diverse pack means that we have diverse opinions. TechRaptor doesn’t censor our writers’ voices, and all opinions are welcomed. We’ve been hacked, we’ve been attacked, we’ve been censored, but we’re not going to stop!
GamesNosh: The GamesNosh staff are a wonderful and diverse range of people from all backgrounds, and from countries all over the world. Such a diverse pack means that we have diverse opinions. You will sometimes notice that we may have articles on site that are completely opposed to each other in tone or views, we do not censor our writers’ voices, and all opinions are welcomed. We’ve been hacked, we’ve been attacked, we’ve been censored, but we’re not going to stop!
We reached out to GamesNosh over 24 hours ago to see what was going on and if we might come to some sort of agreement. However, we have yet to hear back from them as of this posting.
You should also know that we have informed DeepFreeze who will be independently looking into the matter.
Here is the email we sent to GamesNosh – Note we have still yet to receive a reply
Here is the email chain between Rutledge and DeepFreeze – please note that we’ve added this here for the purpose of full disclosure.
This blog post will be updated as we find out more.
Update: GamesNosh has responded –
— GamesNosh (@GamesNosh) June 17, 2015
Update 2 [6/17 6a CST] – We just wanted to take the time to apologize for not giving GamesNosh more time to reply to us. In hindsight, we should have given 72+ hours before making a move, but we did have a reason for publishing this. As many have noticed, sometimes our staff takes to social media with their opinions on issues like these, and social media is NOT the right place to begin discussions like these. This post was published in order to bring this all up without editorializing or sensationalizing, just presenting our findings and going from there. There was no harm meant, no bad blood, and it was never with the intention of drama or starting a fight – just presenting the facts, like we always do.
Update 3 [6/17 6:50a CST] – We’re still communicating with GamesNosh and both sites are wanting to work together to bring this to a good resolution. There’s no bad blood or anger here. Once we’re done communicating, we’ll update with the resolution, and if both parties agree – post the email thread here.
Update 4 [6/18 9:20a CST] – See below for snippets of our conversation with GamesNosh.
I’d prefer to handle this privately as well, which is all we wanted in the beginning. See below for why I published, but yeah, I’d like to discuss all this for sure.
There’s a couple of troubling things here, first of which that I didn’t participate (unless you can send me proof of an email that may have been misplaced) in said conversations.
Second, we gave you a full 27 hours, which was a good chunk of time. The reason for me even publishing was so that my writers weren’t the ones that brought it up, and we could calmly and (in a non-editorial fashion) address the issues.
Third, your 3rd party is involved in some skeezy business practices then, as the evidence stands for itself. 70-80% of your Patreon Description is taken word for word from ours, with some wording moved around – but still identical.
I don’t hold grudges, nor does my staff, but we would like to get this resolved as soon as we can. At the same time, that information above is incorrect, so should we resolve this privately, and let the public know later.
We’re still completely fine with you using the ethics policies as long as they are then attributed to us with a do-follow link to the original/source. However, Patreon will obviously need to be changed.
Let’s get this figured out, yeah?
Now that I’m properly looking at it…yeah the guy I used for the Patreon page seemingly did lift a lot of it, you only have to compare them. I have tried talking to him but he seems to be purposefully ignoring me after earlier being adamant that he didn’t and I took it on good faith that he was telling the truth as he’s a personal friend unaffiliated with the site. It’s especially embarrassing considering it’s being tied up with my own personal copy/paste job on your ethics policy from last year.
I had at the time even intended to get around to making it more personalised, but back then it was pretty much just me – and with the whole push for better ethical practises which I was personally already adhering to, I needed something to let people know that. I was in the wrong for not letting you know and not attributing it to your site, I’m gonna put that down to personally getting caught up with making sure GN was on par with the older sites like yours in terms of forward facing disclosure. (though it’s no excuse)
I’ll look into getting the Patreon page changed. I’m going to give the individual that made our Patreon page a few days or so to respond but if he continues to stay dark I’ll be happy to pass his details along to you if you need them to contact him.
Looks like he’s changed the Patreon and removed all the verbatim text, let us know if you have any other issues.
I’d like to apologise on behalf of the site if this has upset anyone involved. As a personal aside I’ll be cutting all professional ties with the person involved and handling all Patreon stuff myself once he gets back to me, this entire thing has been nothing but bad PR for both of us judging from some of the reactions.
Looks like everything is sorted, and I’ll go ahead and apologize for my staff’s behavior on Twitter, which is pretty much what I assumed would happen if we hadn’t published that post, so I hope it makes a bit more sense why we did so now!
As for the Ethics Policy, I really see no issue with you using the old one so long as it’s attributed to us – maybe a line at the bottom that it was used with permission from us with a do-follow link back to our current ethics policy?
As for the Patreon, that’s messed up on their part. Since it was a third party, I can totally understand that you wouldn’t know what they did. If it’s fixed, I see no issue now.
We’d like to apologize as well, as we made a pretty big mistake in not waiting longer than 24 hours. With E3 and everything going on, tensions have been high, so what we did was kind of a knee jerk reaction to prevent any issue with the news coming out via social media (Which, IMO, is the worst way any kind of news can come out).
You’re right, this has been a PR Nightmare for both of us. I wish we’d waited longer and gotten a response from you to handle it privately, but you live and learn I guess!
People seem to think this is a “fight” between us, when really it was just a misunderstanding for the most part, and as far as I can tell there’s no bad blood here, as much as people seem to think. We’re both just doing the best we can with what we have 🙂
Hey again Rutledge,
[Paragraph omitted to protect some personal info about GamesNosh]
As a gesture of good faith between us I’ll restore your policy with full attribution with a hyperlink back to TR. Hopefully this will show our audiences that this isn’t a playground fight as some are perceiving – and that it was just an absent-minded and lazy move on my part.
Glad we could settle this.
Update 5 (6/18 9:22a CST) –
As you can see above, we’ve amicably (as expected) resolved the situation, and GamesNosh is attibuting the Ethics Policy back to us, which is really all that was needed to be done now that we have the new Ethics Policy up and running. So the issues with the ethics policies are solved. We’re allowing the Patreon to stay in an edited fashion until GamesNosh can fix it themselves (probably post-E3), because let’s be honest – that falls more on the third-party than on them.
With all that said, we’ll be posting a nice long update below (The final one, we swear) to clear up any remaining thoughts or misconceptions – so we can close the book on this and get back to focusing on what matters – great content 🙂
Final Update / Clarifications / FAQ [6/18 11:20a CST) –
There have been a crazy amount of…misconceptions about why we did this, what our intentions were, and a lot of accusations thrown at us – so lets clear them up in full.
Why did you go public with this after only 27 hours?
Short story – because our staff had already learned about it, and due to how upset they were about the copy pasting of the ethics policy, and large chunks of the Patreon being copied, we knew that someone would make a comment on social media. And because we respect GamesNosh, we felt that allow it to come out on social media was the worst way for it to happen, so we worked up this post and avoided any editorialization or opinions on the matter.
Why DID you go public? Were you trying to attack GamesNosh or post a hitpiece?
By publishing this public, we meant no ill-will or malice towards GamesNosh or any of their staff. The biggest part of it was to be transparent, something that we’ve always made sure to be with our readers. There’s no bad blood between GamesNosh and TechRaptor, and this has all been amicably resolved.
“Not airing public disputes is why GameJournoPros happened. People need to realize that if they want transparency, they get to see ugliness. This is a business and we feel the readers have a right to know what goes on.” – quoted from Lead Video Editor Shaun Joy
Why is this such a big deal? It seems like a non-issue!
We’re aware that to most, plagiarizing an ethics policy without citation of where you obtained it from may seem like a non-issue. But for us, our first Ethics Policy and the new Ethics Policy were labors of love. We spent between 20 to 30 hours on the first ethics policy, and between 50-75 hours on the new one, and it wasn’t something that we just pumped out in a day – we spent weeks on it to carefully craft and get feedback on it from outside sources.
When it comes to plagiarism, the SPJ Code of Ethics makes it very clear – don’t plagiarise, and if you use content from elsewhere, it must be attributed. We take ethics seriously, that’s why our Ethics Policy was so lovingly crafted – because we hold ourselves to those standards.
As for the Patreon, ours makes about 60% of our monthly revenue at this time, and uses some specific wording to incidents that happened to us, as well as who we are as a site (see: “pack”). Approximately 50-60% of the content on that page is taken directly, word-for-word, from our Patreon page. Georgina probably spent at least 20 hours on that as well, making changes and consulting with others, to make it the awesome piece of work that you see up on that page.
Time is important, and having such big pieces of work used without permission and attribution was really hurtful to us, and we wanted to get it rectified.
Why did you write an emotionally-charged piece on this?
We don’t see how taking the information, and posting it in an un-editorialized fashion, was emotionally charged. We went out of our way not to throw accusations or opinions into the piece itself, outside of the first two lines with our lamentations and reasoning for the article.
If the “emotion” you’re talking about is the result of staff members’ tweets, that’s a whole separate issue, and doesn’t reflect on how editorial/managerial staff feels. If it’s about the site’s “ego” that people keep bringing up on various platforms, it was never about ego, it was about getting to the truth.
Why did you contact DeepFreeze?
In part, we originally thought about it as a way to have one more source to get advice from, as we consulted a number of people both inside and outside #GamerGate circles in order to make sure that publishing the post was a good course of action. Everyone agreed that the post was neutral, non-attacking, and fair, so we published it.
As for DeepFreeze, we believe that everyone should be held accountable for their actions – and that includes us. If we make an ethical violation, you better damn well believe we WANT to be included on DeepFreeze. We emailed DeepFreeze ahead of time, as a way to show what we’d found, even said we felt weird as a competitor having to report this.
Was it the right thing to do, possibly not, and if that’s the case – we’ll gladly admit it. We’re not monsters, assholes, malicious, or evil – we just want the best from ourselves and others. We could have easily not released that we’d contacted DeepFreeze, but instead chose to be 100% transparent about it, as any outlet that strives for ethics should do.
It’s also worth noting that in the past, several of our authors have reached out to DeepFreeze to be added to the database for their former ethical breaches, in order to be held accountable for their actions and mistakes.
Why do this during #E32015? Couldn’t you be working on coverage?
At the time of this writing, we have over 185 E3 2015 articles over the last 3 days, with a number of interviews and extra coverage pieces coming. We waited 25 hours to even write this post, and when we did, it was done by A) between conferences B) by editors who weren’t currently supervising/conducting coverage. After it was complete, the rest was handled by Rutledge Daugette (our Founder), who leaves most of the coverage and editorial management to our editors while he focuses on site management and growth.
The fact that this was published during E3 was without a doubt, the wrong course of action. In hindsight, we would have waited at least 72 hours and published after E3 if we were unable to come to a resolution. For that, we apologize again.
Why did you try and use #GamerGate as your personal army?
Short story – we didn’t. People are blaming the words of individual staff members on the site as a whole, which is not right.
Do you support this tweet from one of your Authors?
We do not support that stance, and that opinion is that of the staff member, and him alone. We have guidelines in place for staff members when it comes to social media, and when an author chooses not to follow them, then that’s their choice, and we will take appropriate actions to correct the behavior or whatever disciplinary measures are needed.
As for disciplinary measures, we have required that the author take down said tweet and offer an apology, as well as they are not to spend time on twitter for 7 days.
What about this tweet from another Author?
That is her own opinion, and it doesn’t fall within the realm of our ethics policy for harassment or libel. She was frustrated about the situation and tweeted in kind – no insults, no name calling, no call to action. Also, not officially “endorsed” by TechRaptor, as some seem to believe.
So, what’s the resolution?
At this time, GamesNosh will continue using our original Ethics Policy, but there will be an attribution back to TechRaptor in order to give credit for our creation of the policy. The GamesNosh Patreon Page is also being edited to remove the wording used within TechRaptor’s, although that may take some time as E3 is still going on.
As an added note, we’ve added both policies under the Creative Commons license, which means that anyone who would like to use our policy is welcome to, so long as proper attribution is given. See the image below for this addition to the Ethics Policy(We’ve added it to the review score policy as well!) The reasoning for this is so that people are welcome to use the policy that we created, and in turn, we get recognition for it as well. We made it as CC-Share Alike because we realize we aren’t perfect and that if someone improves upon the work we did, we want to make sure others are able to benefit from what they have done.
Finally, we’d like to apologize again for not giving GamesNosh the time needed to respond to our emails. With E3 going on, we should have given 3-4 days before we moved forward with the post, and we allowed our emotions towards our work to get the better of us. We wanted a resolution to the problem, and we see that we could have gone about it a much better way. We know that many of our readers are angry with us, and we hope that this (incredibly lengthy) update/FAQ helps with understanding of this post and the situation around it.
As always, thank you for reading TechRaptor – we’ll continue to strive for high quality content and coverage surrounding Technology and Gaming events, issues, and products!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to tweet, emails, or comment them below! This *should* be the final update, but we’ll make changes if anything extra needs to be added!