Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Twitter Theft (And How HuffPo and BuzzFeed Steal)

For the vast majority of users, Twitter is not important. I understand that. In the same way that I find scrapbooking a life-draining expense of time and creative effort, I can understand someone looking at my Twitter feed as 30,000+ depressing examples of life pissed into a void.

But, just as scrapbooking gives a mode of expression to its fans, we have to acknowledge that Twitter provides a unique medium for creative discourse that people would otherwise not find. There are Twitter clichés, subcultures and superstars, and as absurd as it seems even within them, they all have value for people. Which is why, as in any other circumstance in which we establish value, theft is shitty.

Last week, someone created a Tumblr called Borrowing Sam, a clearinghouse of screenshots for plagiarized tweets made by a Twitter user named "@Prodigalsam" Sammy Rhodes, a campus minister at the University of South Carolina. Go. Read it. It's damning, and it's sad.

Prodigalsam defended himself in a Tumblr post in two ways. We'll get to the second later, but for now he wrote:
Part of what I think has happened in terms of the tweet theft accusations is that for years now I’ve been doing tweets that are pretty clearly inspired by the tweets of my twitter heros.
It would be a heartening explanation if it weren't thoroughly unacceptable. Inspiration is not editing or reframing. (It would be more heartening if this didn't happen instantly after the apology.) When one is inspired by an artist, one tries to create something new in his or her style. Simply rewriting what that artist already said is plagiarism with minimal effort.

By these lights, every fourth grader who rewrites the World Book Encyclopedia entry on sharks for a report on sharks is an original artist. Or, in case this inspiration/theft discussion seems too abstruse, think of it this way: Clueless is inspired by the Jane Austen book Emma; meanwhile, all the movies called Emma though written slightly differently, are still goddamn Emma.

It's hard to see what Prodigalsam's endgame could have been. He stole tweets repeatedly from people more famous than he, with bigger followings and verified checkmarks. His follower count blossomed into six figures. At some point, harvesting followers with the work of others was bound to draw the attention of those who were already fans of those others. The overlap would start to become noticeable.

What he would like you to think is that this is coincidence. People come up with the same jokes all the time. Usually, those jokes are very obvious or far less complex than sentences lasting almost 140 characters. For instance, just last week, I inadvertently "stole" a tweet from a guy named @Mattytalks. There was a trending topic called "#ThingsNotToDoOnAFirstDate" and I tweeted, "9/11."

The differences between Prodigalsam's behavior and coincidence are manifest. First off, there are long-standing online jokes that someone did 9/11. Either it was Bush or the Mossad or some other conspiracist group; it's a common trope. More to the point, "9/11" is a four-character gag. Despite faves and RT's coming in, I linked to Matty's tweet, acknowledged that he beat me and deleted my tweet. I'd thought of it on my own, but profiting from it was cheap. All the same, coming up with similar one-word or one-term jokes offers far greater chances for coincidence than, say, making this tweet when you admit in your Tumblr apology that you are a Rob Delaney fan.

The natural question is, "What the fuck could Prodigalsam have been thinking?" And the answer is something that probably doesn't easily occur to his victims: that he could really easily get away with it.

It's impossible to fulminate against poaching tweets as "the theft of intellectual work product" without indicting mainstream journalism as a whole. The online wings of major print media have spent half a decade now treating Twitter as a litigation-free harvest of profitable and entertaining content wherein its creators have no rights. My tweets have appeared in the Huffington Post and other online organs' slideshows without links back to me, attribution or my consent, all to said organs' profit.

Buzzfeed, where friends of mine work, regularly screencaps tweets from others, then runs those screencaps as whole articles. Because the tweets are capped, their creators don't get easily retweeted, favorited or followed, which means they don't reap an immediate benefit for their appearance. Also, capped tweets (often) don't appear on search engines, meaning that their writers don't even know where they're being harvested, exploited or, depending on your point of view, plagiarized. While the screencapping policy is probably innocuous (if the users delete their tweets, the content of the article disappears), there's no reason not to hyperlink each screencap to the original tweet and cover both bases. Buzzfeed might mean well, but Buzzfeed is a rogue's gallery of poachers and profiteers.

One can imagine that Prodigalsam believed the Internet already devalued tweets to the extent that they are fair game. When the sorts of people who should normally vociferously defend the value of creators' original work product—i.e. journalists—instead treat an entire medium as a pageload orchard for precious, precious adclick revenue, it's easy to excuse yourself for exploiting it as well.

Prodigalsam also understood something at the heart of plagiarism that readers don't understand: writers don't compulsively run Google searches for their own lines. For one thing, only a tiny few are that narcissistic; for another, which lines would you Google? What if they've been rewritten in just a few ways—as Prodigalsam did? How would you even know?

I've been plagiarized over a dozen times, and each time I only learned of it by accident. A reader saw something memorable I'd written appear under another byline on another site he or she already followed. (This sort of reader-generated discovery happened to a guy I admire just a few weeks ago.) Each time, I was stunned at how little effort the plagiarist made to make the piece his own. Barely any changes to telltale turns of phrase, needless preservation of my overwrought style, dashes everywhere, discursiveness to the point of exhaustion. The fucker could have at least slimmed it down.

It would be easy to make jokes about Prodigalsam "Sammy Rhodes" and how much he looks like an unctuous Seth MacFarlane hiding behind a Starsky era costume mustache. But it's easy to pity him, too. Not in the way he wants to be pitied, but pity nonetheless. Here's how he wants to be pitied:
Part of the weirdness of last Wednesday is that while I was cast into a deep depression over some stupid stuff, my (small ‘s’) special needs daughter took her very first steps at physical therapy. I rarely post personal things, but I actually posted that video at the end of the day as a kind of reminder to myself. Followers are great. Family is better. Friends too. I need to remind myself of this a lot. Twitter is like a crappy Narnia. Real life is better.
Allow me to say for the record that, if this man really does have a special-needs child, my heart goes out to him. That said, using said child—real or not—as an emotional smokescreen when being accused of theft is vile.

Perhaps it makes me hard-hearted, but online confrontation frequently and exhaustively results in a condition best called Munchausen-by-Internet, wherein personal or familial problems are magnified to behavior-warping and deterministic issues, or where invented problems immediately induce so much pity as to obviate all need for further criticism. These are the human shields put up before conduct so shabby as to instantly degrade humanity. That your daughter has trouble understanding things is no explanation for why you don't understand creative rights.

That your daughter occurs to you as a reasonable response to "you stole things" makes you either a sociopath or a wretched liar. The latter explanation comes through most strongly when you say on your Tumblr that you want to transition from a "fan" base—due to your amazing tweets that others wrote—toward a "friend" base, where people like you for you, for some reason unrelated to the tweets you stole. I guess because you were being a swell poppa bear while committing robbery?

I concede that this fury might sound like "not very much." But, if you'll pardon my solipsism, Prodigalsam stole something real, however ethereal it might seem.

Just a few years ago, I posted blogs into the nothingness, with 15 readers at a time, all of whom could reliably be assumed to be people who knew me in some way. A year later, I spoke to a few thousand, because of Twitter. Two years later, I had a full-time, wonderful job. (I'm now freelancing—hire me.) Twitter helped me get closer to the career I always wanted.

From Twitter, I watched as a clever, foul-mouthed poetess went from a thousand followers to nearly 20,000, appearances in the New Yorker, a lecture at a college and a book. I watched friends of mine send Pitbull to Alaska, while others exposed the nakedly inhuman social-media responses of major corporations. I was lucky to be present at the creation of manipulations of what Twitter can be; I got to see smart people break it and remake it into something funny that nobody expected.

This, if nothing else, speaks to the emptiness of Sammy Rhodes' Prodigalsam account. For at least another year or two, before it's subsumed by profitability and managed accounts, Twitter offers an abundant freedom where a poet can make "SEXT" a hilariously transgressive and hot brand, while a hockey fan can make billion-dollar brands uncomfortable and ridiculous.

That someone would look upon that fecundity and think only of theft and short-cutting to success is pathetic. Prodigalsam says that he has never intentionally stolen a tweet, but in the same breath he admits that he writes homages to his favorite comics and should have asked permission from them. He admits to not wanting to seem like he was stealing, then admits that he should have sought permission for similarity. If you are original, you don't need to ask. If you're stealing, you beg for forgiveness.

All this, too, might be forgivable if Sammy Rhodes (Prodigalsam) were just some armchair comic. But he wants to stand up. And be a stand-up. He sells himself on his website, and tried to profit this way. There's no more dire code in comedy than, "Do not steal." He takes the words out of nameless people to go pro. He steals from people trying to create themselves and their names, and he begs and hopes that you won't notice. Sammy Rhodes, @Prodigalsam, is a scum-sucking piece of shit who should die of a lingering disease.

Last, to play "Sammy Rhodes" and "Prodigalsam" off into the sunset, David Thorpe—another easily stolen-from Twiter genius—and I brainstormed all the tweets that he would have stolen tomorrow:
If they made a burrito you could masturbate with, I'd never leave the house. Except to get the Jerk Off Burrito Deluxe.

Do you ever get a rodney when the barista writes your name on the coffee cup? I just want to be loved.

I own a lot of shares in Taco Bell. Well, I would, but I keep flushing them after they come out.

"hottie said she didn't want to keep meeting over tcp/ip but i was like, i want to see u p, then she stopped sending selfies"

I've heard snapchat is great for sexting, but it's hard to jerk off to a picture of a burger in only 10 seconds. Possible, but hard.

got embarrassed when i was the only one who logged into tinychat with an avatar of my dick

If they don't have Carl's Jr in heaven, I'm not going. Because you KNOW they have Carl's Jr in hell

I'll buy a 3D printer as soon as they can print bacon.

they say hardee's becomes car's jr at the rocky mountains, but lemme tell you, my d doesn't stop being hard anywhere

I love Burger King so much I should be arrested. And by "should be" I mean "have been."

When I'm at Starbucks and they ask me my name on my order, I always say the same thing, "Y'or n-Umber."

When I was a kid, I'd mix all the sodas at the McDonald's fountain to make a suicide. As an adult, my suicide attempts are a lot more sophisticated.

Don't you hate it when your Baconator says "I understand now... why you cry" before you lower it into the pool of stomach acid?

Want to see my Mr. Bean impression? Just be a girl and talk to me.

65 comments:

  1. You are crying about 140 character tweets being stolen from you. Then intern to justify your nerd rage, you attack a man. Realize this....no one gives a rats ass about how many followers or favorites your tweets get, except you. Grow the Fuck up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice try "Anonymous" (prodigalsam)

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    2. Also, he's not an intern. He's unemployed.

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    3. Actually the guy stealing jokes to get as many followers as he can as fast as possible to inflate his ego is the guy who gives a rat's ass about that stuff, but whatever

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    4. And yet you feel someone gives a flying fuck about your anonymous, Internet scolding of a complete stranger. Get over yourself, cockpunch.

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    5. whoa where can I intern to justify my nerd rage? they actually give out jobs for that?

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    6. Is it like "for all intensive purposes"?

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  2. I tweeted at your cohort about this, but what the hell is "(small s) special needs?" Isn't the size of the "s" only in need of clarification when he's talking? It's pretty clear that the "s" he used was a small one. Also, does anyone capitalize the "S"? Is he really attempting to gradate degrees of handicap (and make sure she's pitiable, but not THAT pitiable) as a parry to your thrust of theft? Also, that Huffpo "Literary Twitter" handjob - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/aaron-belz/literary-twitter-prodigal_b_1525050.html - needs to be addressed. This is the first sentence:

    "Add his position as a Christian campus minister at University of South Carolina to his wicked -- some churchgoers might deem overly wicked -- sense of verbal and situational irony, and Sammy Rhodes (@prodigalsam) has both the raw materials and intellectual giftedness to cultivate a Twitter following that has almost doubled in the past six months (closing in on 12k). "

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Small "s" special needs:

      Strong dislike of peanuts, rebranded as allergy

      Autism spectrum: beige

      Lateral lisp that is only cute 40% of the time

      Normal facial expression appears to express inchoate sentiment of loss

      3D blindness

      20th percentile or below in age cohort at Nintendo

      Delete
    2. Small "s" special needs:

      Strong dislike of peanuts, rebranded as allergy

      Autism spectrum: beige

      Lateral lisp that is only cute 40% of the time

      Normal facial expression appears to express inchoate sentiment of loss

      3D blindness

      20th percentile or below in age cohort at Nintendo

      Delete
    3. lol.can't escape his downsy/fetal alcohol syndrome eyes

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    4. I know Sammy, and his referral to a "small s" is not to the word special at all. It is in reference to his daughter whose name begins with an "S". Her disability has left her much smaller physically than other children her age and the family often refers to her as their little one, etc. I'm sure he meant no disrespect or "gradation" to the degrees of handicap. He was just making mention to his daughter to those of us who actually know him. His comment was not to invoke pity, it was a public reminder to himself that at the end of the day all that matters is his family and friends, and to not let the little things get to him.

      Delete
  3. "Then intern to justify your nerd rage"

    Took me three solid blinks to understand what the anonymous dipshit actually meant by this. I'm glad I was here for this.

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    Replies
    1. Not going to lie. I still don't get that line.

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    2. I believe they were shooting for "in turn, to justify your nerd rage"

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    3. Webberly RattenkraftMay 7, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      Pretty sure it's supposed to be "in turn," but you never can tell with anonymous commenters. Sometimes they're alien infiltrators, so you have to make allowances.

      Delete
    4. Read it out loud, yo.

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  4. He also repeats himself a lot. Like, he'll tweet the same thing repeatedly, months apart. Reruns, but without being acknowledged as such.

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  5. If I were to decide one day to plagiarize tweets, I hope I would at least have the dignity to steal something funny.

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  6. The joke's on all y'all, since this "Sammy" fella is quite clearly another of John Hodgman's fake literary characters.

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  7. Shamelessly steals from others, exploits his own child, and his ministry promotes conversion therapy. Remind me what his redeeming qualities are?

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  8. If you're an intern, you've entered into an agreement of your own free will to be unpaid for your efforts. Many interns' bosses are, in fact, abusive of the situation, and that's a pretty major violation of business ethics when they do, but stealing from a third party...
    Oh. Sorry. I thought for a second that was a sincere concern and not a childish attempt to justify bad behavior.
    Man, wouldn't it be awesome if everyone had to be sincere on the internet, for just one day?

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  9. as someone on twitter pointed out yesterday (don't have link but should be searchable), the "twitter is like a crappy narnia" line was also lifted from someone's tweets. this guy is rarefied garbage.

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  10. Relatively new twitter user here but within days of creating an account, I saw who my funniest facebook friends get their material from. I've copied and pasted tweets into fb to share them. When I paste, it automatically includes who tweeted it. That means they are not just "forgetting", but purposely removing the credit.

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  11. @itsRealJonahLehrer

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  12. This article will SEO quite nicely. I'll help too: @Prodigalsam, Sammy Rhodes, Sam Rhodes, plagiary, plagiarism, thief, theft, bad writer, wears a bra, stung by wasps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fresh and original stuff. Thanks!

      Delete
  13. Follow @cakemittens on twitter

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  14. I say it again Im pretty sure that guy is at least partially mentally retarded

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I don't know if he is a jerk or just genuinely and exceptionally low intellect. Perhaps some combination of the two.

      Is it wrong if I follow him to watch the fallout?

      Delete
  15. Please don't cuss.

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    Replies
    1. Shit, sorry. Oh fuck! My bad. GODDAMN! I really apologize. Hell, I've nev—OH MY SMALL "s" SPECIAL NEEDS DAUGHTER IS GOING TO BE SO DISAPPOINTED IN HER CUSSING BITCH OF A FATHER.

      Delete
  16. As someone with an actual special needs child I find guy repulsive. I make my living as a probation officer and I believe people should always be held accountable for their actions. Attempting to hide behind your child or minimize your actions like he has done speaks volumes to his character. He's very manipulative and dishonest, not unlike my clients.

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  17. Good article. As you touch on in the last couple paragraphs, I think the important issue here is less about preservation of intellectual property and more about the culture of self-promotion. This guy sucks, a lot, but his success in slapping his name on mundane, already-successful jokes probably brought him closer to the career he wants. There's a deeper problem here than the banal willingness to steal.

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  18. Obviously there's a big difference between plagiarizing and screengrabbing someone else's work. A website taking a screenshot of tweets is either a sign that (a) they don't know how Twitter works, or (b) they want all the credit for finding something cool. These are minor Internet crimes, if any.

    I'm with you, though: what's the end game? If Joe Tweetstealer builds up a huge following and gets some book deal ... what the heck is he going to write about if he has no original thoughts, other than a book on how to steal other people's ideas for profit? Oh ... MAYBE THAT'S IT.

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  19. This guy is a putz, but people biting material has always been an issue for creators and the Internet just makes it worse. The upside is that this same biter-harboring web provides exposure for those with actual talent.

    Good, bad, facts of life etc.

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  20. This post started as an intelligent, well written criticism. It began to get slightly rude and unnecessarily mean, and finally ended with an absurd "scum-sucking piece of shit who should die of a lingering disease."

    Seriously?

    Let's assume that everything you said is 100% true. So then Sammy Rhodes deserves to die of a lingering disease? If he posted a video of himself dying, taking his last breath as he mutters, "yes I stole some tweets," this is the only way you'd be satisfied? And then and only then Twitter is even with him? Unbelievable.

    I understood your point in the beginning, but as I continued to read, it became increasingly difficult to take you seriously. And some of these comments are awful as well. Maybe it's due to the limitations of the internet. If you were speaking to someone in person, would you say this?

    So because we're not in person, the only way to express your anger and criticism is through taking it to the absolute extreme?

    "Sammy Rhodes, @Prodigalsam, is a scum-sucking piece of shit who should die of a lingering disease."

    Surely, you're a more creative writer than this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take it you've never seen hyperbole applied for comedic effect before.

      Delete
  21. So, did anyone ever actually see this video or picture of his special needs child? Like you said, not that it has anything to do with his plagiarism, but if he seriously fabricated a "small s special needs child" (whatever the fuck that means) out of thin air to garner pity about his IP theft, that would be all the more hilarious and pitiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He stole the idea from Sarah Palin.

      Delete
    2. He posted the video to his facebook page.

      So yes. He does have a special needs child.

      Delete
  22. Jeb. You sound like a psychotic loser. Get help. The professional kind. Best of luck with your future career on the internet in your parent's basement.

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  23. Apparently the common theme uniting commenters named Anonymous is jealousy.

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  24. I actually know Sammy. And this article or blog post or whatever you want to call it is simply misleading.

    Sammy is a pastor. He has no use for fans or stealing tweets. The people he works with love him.

    He's literally one of the most genuine people that I've ever met. You should listen to some of his sermons. They come from a real place and there's no doubt in my mind that he really believes in the Bible and doing the right thing. Even if you are not Christian, you must see that stealing is against the Bible and someone who truly believes the Bible would not ever do it.

    I also just don't know anyone who sits around thinking "Yeah! I can get 100,000+ followers on Twitter by stealing tweets from famous people! It's going to be great!" What would he get out of doing that?

    I just ask that for those who read this, please contact Sammy. Get to know him yourself. He's really a great guy and he's made a huge impact on my life!

    Also "Anonymous" isn't Sammy. He doesn't say things like "Grow the fuck up."

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    Replies
    1. You've really given me some food for thought, since I've never heard of Christians doing bad things.

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    2. Also "Anonymous" isn't Sammy. He doesn't say things like "Grow the fuck up."

      That depends—did Rob Delaney say it somewhere else first?

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    3. Pretty sure stealing is one of the real bad sins, right?

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    4. That's wonderful! I totally believe every word you're saying! I guess ol' Sammy's a terrific guy after all! Jeb must've been imagining all that stuff!

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    5. Ah there you are Sammy nice of you to join us!

      Delete
  25. Read this & found 3 from today alone. This dude is something else

    http://twitter.com/JuliaGaGaGoolia/status/339066579557957633/photo/1
    http://twitter.com/JuliaGaGaGoolia/status/339065444570910720/photo/1
    http://twitter.com/JuliaGaGaGoolia/status/339065303436754944/photo/1

    Also I don't know if I'm pasting the image right, sorry

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  26. what are the chances he's a character though?

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  27. I don't know why this bugs me so bad, cause in context it should just be sad and pathetic, but the whiny diatribe after getting busted, using his daughter, then having people defend him because he's some youth minister...weak. All of it fucking weak.

    Its fine if you wanna annotate or RT your 'twitter heroes;' but to surreptitiously change the words around to 'make it your own'...really fucking weak.

    Good read.

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  28. Is it not possible that he's just a bad writer who doesn't understand that taking a person's trope and rewording it is still theft of their original thought? And doesn't understand it to the point that he argues that it's okay?
    I'm not saying what he is doing is okay. I'm say the venom coming out is a bit much and it ultimately blows this out of proportion. Which in turn doesn't help dealing with the issue in a larger scale because this has become about barbs being thrown back and forth from camp to camp. Not enough of making this a teachable moment.
    I'm not saying what he is doing is right or okay. It isn't. But you're also making some assumptions about his character that aren't necessarily true (and from what I gather they aren't) nor are they really fitting to the situation.
    Stealing tweets shouldn't happen, but addressing this in a better way might actually stop them. Instead it's just hate hate hate. Calm down, people. He's not taking food out of hungry people's mouths. He's not physically assaulting anyone. He's still got less followers than Rob Delaney and he always will because he's just not that good.

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  29. The problem is that a majority of the people on twitter who believe in some form or another that their joke crafting is going to land them good jobs somewhere else, like some comedian is going to land on twitter search and go "hey these guys are pretty funny dial them up." that's absolutely absurd to think about. People getting featured in news articles and in one instance I think Ellen had some "famous twitter" on her show, and now they all think they are cock of the walks. It's a fucking website where people go and write funny shit, and sometimes things get repeated. Do you really think in the universe that we live in things won't go repeated? That past mistakes, jokes, etc aren't going to keep echoing through the ends of time?

    Make no mistake stealing tweets is about as retarded as his special needs kid, but seriously. Twitter used to be a really fun place, me personally I block out all of the sub-cultures and cliques on twitter because all I see out of them is venom and plain hate. The only people I follow are the people I choose to follow because they don't make the internet a bad place to go to when I'm feeling down or just want to laugh. If you are REALLY that upset about someone having more followers because they landed a couple of your tweets with different wording, you REALLY need to come up with a better lifestyle.

    Twitter isn't going to land you a book deal, twitter isn't going to make you a better comedian. I don't know why this is so hard to grasp from the "prodigal sam is a shit stain and should die" group. Pointing out that he's stealing tweets (because yes I've gone through and read comments ON tweets he's made and it's the same small group each time) isn't going to stop him. He honestly believes he hasn't done anything wrong, and if someone is like that it isn't going to matter to him if a bunch of people block him.

    I just don't get it, twitter used to be fun. Twitter used to be, well some place you could go and laugh now it's turning into something that really shouldn't be taken as seriously as it is. I've been around since 2007, I followed the developers of twitter who tweeted about getting lunch in silicone valley, I followed random people who basically tweeted "new to the twitter thing".

    My point is moot, this won't be read I'm sure and the hoards of internet venomous joke crafters will continue to harass him. But let me make one final point again that I don't think it's right at all, but it's really not as serious as you make it out to be. Nobody is going to make a living off tweets. Please calm down and think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. The problem is that a majority of the people on twitter who believe in some form or another that their joke crafting is going to land them good jobs somewhere else... now they all think they are cock of the walks.
    Ah... the majority of people on Twitter, who are behaving like that.... Okay. This comment is basically indistinguishable from a mom who reads an article about girls who wear different bracelets for doing stuff "over the bra" and another article about sexting writing a letter to the editor about how "ALL THE KIDS NOW ARE DOING THE INTERSEXES." Everyone wears skinny jeans now. Fucking hipsters. Millennials!

    There are plenty of people on Twitter who tell jokes with no expectation of profit—only respectful credit or being left alone—and who are there only to have a good time. You seem to have mashed them up with a group of people it's easier to make an argument about or that you just really want to make an argument about. Please calm down and think about it.


    Do you really think in the universe that we live in things won't go repeated? That past mistakes, jokes, etc aren't going to keep echoing through the ends of time?
    Do you think there might be an operative difference between now and the past in that the oral tradition of repetition you're talking about now involves a medium and a specific website—and, further, people's behavior on that specific website—on which things that are said have hyperlinked date and time stamps?


    

Make no mistake stealing tweets is about as retarded as his special needs kid, but seriously. Twitter used to be a really fun place... I just don't get it, twitter used to be fun. Twitter used to be, well some place you could go and laugh now it's turning into something that really shouldn't be taken as seriously as it is. I've been around since 2007
    Oh, good, the back-in-my-day part of the argument. Nothing says accuracy like nostalgia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twitter isn't going to land you a book deal, twitter isn't going to make you a better comedian.
      Apart from the people on Twitter who've gotten book deals, the comedians who've been able to directly engage their audiences and try to distill jokes to their leanest point, the people who contribute to this website alone who've gotten job opportunities through it (three so far), and the successes of some of the people mentioned in the article above, I'd say you have a really good point. As long as reality is kept away from it.


      

Nobody is going to make a living off tweets.
      You're making the assumption that people angry that their creative output has been appropriated by someone else were sitting there doing nothing but tweeting and hoping to start getting checks from it, which is a hilarious image but a facile straw man all the same. Someone's outrage about Twitter theft doesn't mean that they weren't making a greater effort; it just means that theft disgusts them or might materially disadvantage them.

      Also, "You're not gonna make money off Twitter!" is just the laziest dad-sneer response. It's like telling someone in a band, "Nobody ever made money playing free shows in the park or putting up flyers." Apart from some unique exceptions, that's probably literally true, but it misses the point tremendously. If someone hopes to make a living being funny or observant or critical, Twitter can be a really helpful part of that, by making a voice broadly and pithily accessible, while also just being fun.

      Moreover, along with other parts of the article above, you've elided the profit motive of journalistic outlets who daily make money off tweets. They can instantly fill listicle pieces with content from unpaid contributors and harvest pageload and adclick revenue. Tweets make money on a daily basis, and it's not silly for people to try to achieve that for themselves. Just because the current distributive model for compensation and recognition fucks people at the bottom doesn't mean they're idiots for striving for something better.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, see the problem is that stealing isn't generally thought of as an acceptable way to strive for something better.

      Delete
  31. The vast majority of WHAT users?

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  32. Cool possessive R.T.s.

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  33. sometimes my friend says jokes but she has a quiet voice and people miss it, so I will say exactly what she said a little louder and I get all the laughs. then i feel guilty and I think to myself "i hereby vow to never do that again" but I always do. The difference between Sammy and I is that when my friend says "hey what? I just said that" my response isn't that all this talk of joke stealing is meaningless compared to the soulful and tragic plight of my three-legged dog who just learned to fetch 'against the odds'.

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  34. Patton Oswalt has a great blog post today about the whole Prodigal Sam tweet stealing debacle. Without descending into name-calling, he gets into the real issue of comedy stealing.

    http://www.pattonoswalt.com/index.cfm?page=spew&id=167

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  35. can I just point out i saw borrowing sam and i heard those things LONG before some fucking idiot on twitter or wherever has EVER said them. He's no more of a plagarist than the twits who "originally" posted their lame humor.

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  36. Nearly 2 years ago I started noticing that Sammy's tweets were looking sadly "familiar" and quietly DM'd him about it. His response was pretty crappy. He said it was all coincidence. When I tried to apologize just for the sake of peace, he refused to accept it and swiftly unfollowed me.
    I'm probably enjoying this fall from grace a bit more than I should...but this guy honestly deserves it.

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Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a politics, sports and media blog whose purpose is to tell jokes or be really right about things. All of us have real jobs and don't need the hassle that telling jokes here might occasion, which is why some contributors find it more tasteful to pretend to be dead mass murderers.