Honesty and Integrity in an Electronic Age: Source Citing
Honesty and integrity–two things that go hand in hand in almost any industry. From Wikipedia’s analysis of Honesty:
Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating, or theft.
It is no misunderstanding that the WoW Twitter community is a tight knit group of creative energy; the home of bloggers, artists, fanatics, casuals, veterans, and new players. Like any community, they band together in times of crisis, working together to overcome challenges presented to them. They are strong, stubborn, passionate, and driven in their endeavors–they aren’t afraid to stand for what they believe in and make their voices heard.
Recently, one of our own has come under fire–not by her own doing, but by acts perpetrated against her. Liala, the creative force behind Disciplinary Action, has always been a face in the WoW community; her comics and art have been featured across the web and she is known for her humor and passion for the game we all know and love. The discovery that her art was being passed off by someone else, as their own, as they pandered for commissions, was a complete insult to the generosity that Liala has bestowed upon the WoW community. She has created an entire Stained Class art series, in addition to capturing the WoW classes as Twitter icons, only requesting at the bottom of their respective pages to feel free to use these pieces for any non-profit, credited use. A simple request in anyone’s eyes when you consider the time and effort she exerted on their development.
But her simple request could not be abided by. MissPandora (@PandoraTGN) posted several videos on YouTube, each featuring artwork from individuals in the WoW community, and not crediting the creators for their efforts. Instead, she attempts to explain her “vision” from the pieces, in an attempt to pass the artwork off as her own. Five videos were posted and can be found at the following links:
Editor’s Note: As I wrote this, every video was made private in quick succession. The only copy still available was the annotated copy appearing in the header, created by Rades pointing out the fallacies in Pandora’s enterprising adventure.
True to my nature, I jumped in head first to this interesting debacle that was unfolding across the WoW community, getting awareness raised by the WoW Twitter community, and even garnering support from WoW bloggers such as WoW Insider staff. As I watched my feed fly by on Friday (and again heat up today), I wondered if there was an educational avenue that could be pursued as the dust settled.
As a student, source citing was always a fine line that you walked between your own thoughts and creations, and the copying of another’s. There were rules in place and guides to follow (for a period of time I had MLA memorized) should you ever need to address that gray area of source citing.
As a writer, I always was very careful to make sure my ideas were conveyed as my own, and if I was unsure, I was always quick to cite a source to cover my backside.
As an editor, I told my writers they had better have the best source book of quotes on the planet. To protect themselves, the publication they were writing for, and for me. I can protect myself by following the standards of the industry; is was my responsibility as an editor to make sure those rules were followed.
So how do you make sure to not fall into this questionable gray area of source citing? Let’s take a moment and address the common blog!
- Do you have art sprinkled through your posts? Is it your own? If it’s not, have you checked with the artist for permission to use their work? This can be addressed on a Deviant Art page (artists are known to explain their stance on the use of their artwork on their landing page or on specific pieces), a DM to the artist on Twitter (if you are mutual follower), or even an IM or email if you have that communication ability. Have you identified the artist in the caption or in the text of your post?
Much of the art used in my posts has been generated by me, or by friends. Before I share anything on Twitter, or even use it in a blog post, I explicitly ask the creator for their approval for me to share their art. Much of the art that I have used were gifts to me–some of the art may be featured by the artist on their own personal blogs, and in some cases, they will never share it beyond gifting it to me. Asking for permission is a sign of respect to the creator, and it’s just the polite thing to do!
- Have you perpetuated an idea that was developed by another blogger?
To me this is just my standard writing style–if I was to begin writing letters in the mindset of an NPC, I would credit Rades with this creative endeavor, as he is the well-known creator of Letters of a Shattered World. Are you participating in a “____ Circle” answering questions about your playstyle? Are you participating in a blogging challenge such as Spellbound’s 20 Days of WoW Blogging? All of these were created by someone who wasn’t yourself. Take a moment to link back to their blog and highlight their efforts for driving engagement within the community.
Understand that it’s better to over-cite than under-cite your sources in the current age. While I was composing this post, I discovered this little post from Daily Blog Tips called Put Honesty and Integrity Above Everything Else. Don’t sell your reputation short. As Pandora has learned, the community is quick to question one’s reputation who are passing others work off as their own.
Don’t make the same mistake Pandora has. This is an opportunity for the community to check themselves and educate others so the same mistake (or gross negligence) doesn’t occur again.
Editor’s Note: Since Pandora has remained silent on the matter, I offer up this blog as a chance to let her speak her piece and to give herself a voice to the criticism that has been laid in front of her. I moderate my comments, but if you would like to defend yourself on a public platform, I will provide the vehicle. As an editor and a professional, it is always fair to hear both sides of the story. –Miri