The Critics Respond (sorta): A Saga of Stolen Content


Last week, I wrote my first TTAC editorial since…well, you know, that one. By all measures, it was well-received—good user engagement, significant readership, and over 2,000 Facebook shares. But there was another article about the Focus RS and dealership issues that ran three hours later which did even better.

Over on OppositeLock, which is the user-content driven Kinja automotive site, user LJ909 wrote a post entitled “The Focus RS has been sitting on dealer lots and dealers can only blame themselves.” Hmm. I mean, it wasn’t exactly the same as my title, “The Focus RS is Dead, and Dealers Are to Blame,” but it was pretty close.

Regardless, LJ’s post blew up, with over 4,000 Facebook shares and nearly 70,000 views—a far cry better than the couple of hundred views his previous posts had gotten. Like this one. And this one.

Hey, wait a sec…didn’t TTAC do posts on those stories too? Why, yes. Yes, they did. And on the same days, too.

Hmmm. Something’s rotten in the state of Kinja.

Of course, I wouldn’t have noticed any of this without the always eagle-eyed Bozi Tatarevic’s assistance. After he pointed out these “coincidences” to me, I went and read the Focus RS story. It’s no longer available online (more on that in a moment) but trust me when I tell you that it was a blow-by-blow ripoff of my story—certain lines were nearly direct quotes.

But, if 600 people had read it, I probably wouldn’t have cared. No, it was the giant traffic number that bothered me. 70,000+ people who should have been reading my take from, well, me. I hate to admit how petty that makes me sound, but if the shoe fits, I suppose.

So what did I do? Well, I did what anybody would do in the year 2017…TO THE TWITTERS!

To the credit of the folks at Opposite Lock (which no longer has a thing to do with Jalopnik—mostly because of things like this), they took immediate action and removed the post once they realized the similarity, and one of the administrators posted this message in the comments of LJ909’s Traverse, um, article:

In the words of the dearly departed Phife Dawg from the track “Show Business,” please (idiomatic word for a person of African-American descent), I work too hard for this. I don’t understand what joy somebody would take in completely ripping off another person’s work and attempting to pass it off as his own, but Mr, LJ909, I kinda feel bad for you.

It’s reminiscent of the time a guy showed up to an audition for my ska band in college carrying a tape recorder instead of an instrument, swearing up and down that the trombonist on the recording was him. Unfortunately, since I happened to be the saxophonist on the recording (it was a tape of a friend’s Junior Jazz Performance recital), I had to call bullshit. LJ, whoever you are, go make your own stories. For all I know, you’re fourteen years old and sitting in your mom’s basement, jerking off to pics of Stef Schrader (a description that applies to roughly 99.9 percent of Oppo writers). If so, I ain’t mad at ya. I just want you to take your passion and put it toward something original.

If you’re a grown man, well, I invite you to fuck off. Biting ain’t cool, bro.




34 Replies to “The Critics Respond (sorta): A Saga of Stolen Content”

    • Echo

      Party-vi is not a known mod on Kinja/Gawker/whatever. All he’s trying to do is point out to another Oppo-person that someone in charge might notice that he’s basically ripping off TTAC. You can’t even infer from the context of the comment posted that he’s anything close to being in charge. You don’t even quote the line accurately. You’re off point here.

  1. Tom Klockau

    Ugh. At least it got removed. Though the scolding of the plagiarist to the tune of “Never do this again OR ELSE” seems a little hollow. Should have banned the thief right then and there. Oh well.

  2. Duong Nguyen

    I’ve noticed this with some other Kinja bros as well…

    • jz78817

      Oppo started as kind of the “off-topic’ arm of Jalopnik, and authors (myself included) are just randos with Kinja accounts. Oppo authors don’t get paid anything. The only $$ I can see would be ad revenue for Gizmodo Media since they own the Kinja platform.

      • Disinterested-Observer

        “The only $$ I can see would be ad revenue for Gizmodo Media since they own the Kinja platform.”

        So tell me why would whoever is behind Kinja allow random shitheels to plagiarize content without paying them? I can’t think of a single reason why a platform that gets paid ad dollars for clicks and doesn’t have to pay it’s contributors/plagiarizers would allow its plagiarizers to to plagiarize original content. Maybe Ariana Huffington knows.

        • Will

          Because Gizmodo Media (Formerly Gawker) still has no morals. Check out their other sites, they are the top notch trolls.

        • Brawnychicken

          I think the first sentence you posted answered the question in your second sentence. Ad $$.

          This is great for the artists formerly known as Gawker. They didn’t have to give back the ad $. And they don’t have to apologize for their writers ripping off content. They just give a sternly worded lecture to some rando anonymous account. What a brilliant scheme they have with Kinja in general and oppo in particular.

          Kinja allows anyone to post content. The staff decide whether to give it front page placement. Kinja writers don’t get paid. Makes you wonder a few things: 1. How much kinja content is thinly veiled rip offs? 2. Are some Kinja accounts their own paid writers working a secret account generate clicks on the cheap?

  3. DrZombie

    Saw this earlier but figured you had already been alerted to it. I guess it is not always the case that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  4. jz78817

    IIRC the big thing which got Opposite Lock detached from Jalopnik was one or more Oppo posters got press credentials on false pretenses, claiming they were actually from Jalopnik.

    and I hate to say it, but I must have I read LJ909’s version on autopilot, because I both read and commented in it and my “hey, wait a minute…” sense never kicked in.

  5. jz78817

    (I wish you guys would enable at least a short window for editing)

    And AFAIK what caused the Oppo piece to get so many page views was one of the comment threads led to someone posting a link to the post on forums like VWVortex or bimmerforums because of something someone said in the comments, and the forum trolls converged on it. that’s what led to it getting so many page views that it showed up on the “You may also like” section on Jalopnik. So it’s not because the Oppo piece was inherently more visible or well-regarded, it just got noticed by the wrong people.

    it’s really an anomaly; ever since Jalopnik quit sharing Oppo posts in their feed, nobody even notices it’s there anymore.

  6. Kvndoom

    Isn’t plagiarism the sincerest form of flattery? :0

    Joking aside, anyone caught doing that crap should be blacklisted industry-wide. I remember we had a zero tolerance policy for that in high school.. I guess nowadays the offender would just be labeled a ‘victim.’

  7. Deadweight

    Not one to mince words, total fucking bullshit –

    I hate Gawker, Kinja, and the other millennial -catering, listicle websites like them, which rarely have original thoughts to offer, instead recycling the same lame-ass material over and over, and now, apparently outright stealing (by “authors” or the commenters on those sites) other peoples’ work product.

    • Bark M Post author

      You and me both, brother. I found this today when I was reminiscing. The skinny kid with the sunglasses at the “bar” on the album cover? Yeah, that’s 21-year-old Bark.

      • ComfortablyNumb

        I like the funk angle. I imagine it was a little tricky, rhythmically-speaking, but I really dig the end result.

  8. Crancast

    Outrage, eh. I can understand the frustrating part of being content ‘hacked’, but this is nothing. However, there is great lesson. If you work-live in a whole-in-the-wall, someone is going to steal any good idea and do what you should have done and get that good idea out to the masses to make something of it. Impossible to miss how Bark’s work transfers to a site with traffic. You ain’t sling’n, someone gonna.

    As a highly related side note, TTAC is so bad now there is nothing else worthy of being ripped off. Jack’s work is too hard to rewrite and everything else is mostly crapola in the form of rewritten press releases – how ironic.

    Thank you for the FoRS piece Bark, enjoyed it.

    • Ken

      Could be worse – you could be the inventor of the fidget spinner.

      “As a highly related side note, TTAC is so bad now there is nothing else worthy of being ripped off. Jack’s work is too hard to rewrite and everything else is mostly crapola in the form of rewritten press releases – how ironic.”

      Exactly why I only go to:

  9. jz78817

    “TTAC is so bad”

    apparently while we weren’t looking, “snark” and dismissiveness became the hallmarks of good journalism.

    • John C.

      Been around for ever. Read a 70s C/D or R/T review of a Cadillac. Snark and dismissiveness is all they got when it isn’t something that they are into. At least the headline back then wasn’t. “You will be shocked when you see the Talisman interior, robe included!”

  10. Paul

    I think one of unfortunate side effects of internet era, is it makes copy/paste function (plagiarism) easier. Now to publish something, sites like opposite lock make it as easy as possible to put something up, without any editorial oversight. At least in the old days there may have been editorial oversight for magazines and newspapers, nowadays, that’s all considered overhead.

  11. jjj

    “Biting ain’t cool, bro.”

    Says the person who loves to appropriate black culture. Everybody wanna be a nigga but don’t nobody wanna be a nigga.

  12. Jim

    I haven’t been this upset since Rod Stewart ripped off Jorge Ben!

    Oh wait, it’s just online auto journalism.

    • Bark M Post author

      I kinda think that IS a coincidence. I don’t think he could go and take that many photos that quickly.

    • Jack Baruth

      Yup, that’s the fellow who relentlessly plagiarized TTAC back in the day.

      It’s Max Jalopnik to hire someone based on their race/identity while conveniently forgetting that person’s tendency to outright steal articles from other publications. Of course, the current editor is such a n00b in the position he doesn’t realize any of this has happened.


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