A Meerkat Rants: It’s About the Ethics

So I’m sitting at my desk, eating leftovers, wondering what I was going to rant about this week.  And then a topic quite literally dropped into my lap.  Because a post I’d made on Facebook, with my usual-for-political-stuff friends-locking, was lifted word for word, down to the punctuation, and pasted in someone else’s post.

No credit.  No “as Laura Anne Gilman so pithily said.”  No “lifted with permission from Laura Anne Gilman (especially since they didn’t have permission, although I would have given it, had they asked).  No “swiped from LAG’s f-locked post.”  (All things people have used previously, and fair enough).  Just the words, as though that person had written them all by their lonesome.

I may have rolled my eyes so hard they bowled a spare.

This is not the first time something like that has happened, with a f-locked post.  And each time, when I see it (because Facebook tells me my post’s been shared), I ask the poster to either credit me for the text, or to find their own words to express their mood.

Because yeah, I’m pleased that they thought I said it so well that they couldn’t do better, but on the other hand, those are my words.  I crafted them, with care and considerable thought as to what I was saying and how I was saying it.  They’re mine.  And you’re damn right I take it seriously when people claim them as their own, even in a passive-egressive non-attribution way.

I don’t think I’m alone in this: writer or non-professional-writer, when we do the work on something we care about, we want to be acknowledged for it, ne?

So last night I called that person on it, and they were “oh, sorry,” in the comments.  And then did nothing to change it.  Twelve hours later, the quote is still there, still unattributed.  Honey, that pretty much shits on your apology.

Look, it’s simple.  If you like the way someone says something in a non-public post, you say, “may I use that?”  And then you wait for a response.  If it’s public, you can consider it free to use, but you ATTRIBUTE THE QUOTE.  This isn’t rocket science.  It’s about on the same level as looking both ways before you cross the street.

And if you don’t get permission, or don’t want to give credit because you’re that kind of person, then find your own damn words to express what you’re thinking.

And if you’re too lazy to do that, then fucking pay me my copy-writing fee.  That’s $125, please.


Entertained/amused/made thoughtful by these Rants?  Get ’em while they’re hot (and original fiction!) via my Patreon!


About Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne is a recovering editor-turned-novelist, with an Endeavor Award, a Nebula nomination, another Endeavor award nomination and a Washington State Book Award nomination under her belt. Her most recent series is the award-winning "Devil's West" trilogy, starting with SILVER ON THE ROAD, and her same-universe story collection, WEST WINDS' FOOL, AND OTHER STORIES OF THE DEVIL'S WEST. The novella GABRIEL'S ROAD was published by Book View Cafe on April 30th, 2019. Her Patreon, featuring original fiction, writing advice, and original Rants, is at https://www.patreon.com/LAGilman Learn more at www.lauraannegilman.net, where you can sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


A Meerkat Rants: It’s About the Ethics — 1 Comment

  1. “I may have rolled my eyes so hard they bowled a spare.”

    That sentence was worth the price of admission right there.

    You describe another reason why I detest Facebook. I can’t count the number of times I have begun to read a “heartfelt” post about some issue or another, only to realise that it wasn’t actually written by the poster, but cut-and-pasted from somewhere else. Like, dude, the facts you’re spouting don’t match the ones I know about you, and, really, if you care about this issue so much, can’t you take the time to write your own stuff? I’m not going to be swayed by someone’s argument, or emotionally moved by someone’s sob story when it isn’t even their own. Yeah, that, and the fact that they don’t even bother to tell you it’s been recycled (probably fifteen million times…).

    I actually had someone do this with an online bio I wrote many years ago (in the early days of online bulletin board systems, and way before Facebook reared its ugly head on the scene). It was someone I liked and respected, and I thought, jeez, you at least could have quoted me; I mean, it was a personal bio, and if you liked it enough to repost it, you should have included an attribution. It still rankles.

    Thank you for this—I’m glad I’m not alone in my frustrations!

    (Now I’m just going to go and revel in the delicious image about bowling eyes you’ve provided (somehow apropos, given that it’s Hallowe’en season). I promise I won’t cut-and-paste it anywhere, though…)