It’s hard to wax nostalgic about the early days of the sports blogosphere without sounding like a jackass, because it was inevitably going to change and mostly for the better. Also, it’s blogs and no one wants to hear them discussed like they’re SERIOUS BUSINESS. One thing, however, that has been lost since those heady days of, oh, a decade ago is some of the camaraderie that existed in the community has been lost. Sure, writers will still compliment one another and swap jokes on Twitter but in a lot of ways it’s also become a lot more cutthroat and cynical. Money – and we’re not even talking about a lot of it – will do that.
Take crediting, for example. There used to be a tacit rule that blogs would credit other blogs for unearthing a useable story/video/quote/whatever. That still happens, but to a significantly lesser degree than it used to. More often nowadays, a blog will link directly to the media in question with no reference to who found it or had it first. Readers largely don’t care about these sort of inside-blogball things, but it can be infuriating to see a site with a massive audience get beat on a story by a smaller site only for that more popular site to write its version of the post pretending that the author found the content on their own, when it’s easy to see, if you pay attention, who had what first.
Some sites don’t even do that much in the way of crediting. Of course, there were hacky, lazy sites a decade ago just as there are now and always will be. Because being hacky and self-serving is easier and usually more profitable than being good and considerate.
This is all a roundabout way of saying NFL Memes is an unscrupulous, plagiarizing pile of shit. I stumbled on its Twitter feed during this past NFL season and continued to follow it even though its feed is mostly filled with dumb image macros with jokes that rarely achieve more sophistication or cleverness than DURR HURR TONY ROMO EQUALS SCREENSHOT OF MAN CHOKING because every once in a while they have something funny. However, the more I paid attention to them, the more I noticed their images – which usually come slapped with their watermark – would appear elsewhere first.
NFL Memes usually links to posts on a site called Daily Snark. Its Twitter feed has 223,000+ followers and its Facebook page has more than 850,000 likes. It’s insanely popular for something that’s more or less a storehouse for the work of others.
The Daily Snark (itself an incredibly lazy and generic name for a site) is where the viral and slideshow-friendly content they find goes. Like KSK, they’ve posted quite a few “NFL logos as _____” style posts. It should be said, though, that KSK is at least responsible for creating some of those ideas instead of just reblogging them and vulturing traffic. In the cases when KSK has posted the work of others, as with the Pixar animator’s NFL sketches, we’ve made it very clear that we’ve done so and linked to the source.
The Daily Snark, though? Well, take a look:
Hey, they at least mentioned the creator’s name! Is there a link to the source? Sure isn’t. So the Daily Snark ended up with a post that got more than 12,000 shares and probably a shit ton of clicks. Meanwhile, the person who actually created the content got jack shit. Yes, they mentioned his name, but how likely is the average reader to actually search him out when you have all 32 of his creations on that page and no direct link? Not too likely.
Here’s another one:
Don’t be fooled by the hyperlinks in that paragraph. They go to other Daily Snark posts. Once again, they give a brief mention of the creator of the content, but no actual link. Whereas Daily Snark once again tossed all 32 logos on their site and included no link, KSK posted 10 of the logos and included a link to the source, but an encouragement to visit.
It’s awful enough to post artwork made by someone and include as little attribution as possible. It’s another thing to outright steal someone else’s idea, alter it slightly and try to pass it off as your own, but that’s exactly what NFL Memes did last weekend.
About a week ago, I retweeted this picture from a parody account called @PissedCoughlin. As far as topical jokes about Flappy Bird and the Eagles go, it was pretty good!
The new version of Flappy Bird is brutal. pic.twitter.com/mO3WSjI4rv
— Pissed Coughlin (@PissedCoughlin) February 14, 2014
Flash forward to this past Sunday. I’m scrolling through Twitter and what should pop into my feed:
Flappy Bird: Eagles Edition pic.twitter.com/S2WFfNgeFa
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) February 17, 2014
What. The. Fuck. I called them out, as did others. About a half hour later, NFL Memes tweeted a link to PissedCoughlin’s original with a sheepish message of thanks for “inspiration”. By then, their version already had more retweets than the original.
I just checked back today and NFL Memes actually DELETED their admission that they stole the idea from another account. Their Facebook page also has a link to their image with no attribution. So NFL Memes’ fucking rip-off got nearly seven times as many shares as the original and, as far as they’re concerned, it’s theirs.
I know most readers don’t care about these sort of things. People want entertainment and distraction and they don’t care where it comes from or who thought it up. And perhaps the person who runs @PissedCoughlin and all the people who made those logos are just doing it for fun or a hobby and it’s not their livelihood. Still, it sucks that these lazy, deceitful assholes are making money off their work, however silly that work may be. So fuck NFL Memes and all the terrible sites that are like them. The Internet is just the fucking worst sometimes.