#ItIsKnown: geek bloggers are some of the saltiest people on this good Earth.
Hell hath no fury like a fan who feels scorned, amirite?
There are serious issues with this attitude, though. I’ve also talked quite a bit about geek accountability, especially if we’re community curators or bloggers.
As such, before we get another “You’re not a real fan if…” clickbaitey-AF hot take, consider this list of the very things you should NOT be doing.
Please note: as it should be obvious from the image above, this list has been vetted.
I did the rounds on my feed, and asked for the opinions of other geek bloggers on the things they despise when it comes to our practice. These are the items that were repeated the most, in some form or fashion.
7: Plagiarism, Freebooting & Rehashing Content.
It’s the irony of all ironies that we’re rabidly insistent on getting our names out there. And yet many of us are the first to rip content off from everywhere and upload it as though we thought of it first. From abusing the copypasta functions of our browsers, to stealing videos; to failing cite the original creators of memes that we find online. Geek bloggers have done the A to Z of stealing credit.
I included rehashing content here because the root cause of these issues is the same: doing any of these activities shows a basic disrespect for intellectual property.
Now while plagiarism is considered intellectual dishonesty and is not always illegal per se, that doesn’t change how you just shouldn’t do it. At the very least, we should be mindful of attributing credit where it is due.
Infringement of intellectual property however, is illegal, whether or not it’s on the internet. If you want to read more about Intellectual Property Law in the Philippines, here’s a virtual library to get you started.
Realistically, legal procedures and representation are expensive endeavors; and the average geek blogger doesn’t have a lot of money to go around. Might not be worth taking the chance, though, given that personal networks and barkada powers are a thing. Besides, in some ways? Being put on trial in the often unfair, 250% insane Court of Social Media Call Outs could be far, far worse.
Dishonesty at this level still makes waves, guys. Your sponsors might take a bit to figure out that you didn’t actually produce that article/that video/that art, but when they do, you’ll lose out in more ways than one.
Word gets out. At its best, you’ll be seen as an asshole. At worst, you might just wake up one day with a lawsuit on your hands.
6: Fact Check.
Gone are the days when we had to hike to libraries or buy books and whatever in order to look something up. Wikipedia has been changing our lives since 2001. Google has been around for even longer. Both of them – especially Google – is reaching Skynet levels of frightening accuracy on pretty much any topic under the sun.
Making sure you’ve spelled the name of a celebrity isn’t rocket science. Neither is confirming the release date of a video game. Putting the same amount of effort that we put towards unlocking achievements for our favorite titles into researching for our articles will go a long way. The least one could do is look into the subject with due diligence.
And mistakes happen, especially with blogs that are under pressure to deliver new content on an hourly basis. But at least have the humility to own up to and correct the oversight.
5: Milking “Controversial” Content For Clicks.
Quotations necessary, because things more than a few geek bloggers insist are controversial aren’t controversial at all.
For example: Vice Magazine’s article on why Barb from Stranger Things sucks as a character. It’s not even worth a link − go google it if you must. The writer just spewed on and on about her being crappy because she doesn’t drink well, is cautious, and simply isn’t ready to party. It’s like all teenagers hit a certain party-ability once they enter junior year. Seriously?
I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve seen that deliberately frame something in a sensationalist fashion; and take advantage of the droves of netizens who swoop down on the post.
This practice gave us things like #GamerGate, guys. It paraded itself as a movement for ethics in journalism. We all know what it was REALLY about.
“Controversial” is a matter of perspective more often than you would think.
And on that note:
4: Unwillingness to Accept Criticism.
Don’t flip out like an overgrown baby when someone corrects information on your work−
−wait. Let me rephrase: Don’t flip out period.
To compare people who do this to babies does a disservice to every well-behaved child in existence.
Criticism =/= personal attack. A reader challenging your position on an issue in geekdom; or letting you know that you got a detail wrong or missed something important is NOT going to kill you. In some cases, we should even be grateful that someone’s taking the time out to help us by spotting things that we as writers or editors of our writers missed out on.
Yes, netizens can be rude. Yes, it’s perfectly okay to get upset about it. If a reader is, in essence, saying “yo momma was−” without displaying any evidence whatsoever that they read your piece, by all means, bodyslam them. If the reader’s attacking your ideas or content, though, or bringing a correction to your attention, dial back a bit, son.
3: Bringing your personal drama into your writing and your website.
Most people are going to read your blog, follow your Page, or subscribe to your channel for the good stuff. We’re not going to be interested in your content if it’s tired rehashes of the same damned thing, or unoriginal insights. We’re DEFINITELY not going to come around to see you pick fights with whoever offended you last week.
On a more practical level, using your platform to throw other people – especially other geek bloggers – under the bus is a bit like biting the hand that feeds you. We’re a community, and we’re all in this together whether we like this or not.
The uncomfortable reality is, we’re all going to end up going to the same press releases and working in the same media rooms during events.
Sponsors and companies also won’t be able to keep themselves from assessing how we as a group are, given that they’re after what gets their products and stories out there. If they see more than a few of us being unprofessional, this might scare them away from approaching ALL of us in the long run.
Don’t make life hard for the rest of us just because you enjoy your high school level drama.
2: Assuming Your Opinions Are Gospel Truth.
Maybe THIS is why some of our peers go postal when they feel someone’s challenging them. Or why they feel it’s perfectly acceptable to send internet mobs at their “detractors”: they honestly believe they’re the chosen ones of geekdom.
Please. Get over yourselves. Let me help you with some basic definitions that we’d all do well to remember.
a thing that is indisputably the case.
“the most commonly known fact about hedgehogs is that they have fleas”
synonyms: reality, actuality, certainty;
- used in discussing the significance of something that is the case.
“the real problem facing them is the fact that their funds are being cut”
- a piece of information used as evidence or as part of a report or news article.
“every fact was double-checked”
a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
“I’m writing to voice my opinion on an issue of great importance”
synonyms: belief, judgment, viewpoint, outlook, attitude, stance, position, perspective, persuasion, standpoint;
“she did not share her husband’s opinion”
- the beliefs or views of a large number or majority of people about a particular thing.
“the changing climate of opinion”
- an estimation of the quality or worth of someone or something.
“I had a higher opinion of myself than I deserved”
It is indisputably the case that the world is round. (Yes, yes it is.) Is it indisputably the case that a series ruined your childhood? Nope. You’re welcome to your OPINION that it did, but don’t write on it like it’s the end of the world.
Your word is NOT law; your hot take on something is NOT a fact.
No one is an absolute authority about anything when it comes to geekdom, geekiness, fannishness, and nerding out. The most any of us can do is write as well as we can on something that matters to us, present nuanced points, and hope that someone out there sees things our way.
Since we’re on the topic of how unbecoming it is for geek bloggers to believe they’re Messiahs of their respective areas of “expertise”, can we all agree that gatekeeping has got to stop? Geeking out and finding fellow fans to geek out with is supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be Hunger Games.
The label “geek” has a complicated history that’s grounded in many of us being punished for what we love. Fandom – the communities us geeks form, online and offline – is similarly misunderstood. However, nerdy things are becoming increasingly “mainstream” – and REALLY, guys, that’s okay. It means MORE merchandise, MORE sources for our addictions, and MORE people who understand what we’re all so passionate about.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing that you’re somehow more invested in a fandom than other people are.
Weirdly, because there are no real metrics to measure how deep one fan’s love and investment go compared to another, the community as a whole is more inclined to turn things into a pissing contest.
Bloggers, I would say, are a cut above everyone else in this direction. Because we spent concrete time and effort trying to show everybody that we somehow have more authority on the things we love by writing.
If you’re a straight, male fan, consider not weighing in on a fandom issue that’s relevant to the female fans in the crowd. Conversely, if you’re a girl blogger, maybe think twice before making sweeping generalizations about how guy geeks are.
If you’ve never played a fighting game in your life, don’t go around insisting that fighting games are crappy. If you don’t know the definition of feminism, don’t try writing articles using a “feminist perspective”. And don’t even try to weigh in on geeky issues that have to do with that movement.
All of that, however, is just framing our articles properly.
It isn’t outright deciding that someone isn’t enough of a fan – or doesn’t deserve to be a fan – due to some imagined flaw. Nobody gave you the right to do that.
At the end of it all, there is enough crap on the Internet.
Let’s consider things at face value first. There’s just so much out there. We’re bombarded with content on a regular basis; from our Google searches to our respective social media feeds. If we really want to produce something of value, we should at least ascribe to some level of quality.
There are two practical reasons for this.
First: Real life is difficult as it is.
Don’t make it harder for everyone else to get through their own days/weeks/months. Jury’s still out on whether it is easy to avoid being an asshole. Believe me, when you’re a female and queer geek that’s visible in the usual circles, you will find yourself tested on an almost daily basis because of your peers and their shenanigans.
What is easy, especially if you practice, is stepping away and considering your thoughts a moment before you air them. If our pets can be trained to do tricks, we can certainly train ourselves not to vomit out our hot takes on everything that doesn’t align with our worldviews.
Second: You’ll end up shooting yourself in the foot if you keep this up.
Unless you want to market yourself as a craptastic, immature piece of sh*t; you may want to step back a spell and assess where you’re going with your branding. Even THAT has its limits in a world that’s slowly becoming more comfortable with intersectionality, if Logan Paul and his shenanigans are any proof of that.
Make yourself out to be a creature, and expect your network to shrink accordingly. With a small network means reduced opportunities, less freebies, less chances at getting paid for doing what you love.
Check yourselves before you wreck yourselves, friends. It might not be too late.
Got a practice that gets your goat, and wasn’t mentioned here? Drop us a line!
Real Talk Tuesdays is where we encourage contributors to share their feelings on issues in “the real world”. They may or may not have to do with geeky things.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article cited that plagiarizing intellectual property is illegal. A member of the community involved in IP rights advised us that this wording could be misleading. We have since corrected this.