Editorial Exploits Erupt, Envelop Engadget

    March 21, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The popular Engadget blog, considered the focal point of AOL’s $25 million purchase of Weblogs Inc in 2005, has been caught doctoring another site’s images and failing to properly attribute them to their source.

One of the more blatant examples of grabbing content without attributing the source took place recently at Engadget. The website DAPreview discovered that Engadget had first run a story with a photo containing the DAPreview.com watermark and linked the image back to DAPreview. No problem.

Then Engadget managing editor Ryan Block altered the image to mostly remove DAPreview’s watermark, and deleted the link back to DAPreview. Big problem (links added for emphasis):

As you can see, the original post on Engadget (as it appeared briefly on the front page) included a link to DAPreview and the picture from DAPreview, including a blue version of our logo. We had no problem with this. In fact, we appreciate the support, since it sends traffic our way and brings new people to DAPreview.

However, on the revised version of the same story, the link to DAPreview was removed and it has a chopped version of our picture with the DAPreview logo cut out. We do have a problem with this. They have deliberately circumvented a credit to DAPreview. Instead, the story now links to another blog (mobilemag) that covered our story. This is equivalent to ripping us off.

Weblogs Inc exec Jason Calacanis, Engadget founder Peter Rojas, and Block all offered apologies on DAPreview’s site. Calacanis called it an “innocent mistake” while Block took the blame for what happened:

Note from Ryan Block, Managing Editor: due to my own misunderstanding I mistakenly changed the source attribution and image on this post, but it has since been restored to its original form. I apologize for any harm or wrongdoing from this error, and respect DAPreview’s rights, content, and understanding.

DAPreview is not at all satisfied with Block’s explanation or apology:

Ryan took the time to edit an (existing) news item because it linked to DAPreview. Ryan took the time to crop our logo from the picture. Ryan took the time to re-link the item to MobileMag, where the story is clearly credited to DAPreview. These things don’t happen by accident. It’s is not plausible to call this a simple error.

It was deliberate choice and they got caught.

DAPreview makes a valid point. One doesn’t unknowingly crop an image and change a story’s attribution. DAPreview blames the whole episode on a “blacklist” it claims Engadget maintains, and noted a long-running history with Rojas may play a part in it.

The blacklist claim may be the type one would probably dismiss out of hand, and call it paranoia. But a few other sites have made similar claims of an Engadget blacklist. Gear Live E-I-C and blogger Andru Edwards posted his belief in the Engadget blacklist:

Very interesting – I had always heard there was a “blacklist” at Engadget, and figured Gear Live was on it when they stopped linking to us. Check this out:


That link was live after we broke the KidZone story, citing our internal source at TiVo. Now, you can’t find it at Engadget, unless you go straight to that URL. You will not find it by searching for it. You will NOT find it by browsing their Home Entertainment category. Go ahead – it isn’t there. It’s as if it doesn’t exist. Why, though?

Edwards also noted another example of this in his comment at the OhGizmo! Blog. And, OhGizmo has its issues with Engadget’s blacklist denials too:

…what bothers me is the persistent denial that they have any sort of “blacklist”. Hell guys, you’re not fooling anyone. It’s ok to have a blacklist you’re allowed. It sucks for us small guys if you do, but well, there’s nothing technically wrong with it. But if you choose to exclude a portion of the blogosphere, for whatever arbitrary reason, then at least be open about it.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.