On average it takes 1,500 hours to write a book. This is coincidentally the same amount of time that Madonna spends doing bicep curls every month, or indeed the average age of a Justin Bieber fan. But spent alone at a computer, typing sentence after sentence, it’s is an offputtingly long amount of time, and for most of us, it’s much better spent wandering aimlessly through YouTube, pottering around the house, or catching up on all those iTunes Ts and Cs you were meant to read.
But what if you summoned the huge effort to write a book, put it out there, got a bit of good feedback, and then someone copies it word for word, and publishes it in their own name?
This very experience, if we switch back to the world of Twitter, is exactly what has started to happen to us over the last few weeks. With a follower count the size of a small, unremarkable market town in England, @madeupstats has grown much larger than we ever thought it would. And among the thousands of retweets, occasionally the odd person copies a tweet and claims it as their own. They’re normally a Twitter newcomer, and it’s to be expected.
But when @whattheffacts; a colossal 2 million-follower outfit, began to repeatedly copy and paste our stuff, things changed. To kick things off, they copied one of our stats, then hastily deleted it when we spoke up. Then a couple of days ago, they copied another (this time ignoring any protest), and then today, they’ve copied another. Clearly, in one of their editorial meetings, they took the bold, innovative decision that Twitter is much easier when they use other people as unpaid editorial interns. For some reason, they have decided that the retweet, a Twitter feature that is good enough for the rest of us, isn’t worth the hassle.
The real point is, there are a lot of people out there who have decided to have a real go at writing on the internet; Twitter or wherever else they put it. We’ve seen the effort go into developing a good idea for an account, grafted away at it, and follower after follower, they have built up a crowd, all based on their own words, pictures or whatever. It’s hard work, but many do it because they want to see if it can evolve into something bigger, such as a book, column, film or novelty loo roll. For some, such as @dianainheaven, or @shitmydadsays, it works out, and we won’t hide the fact that we’d love to do the same.
So – if you’re still with us, we’d love your support to spread the word about this. We’d like @whattheffacts to simply tweet out an acknowledgement – they could even do a proper RT. On our own, we’re clearly too small for them to worry about, but if you can share this story, maybe they will take notice and play nice. And who knows, they may even follow us…
(Big thanks to @brandondecae, @fleq and @russeldbrown for letting us know about the thing in the first place.)
***Update: Thanks to an overwhelming response to this blog post (special thanks to @thenextweb), @whattheffacts have sent a tweet saying sorry, and reposted the tweets with a credit. Thanks to everyone who weighed in and helped.***