The folks over at the Yo! Venice! community news site have grown wary of seeing competitor Patch, an AOL-funded start-up, continually post the same local news only minutes after, it claims, its own version of the news items go live.
But what happened this week seemed like a last straw for Yo! Venice! Patch posted what would seem to be an innocuous item about what was to be an upcoming Venice Surf and Skateboard Association meeting Wednesday at the Hotel Irwin.
Patch's Venice editor, no stranger to content-packaging controversy, responded to Yo! Venice! by saying Patch had actually seen the content at another site, Venice Racket, and properly attributed the quote ("The meeting will be held in a orderly fashion, everyone attending is expected to practice outstanding character and public spirit") to the VSA.
Problem is, according to Yo! Venice!, the announcement was made directly to that site, and it was the only place on the planet where it would be found, at least at first. So why not at least give Yo! Venice! credit for breaking the small item first?
In fact, Venice Racket weighed in, with an editor stating that it had indeed seen the item first at Yo! Venice! (Yo! Venice's editor told the Weekly it's mostly okay with Venice Racket taking content -- "they aren't AOL.").
An AOL representative in New York told the Weekly it was a simple misunderstanding: The Venice Patch editor spotted the item at Venice Racket but because it featured a link to VSA's Facebook page she figured it was an open invitation that would be free to distribute to the community -- much like a public meeting.
A clarification on the Patch post reads:
"This quotation appeared on Venice Racket, which was linked to by the Surf and Skateboard Association's Facebook page, where the meeting notice was posted. Patch has been notified by Yo! Venice that the quotation originated on his website; it was not attributed as such on the Venice Racket post, and as a result we attributed the language to the Venice Racket post. Our apologies for any confusion."
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Still, Yo! Venice! claims it has been laying "easter eggs" of content in attempts to catch Patch stealing stuff. In this case it states that the VSA logo (designed by VSA founder Geri Lewis and skate legend Jesse Martinez) used at Patch matched the exact size of the one he resized and used.
Patch says it also matches one posted at VSA's Facebook page.
The episode brings up the inevitable clashes that will happen as Patch expands into communities that already have plenty of locally brewed media to serve them.
In any case, we think a little more linking (with clear attribution) and a little less slinking would prevent such issues in the future.