I’m overworked and have a terrible cold right now which is not helping my mood. I am about to break with my normal approach to blogging – namely not dealing with ‘fringe’ issues and not dealing with problems openly online. However, it has come to my attention that several people are simply not playing fair and they are doing so based on my work / goodwill and thus I don’t think it unreasonable to call them on it.
First off, it appears that some people are using my photos / images without my permission. I’m all in favour of open source and science communication. However, I am also aware that things are often misused and I have a responsibility to try and keep the information accurate and in some cases, protect the rights of the museums or owners of the fossils or photographs. I am generally willing and able to let people use images on my site but I want to be asked first. That’s neither difficult nor unreasonable. I make it quite clear on the ‘about’ page:
“I should point out that all opinions on here are my own and are not endorsed by my current (or any previous) institution. Unless otherwise stated, all images are my own or specifically loaned with permission to use – please ask if you want to use them or link to them.”
and it turns up in various places on some specific pages too. I don’t have the time or facility to add watermarks etc. so I rely on the goodwill of people reading the site to do what I ask, or those who spot my images being used inappropriately or without permission to ask questions about them on my behalf or alert me to them. Some people who have been using this site for a long time are using things without permission. Please don’t.
Even more annoyingly, one little ‘scamp’* has decided to try and jack the credibility of myself and my colleagues to promote his nonsense. Regular readers will know about the awesome ‘Pterosaur.net‘ as set up by myself, Darren Naish, Mark Witton, Lorna Steel, Dino Frey, Ross Elgin, Mike Habib and John Conway (with contributions from Helmut Tishclinger and Luis Rey). It is neither arrogant nor unreasonable to point out that this is one hell of a collection of pterosaurs researchers and, despite some inevitable quibbles. this is about as accurate and expert set of information as you can get on these animals. We also set up a blog, called, unsurprisingly “pterosaur-net.blogspot.com” to carry on our information flow outside of the static P.net mainsite. This started late last year.
It is then most annoying to see someone calling themselves ‘Dr Pterosaur’ set up “pterosaurnet.blogspot.com” to write about pterosaurs and, wait for it, how birds evolved from them. This is, quite clearly, an attempt to use our name to gain credibility and our internet traffic. This is wrong. Even the creationists haven’t set up TalkOrigin, and there’s no Palaeoerrata blog or Tetrapodzoology.net. I can hardly ask him to take it down. But I can publicly point out just how transparent this is and how underhand it is. You are taking our name and trying to take our credibility with it while pedaling non-science rubbish and all from the pseudo-safety of anonyminity (though I know who they are since they have traipsed over here several times and left behind their e-mail address and IP).
Right I’ll leave it there. In short, please play nice boys and girls. I can disagree with what you say to my heart’s content and you can say what you want. But don’t do it with my work (words or pictures) or my credibility. If you want to be taken seriously (and I can only assume you do), things like this do the exact opposite of what you intend to achieve. You are hurting yourselves as much as you are me.
*much worse words were used when I found out.