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Edward Blake Is Not Amused

Veerle’s posted a review of the new PANTONE Goe System that, to my eye, reads like a press release. And in fact, much of the language has been borrowed from one—specifically, PANTONE’s own announcement of the new color system. From Veerle’s blog entry:

For starters the 2,058 new colors in the PANTONE Goe are arranged in an intuitive, chromatic order for easy selection.

All 2,058 colors in PANTONE Goe System are also available in a two-volume set of adhesive-backed color chips, allowing you to peel off a chip and place it where you want without using staples, glue or tape.

And then, the corresponding bits from the press release:

The 2,058 new colors in the PANTONE Goe System are arranged in an intuitive, chromatic order for easy, precise, cross-media color selection and specification.

All 2,058 colors in PANTONE Goe System are also available in a two-volume set of adhesive-backed color chips, allowing you to peel off a chip and place it where you want without using staples, glue or tape.

If Veerle’d written a straight-up review of the new product, that’d be one thing: her perspective’s always a fascinating one, which is why I’m a subscriber. But as it is, I can’t help but feel disappointed that Veerle’s used PANTONE’s own language to give the new system the best Google juice it could hope for (her entry’s #1 at the time of this writing).

But in all honesty, that's not my main issue. I’m so very much more concerned about this after the recent brouhaha over PR firms exploiting bloggers. I don’t want “success stories” like Veerle’s entry to reinforce this exploitative behavior. Maybe I’m blogging off the handle again—I do that. But still, I can’t help but feeling a little cold.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, folks?

This is a blog entry posted on day 11046 in the Journal.

20 comments posted.

20 Comments

  1. Veerle Pieters says:

    For starters I don’t like that you assume somewhere between the lines that Pantone PR is using me. Like I acknowledged in my article I got the opportunity to be in a conference call with Doris Brown. I decided to write just because I am still interested in the print world and Pantone is a big deal there. They have no control what so ever over what I write. This smells like sensation seeking to me sorry. I only got a 30 minute demo and I didn’t get to test it in person. Also my main language isn’t english and I used some of the wording of the material supplied because people give me a hard time about grammar sometimes. Since these things are technical it isn’t easy for me to find the proper words sometimes. But do tell how you write when they are 2058 and two books, how many ways are there? I still said the interface sucked but you left that out here and that’s what make this feel a cheap shot. You could as well mailed me and asked but no behind my back and assuming things. Lame sorry!

  2. Matthew Pennell says:

    I’m not getting involved in the argument, but just wanted to say that that is a great post title, Ethan. ;)

  3. She says:

    Veerle: “Also my main language isn’t english and I used some of the wording of the material supplied…”

    This is a valid statement, but there is no clear indication in your post that you are quoting the press release (you mention it in response to a comment, but not in the main text). If you had included this right at the top, then indicated the duplicated material with quotation marks, it would be much clearer.

  4. Veerle Pieters says:

    @Me: “This is a valid statement, but there is no clear indication in your post that you are quoting the press release”

    Yes there is, I mention the conference call at the beginning so you logically assume there is bound to be material from that. If I have to take in account every move and tackle every troll in advance it’s an article on its own. For god’s sake I mention the same wording because it’s exactly just that, 2058 colors and a book nothing untrue about that. But Mr. Marcotte conveniently leaves out what follows that sentence in the same paragraph for sensation purposes. I state “That’s a good thing since I always found the previous system somewhat confusing in it’s arrangement of colors.” This would be an issue if I was making the product better then it really is and that’s not the case at all. So quotation marks or not It doesn’t make any difference as long I tell the truth and that’s exactly what I have done.

  5. The Robot says:

    Veerle, thanks for commenting.

    I’m sorry if you didn’t like the implication that there’s a relationship between you and PANTONE, but that’s what I inferred from your piece—especially after reading the press release, from which you copied language wholesale. If you’d quoted PANTONE’s release, that would have been one thing: but copying their language directly into your writing isn’t just problematic from an authorship standpoint, it sends a bad signal to those of us worried about how companies and PR firms view webloggers. I’m worried our objectivity’s at stake, which is why I posted on the topic.

  6. Veerle Pieters says:

    Mr Marcotte, copying their words is not a problem as long as it is the truth and that’s exactly what it is: a fan and a book of 2058 colors. Nothing double sided about that. Like I clearly said before this would be an issue if I lie and make it sound better because people would buy it. Something I clearly don’t do as I mention the product (the GUI software part sucks). So I don’t have a problem with the implication that there’s a relationship between me and PANTONE , what I have a problem with is with your sensation lust of provoking things and laying words in my mouth before you know what’s going on. I did what I had to do and clearly stated it was from a conference call. You make a big deal out of nothing. Objectivity’s isn’t at stake at all since I didn’t glorify it.

    Also If I have something to say about somebody I have the balls to confront them directly (on their blog or by mail) and check my facts before I do and I certainly wouldn’t leave things out to make it stick better. Not real signs of maturity.

  7. Ryan says:

    Veerle, copying someone else’s exact words and not attributing it and placing it in quotes is wrong no matter what whether it’s truth, lie, fact, fiction.

    Wrap some quotes around those passages and you’ll be all set!

  8. The Robot says:

    Veerle, you might disagree with what I’ve written, but that doesn’t mean I’m trolling—I stand by what I’ve written. Of course, if there are any inaccuracies in what I posted above, I’d like to correct them, with your help; however, if you disagree with anything I’ve written, please feel free to post here. You’re of course welcome to email me directly, but I hope you’ll agree that this discussion’s an important one to have in public.

  9. Veerle Pieters says:

    @The Robot: “I hope you’ll agree that this discussion’s an important one to have in public.”

    It would have been a discussion if I didn’t disclose that I had a 30 minute phone call with the marketing manager and if I deliberately wrote things that were untrue. But be serious, in how many ways can you write that there are 2058 colors extra and that there are sticks etc. That’s exactly what it is and it’s the truth. Like I said before I didn’t glorify it. If you have a problem that I need to describe every move and step of the sentences I write, well I think you’re being paranoid. It’s all there that I talked with them so it’s logically to assume that they supplied me with material to use and I wonder what the hell is wrong with that and what the problem is to begin with. If I really need to add quotation marks on fragments of their wording, then I think this is over the top. I still said my thing and in the end the article isn’t really positive towards them, as I clearly mentioned that I expected more from them on the GUI of software part. The case that this is now nr. 1 on Google is actually not positive for them if they read to the end. I also use their wording because I could make a stupid mistake in using a word that isn’t really fitting and if you read it’s full of these technical words and to me it’s really not easy to find another replacement.

    The discussion would be one if I glorify the product by using their wording. Well, I did not. Discussion closed. You make me look like an example who does this, which is totally untrue and that’s where I have an issue with. I have no problem with discussing things in public but I like to be contacted upfront, because the insinuation at the end of your post isn’t true in my case. I found it rather lame to find things out this way.

    They never offered me anything and never asked me anything either, they just asked for my ear for 30 minutes, nothing more. I decided to post this because of my interest in print, because I still deliver work in that area and I use these color guides weekly.

  10. Geert Leyseele says:

    Since ethics seems to be your thing and you consider yourself a moral-knight I find it rather concerning that you didn’t had the common decency to warn Veerle that you’re gonna bad mouth her upfront. if this was me writing about you without any warning I wonder if you would be amused? But then again I would have given you a heads up first because I don’t attack credibility behind people’s back and would feel bad by being a coward. Think about that for a while next time you look in the mirror! Seems like measuring with double standards to me.

    You also blow things totally out proportion because even with Veerle using the same words to describe the colors and the book the end result is not a positive one for Pantone and the article isn’t biased at all. How this is bad, well I can’t get my head around it.

  11. Eric Meyer says:

    “if this was me writing about you without any warning I wonder if you would be amused? …”

    I don’t know how Unstoppabot feels about such things, but I know that while I wouldn’t be amused, I’d expect it— not of you personally, Geert, but just in general. I came in for a few attacks over CSS Sculptor, for example; also for the ‘reset style’ posts I made. And when I say “attacks”, I really mean attacks. (I have to say that because otherwise someone will drop by to say “Meyer says that anyone who dares to disagree with his oh-so-holy writ is an attacker!” Of course, they may do that anyway.)

    Posting or doing anything in public means that there will be public response, and not all of it as one might wish. I think what’s most important is finding the differences between commentary legitimate and otherwise, and it’s not always easy to do, even for those not directly invested in a given discussion. I usually err on the side of assumed legitimacy, but that’s me.

    I say all this not to defend anyone in this particular brouhaha, by the way— not Unstoppabot, not Veerle nor you, not even myself. Just wanted to be clear about that.

  12. Geert Leyseele says:

    Eric, you have a point if it was coming from a total stranger. If you have met the person I deal with other standards and Marcotte knows Veerle. You don’t expect such things from people you consider friends/acquaintances. Guess I hold myself to higher standard and would warn upfront. Being a public person doesn’t make it ok to do so. Veerle has had more then her fair share of attacks so she used to it. I don’t do that with people (or even strangers for that matter) that I know, but that’s me. I prefer to fight my battles face to face.

  13. Jared Christensen says:

    I honestly had a hard time determining where the blogger’s own thoughts ended and the press release marketing began. Isn’t that a pretty substantial problem?

  14. Veerle Pieters says:

    @Jared “I honestly had a hard time determining where the blogger’s own thoughts ended and the press release marketing began.”

    Guess you made your own point there by having a hard time detecting the marketing talk. Marketing talk is using many adjectives to make a product sounds overly positive. That’s nowhere near to be found. All of it is pure practical information of the product. There are no subliminal messages in my post. People watch too many X-Files and see conspiracies everywhere.

  15. Mr. Rogers says:

    Sorry folks, but The Robot is correct and people seem to entirely be missing the point of his original concern.

    Not to flog a dead horse, but this is a huge issue with a great deal of concern for many a blogger; especially as it concerns the career-affecting prose on some sites.

    “Mr. Marcotte” (I love that) was simply pointing out a troubling character issue on bloggers these days and he used a VERY REAL AND HONEST assessment of Veerle’s work. This was not only accurate, but seems after reading some of the tort that there couldn’t have been a better subject matter.

    Think this is a small issue? Talk to the people who have had their careers put into jeopardy just because someone misquoted a REAL piece of online writing that, by the way, they get paid to do.

    Use your own stuff or quote it out. It’s that simple. And Veerle, you should know better. How hard is it to quote someone else’s stuff?

    ‘nuff said.

  16. Jared Christensen says:

    Veerle, all I’m saying is that all the information runs together. While you may think that there is a clear difference between the verbiage of the press release and your own, it may not be as clear to everyone else. As Ryan said, even just putting quotation marks around the PR copy would sufficiently tip of readers that your own words have ended and Pantone’s have begun.

    I don’t mean this as some sort of personal attack or anything, I just think that quoted content should be clearly marked. I think it’s a valid discussion and I’m sorry that there seem to be some hurt feelings come out of this.

  17. Veerle Pieters says:

    @Mr. Rogers says: “Use your own stuff or quote it out”

    I only used their wording to describe the 2058 colors etc. which is completely neutral. It’s still just practical info in my opinion, it’s not glorified or anything. Even if I quote it out, the outcome is still the same. They added 2058 colors added in the guide. I didn’t ‘take’ someone else’s stuff like you say. I got permission on this.

    Guess I just have another opinion on what should be quoted and not quoted. I can say with my hand on my heart that I didn’t do anything wrong. You’re entitled to your opinion and I have mine.

    There are no hurt feelings, btw. I never pushed anybody to do anything against their will. Hell, I didn’t even say I’m gonna buy it.

    @Jared : Guess you have a problem in differentiating marketing talk from real valuable info. Then I’m afraid that is your problem. Again, I find this whole thing going out of proportion. The issue is real, true, but in my opinion it doesn’t apply to me, it’s neutral practical info. Your argument would hold ground if it was favorable towards Pantone, but it’s just neutral. I did what I needed to do, I disclosed that it was from talking to marketing. Enough said.

  18. The Robot says:

    I think it’s a valid discussion and I’m sorry that there seem to be some hurt feelings come out of this.

    As am I.

    Veerle, Geert—I’m sorry that you’re taking this post as some sort of personal attack, which is something I worked hard to avoid. It’s a critical post, sure…but I did my best to keep it from becoming ad hominem.

    My points weren’t intended to “bad mouth” anyone. Instead, I was trying to say that:

    • Written sources need to be quoted and attributed. Otherwise, it can easily be construed (or misconstrued) as plagiarism.
    • If a writer fails to do so, it can make it difficult for readers to tell where his or her opinion ends, and the company’s business goals begin.
  19. Rob the Referee says:

    I know I’m late to the game, but my opinion is fact, so listen up, people:

    1. Ethan is right that quotes should be distinguished from other text.
    2. Geert is right that in light of the fact that Ethan knows Veerle personally, Ethan should have contacted Veerle privately (or perhaps commented on her post) rather than posting something that could justifiably be construed as inflammatory. Some public discourse could have followed, but a private message would have been a better first step.
    3. Veerle is right that the Pantone Goe System GUI is crappy.

    Now quit all the squabbling and kiss and make up. We’re all friends here. I know, because I said so.

  20. The Robot says:

    Some public discourse could have followed, but a private message would have been a better first step.

    Duly noted, Mr. Referee—thanks for weighing in. And a good point, too.

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