Sunday, May 31, 2009

Paladin Schmaladin, indeed.

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Edit: Scroll down for links to other blogger's thoughts on the subject, and TechDarling's video response.

Remember that huge debate about Val'anyr from a while ago (which, by the way, I edited. Now I'm even more right than I was before, lol. Go check it out.)? Ferarro from Paladin Schmaladin said Val'anyr was hands down a paladin weapon, and I said that it was just as good for any other healer. Arguments, debate, and hilarity ensued.

Since then I've followed Ferarro's blog. When she actually sits down to write about World of Warcraft stuff, rather than what her favorite music video is, or how the season finale of Lost was, or how she's a super cool Blizzard employee, I'd say it's a rather good blog. She's got some great paladin information on there. It was a wonderful resource for a lot of different players. I never really liked the whole "look at me, I'm a chick who plays wow, I'm hot, and I'll change my photo around every few days so you can get a different angle of my hotness" vibe she had going on, but you know, whatever. It's her own damn blog - if she wants to write about Lost and change around her picture, that's her own business.

However, her own business turned into our business today.

Some recent news (from Matticus' blog, actually) really caught my eye. Ferarro, the cute girl who you see each day in her profile pictures - the one at her laptop with her cute dog? the one that was in a picture posing with her "mom"? Is not actually her. It's not actually her mom then either, I'm sure. I'm sure Mrs. Whoeverthatis isn't very happy about her picture being used on the internet.

Look, hold on to yer butts, cause this is gonna get a little "tabloid" on ya. I don't even care. I think it's fascinating.

Ready?

I directly quote this timeline from Matticus, because, I could paraphrase, but honestly it'd be like the exact same thing (thank you, Matt!):


She's re-sealed it (edit: now it's unsealed), but you can read this "confession" here from a google cache. ----- er, I take that back. Seems like that link isn't working anymore. Check out this here, because yes, I copied it verbatim and I'm hosting it on my blog for the moment. It's long, and interesting. It's also completely ridiculous. The overall tone is that she's not really sorry (and yes, supposedly the ACTUAL author of the blog now is female). She continually cites that she doesn't know the actual origins of the blog, and that it merely fell into her lap. She "supposes" that she could be held responsible. Supposes? Whoever actually writes that blog now *actively* put those pictures in. She didn't get handed the blog with a static profile picture up and no explanation. She actively and continuously continued to steal this person's identity.

The question is, does this really matter? WHY is this so offensive? I think there's a few reasons. First of all, I've always felt that the wow blogging community was a pretty honest, tight knit group. When I started as a small blogger where getting over 20 hits a day was something to celebrate, I always looked to the other more accomplished bloggers out there. Getting a comment from them was pure gold. And comment they did! I've *always* felt supported by fellow bloggers, and it's a wonderful feeling. To me, the dishonesty of Ferarro is a ugly smear on the face of bloggers everywhere. Yeah - I know - cheesy, right? Maybe, but I really do feel like that. It's disappointing.

Secondly, Ferarro didn't just ask a random cute friend, "Hey, can I use one of your pictures for my profile picture?" She used photos from TechDarling - not just one (and one would be bad enough), but multiple photos. She also stole an ENTIRE POST from TechDarling (this one here). Who actually had that luggage tag? Sarah from TechDarling did, NOT Ferarro. (Ferarro took down that post - and good thing, too - and I don't have a cache of it). Edit - she stole more than just one post. Compare this and this. Did she really think this was ok? This is so. not. ok. Who knows what other posts she stole? Maybe it was just those two. Maybe there were a bunch of others.

Thirdly: "The charade - i.e the beautiful Sarah Townsend - had to continue because that's who everyone trusted and recognized after such a long time."

Wrong. Everyone trusted and recognized your guides, your theorycrafting, your number crunching. Anyone who truly cared about the content of the blog wouldn't have given two shits if you took down those pictures. The people who cared about your cute pictures (or rather, Sarah's cute pictures) were the 14 year old boys who can't understand that attractive girls can play games too. Which makes me wonder what kind of audience you were really writing for all these years?

There is absolutely no reason why that blog needed to continue to steal pictures of a random girl. To have a good warcraft blog, you don't need a picture. What you need to do is write accurate, thought out, interesting well-written information about things people want to read about. You need to have meaningful debates about, for instance, legendary weapons with other bloggers! (!!!) To have a successful blog, you don't need to be "hawt". Was Phaelia hawt? I don't know - she never felt the need to splash her picture around the net. Was BRK a hottie? What about any of the writers from Wow Insider? Maybe they are attractive (or maybe they're not!), but it DOESN'T MATTER. It was the content of their blogs that defined them, not their physical appearance. My point is, the photo had nothing to do with the blog - it wasn't a modeling blog, it wasn't an ad for Hooters, it wasn't a myspace page - therefore there was no reason for her to continue the facade. Just take the damn things down. Stop stealing someone's identity. It's as easy as that. And it IS a complete stolen identity, not just a photo here and there. Ferarro made up a complete life that was a lie based on photos that she stole from this girl: "This is me and my family on vacation. We had fun!" type of photos. "Look at this pet bird that my step-brother got me that's sitting on my shoulder!" type of photos. It's not her bird; it's not her family. She stole the photos and made a story out of them. That's just SICK.

Even she says: "If you take away the fake pictures, like many people have said, this has been a premier quality site for Paladins, both advanced and beginners alike." Yeah - exactly! So why the hell would she keep up this charade? It boggles my mind. She also says "It's an awful secret to hold on to, but the integrity of this blog had to hold out for as long as it could." This, too, boggles my mind. Those pictures were exactly what compromised said integrity of the blog.

And fourth: She inadvertently strengthened the stereotype that hot chicks don't play WoW. She pretended to be a hot female gamer, and while I didn't like the fact that she *exploited* the hot female image, it's true that she did say, "Hey, guys, look - women who are attractive DO play videogames!" And now it turns out that she's NOT that hot female gamer at all. This just reinforces the stereotype that girls don't/can't play video games. This infuriates me. How effing ironic is it that she says THIS in her wow.com interview (bolding mine): "I think it's unfortunate all the hurdles female players so often have to jump through just to be accepted in this game by its male counterparts, let alone be accepted as one who excels at it. So I stopped playing by the hypocritical rules and adopted the saying, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter won't mind," and haven't looked back. I'm just going to be myself and post and say what I want, and if you don't like what I write, then just close the window or scroll up. I'm gonna be me no matter what." Yourself, eh? Huh.

In her confession, she makes it sound like this blog was some super secret operation. Information handed down from Ferarro to Ferarro. Special rules and protocol to follow. Such a hush hush operation. It's just too ridiculous for me to handle. I don't actually think it's seven different people - I think there's really something else weird going on here, but I guess we'll have to wait and find out.

Ferarro also states that Sarah is being a "good sport" about it. She THANKS Sarah for it. THANKS her for being such a good sport. Uh, really? Sarah just twittered: "UGH-some creep on WoW named Ferraro has been using my photos?" and THEN: "The thing is whoever this person is they're on my FB friends because they have photos from private albums!" WOW. Ferarro: for being so cautious about stalkers - you seem to have become one yourself.

I know that identities are stolen or forged all the time on the internet. It still doesn't make it right, especially not in our own blogging community. And I know people will say "But it doesn't matter WHO writes the blog, it's the CONTENT that matters!" Yeah - I know - it IS the content. I *don't care* who writes it. The offensive part is the content and photo stealing. Bad, bad form. Also, completely immoral, and really, it makes me not want to read her blog again.

And even after all my ranting, I really do hope that the site can somehow bounce back from this. There really was some great info there. Personally, I'm not going back there or supporting her site in any way, shape, or form from now on. But that's just me.

What do you guys think?

EDIT: Take a look at some other blogger's perspectives, if you'd like:

Keredria from Tree of Life
Jana from Suicidal Zebra
The writers from RetPaladin.com

EDIT2: Just saw TechDarling's response via Corgii's blog:
"Freakin’ mmorpg’ers. They’ve been living a lie for so much of their lives. They don’t even realize that pretending to be someone else in the real world is not only wrong and illegal, but also disturbing. But we should feel bad. Ferraro must have very little self-esteem."


/facepalm.

So it turns out that EVERYONE involved here is a douche bag, not just Ferarro. The only thing that might be remotely valid here is the very last sentence. Read Corgii's post if you want some angry rawr bear ranting.

Last edit! Sarah Townsend's video response here.

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26 remarks:

Corgii said...

I was never an avid reader of the blog, but after reading about this whole debacle, I have the same feelings, Averna.

Knowing how a blogger looks has no impact, positive or negative, on the content of their blog. Sure, sometimes it's kind of cool to see the person behind the Tauren/Night elf/etc., but really... was it necessary to almost stalk the poor girl from TechDarling? Seeing that 'Ferraro' apparently got into her private albums on Facebook brings this entire thing up to a very creepy, stalkerish level.

While I personally have my own picture on my blog, I don't do it for attention or anything of the sort; truth be told I got tired of my old drawings that I had on the profile and just opted to use my own picture. I barely have any readers as it is, so it's not really even an issue! But to steal someone's identity and tie it to a blog of such fame and importance, such that thousands of people see it daily... and to STEAL TechDarling's posts...?

It's a classic /facepalm /shame situation here, to me. While I didn't read the blog, I'm a little disgusted and saddened to see this has happened. I'm also rather irritated about her, in a way, perpetuating the belief that lovely girls don't play video games, or feeling the need to use a rather attractive girl's picture rather than her own in an attempt to keep the facade going.

Rather disappointing..

Sylveria said...

I was following "her" blog recently because it did have some useful paladin info/guides for my alt pally. After it went on "private" the past two days.. I was actually saddened that I couldn't refer to the guides anymore. I'm an avid reader of WoW Insider and they did an investigation on all of it.

Apparently it is one person. Read the article here if you haven't yet
http://www.wow.com/2009/05/31/the-curious-case-of-ferarro/

I just started to make a blog after reading WoW blogs for the past year or so. And I actually posted my pic on my personal google profile for my blog site yesterday. But after seeing the ferraro shenanigan... I decided to keep myself anonymous like I always have and removed my picture. I would want to be remembered for my blog itself and not by my pictures. Since ferraro wasn't this attractive, blonde girl who wrote good guides - ppl might not be open to blogs written by girls with pictures.. especially the new blogs. So being new to the WoW blogging community - I opted out on posting any pictures.


And I am so disgusted by the whole ferraro thing that I don't want to read their guides again. I've seen fake profiles on all kinds of sites... but to make a fake identity for a gaming blog? o.O

I think what is even more disturbing is that they are running other WoW blogs. watch it turn out to be some other blog I check often.. /facepalm

Icedragon said...

One of the reasons that I have a WoW blog is because I don't have to release any personal information. To everyone I'm known as Icedragon - and that's all they need to know. Well maybe it's not a reason, but it's a positive feature.

Going so far as to steal someone else's identity and relay it to your readers...damn, that's a new low that no one can beat. The vast majority of bloggers are honest people that don't have anything to hide, be it about who they are or what they write. Excellent post, Averna!

Jack said...

Mannn. My Alt is a paladin and most of my paladin know how, Ive picked up from there. It was reliable because it was updated and had a lot of info about other pally roles aside from healing which is hard to come by.

Most of the time, blogs are about your main spec so having a one stop place for your Paladin news was awesome.

But I'm not that shocked. It sorta makes sense on different levels. I always had this freaky feeling why she was using images from all over the web in her posts. For example the demotivational(did i get it right?) posters and all the badly photo shopped pictures.

It was really odd since shes supposed to be a graphic artist. But then again in the internet, badly edited captions on pictures is amusing.

I may just have high standards being a graphic arts student myself but it was still odd that a professional wouldn't apply her artistic skills into a very high traffic site like the Paladin blog.

Her Blog title tab isn't that good either. I'm a shitty artist but i know i could put a little more effort than that:(

About her being a play tester for blizzard. First off, I assume that if blizzard did have raid testers outside of the ptr they would have acces to to more covert updates to the game. Meaning a play tester wouldn't have the luxury to admit or hint about what he or she is currently working on.

I've been to some game dev studios (outsourced to japanese firms) in the past and they are pretty damn secretive of their projects and have very tight security.(crazy password biometric call before you enter offices)

The entire industry survives because they are careful enough to hire the right people. So its odd that they can let someone blog about being employed for a certain project.

Matticus said...

Thanks for the link back. I agree with you. I'm not exactly pleased about all of this at all. Nevermind the effect it has on her image. Now it's affected every blogger's credibility. Even newer bloggers who are inspired to blog may think twice or alter their way of thinking like some of the earlier commenters you had. I personally keep my profile picture up there (because I am one awesome looking Asian) to add a sense of reality and personality behind World of Matticus (as do the other writers).

Anyway, all this is just quite sad.

Lissanna said...

According to some of the articles I've read about the issue, that site didn't just steal pictures, but content from that poor girl's site (I've looked at some of the examples of identical non-wow posts on both sites). THAT behavior is really just not excusable at all, and is grounds for just not trusting Ferraro's website at all...

Aynon said...

I dont know, but it feel like this is "incident" is not over yet.

Anyway I agree with you all, there is no need to use pictures and stuff to promote your blog. She did, and probably because she did that and the quality of the content she got so many followers. It is hard to take any conclusion from this because we dont know what is true or what is fake. But to steal someones indentity is really bad. If she decides to keep going with the blog the damage is done even if the good posts keep coming. As Corgii said, a little disappointing...

Averna said...

@Syl: Yeah, I saw that wow.com write up about her IP addresses. I don't know what to think.

@Jack: Agreed - I was always a little confused about her involvement with Blizzard. I remember her using the argument "well, I have insider Blizzard information that you don't have" to explain why Val'anyr was better for a Paladin weapon. She never gave up that information though. Was it because she couldn't, or because she never had it to begin with?

And another thing I'd like to add:

Many people who have been commenting on her post have said things like "Well, I don't care who writes it, it's good content!" or, "People may like to know that a different blogger is blogging, but there is no obligation in that matter."

There is no obligation to state who you are - that's the great thing about a blog - but there IS an obligation to have a moral compass and at least a bit of integrity. That's the LEAST you could give your readers.

Ah well. I hope her site remains up, but after this fiasco is over, I gotta say that I'm not going to read her blog anymore.

Doomkin_at_Heart said...

Wow... that is astounding.

I totally get where you're coming from Averna. The anger is obvious, and I don't think necessarily misplaced. It's pretty fair to get that out with a bit of a vent.

It's been said already, but it's a damned shame since the blog evidently had useful content over and above the real identity of the blogger.

In any case, you just keep on doing what you're doing Averna. The blog community is served quite well with your site, and you have a right to bitch with this post.

spinksville said...

This reminds me a bit of a person I encountered in a RP guild in the first MMO I played. (I should say, most of the other people were really cool btw.)

'She' was a popular, friendly player. But sometimes if you caught her at the wrong moment, she was a bit odd. Hard to really put your finger on why.

It eventually transpired that the character was played jointly by a husband and wife but they'd decided that rather than telling anyone, they'd just pretend to be the same person. And the husband was not actually very good at faking being female, and the wife was a bit of a drama queen.

I won't be surprised if this ends up being something similar and there is more than one person involved but not as many as the current story claims. I think at least one of them has some real issues, though. It's a shame but no one made them invent fake personas like that.

But it goes to show that still, on the internet no one knows you're a dog!

Jack said...

Its upsetting that there really isn't any motive to take up someones blog and keep it running.(if she really is the nth person to be it's author)

It's not like there's big money in it right? or is there? If she is making money of of someone elses image thats sooo sueable yeah?

Dannychoo of dannychoo.com would frown at this:(

Keeva said...

Matt makes me giggle. I added my RL picture to my blog to give it more of a "I'm a real person, not just a character" feel. I like seeing the faces behind the names (even more so for multi-author blogs).

This whole this is so ridiculous. I suppose I can understand the reasoning that people came to rely on the original author, and the subsequent fear that they might all unsubscribe if she said she wasn't going to be the author anymore.

But honestly..

If any of the big bloggers, the BIG ones said that they had to step away, but their sites were remaining open under authors X Y Z... yes, some subscribers might have dropped because they enjoy the particular style of that author. But mostly there are there for the content.

If Phae, for example, had said "I have to go start a family.. but I don't want R4L to stop - so I'm handing it over to (another experienced druid)" .. it still would have remained (and continued) as the premiere resto druid resource.

And I think that is true of all of the big blogging/wow names. If they changed hands, there might be some teething troubles.. but as long as the content was still high quality, people would still look to them for info.


If these "people" had just not informed anyone that they were different authors.. big fat hairy deal. I doubt anyone would have cared. Why would you take it to the point where you stole pictures and content ... when you could have just, um, continued writing under a pen name?

Nobody needed "proof" that it was the same girl posting, in fact they probably wouldn't have given it a second thought.. and even if it came to light that there had been several ferraros - it wouldn't really have mattered.

Comical. Ridiculous.

I'm slightly ashamed that I'm even taking the time to comment on it.

Aerivore said...

This kind of makes me not want to blog at all. At least not about WoW stuff. Being doubted as a real female gamer, and the prior drama that stemmed from other stuff following me from my guild (ie giving someone who was mad at me an outlet for coming in and trashing my name on a forum such as this) - it's all so risky. What does someone have to gain by doing this?

You are absolutely right.

I don't even know what to say.

Sydera said...

When I started working for Matticus, I debated whether or not to send him a picture of me or just an avatar. My concern was my own privacy. I decided to go ahead and do it because, as Keeva says, it makes a blog feel authentic. I also think Sydera the character is different from the person behind the keyboard. As far as I'm concerned, it's Syd that has a little teensy bit of e-fame, not me. I think it's helpful to develop a writing voice--after all, my posts can be damn cheery, even chipper, and that's from Syd the character (NOT the real-life melancholy and absent-minded professor). I developed the voice I did because WoW blog readers have certain expectations. However, stealing someone else's photos or content is wrong, wrong WRONG. I could care less if someone decides not to share a lot of personal details. Heck, I don't. You'd have to read all my posts really carefully to find out my job and marital status and home life. I definitely don't put it on the about page, though sometimes I mention my real life in a post or two. I just see no need for anyone to steal photos or content, even in the informal atmosphere of the internet.

You know what though? I had a bad impression of Ferraro's personality because she changed the photos all the time. The writer probably thought that the changing photos gave the blog authenticity, but it made me think that she was really, really vain. I also didn't read her as any kind of feminist--she was a little too flirty for my tastes, and as a female reader of her blog I didn't feel like her target audience.

My question is--do we have a greater burden to be authentic now? Maybe I'll post my wedding photos or something to prove I'm me...I'm bound to look good in those after all.

AJ said...

FYI, Retpaladin.com has tossed Ferraro on her (his? it?) ass. They did kind of a self interview that pretty much explains their position. I thought the interesting question that they asked themselves was, "was I influenced by the fact that she was a girl?"

Phil said...

Oh well...
It wound t be called WoW if there wasn't any drama involved...
Btw...
Did I say that was a lot drama involved?
Ohhhh...
Drama?!?!?!?!?!

Icyslush said...

It's not just the creepiness that the nest of Ferraros stole the images of someone else, it's that they stole entire posts. And they lied about being a Blizz employee to back up their theorycrafting arguments. There may be good Paladin info in their guides but now you can't trust that it wasn't stolen or that premise behind them wasn't made up.

So how anyone would want to keep reading that blog when the author(s) have lied, stolen and been just plain creepy is beyond me. Ugh.

Keredria said...

I think this whole thing is part funny, part sad, part just plain old crazy. Who would have thought when you were doing your whole Val'anyr back and forth that it would come to this? :)

I put together some ramblings on my thoughts around this whole debacle on a post as well.

fallingleavesandwings said...

Mmmmm...national enquirer time!

Just like when I'm at the checkout lane, shamefully seeing if that picture of the not toothpick thin woman really IS some famous actress, I too found myself overly intrigued by this Averna =) You are not alone!!!

Although, the more I read, the more disgusted I really get with the entire situation. Just like Sydera, I also felt a little like Ferarro was kinda vain. When I first starting reading with the Valy'nar debacle and then through some of her other posts (like the vomit one on the floor, eiw) I thought to myself "she's trying too hard". Ultimately, I just chalked it up to the fact that I was at least a decade older than her and I just "didn't get it".

I guess perhaps there was more than that =)

I DO however kinda wonder how the Ferarro that posts on the official WoW forums correlates with the blog, I mean there are forum posts where she is difinitively speaking about things her little paladin would not have experience with. I think there is more to this, and I too don't buy that there are 7 authors for the blog.

*shamefully grabs popcorn* Enquiring minds want to know!

Kae said...

Given the reality of stalkers, I can understand not wanting to put a real picture up on the net. If cornered and harassed by multiple people or people that one plays with regularly to post a picture, a girl may feel the need to steal a different picture to hide behind, to pretend that they look different for any of multiple reasons, including self-image problems, wanting more "fan boys," and real fear of stalkers.

There are also men out there who will pose as a pretty girl for various reasons, ranging as innocent as just trying to get more readership, to police trying to catch pedophiles.

I played with a girl who gave my guild and the person she was "dating" for 3+ years a "borrowed" photograph. For her, it was problems with self-image, she didn't appreciate herself and wanted others to think she was prettier. In time, even if she'd have grown comfortable enough to share her real image, it was too late: she would have to admit to a lie, and so she hid it and continued to dig up images of her "borrowed" self. Eventually, it did come out, and many people were hurt by her lie and lack of trust.

Was it right to steal another's image to be her own? No. Was it right for her to even feel forced to do so to keep others off her back about seeing what she looked like? No.

Was this necessarily how Ferraro started? No, but it might have been. Or it could've been a "hey look imma cute girl, read ma blog!" tactic.

The reality is that on the web, people can hide behind whatever graphic they want, and it becomes who they are. Time only digs the hole deeper, and when the truth is finally brought forth (if it is even the truth, for it could be another mask?), many are hurt by the lie. They feel they cannot trust the person anymore, for if they are lieing about themselves, what else could they lie about?


(@Phil: DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA :D )

Aertimus said...

Hey Falling, hand me some popcorn too... I don't think this is over and I think I will follow out of morbid curiosity.

All my strongest feelings about this whole situation have already been mentioned, so I just have a few random thoughts.

~ Averna: 2; Ferraro: 0

~Averna said effing.

~ I think Phae posted a pic once when she got a Druid t-shirt from Jynx. Syd's sexy pic has been up. Then Keeva, Averna, and Corgii all put up HoT Resto Druid Chick Pics so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon. I mean, there are a LOT of cute female resto druid bloggers out there. I felt like after over a year of posting it would be okay. Its been up for like 2 weeks now and I'm thinking about taking it down...

~ I guess that goes along with what Syd mentioned - I DO think we need to be more authentic. But does that mean disclose tons of stuff about our personal lives, or leave the personal lives out altogether, least we risk being labeled fakes?

fallingleavesandwings said...

Oh man! It appears that "F7" has removed the post from public view. . .

@Corgii - As a heads up, I think your comments may be broken =( I tried to leave one today, but couldn't get it to open up the text box! I don't know if it's just me, or if it's like that for everyone =)

Averna said...

@Falling: Yeah, she took it down. I still have a copy of it though, and I have linked to it in my article. A few paragraphs down, I believe - link should be there. I don't know how long I'll keep it up there, though. My blog feel dirty having it posted on its pages... >.>

Zeta Thompson said...

It is easy I am a female gamer that hid behind male characters for many many years. When i came out as a female I did not post my picture. The key is I am a gamer first. Now suddenly being a female gamer is IN. BFD I have and will game. maybe U was decent looking 25 years ago, but not now. (at least not by 14 year old boy standards). The point is by making even caring what anyone thinks about how you look you feed into the marketing crap that they are feeding us gamers. By being concerned about how you look the idiot fed into the societal images imposed upon women. And most of all by stealing those pictures and continuing the charade she proved one thing. She is not woman gamer, not even a true gamer, just a sad little girl who is worried about being number one in the popularity contest of her chosen group of peers. And how sad is it that her chosen group from which she seeks approval to measure her self worth is made up of mainly people she doesn't even know in real life? That is the saddest part of all and does the most damage to the reputation of all gamers.

Nomasun said...

Now I am all paranoid!!

Is Averna using fake pictures of a hot chick?

*gasp*

Averna said...

@Nomasun: I loled. ^^