Published November 5, 2010
Monica Gaudio is “flabbergasted” by her sudden fame — and says her story shows the Internet’s tremendous capacity for both goodness and meanness.
“I did not want to become an Internet celebrity,” she told me in a phone interview, as Canadian radio waited on the other line. “This is not what I want my life to be.”
Gaudio clarified that she is 40, not a young college student, and lives in Arlington, Va. She is an avid fan of medieval food, fencing, sewing, calligraphy and music. Her allegedly ripped-off article was about half-century-old recipes for apple pie that she decided to bake at home — an article she won an award for, thank you very much.
As I wrote earlier, Gaudio is crying plagiarism after a small magazine in western Mass. called Cooks Source printed — without permission — an article she wrote about apple pie. Gaudio complained about it on her LiveJournal for an audience of one or two dozen people.
Gaudio received an unbelievable non-apology from the magazine’s editor and published it on her blog. An excerpt:
Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence [sic] and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio.
The editor goes on to say that Gaudio should be paying the magazine, not the other way around.
“After that letter, I did not believe there was anything that I could say to her to change her mind,” Gaudio told me. So the correspondence stopped.
Gaudio’s blog post spread like wildfire on Reddit and elsewhere on the Web, and the Justice Seekers of the Internet flooded the Cooks Source Facebook page with numerous other examples of the magazine’s apparent plagiarism.
“I love the Internet. I love the crowdsourcing. I love … how quickly things got done,” Gaudio told me. Without the Internet, that kind of research might have taken months.
“On the other hand, there’s been lots of really harsh things that have been said, and that was not my intention at all,” she said. (“Cooks Source is a cheese fondouchebag,” one commenter writes. “Cooks Source borrows your lawn mower and returns it out of gas,” writes another.)
She is dismayed by reports that people have contacted magazine advertisers to complain.
“That’s not cool. They’re small businesses. They’re doing what they can to promote their businesses. I would ask that people be nice. Follow the golden rule,” she said.
You can listen to my interview with Gaudio at 3 p.m. Monday on Radio Boston.