As you may already know, in 2015 and earlier, Dave Anthony from the history podcast “The Dollop” repeatedly plagiarized Damn Interesting articles on his show. Upon discovering this, we published an open letter asking him to stop. A Google Alert for “Alan Bellows” recently informed me that the Dollop has edited one of their source pages sometime in recent history to include some claims about the fallout from our open letter, and we wish to address these claims.
Below is a screenshot of their updated text:
“Mr. Bellows requested we pay him money or take the episodes down”
While technically true, this makes it sound like we attempted extortion. Here is the what I said to Dave Anthony about the matter via email on 09 July 2015:
As you can see I was fair and polite despite the circumstances.
Dave Anthony never admitted to his plagiarism, let alone apologized. The only apology he ever offered was for failing to “properly attribute the source”, as the following screenshot shows (full context):
Even if he had cited our works as a source, his use of our word-for-word writings on his podcast would still be unethical, and a breach of copyright law.
“used our Facebook account to drive people to his site”
As far as we know, this is not true. We never saw any explicit mention of “Damn Interesting” on any Dollop Facebook post regarding this matter, certainly not in a positive or neutral tone. The only mention we ever saw was a negative mention of ‘some website’ (or something to that effect) that was making accusations against The Dollop.
“as well as used our podcast to drive traffic to site.”
Once, in the first episode The Dollop published after this fiasco, Dave Anthony did mention Damn Interesting by name, and he said that they sometimes use us as a source. So this part is technically true, though it is doubtful it resulted in any interested visitors. In any case, we do not monetize with ads, so mere traffic is not valuable to us.
Unfortunately, due to his public accusations, rather than reaching out privately, Mr Bellows caused Dave Anthony, his wife, and his 4 year old son, to receive death threats. Dave still receives threats to this day due to the article.
Our open letter to the Dollop specifically urged readers not to antagonize anyone involved. Further, Dave Anthony has never furnished any evidence of these “death threats”, and I was never contacted by any law enforcement officers attempting to track down the source of any such threats. I am highly skeptical that they ever occurred considering the other false claims and exaggerations Anthony made throughout this affair. I suspect that Anthony made up or exaggerated any threats in order to curry sympathy.
Regarding my decision to make the complaint an open letter rather than a private message, even Anthony himself expressed that he understood my rationale, as illustrated in his reply in this excerpt from our email conversation (note: Neither Alan Bellows nor Dave Anthony asked for any part of this correspondence to be off the record):
It is worth pointing out that it was later discovered that The Dollop had no “researchers” apart from Anthony himself; here and elsewhere he appears to be trying to blame fictional researchers for his plagiarism. Note also that even if Damn Interesting was “just another blog”, as Anthony says, its original content would still be protected by copyright. A professional author like Dave Anthony should know that.