On the Question of Anita Sarkeesian's Integritycomments powered by Disqus
Posted on Friday, July 19 2013 @ 21:13:23 Eastern
This post is not about the merits of Sarkeesian's thesis, her approach, analytical methods, ideology or content of her arguments. This is purely a question of the ethical character of her work. A considerable portion of her credibility rests upon her academic credentials. With such training she is surely aware of the ethics of citation. She has breached those canons numerous times. More troubling is what those breaches imply about the true nature of her donor funded project.
From the first Sarkeesian's Kickstarter attracted a great deal of attention. Whether one accepts a possible analysis* that she incited the people who harassed her to that harassment (or the even more severe proposition that the money received was only a secondary gain and the harassment was the real reward, the basis for a long-running gig) or not it is clear she was savvy enough to gain from it. First there is the publicity and then the money. The money (over $160,000 - Sarkeesian continued to accept donations after the Kickstarter campaign ended and I have no independently verifiable figure to hand) was enough to pay for every game that might have some relevance to her project and the hardware to run them if she didn't have it already, plus additional equipment to do direct video capture. The research to be done being a major plank for her support, this would all be essential. There was no way to justify even the original six thousand dollars asked for without having this sort of project in view (and it, too, would have sufficed for that goal) and all it required. Among other things, all in-game footage would have to be original to meet the original goals - to show, through direct demonstration and in a scholarly manner that yes, this or that game did or did not contain this or that bit of content. However, we now get to the core of our discussion.
A blogger going by the handle Vicsor, in a post titled Anita's Sources documents that Sarkeesian does not use any originally gathered game footage for any of her TvW videos. Not one. From an academic standpoint this is plagiarism. Presenting the work of others without attribution and passing off the work as one's own is plagiarism. She appropriated the content without the knowledge or consent of its creators. She used it in a fashion which they may not approve. What is far worse is that this explains numerous factual errors pointed out by her legion of destructive critics thus far. She has not done the much talked-about research. She has not done any of it. The most factually-sound claim is that she has done what her attackers said she would - she browsed wikipedia and TV Tropes, mined some content from Let's Play videos, used what she gathered to shout sexism at everything, and called it a day. Vicsor's evidence is irrefutable. It explains all the rational objections raised thus far in the worst possible way. One may now wonder how long it will take for her supporters to either apply special pleading to her defense or turn about and admit their prophet was false. I won't hold my breath.
* It is not appropriate to present the facts and reasoning which support the claim. It is enough to say that there is a body of evidence to suggest that Sarkeesian (or a supporter of hers pretending to be her) spammed the /v/ board on 4Chan with announcements of her Kickstarter at launch to incite a harassment campaign. The reaction was predictable given the norms of 4Chan's community, particularly as regards spamming content.