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Damn Interesting is an independent website and podcast founded by Alan Bellows in 2005. The website presents true stories from science, history, and psychology, primarily as long-form original essays, often illustrated with original artwork. Works are written by various authors, and published at irregular intervals. Each article is accompanied by a narrated version in the form of a podcast. The website openly rejects advertising, relying on reader and listener donations to cover operating costs.
On August 24, 2009, Damn Interesting published the article "The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana" by Matt Castle, after which nothing new appeared on the site until August 25, 2011, when a new post appeared titled "It's About Damn Time". It contained only a countdown timer which would reach zero approximately two weeks after it appeared. When it reached zero, a new design and a new article appeared. The site has resumed posting new content since then, though less often than the period prior to the hiatus.
Accusing The Dollop of plagiarism
On July 9, 2015, Bellows posted an open letter addressing "the writers of The Dollop". In his letter, Bellows accused The Dollop, a comedy podcast about history, of plagiarism due to their repeated use of verbatim text from Damn Interesting articles without permission or attribution. Dave Anthony, the writer of The Dollop, responded on reddit, admitting to using Damn Interesting content, but claiming that the use was protected by the fair use exception to copyright law, and that "historical facts are not copyrightable." In an article about the controversy on Plagiarism Today, Jonathan Bailey concluded, "Any way one looks at it, The Dollop failed its ethical obligations to all of the people, not just those writing for Damn Interesting, who put in the time, energy and expertise into writing the original content upon which their show is based." Curt Hopkins, writing for The Daily Dot, concluded, "This incident provides a lesson in how different the expectation [sic] are between different parties on the Web, even those like writers and comedians that consumers might expect to react the same way, as well as how complex issues of attribution and copyright are online, where things move fast and little is static."
Awards and recognition
- In August 2007, PC Magazine named Damn Interesting one of the "Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites".
- The article "The Zero-Armed Bandit" by Alan Bellows won a 2015 Sidney Award from David Brooks in The New York Times.
- "About Us / F.A.Q. • Damn Interesting". www.damninteresting.com. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- "It\'s About Damn Time". www.damninteresting.com. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- "Updated: A Special Note to the Writers at The Dollop". www.damninteresting.com. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- "Statement from The Dollop • /r/TheDollop". reddit. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- Bailey, Jonathan (2015-07-15). "How a Comedy Podcast Sparked a Plagiarism Debate - Plagiarism Today". Plagiarism Today. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- "Popular podcast accused of plagiarism". The Daily Dot. 2015-07-11. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- "The Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites". PCMAG. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
- Brooks, David (2015-12-18). "The 2015 Sidney Awards". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-16.