SOC - Purdue

Sep 30, 2023

This is the Stream Of Consciousness, right? Where I tell you what's on my mind. Where I write and then hit publish without returning to read what I just wrote. Well, I have to start this one by talking about what's on my mind. And it's not the Purdue game.

I went to the front page of Illinois Loyalty to scroll though headlines, something I do from time-to-time because I don't follow most Illini media so I often have no idea when an Illini story breaks. The lead story was an article from the Champaign Room titled "Limit Turnovers --> Illinois wins the Big Ten West?". Given that I had written a two-part series on Monday and Tuesday - the first article "Turnover Margin" and the second article "What If We Win The West?", I was pretty sure "Limit Turnovers --> Illinois wins the Big Ten West?" was lifted directly from my brain.

I read the article and it was 100% from my brain. The author even walks people through Parker Fleming's Success Rate chart by telling people to look at the scoring margins either side of the Illinois bar of the chart to see that a game with our kind of Success Rate should have a larger scoring margin. (That's not the only example but I won't bore you with more. It's 100% lifted from me. 100%. Unquestionably.)

On Twitter, I publicly asked Champaign Room to stop doing that. That tweet currently has 103,000 views, so yes, it made the noise I was hoping it would make. This kind of stuff has to stop.

The reality of what's happening here -- SB Nation has a volunteer writer stealing content and publishing it on a page littered with online ads -- is beyond gross. It's at the very center of the decimation of sports media. Someone in a board room somewhere - it was either Bleacher Report or SB Nation - noted that "look ma, I'm published!" is actual currency in the online world so..... "what if we just built an army of volunteer writers willing to work for bylines?"

Nearly every sports desk layoff you've seen in the years since can be traced to that. If volunteer writers on their couch can get to, say, 65% of the quality of the reporter in the locker room, that's probably good enough, right? Newspapers took a huge hit once the internet arrived, and after the papers survived that, online media companies realized that volunteer writers were willing to create content for free, bringing about a very large "so then why are we paying this reporter?" problem.

The issue here, for me, is that one of those writers simply read my last three articles on Success Rate, turnovers, and "what if we win the division?" and decided to turn that into SB Nation content. I called it "paraphrased" when I wrote that tweet but many of you pointed out that it's nearly word-for-word. And it is. The boldness of the carbon copy is alarming. Which makes this next part so disheartening.

No one will own it.

The Champaign Room site manager reached out to me to say that they "didn't see any correlation" between their article and my article. I had a conversation with him last night and he "guaranteed" that his author didn't read my article before writing his. I cannot stand being lied to, even if it's someone being a conduit to someone else's lie, and I let him know this quite, uh, vociferously.

Today has just been, well, completely disheartening. I needed one person from Champaign Room or SB Nation to stand up and say "this is wrong, and we're sorry, and we're not going to do it anymore" but I know I'll never receive that. No one in the entire industry wants that. The murkier the "whose original thought was that anyway?" line becomes, the more money everyone can make. They all want me to shut up about all of this and get back to writing about turnover luck so they can randomly also write about turnover luck because, you know, that's just a thing everyone writes about.

I do appreciate all of you. Regular readers of my work were shocked at the blatant plagiarism of that article and let me know on Twitter and on Slack. I appreciate you.

I just wish there was some kind of response from non-IlliniBoard readers that would make this disheartening feeling go away. Because the lack of any outside response makes me realize that I'm the one who views this incorrectly. Those without the ability to create original thoughts have built a system to blur the ownership of all thoughts so that they can have access to everyone's thoughts. Which means that my decision to not read or follow anyone else to retain purity of thought when I write is antiquated and dumb.

I mean, think about that. I go out of my way to make sure someone else's thought doesn't even enter my brain subconsciously. And here, someone made the conscious decision to just blatantly steal my thoughts... and it's perfectly fine in today's online world. People got comfortable with "I mean, how do you reallllllllllllllly know?" and it was OVAH.

So... that Purdue game, huh? I certainly hope I wake up tomorrow less disheartened. I couldn't force myself to go to basketball media day today and right now I'm dreading the drive to Purdue. When you reach those moments in life where you realize that cheaters actually do prosper I'm not sure it's possible to find much joy in the things you like. And I kind of feel like there will be joy tomorrow.

This is probably like last week - me needing this result, not predicting this result - but I can't write everything I wrote on Monday and Tuesday about how the Illinois offense is right on the edge of being really good and not expect the Illinois offense to be really good tomorrow.

Here, I'll just link to a graphic tweeted by Brett Ciancia of Pick Six Previews:

Admit it. You started on the right looking for Illinois, not on the left. I know you did.

69 Power Five offenses. Opponent-adjusted per-play rankings, Illinois is 20th so far this season. The per-play side of things is fine. The penalty, turnover, and field position numbers have not been.

So I'm going to try to kick-start my disheartened heart by predicting that we fix our penalty, turnover, and field position issues tomorrow and see points finally attached to our yards. I see this game as possibly high scoring (Purdue's opponent-adjusted offense is 27th on that list), but I'm thinking we pull it out. And before I talk myself out of that, I'm gonna put down my prediction and go to bed. Sorry to ruin the SOC with my disheartened rambling but... that's my stream of consciousness.

Illinois 38, Purdue 34


jpbrown on September 30, 2023 @ 12:51 AM

Commenting here just so people outside of Slack know how I feel about CR’s actions (and lack of remorse) this week: absolute BS. Robert is completely on the right side of this, and it’s not even debatable.

Now let’s take that freakin’ Cannon back.

Chief4ever on September 30, 2023 @ 01:00 PM


IlliniJoe81 on September 30, 2023 @ 01:39 AM

I used material from one of your articles in a message board post (not trying to profit, just liked the ideas) around a year ago and was called out on it for not at least citing you. I hadn’t even thought about it but I did feel bad and resolved not to make that mistake again. (I think it was something with RSCI and recruiting.)

So your point is not totally lost on everyone and at least some people will change behavior when called out on it. I saw your tweet and I didn’t click on the article but I agree that it was despicable. I hope that helps.

I also believe that the internet is moving more towards the subscription essay model and there are people craving original thought and willing to support it financially with subscriptions. So even though there are some leeches the discerning customers know who generates new ideas. You’re a good man. I’m sorry you’ve taken so many hits in this line of work. Some days I get almost jealous of your career but from the outside we’ll never fully appreciate those soul-crushing moments and how vulnerable you are.

I hope we win tomorrow. Many of us don’t have Peacock so be a little happy you get to see the game.

Thaillini22 on September 30, 2023 @ 03:56 AM

Hang in there, Mate. Even if everyone doesn't know which online info about Illinois football came from your brain, they DO know that you're a man of the utmost integrity. Small consolation perhaps, but eventually things are gonna come back around and honesty and integrity will be valued again.

uilaw71 on September 30, 2023 @ 06:52 AM

Long hours yesterday, so first I’d heard of this, Robert. Unfortunately I know of no remedy at law for such despicable behavior But as others have said, we value your work enough to pony up financially. Don’t let the bastards get you down!

Go Illini!

Altenberger with cheese on September 30, 2023 @ 09:20 AM

No remedy at law? What about copyright violation?

Nick-Chainsaw-Smith on September 30, 2023 @ 07:16 AM

Champaign Room has been trash since Tom left. Seems like it's gotten worse.

Efremwinters84 on September 30, 2023 @ 01:12 PM

No idea who rights content for for which outlets. However, my view of The Champaign Room is that 90% of all articles are really simple and non-informative. Sort of 4th grade-ish. As such, I quit reading their material earlier this fall.

gman on September 30, 2023 @ 07:40 AM

Dont give up Robert. Illiniboard is the first and only site I have ever paid to read. Its because you are not a fluff-fluff cheerleader, but you speak the truth , even if its tough to accept. Keep it up little brother !

MNIllini96 on September 30, 2023 @ 09:04 AM

+1 First and only site I have ever paid to read. Keep up the good work Robert.

chillini on September 30, 2023 @ 07:48 AM

Echo what others said. Perhaps a silly question, but why do we still see content from The Champaign Room among the “Daily News Links” on this very site? Seems very…deletable…based on what they pulled?

ItsTBaggins on September 30, 2023 @ 12:19 PM

I have not used that function on the site, but 100% agree. Their site needs to be blocked on that.

illinois81 on September 30, 2023 @ 07:53 AM

TCR is crap. Can you restore the pay wall earlier than planned?

Hoppy on September 30, 2023 @ 08:22 AM

I want my thoughts out here as well, not just in slack. Champaign room is garbage and I’ll tell everyone that listens to never click on a link from their waste-heap of a website ever again.

illinireb on September 30, 2023 @ 08:37 AM

I was going to say I’ll never click on one of their links/articles again; however, I think I will go to that ??site one last time and take note of any local/CU advertisers and let them know I won’t support their business as long as they remain advertising on the TCR site. Character, integrity, ethics mean something.

MNIllini96 on September 30, 2023 @ 09:05 AM

This probably will have a lot more impact that you may realize. I plan to do the same.

Refugee from Illinois on September 30, 2023 @ 09:12 AM

I’m (seriously) a legit bestselling author, and my ideas ricochet around a bit. I get flagrantly plagiarized by public figures, some with larger followings than me.

I can affirm you, Robert. This is unacceptable and unfair. Disheartening, certainly.

I will say that people capable of consistently generating and synthesizing ideas, and creating unique content, remain immensely valuable. You’ve carved out a unique space, and it’s the kind AI won’t easily recreate. It’s out of your unique brain and passion.

I understand the frustration, but don’t let lesser wannabe’s stop you from doing your thing.

iluvrt on September 30, 2023 @ 09:22 AM

Robert - do not link The Champaign Room in the "Daily News Link" thread. It gives them hits from your site. I have looked at it before because of it is in the News Links.

Barbbas on September 30, 2023 @ 09:45 AM

I stopped going to The Champaign Room and Illinois Loyalty a few years ago because your work is so much better. I appreciate not just the quality of your work but also the quality of your character--integrity still means something, I will be upgrading my membership from orange to 17club

CraigG on September 30, 2023 @ 10:49 AM

TCR has had some really good people over the years, a lot who are not. It slipped considerably over the last few years. On a completely unrelated note, Brett uses a blue background for Illinois and I can never find us.

Eagle on September 30, 2023 @ 12:13 PM

The few times I've read TCR, I've thought "a ninth grader could write this." I have a feeling that this event will cause a lot of people to never read their worthless content again.

cmi2phx on September 30, 2023 @ 12:37 PM

TCR is trash. You’re an innovator. Innovator’s will always be copied by amateurs. Don’t let that stop you from innovating.

Efremwinters84 on September 30, 2023 @ 01:18 PM

31 Purdue

24 Illinois

High scoring game - bet the over. Offenses will dominate, but the game will be littered with turnovers. The outcome of this game will be a barometer for the remainder of our season.

neale stoner on September 30, 2023 @ 01:56 PM

I’m glad you reported it. Otherwise I would not have known. I only read you.

Chief4ever on September 30, 2023 @ 02:00 PM

Done with TCR. Unacceptable.

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