The Cooks Source Goose is Cooked

The Cooks Source Goose is Cooked

By: Shelly Kramer
November 10, 2010

A Cooked Goose

The other day I wrote about Cooks Source and the nasty spot they landed in as a result of their proclivity to swipe content from the Internet and use it at will. Thanks to social media, the blogosphere and a healthy dash of traditional media, the story has spread like wildfire. No matter how you slice it, Cooks Source comes off looking a bit bush league, to say the very least. If you’re not yet aware of the situation, you can read about it here, and while you’re there I won’t be at all offended if you hit that subscribe button. In fact, there might be some cupcakes in it for you.

A ton of other intrepid bloggers and reporters and other folks have written about this – most of whom have marveled at the audacity of Judith Griggs, the Cooks Source editor, as well the staff at the publication for letting what really amounts to rampant plagiarism slide.

And, because it’s the Internet and there are a lot of crazy people out there (and a lot of wicked funny ones, too), a fake Cooks Source Facebook page sprang up, as well as a fake Twitter account, both of which contain comments that are often highly amusing. But honestly, Monica, I digress (private joke, but if you check out the Facebook page, you’ll soon see what that means).

Today I saw a piece that my friend, Gini Dietrich, wrote about Cooks Source (which you should read if you haven’t) and it reminded me to check on them and see what might have changed in the couple of days since I wrote my original piece. I discovered that their real Facebook page has been taken down, as has their website, and the site has been replaced with this statement:

“We have cancelled our Facebook page on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 6:00PM. It has since been since been hacked by unknown parties and now someone else unknown to us has control of it. Their inclusion of Cooks Source issues and photos is used without our knowledge or consent. Please know that none of the statements made by either Cooks Source or Judith Griggs were made by either our staff or her.

We do not, and never have had a Twitter page, so what is attributed as our presence or our statements have nothing to do with Cooks Source or Judith Griggs.

We also cancelled our website on the above date, as our advertisers were listed therein, and with the harassment that has taken place on Facebook, we felt was unsafe for them.

Cooks Source will not be on Facebook again at any time in the future: hacking is too prevalent and apparently too easily performed by disreputable people. The email and Facebook abuse of our advertisers is the prime example: it is hurtful to people who are innocent of this issue, and can ill-afford the abuse — either emotionally or financially. Small business owners are being bombarded with hate mail, and distasteful messages because someone downloaded their contact information on these bogus sites. These small business owners work very hard to keep their businesses going in a bad economy. We respectfully request this harassment be stopped immediately. If you or anyone knows of this abuse, you should go to the bogus Cooks Source (or other bogus pages) Facebook page, look to the left side of the page and press “Report Abuse,” or else go to How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement.”

Isn’t it ironic? Intellectual property infringement. Hmmmm.

You can read the rest of their message here, but I’d guess it’s not an overstatement to say that this has been – and should be – a real wake up call for not only Cooks Source, but for businesses everywhere. Especially for small businesses. Are you listening?? As for Cooks Source, I’m pretty sure they won’t be swiping content from anyone else – ever. If they manage to stay in business. And I find the whole thing really very sad.

Content generation is the big buzz word these days and there are as many poseurs scrambling to position themselves as Content Experts as there were a year ago proclaiming themselves Social Media Ninjas. This should be a warning to all businesses out there to know where your content comes from. The old adage Caveat Emptor still stands. If you’re hiring someone to write for you, especially at some of the “bargain prices” I hear about on a daily basis, can you trust the work product they produce? Is it original or is it swiped from someone else? Are you protected? And what happens if there’s a mistake? What’s your crisis plan if something like what happened to Cooks Source happens to you?

But back to Cooks Source. The lesson here is simple. And no different than the ones I try and teach my four year olds on a daily basis. Here it is: If you mess up, don’t be snotty and say things you might regret. Be human. Own up to your mistake and make amends. When someone graciously asks for an apology, if they deserve one, give it to them. And if they ask for something reasonable, like blogger Monica Gaudio did, you should give it to them. Why is such a simple thing – like doing the right thing, so very hard for some people?

It makes me sad.

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  • Karl

    Nice piece, Shelly. My son is about to turn 5; we teach him those very lessons! Say you’re sorry, make it up to them. Doesn’t seem so hard!

  • Thanks Karl. I agree. Not so very hard at all. Then we grow up. And get all stupid. Sadly. Thanks for the read.

  • All they had to do was fire that Judith and rise above the occasion. I probably don’t know the whole story here, but that seems to be simpler solution.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Kim, if Judith would have just acted like a human, she might have avoided the whole situation. But instead, she chose to do this (snippet from earlier post that mostly brings you up to speed):

    When Gaudio discovered the “lift,” she acted like any self-respecting writer would – she contacted Cooks Source and expressed her dismay and displeasure. The editor, wielding the “I’ve got three decades of experience in this business, missy,” sword, snippily informed Ms. Gaudio that all content on the Internet exists in the public domain, thus it is free and pretty much available to anyone who wants it. The nice editor went on to say that Monica’s piece was poorly written and required editing, and suggested that instead of apologizing for the swipe and/or compensating Monica in any way, that she should perhaps even be paying Cooks Source for making her work better. And ‘portfolio worthy.’

    That was just plain mean and nasty – and a lot of other things. Which really just set this whole thing in motion. Even after that happened, she probably still could have managed some damage control by just picking up the phone and saying “I’m an ass – I’m sorry,” but that didn’t happen either.

    Hard to think about people losing jobs and possibly their reputations over this (above and beyond the editor).

    That’s the really sad part. And it all could’ve been fixed so easily.

    Sigh. Thanks for coming by Kim, and for making time to comment. Muy appreciadio (made up word there).

  • Wow, Shelly this is an incredible story. It’s like watching frontier justice in the wild west – only it’s the frontier of the wild new Internet, with its own codes of conduct (including the most basic: simple human decency.) Well reported, too. Great job.

  • “If you or anyone knows of this abuse, you should go to the bogus Cooks Source (or other bogus pages) Facebook page, look to the left side of the page and press “Report Abuse,” or else go to How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement.” ~ Really? I can’t think of a single person who Cooks Source has on their side this other than their own people. Even on the “re-launch” of their “new” Fan Page they STILL haven’t apologized.

  • This

  • This whole situation has just had me shaking my head. I cannot imagine how someone could have built an entire business model around stealing others’ content, and have gotten away with it for so long. She had this coming. She truly did.

    And I, too, find it ironic that their official statement referenced “intellectual copyright infringement.” But honestly, Monica….


  • I went to their site and read the full piece and they did apologize and even made the donation requested.

  • I want my cupcakes.

  • “Be human” indeed. People make mistakes. While Judith did make a mistake, she didn’t deserve the emotional abuse that she took as a result of that mistake.

    A discussion on the Cooks Source fan page slammed Judith as being an “ignorant slut.”

    The outcry was SOLELY the responsibility of bloggers–specifically the Consumerist–that slammed her over and over again for screwing up.

    I’m not saying what Judith did was right. I am saying that what the blogosphere did in response was very, very wrong.

    Bloggers are in a position of power. With power comes responsibility. Handle mistakes with care. Use constructive criticism. Address situations like this in private, and with kindness.

    “If you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them.” – The Dalai Lama

    “Great wisdom is generous; petty wisdom is contentious.” – Chuang Tzu

    “I am good to people who are good. I am also good to people who are not good. Because Virtue is goodness.” – Lao Tzu

  • Anonymous

    Hi Rob,

    I totally agree that there were many who were not very nice at all. But I think that wasn’t solely limited to the blogosphere. I think there are all kinds of crazies out there who live to post rude and hurtful comments (I see them often, all over the place). So that’s not really “the blogosphere” in general. I actually wrote a harsher initial piece about Cooks Source that I went back and softened up before publishing, because I took a moment to think on it, and realized that less harsh and judgmental was better.

    IMHO, Judith was a snotty gal who gal who treated someone poorly who was actually being very nice – and gracious. Did she deserve what she ultimately got, probably not, but that’s why it’s so important to always try and remember to treat others as you would like to be treated. Being nice is never overrated. Even to bad people.

    I think that Judith could have still managed to salvage her reputation had she gotten back into the conversation, eaten some crow and acted like a human being – instead of disappearing.

    I believe that with power comes responsibility. I try and live by that adage every day.

    I feel badly for Judith. And even more, I feel badly for the people who work for Cooks Source, since they have also borne the brunt of this backlash.

    The whole situation is very unfortunate.

    Thanks for your thoughts – they are always appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Damn you. Baking them now.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly Monica, you crack me up!

    I think that Judith was overwhelmed by the sense of her own power – which is a lesson to us all, no?

    Thanks, love, for the visit!!! I will share Dean’s cupcakes with you!

  • Anonymous


    They just don’t get it, do they?

    When are you writing a guest post for me? #thatisall

  • Anonymous

    Yes. They finally did. And rightfully so. Unfortunately, it might have been the proverbial day late and a dollar short. But at least they did.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Amy. It really is incredible. And incredibly sad.

  • Red Velvet with chocolate frosting, please.

    If you have the balls to do something that rediculous, you should have the balls to own up to it when you’re caught, too – sadly, too many people lately have been subscribing to “the best defense is a good offense” type of actions and thoughts lately. Its not possibly their fault, it HAS to be someone else, too. That doesn’t work, no matter who you are, what you did, and so on. It doesn’t fly with the twinlets, and it shouldn’t fly within the business world, online or off.

  • Absolutely a lesson! And I’m always up for cupcakes! 🙂