There are a few simple rules I've tried to follow during my time on E2. Writeup Doesn't Mean Reply. Opinions often make poor writeups. Be objective, not subjective. Don't be preachy (a personal failing at times). Some of these generally accepted E2 conventions, some my own personal guidelines.
I may end up breaking a few of my own rules here. Hopefully I can do so in a somewhat reasoned manner - I guess at the end of the day, the masses will speak.
I've just gotten back from reading through much of Marty McKolskey's message board, particularly the section he has opened specifically for content regarding Everything2 (http://www.marty.net/cgi/marty/board/messageboard?board=everything2). There's quite a bit of content there - it's hardly surprising that his server suffered near cardiac arrest.
Unfortunately, not all that much I've read is positive.
To be perfectly honest, much of the material I read there, apart from a few reasoned posts (unfortunately in the minority), was nothing more than hastily penned bile. Many contributions had nothing to do with having material removed - rather the opportunity was taken to launch an unrelenting personal attack on a perceived villain - Marty McKolskey, apparently the greatest fiend E2 has ever encountered, the one who should be sued, die a slow death, be violently decapitated, etc...
So here's the part where I draw away from my self imposed 'Don't Preach' rule, hoping that I make some sense, and don't come off sounding like an idiot...
Marty McKolskey is a person. Sure, he's a person who took a whole heap of material from here, the copyright of this material owned by a whole heap of different people who have taken time and effort to place it here (including myself). Still, he's a person who walks, who talks, breathes, eats sleeps and shits the same as any of us. Not some different breed, who doesn't deserve to be treated like a human being.
I wonder...if you completely screwed up, whether through stupidity, ignorance or deliberate intent, would you like to be treated like Marty has been?
We are all writers.
I came to this site almost two years ago, with a simple desire. I wanted to write. I wanted to get better at writing. I wanted to learn. I wanted to be surrounded by other writers, most of whom I knew were better than me. I wanted to read their words, and be inspired. I wanted to create something that they could read, and have them experience something of the same feeling that I had reading their words. I wanted to learn to turn words into something that surpassed mere characters on a page - I wanted to give them life, and emotion, colour and texture.
I didn't want this learning to extend merely to what I wrote here, but to every time I put words on a page, or screen. I don't believe that the lessons learnt from here need be only remembered when my words end with a mouse click on sumbit, I want everything I write to be more than ordinary. Whether a work memo, a job application, an email to friends and family...a strongly worded letter of protest... I find it sad, that a site promoting excellence in the written word, can ultimately be the catalyst for so many words designed simply to wound.
We were all writing about music. Music has the power to move. How many times have you been completely overwhelmed by a song, left quivering by a perfectly delivered and composed phrase? Do you recognise the shivers that can assault your spine, when a song seems to have been written just for you, and it resonates so strongly in your body? How many other art forms can inspire you to dance, to move your entire body as though it has been taken over - you're no longer in control?
So we write about it. We carefully compose a tribute to our favourite band. We write phrases about just what a certain song means to us. We put our heart and soul into these words - and properly done they can be writeups of such incredible power.
I wonder, if the band, the artist, you took so much care immortalising in word were to read your reply, would they be proud to have you as a dedicated fan?
When is 'I'm Sorry' enough? Several times, I read apologies by Marty on his message board. Several times, I read replies that were along the lines of 'I don't believe you, you've not suffered enough yet, fuck you'  K N I F E. Frankly, these were the posts that upset me the most. There's a simple word that I want to mention, that some people may have forgotten.
Yep, no doubt, Marty made a monumental mistake. Yep, he should have known better. Yep, if he'd looked hard enough, he would have found something that let him know that what he intended to do was wrong. Perhaps he should already have known this. Maybe he did know this, and chose to ignore the fact. The question is - can you know for sure? What amount of proof do you need, before you give someone the benefit of the doubt?
I'll give it a break now, I've probably said more than enough... I know that the rage has died down - a quick look at the catbox is enough to confirm this. I also know that most of the people here didn't react with rage, and anger (even though many may have felt angry at this incident). I just hope that something good can come out of this. I hope that the next time something like this occurs - and I'm sure it will, at some stage in the future - that the reaction is that of a mature community of writers. I hope that the suddenly increased focus on plagiarism will cause the writers contributing here to take a longer, harder look at their own work, and work towards making their contributions truly original - whether that contribution is musical, factual, creative, whatever.
I hope that through the actions of Marty McKolskey, Everything2 can become a better place.