Dear Shaun Munro: Please Stop Stealing From the Cracked Workshop

IMPORTANT UPDATE: WhatCulture has issued a statement apologizing on behalf of Shaun Munro and TJ Barnard, who have been suspended from the site. Also, WC is offering financial restitution to the Cracked writers those guys ripped off: http://whatculture.com/site-updates/whatculture-statement-on-plagiarism.php


This is Shaun Munro, acclaimed author of 10 Actresses Who Desperately Need To Go Nude:

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As proudly stated in his Twitter bio, Shaun is the Associate Editor of WhatCulture.com and a Tomatometer critic at Rotten Tomatoes. This is an article by Shaun Munro, posted at WhatCulture on July 1:

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And this is an article under the same premise pitched by two members of the Cracked Comedy Workshop exactly one week earlier:

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Shaun’s article has six entries in common with the Cracked pitch… but, y’know, so what? Websites steal full articles from Cracked.com all the time. There are entire Wordpress sites with dozens of subscribers that do nothing but repost Cracked lists as soon as they’re posted. Well, the difference here is that the articles Shaun is shamelessly copying haven’t been posted — he’s going into the Cracked Workshop (which is for registered members only) and swiping articles before they get a chance to go up on the site, making the original writer look like the plagiarist and thus putting their livelihood at risk. This has been called to Shaun’s attention, and he’s still doing it.

Do I have any evidence of this? Oh, shitloads. And, in honor of WhatCulture’s ongoing series devoted to exposing the influences of famous directors, I now present to you this evidence under the title:

Shaun Munro: The Semi-Definitive Guide To Homages, Influences And Shameless Copying of Internet Stuff

Note: These are just the stolen articles that the guys at the Cracked Workshop came across. I’m sure there are more out there. Also, I’m sure there are more similarities in these articles — I literally just looked at the top of each entry and highlighted the shit that looked the same.

Note 2: Since many of these articles haven’t been published yet, and since you have to be registered to look at the Workshop, I’ll use screenshots as evidence instead of links.

Note 3: Here’s the guy’s Twitter again, if you want to tell him what you think of him. Let’s start:

Original Article: 9 Brilliant Clues Hidden In The Background of Games (pitched on April 13, published on July 31)

Shaun’s Version: 10 Awesome Clues Hidden In Video Games (June 21)

Entries in Common:

Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Original Article: 6 mindblowing easters eggs hidden subliminally in movies (pitched on June 24, not published yet)

Shaun’s Version: 10 Subliminal Movie Messages You Probably Missed (July 1)
Entries in Common:
Cracked:
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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Original Article: X Least Sexy Video Game Sex Scenes (pitched on June 16, not yet published)

Shaun’s Version: 10 Hilariously Awkward Video Game Sex Scenes (Sept 9)

Entries in Common:

Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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That’s it for Shaun Munro… or is it? Here’s something curious: Shaun has an account at the Cracked Workshop (same username as his email, shaneo632@gmail.com), but it says it hasn’t been used since March 2013. So, how was he looking at these pitches? Because I seriously doubt that he just happened to come up with the same article idea as another writer with the same examples and same images, sometimes within days of each other, multiple times.

Well, another prolific WhatCulture writer called Tom Barnard, aka TJ Barnard, aka Thomas J. Covello, also has an account at Cracked where he used to unsuccessfully pitch his own articles before moving on to successfully pitch other people’s Cracked articles at WhatCulture. Tom’s account was active until right after the Cracked forum members discovered what was going on (he also deleted his Twitter, but you can reach him at jdhcovelo@hotmail.com), and the odd thing is that a Cracked mod said he and Shaun Munro registered under the same ISP. Was Shaun stalking the forum using Tom’s account? Are they roommates? Lovers? Split personalities? All of the above? U-DECIDE.

Anyway, here are  Thomas “Tom” J. Barnard Covello’s stolen articles, which are often taken from multiple Cracked sources:

Original Article: X Gaping Plot Holes In Films (Created By Their Sequels) (pitched on February 5, not yet published)

Tom’s Version: 7 Movie Plot Holes Accidently Induced By Their Sequels (April 24)

Entries in Common:

Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Also, the original article mentioned a specific plot hole from Terminator 2 on the introduction…

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…and Tom made an entire entry out of it.

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Original Articles: 6 Crazy Original Endings That Almost Happened (pitched on July 29, not yet published) and 7 Classic Movies That Almost Had Absurdly Dark Endings (published on April 26)

Tom’s Version: 10 Original Movie Endings Deemed Much Too Crazy To Actually Work (July 31)

Entries in Common:

Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Original Articles: Forgotten Plot Points That Could Come Back To Haunt The Characters (pitched on April 13, not yet published) and 6 Horrible Aftermaths Implied By Movies With Happy Endings (published on 2012)

Tom’s Version: 8 Overlooked Movie Plot Threads That Actually Spelt Doom For Characters (July 4)

Entries in Common:

Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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Cracked:

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WhatCulture:

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That’s all, for now anyway. When I found out about this through the Cracked forum, I wrote Tom Barnard a fan email on his @whatculture.com address and it got automatically forwarded to WhatCulture’s editor, who replied back. He admitted they’d had “a few problems in the past few weeks with authors taking ideas from elsewhere” and told me he’d have a talk with Tom and Shaun, plus very kindly offered me a gig writing for the site. I also let Shaun know about this on Twitter. Shaun then “apologized” to the writers he had wronged by stealing another article — the one about the video game sex scenes up there was posted after my correspondence with the editor. I let him know about this the day it was posted, but I haven’t heard back from him yet. Shaun is still an Associate Editor at WhatCulture and posting new articles almost daily. (Update: Not anymore. See link above.)

Why This Shit Pisses Me Off:

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said Shaun Munro is putting the livelihood of other writers at risk by doing this. He’s not just taking random pitches from the thousands that get posted in the Cracked Workshop: he’s stealing from the relatively small percentage that the Cracked editors are considering buying, which are in a special folder. When you see a pitch that was posted in February and then swiped in July, that’s not because Shaun went digging for it: it means someone has been working on that pitch for months and months, adding stuff based on the editors’ feedback, before it gets accepted and they get paid for it.

The problem is that Cracked has a policy of not accepting any articles that have more than two entries in common with a similar article on the internet. If you’re caught blatantly stealing someone else’s work, you’re kicked out of the Workshop. So when someone steals your pitch and makes YOU look like the thief, that’s a huge problem. Many Cracked freelancers make their living writing for the site (I’m one of those). One of the writers that Shaun stole from is a young mother with a little daughter. I’m not gonna say that Shaun Munro stole food from a baby’s mouth because that would be manipulative, but I am going to highlight that sentence to get your attention.

Once again, their contact information:

Shaun’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShaunMunroFilm (update: it’s since been deleted)
Shaun’s email: shaneo632@gmail.com
Tom’s email: jdhcovelo@hotmail.com

Update 9/17:

Ali Gray of The Shiznit has an interesting article on Shaun Munro’s shameless word-stealing practices — nope, it’s not just Cracked and it goes waaay back.

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    Signal boosting cause you don’t mess with the Cracked Workshop. Those folks have done too much for me.
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    It’s hard to be original in a world full of people who would rather fake it.
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