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Picpedant is twitter's photo superhero, swooping down on the countless "Funnypix","Amazingpix","Historyinpix" and similar spammy twitter accounts, that everyone and their aunt can't help but retweet. Please don't retweet that crud, you are only helping spammers get a foothold. The pic-bots bother me, not just for their lazy scraping and copyright infringement, but also for "polluting" otherwise sensible streams with (often false) junk. So when I saw PicPedant fight the falsehoods, give real credits where it's due, I swear I gave up a little cheer. Picpedant is created and run by brownpau and is represented visually by his lovely black cat Martha.
So... Are these people directing or selling traffic on twitter?
PicPedant: Some of them organically build up huge follower counts, and then suddenly switch format from "cool pictures" to "cool pictures interspersed with sketchy retweets and affiliate ad listicles." I imagine that's the standard business plan.
dab: What inspired you to start @PicPedant?
PicPedant: I think it was a friend who replied to an EarthPix tweet with "No. Just no." Later on I tweeted this - and the rest is history.
Thinking of a "Pic Scolder" Twitter that just replies to image thieves with actual img origin/credit, like @fakeastropix but more pedantic.
— how now (@brownpau) November 26, 2013
dab: Is there any place people can help @PicPedant find stolen images, apart from tweeting to @PicPedant?
PicPedant: I started a subreddit at https://reddit.com/r/picpedant but I haven't done anything with it; in part because I don't have time to moderate a subreddit, but also because I have my doubts about Reddit in general. Still, maybe one day I'll open it up and make it a community.
I get so happy when I see other people calling out fake and non-attributed photos; everyone has a little pic pedant in their hearts. Generally they use the same tools I do: Google reverse image search, TinEye, Karmadecay, and sometimes just slogging through Tumblr and Pinterest to find some kind of 'via' that points to the source.
dab: You seem to find lots of stolen images within minutes and correct them with a tweet at once. How much of this is you alone, via tips from others, and have you automated any part of it? It takes me a good ten minutes to hit up tineye.com and then go through the results.
PicPedant: I haven't automated any of it but I'm a very fast tab switcher and I have a photographic memory for certain URLs, search terms, and assorted useless trivia.
dab: Do you know that the pc-bots are selling traffic in some way? Do they spam ads or #followback or is it more elaborate than that?
PicPedant: I'm honestly not sure, but I do know that many of these accounts are parts of large networks that inter-retweet amongst each other and intersperse those retweets with links to scammy iPhone promos, diet supplements, affiliate listicles, or calls to follow specific spam accounts.
dab: Have copyright holders thanked you for all the hard work you're doing with @PicPedant?
PicPedant: Yes, I've had a few photographers say thanks to @picpedant for attributing their photos when EarthPix or HistoryInPix infringe on their work, many also commiserating that their images are out in the wild without recognition to them. (I did have one photographer get mad at me because I mistakenly called his focus-stacked moon shot a "composite"; he then angrily lumped me in with the image thieves. I just ignore him and don't bother crediting his photos anymore since he thinks efforts to attribute him are theft.)
dab: What was your best/funniest @PicPedant smackdown on an image thief?
PicPedant: Pretty much any time I can reply with just "That's a doll."
— PicPedant (@PicPedant) April 15, 2014