Hello, and welcome to “Inside the Guide,” a behind-the-scenes look at writing videogame walkthroughs for GameFAQs.com. If you’ve read any of my 170+ guides, you’ll notice that the final section of the guide is always a disclaimer which looks something like this:
GameFAQs recommends putting a copyright disclaimer in every guide you post. Why? Those two sentences can defeat the foul monster known as plagiarism.
Most of the high schoolers who use GameFAQs agree that plagiarism is OK, as long as you’re stealing something unimportant, like an essay on Hamlet. But if you try to steal something of the utmost importance—like a guide for Mario Teaches Typing—look out. You have just called the wrath of GameFAQs upon your head.
I am not exaggerating. I have seen some very nasty tirades, written against websites which repost or copy/paste material from GameFAQs. How dare these monsters redistribute free material? That’s almost as bad as a website of silly cat pictures…which uses pictures of someone else’s cat! Gasp!
Something that horrible can’t happen in real life, can it?
My disclaimer says that you should ask permission, before you repost one of my guides on your personal website. I’ve never denied this permission to anyone, and to be honest, I don’t care if someone reposts one of my guides without consulting me first. I don’t get paid either way.
GameFAQs does get paid, though. They lose money when people get videogame walkthroughs from other websites. So they recommend including a copyright disclaimer on your guide to cut down on plagiarism. To quote the official GameFAQs writing manual, “For your own protection, you should also always include a one-line copyright notice in your work.”
So that’s the story behind the disclaimer. It’s there, because GameFAQs says it should be there. Personally, I’m not sure how well “it’s copyrighted, because I said so” will hold up in a court of law, but there you have it.