At 10:21 PM Friday night, just after I booked a flight home to the East Coast for a funeral for a family member I love very much, I was notified that our neighbors at Stab had played us for fools.
They succeeded in deviously infiltrating our well-intended contributor system. Using a fraudulent name, email address, and a string of courteous and enthusiastic (but untrue) emails, they paid a writer to attempt to publish his first article on The Inertia so they could show everyone what they did!
I’m sure the sweethearts at Stab are clinking beers and smiling at how they succeeded in making us look like assholes. I know they (and our haters) would say that we do that ourselves every day. I don’t believe that to be the case, but, in this instance, maybe they’re right. We published a piece that made scientific claims without providing direct references to verify those assertions. We assumed our contributor was being honest, and our Community Editor requested links to the studies he mentioned. The writer managed to evade the requests and reiterate the validity of the piece. We typically assume people’s intentions are good. We were wrong. And you know what they say about assuming. It’s especially true when it comes to publishing. An editor, a writer, should assume nothing. Nothing is true until independently verified.
As such, I take full responsibility for our mistake. We will do our best not to let it happen again. Starting today, we will enforce a series of stricter protocols for contributions, which will slow that process but will ensure a higher caliber of quality and accuracy in our content.
With nearly 2,500 contributors from all over the world offering a broad diversity of perspectives on surf, mountain, and outdoor culture, we receive an onslaught of interesting submissions daily, and for that, we feel grateful. The mission at The Inertia from the beginning was to create an inclusive platform that welcomed talented individuals passionate about surf and outdoor culture to participate in crafting its narrative. For too long, it seemed to be dictated by a small group of white men in Orange County obsessed with the fleeting and vacuous nature of “cool,” which we believe undersold the rich, diverse culture of the sport. There were many deserving, overlooked voices to be heard. We stepped in to provide that opportunity. In that respect, we’re exceptionally proud of what we have created.
And while celebrating a fake contribution that slipped through our system is a dickish thing to do, I want to thank Stab for doing it. You offered us a valuable moment to reflect and improve.
By going out of your way to invest time and resources into publicly humiliating us, you have certainly motivated us to create a more extensive protocol to raise the quality of our contributor system. Thank you for that.
I’d also like to thank you for reminding me of who we are, and what we strive for The Inertia to represent. Or better yet, what we don’t represent. We are not the guys snickering in the back corner of the bus pointing and laughing and high-fiving at other’s expense. That will never be us. You’re more than welcome to race the others to the bottom to own that space. I was taught at a very early age that it’s not fulfilling to shit on other people for your own amusement. We’ve watched others do that for years. We’ve watched people who were once very close to you do that to you. We’ve watched you call that behavior pathetic. You’re right. It is.
If you want to spend your precious time and energy calling us (or others) kooks or developing elaborate ploys to make us look silly, so be it. I sincerely do not give a fuck. If you and your embittered shadow choose to perpetuate a mindlessly exclusive mentality that spits on bright-eyed participants who stand outside imaginary lines drawn in the sand, that’s your prerogative. You can extend the fearful, false glory days of a junior high clique until you decompose underground into eternity. That’s just not our style. In my estimation, life’s too short for that nonsense. We believe the coolest thing we can do is treat people with kindness and respect, approach work with optimism, and pursue things we care deeply about with curiosity and an open mind. We will continue to evolve in building a platform that celebrates those qualities along with the rich diversity of surf and outdoor culture. We’ll always be here for those who feel the same. And we’ll keep striving to improve. That’s our promise.