Friday, 25 September 2009

Distinctly lacking in originality,‭ ‬pride‭… ‬and common decency‭?

Coming to write this particular piece for the blog,‭ ‬it was quite evident that we could literally go‭ ‘‬on and on and on‭’ ‬with regards to the subject in question.‭ ‬If there is anything that the W.M.G.C.‭ ‬could say that they have a lot of experience in‭ – ‬in a variety of different forms‭ – ‬it’s coming into contact with people who are all too evidently lacking in scruples‭…‬..‭ ‬And,‭ ‬sadly,‭ ‬we’re not talking about the bogus psychics,‭ ‬or people possibly lying about ghostly experiences here‭…‬..‭ ‘‬no‭’…‬.‭ ‬we are talking about other,‭ ‬self-professed,‭ ‘‬paranormal researchers‭’‬.

To kick this‭ ‘‬rant‭’ ‬off and generally‭ ‘‬set the tone‭’ – ‬a matter that has been coming for a long time now,‭ ‬it has to be said‭ – ‬we reproduce below an article which‭ ‬appeared in the‭ ‬‘Walsall Advertiser‭’‬ newspaper for‭ ‬07‭ ‬September‭ ‬2006:

GHOSTHUNTERS TO KEEP THEIR FINDINGS SECRET

"Ghost hunters who investigate alleged hauntings and paranormal activity across the Black Country claim they are having to work more covertly because their research is being ripped off.

Outraged members of West Midlands Ghost Club,‭ ‬who have researched spooky goings-on at a host of sites including the former Green Dragon pub in Walsall town centre,‭ ‬say their work is being stolen and placed on other internet websites.‭ ‬The group says the information theft has become‭ '‬infinitely worse‭' ‬since programmes such as Most Haunted have hit the small screen.

West Midlands Ghost Club,‭ ‬which has a number of members from the Walsall area,‭ ‬has been in existence for‭ ‬17‭ ‬years and in that time has investigated a range of alleged paranormal events at sites including Lilleshall Abbey in Shropshire,‭ ‬the Starting Gate pub in Walsall and The Manor House Restaurant in West Bromwich.

Through the website,‭ ‬the group has kept people posted on research and latest news.

But members are now keeping their cards closer to their chests to prevent their work being blatantly stolen and manipulated by others.

Frazer Smith,‭ ‬a member of the group who lives in Walsall,‭ ‬said the problem was incredibly frustrating.

‭"‬Our research is basically being stolen,‭" ‬he said.

‭"‬It is being poached by people who have put no work in at all to the material they take.

‭"‬We are not happy about this at all.‭ ‬It's frustrating that we are having our work hijacked.‭"

Another member said:‭ "‬Ironically,‭ ‬most of the culprits call themselves investigators or researchers‭ ‬-‭ ‬or both‭ ‬-‭ ‬when the sum total of their investigative ability seems to be turning on their computer and seeing what they can take from someone else.

‭"‬Under the current climate we are seriously thinking of being a lot more covert with what we do.‭"

Despite the fact that the above was published almost three years ago now,‭ ‬it is all too clear that the subject being discussed has evidently gone from bad to worse.....‭ ‬and not just for the W.M.G.C.,‭ ‬but clearly on a National‭ ‬scale.‭

At the most basic level,‭ ‬it should be mentioned that‭ – ‬in the past‭ ‬-‭ ‬there has always been an‭ (‬albeit unwritten‭) ‬rule,‭ ‬with regards to obtaining investigations,‭ ‬which generally runs something along the lines of‭ '‬trying your best not to tread on other peoples toes‭'‬.‭ ‬ Sadly,‭ ‬such considerations currently seem well beyond most‭ ‬-‭ ‬so-called‭ ‬-‭ ‬investigative groups.

It has to be pointed out that,‭ ‬over the space of many years,‭ ‬there have clearly been‭ ‬countless occasions where other groups appear to have used the W.M.G.C.‭ ‬investigation list as a ready-made‭ '‬index‭' ‬to be dipped into willy-nilly for their own ventures.‭ ‬Frequently,‭ ‬the only time we've heard from the groups concerned is when they've contacted us to ask if we'd help them get into the places involved,‭ ‬when they have evidently been having problems themselves‭!! ‬Laugh‭!!‬ Only a few weeks ago,‭ ‬we received a txt message from someone,‭ ‬asking about how to get access to a site they’d seen on our website,‭ ‬as they also wanted to investigate the location.‭ (‬Only the first name of the enquirer was given in the txt and the information that he was a member of‭ ‘‬a local group‭’)‬.‭ ‬On answering the message,‭ ‬we actually gave them the requested information‭…‬.‭ ‬and,‭ ‬in all friendliness,‭ ‬enquired who we were dealing with‭?

Surprise,‭ ‬surprise,‭…… ‬there was no reply‭!! ‬Laugh‭!!

Only a couple of days ago,‭ ‬while generally surfing the net,‭ ‬we happened across a previously unnoticed,‭ ‬local website containing a number of sites that have appeared on the W.M.G.C.‭ ‬investigations list‭ – ‬including sites previously exclusive to our files‭ ‬-‭ ‬including the site asked about a few weeks ago‭…‬..‭ !!!

Another,‭ ‬fairly recent incident occurred when a group applied for permission to visit a site that the W.M.G.C.‭ ‬had just investigated.‭ ‬Amazingly,‭ ‬this was within a couple of days of press coverage of our visit‭ – ‬previously unannounced anywhere else‭ – ‬being released‭! (‬Talk about rapid response‭!! ‬Laugh‭!!) ‬Ironically,‭ ‬the group concerned had mentioned a past association with the W.M.G.C.‭ ‬in their introductory letter to the site,‭ ‬evidently as a means to helping their appeal for entry‭!! ‬Having subsequently raised the matter with someone previously associated with the group in question,‭ ‬it was actually suggested that their response might have been down to a matter of‭ ‘‬turf war‭’ – ‬i.e.‭ ‬we had,‭ ‬in visiting their general region,‭ ‬been‭ ‘‬trespassing on their home ground‭’!?!?!?!

One has to ask exactly what this field is turning into‭!?

Yet another recent case‭ – ‬also evidently something which came as a direct consequence of media coverage‭ – ‬involves another local group gaining access to a property within a brief period of our investigating the site.‭ ‬On their web page,‭ ‬the group concerned claimed complete control of the building in question‭ – ‬no mention of our past association with the place,‭ ‬the WMGC having actually‭ ‘‬discovered‭’ ‬the building and being the only group to visit the site prior to this‭ – ‬and stressed that their dealing with the location had to be kept a‭ ‘‬strict secret‭’ ‬by request of the site.‭ ‬Ironically,‭ ‬upon our dealing with the place,‭ ‬only a brief period earlier,‭ ‬media coverage was something that was greatly encouraged‭!! (‬The people involved in setting the matter up even advertised our investigation on a local government website‭!!! ‬Laugh‭!!!) ‬Most tellingly in this case was the fact that,‭ ‬on our subsequent re-investigation,‭ ‬we were informed that the other group were also due to re-visit‭…‬..‭ ‬with a media oriented camera crew in tow‭!! ‬So much for utter secrecy,‭ ‬eh‭?

The real ironic twist in this particular tale was a correspondence from the head of the group concerned to the W.M.G.C.‭ ‬in which a third party‭ (‬unknown to the W.M.G.C.‭) ‬was blamed for‭ ‘‬crap stirring‭’!? ‬We were given an assurance that the group in question would never stoop so low as to‭ ‘‬steal‭’ ‬investigations from our group,‭ ‬despite the fact that this is what had all too blatantly happened‭! ‬Sadly,‭ ‬a protestation of complete innocence‭…‬..‭ ‬might have carried more weight if an attempt at explaining how they had‭ ‘‬accidentally‭’ ‬contacted a site that they could have only learned of in named,‭ ‬W.M.G.C.‭ ‬media coverage and a subsequent endeavour to‭ (‬a‭) ‬hide the fact under a bizarre veil of secrecy and‭ (‬b‭) ‬take it upon themselves to try and close the building down to everyone else‭!?!?

Non-investigation-wise,‭ ‬we have also,‭ ‬constantly,‭ ‬found information and photographs being‭ '‬ripped‭' ‬from our website and blatantly placed on other groups‭ ‬pages and publicity literature.....‭ ‬One fledgling group that we offered help to a short while ago‭ – ‬help which was turned down in favour of another,‭ ‬new local group,‭ ‬we hasten to add‭ – ‬have now seemingly‭ ‘‬ripped‭’ ‬articles written by a W.M.G.C.‭ ‬member‭ (‬about W.M.G.C.‭ ‬investigations‭) ‬from another site and pasted them onto their own web page‭…‬..‭ ‬with no credit whatsoever going to the party in question‭ !!

Unfortunately‭ ‬-‭ ‬cutting a potentially,‭ ‬very long story short‭ ‬-‭ ‬what is clearly lacking in this field currently are signs of general‭ '‬pride‭' ‬and‭ ‬/‭ ‬or pride in‭ '‬originality‭' ‬that should be involved in running a group.‭ ‬ At the end of the day,‭ ‬respect,‭ ‬originality and simple honesty are supposed to be key elements in this field and,‭ ‬if anyone has a modicum of‭ ‬any of the above for themselves,‭ ‬then,‭ ‬surely,‭ ‬such notions should be aimed at others in the same breath‭?‬ We believe that there should most definitely be an element of general‭ '‬pride‭' ‬and‭ ‬/‭ ‬or pride in‭ '‬originality‭' ‬involved in running a group.‭ ‬In a broader context,‭ ‬people wouldn't be happy in running a business‭ (‬for example‭) ‬and going around,‭ ‬blatantly stealing everyone elses customers.‭ ‬Needless to say,‭ ‬this does indeed happen,‭ ‬but it doesn't exactly lead to gaining a good reputation‭ (‬within whatever context‭)‬,‭ ‬does it‭?

Lack of originality‭ – ‬or is that more accurately‭ ‘‬lack of ability‭’ ‬-‭ ‬in finding investigations has been the‭ '‬make or break‭' ‬point of so many groups and researchers in the past.....‭ ‬and rightly so,‭ ‬we hasten to add‭!!‬ Commercial ghost hunting ventures have frequently appeared to be the backbone of a lot of‭ (‬so called‭) ‬investigative societies in recent years‭…‬..‭ ‬but simple‭ ‘‬net surfing‭’ ‬and‭ ‘‬borrowing‭’ ‬from others will always be the more popular,‭ ‬cheaper and,‭ ‬therefore,‭ ‘‬common‭’ ‬option‭!!

Of course,‭ ‬there is the frequently stated argument that anything which appears on the internet is now‭ ‘‬in the public domain‭’ ‬and,‭ ‬therefore,‭ ‬instantly‭ ‘‬fair game‭’ ‬for anyone that comes across it‭…… ‬This is quite true to a great degree,‭ ‬of course‭ – ‬but it is quite telling that this sort of practice and attitude is looked on with complete scorn in pretty much every other situation in day to day life...‭! ‬We’re sure car thieves have the same type of attitude to other peoples vehicles and so on‭!!

Another,‭ ‬oft-quoted,‭ ‬opinion is the‭ ‘‬sites should be open to all‭’ ‬statement which often appears in debates on this subject.‭ ‬Needless to say,‭ ‬in a perfect world,‭ ‬this would probably be the case‭…‬..‭ ‬but such protestations‭ (‬under the current climate‭) ‬don’t carry too much,‭ ‬moral weight when made by people who are blatant culprits in such practices,‭ ‬or made in support of others who share the same,‭ ‘‬tough cheese‭’ ‬attitude‭……

This overall picture is indeed something of a grey area and evidently doesn't just boil down to a‭ ‬case of‭ ‬‘who lays claim to what‭’‬ and so on.‭ ‬The whole matter is a bit of a double-edged sword to be honest,‭ ‬as a lot of clubs and societies‭ ‬-‭ ‬once they get into a property‭ ‬-‭ ‬are now endeavouring to get it‭ '‬closed down‭' ‬to any other prospective research attempts.‭ ‬Again,‭ ‬this speaks volumes for the so-called‭ ‬-‭ ‬and often self-professed‭ ‬-‭ '‬sharing‭' ‬research community.......‭ ‬but,‭ ‬under the sorts of circumstances outlined above,‭ ‬who can actually blame people for taking such steps really‭?

Colour the subject however you like,‭ ‬but flagrant disregard for others and simple theft are just that at the end of the day‭…‬.‭ ‬And debate all you want,‭ ‬but,‭ ‬when all people can do is take what others have actually gone out and made the effort to attain for themselves‭…‬..‭ ‬theft is still theft at the end of the day‭…‬..‭

Regards to all,

The W.M.G.C.


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