Identity Plagiarism

A blogger steals someone else's life story and calls it her own.

There's a new member on the popular San Francisco–based online sex forum AskIsadora. Her name, apparently, is Jo. She purportedly joined to work out a few, uh, issues — issues that seem to have fueled one of the most bizarre cases of blogosphere deception and plagiarism in recent memory.

The story begins last year with a British Columbia–based blog called Cooper's Corridor. Nicky Cooper — a firefighting 26-year-old gay father of two adopted sons — had begun amassing devoted readers who soon became online friends and confidants. Most were gay men attracted to his poetic, soulful musings on the challenges of being a gay single parent. Some were so touched by his words they sent holiday gifts and candy to his children.

So when the blog abruptly disappeared in late April, readers were distraught. After gaining too much exposure, Cooper had apparently started getting antigay e-mails. He didn't want to expose his sons to scrutiny, so "I have deleted my blog," he wrote. "I'm very sad that I have felt the necessity to do this, because I loved the Corridor and feel it had a unique voice of its own." One Cooper's Corridor reader lamented, "He, perhaps, [was] the single greatest gay role model.", written by Kate Inglis, was stolen from again and again to provide content for Cooper's Corridor., written by Kate Inglis, was stolen from again and again to provide content for Cooper's Corridor.

It would have been sad, if only it were true. Cooper really ditched the blog because he got caught plagiarizing.

He had deleted the blog just minutes after Kate Inglis — a talented 35-year-old mommy blogger from Nova Scotia — called him out on stealing content from her blog, Cooper had passed off events in Inglis' life, and sometimes entire word-for-word passages and photos, as his own material. He had even lifted writing from the most personal part of her story, that her youngest son had a twin brother who died six weeks after birth.

Then things got creepier. Several weeks after Cooper's Corridor disappeared, another blog called Nico's Niche sprung up. It seemed that Cooper — who continued to poach sentences and themes from SweetSalty and other blogs — was behind it. This time Inglis called him out in the blogosphere. "I don't know what's more pathetic — him plagiarizing a personal blog for his own personal blog," she wrote, "or me wanting him tarred and feathered for it."

She also enlisted the help of gay New York City blogger Father Tony, who had been communicating with Cooper for months. Through his investigation, Father Tony discovered something amazing. Nicky Cooper was not a gay father at all, but a 52-year-old grandmother named Jo.

Local blogger Kenneth Wong calls Jo the less-talented J.T. LeRoy of the blogosphere. "Perhaps she doesn't have a life that's interesting enough to merit a blog," he wrote.

Jo would beg to differ. After her true identity was revealed, she apologized and admitted on Father Tony's blog that since she was 6, she had felt like a man trapped in a woman's body. To fulfill this fantasy, she had created an alternative gay male identity — Nicky — who stopped aging at 26. Jo had grown up Catholic, married at 19, and had three children. But it was only her interactions in the blogosphere, as Nicky, that made her feel complete. Upon hearing all this, Father Tony quickly directed her to Isadora Alman's sex forum.

"Goody for me," Alman said when she learned of her new member. "Another crackpot."

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