So, I’ve been thinking more about open access and the green, gold and diamond models of which I know very little. However, I do have an analogy that might help me to understand some of the things that are going on.
In the year 2015 at the end of June I made a Buzzfeed quiz for my friend. Buzzfeed allows anyone to make whatever content they wish, from articles to quizzes. Once uploaded, this content is accessible to all.
I was making, in this instance, a not niche, but an apparently not-yet-made quiz: Which Jane Austen Hero are You? A quick search in 2015 yielded no results, and the only quiz there was on such a topic included Austen’s antagonists too, namely Wickham, Willoughby and Mr Collins. Not exactly the heroes I was after.
So, off I went to make the quiz.
However, the day after making that quiz, whose recipient was the grand total of one friend, I found an email in my inbox that told me my quiz was ‘promoted to the [Buzzfeed] books front page’ and that I’d ‘won the 1000 views award,’ whatever that was. Now, I highly doubted that my friend had taken the quiz 1000 times as there were only six outcomes.
I also found that I could no longer edit my own quiz now that it was promoted and displayed on Buzzfeed’s homepages. I guess I felt what academics feel once they’ve had pieces accepted to certain academic journals and are no longer allowed to publish it or repurpose it elsewhere. I’d given exclusive access to this company and I wasn’t allowed to get that access back. (I did eventually, but while the quiz was riding the wave of views, it was blocked.) Buzzfeed had also edited the quiz within an inch of its life, replacing all my images with their own cohesive colour schemes and font which remain to this day because it is exhausting waiting for every single image to upload for every single question and answer box. Within three days, the quiz had 100k views.
While this was very exciting, and it was tweeted by the likes of Oxford World’s Classics and Penguin Canada, I had the distinct impression that the quiz was no longer mine, that this model benefitted – led to monetary gain for – Buzzfeed. But I also had momentary prestige in my own mind. Was it a fair deal after all? Benefit, I guess, is the whole point of their business, and I don’t accuse academic publishers of doing exactly the same thing, but I do see where open access models can fall down when they are similar to this one. At what end of the flow should there be open access? Is it more important for the contributors/authors or the consumers/readers? Or should it be equal?