Like many plagiarism scandals, it started with a small number of phrases and ideas but quickly ballooned to include not just other content in the video itself but other items he’d posted on the site.
IGN responded quickly by investigating the similarities and, the next day, announced that it had “parted ways” with Miucin over the allegations. As the investigation moved forward, IGN decided to simply remove everything that Miucin had written or produced for the site as a safeguard.
A few days after his firing, Miucin took to his YouTube channel and posted a now-deleted video where he denied intentionally plagiarizing, portrayed himself as a victim of vicious attacks and lashed out at Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier, saying that Schreier was trying to get “clicks off his name.”
After that, Miucin and the plagiarism story faded into obscurity, becoming something of a footnote in games journalism history.
However, earlier this week, Miucin returned to his YouTube channel with a pair of videos, both embedded below, that apologize for what he did and attempt to explain it.
But this raises a simple question: Why apologize now? After months of silence, why come forward today?
There’s no definite answer to that question but, what is clear, is that the timing of the apology takes what could have been a great plagiarism apology and strip it of nearly all its meaning.
Understanding Miucin’s Apology
Miucin’s apology came in the form of two videos, both slightly over two minutes long.
The first video, entitled simply “My Apology” was published on April 19 and is little more than a recounting of the plagiarism that Miucin committed and a direct apology to those that he wronged, including the targets of his plagiarism, his cohorts at IGN and his readers.
The apology is, in truth, very good. As I wrote in my perfect plagiarism apology post back in 2014, it does all the things I would hope to see. It apologizes to all that were harmed, takes blame for the action, works to clear the record and accepts the consequences (including the possibility he may never be forgiven).
The apology comes across as frank, sincere and humble. He seems like someone who knows that what he did was wrong and wants to do better moving forward.
He continues this with his second video in which he attempts to offer some explanation for why he did what he did.
This video, as with the first one, comes across as frank and honest and, while trying to explain why he did what he did, doesn’t try to portray him as a victim or deflect blame.
He explains that, while he was confident in his work as a video editor, he was never confident in his writing and didn’t expect his YouTube channel or his career to move so fast. As such, Miucin said he took a dream job he wasn’t ready for and plagiarized others that he trusted and agreed with to boost the quality of his work.
He admits it wasn’t right, that he should have simply understood he was in over his head, but still paints a somewhat sympathetic picture of himself.
This is, ultimately, a rare moment of honesty for a plagiarist. He admits that what he did was wrong and, without deflecting blame, explains why he did it. If one looks at just the content of the videos, they are a great apology.
Unfortunately though, they are also woefully incomplete and, more importantly, way late.
In fact, as good as these apologies are, they may actually do more harm than good, both for Miucin and those he wronged.
A Day Late and a Dollar Short
If Miucin had posted these videos back in August 2018, it might have gone a great way to repairing both his name and to healing the wounds he had created. In April 2019, the benefit is far more dubious.
First, though Miucin does give a relatively thorough recounting of his plagiarism, he doesn’t talk about his actions after being caught. In particular, he doesn’t address his first “apology” video where he told lies about his plagiarism and attacked those who were calling him out.
In short, while he does talk about his plagiarism, he doesn’t discuss the other ways that he harmed the people around him as the story unfolded. In short, his behavior after the story broke was abhorrent and calls for its own atoning, that atoning isn’t included in this video.
The other problem is the timing. If Miucin had released these videos in the immediate aftermath, it would be one thing. To release them eight months later, however, borders on counterproductive.
Most people had either forgotten about Miucin or, at the very least, had moved on. Even if Miucin’s apology is 100% sincere, it risks opening old wounds and simply reminding people of what he had done.
Though apologies are, in general, a good thing, they can sometimes do more harm than good. This is likely one of those cases.
Apologizing when it may do harm becomes less about helping those you injured and more about improving your reputation and calming your own guilt.
While this may not have been Miucin’s intention, it’s the likely outcome.
But more to the point, the timing also calls into question Miucin’s motives. No matter how true his intentions were and are, it gives the appearance that he’s only apologizing so he can return to public life.
According to Miucin, he held off because he was advised by people he trusted not to apologize or come forward. However, that was bad advice and advice he didn’t actually follow (considering his first apology video).
If you’re going to apologize, the apology should happen as soon as possible. After all, the goal of the apology, according to Miucin, is to help those he wronged gain closure. Wouldn’t that closure have been better served eight months ago?
Also, why isn’t the apology served directly to those who were wronged? While a public apology can still be useful and a good thing, just doing so publicly implies that the goal isn’t to right wrongs, but to reopen locked doors.
Whether it was bad advice or an unwillingness to do so back then, Miucin missed his chance to apologize and have it really count and the method he chose with which to apologize casts even more doubt on his intentions.
The content of Miucin’s apology videos are, by themselves, very good. They come across as sincere, complete apologies for plagiarism and do a good job explaining things without trying to deflect blame.
If he had published these videos eight months ago, it might have gone a long way to repairing the damage he had done. However, posting them in April 2019 just reopens old wounds, calls his motivations into question and helps very little.
While I personally find the videos to be fascinating, they aren’t particularly useful as apologies, no matter how well they are done.
In the end, it’s a lesson for future plagiarists. If you’re going to apologize, apologize quickly and sincerely because an apology that isn’t both those things will not go over well.