Rule #1: Don’t Mess with The Oatmeal


The limits of Internet research

Stuef’s target this time was Matthew Inman, the man behind the wildly successful cartoon website The Oatmeal. Inman’s ability to create shareable, viral content is not unlike that of Buzzfeed, and Inman’s big moment in the sun this year came after his rabid fanbase helped him raise over $200,000 for charity in response to a defamation suit filed against him. “Rule number one of the Web: You don’t mess with The Oatmeal,” Mashable’s Lauren Hockenson wrote.

For all of Stuef’s Internet research, it seems he didn’t read that article. When Inman drew criticism for putting a rape joke in a recent cartoon, Stuef used it as the peg for a profile of Inman and his business model, arguing that the cartoonist’s funny little comics were actually keenly targeted marketing ploys designed to maximize traffic, power, and profit:

Unlike that of most successful webcomic artists, Inman’s work was not originally a labor of love, a slow process of honing one’s voice, developing an original perspective and take on the art form, and eventually building an audience. It was always a business, always a play to known sources of Web traffic, whether for clients or for himself.


via The limits of Internet research | Columbia Journalism Review