Talking to My Splogger

So, mimickry is the sincerest form of flattery. Thursday, a man in San Diego copied my workblog and called it his own. He called me today (Saturday)- I had wanted him to call me if anything was unclear about my request, essentially to cease and desist use of my writing on his servers.

He explained that my site was an inspiration, and he didn’t consider it stealing. He also told me it wasn’t quite up to snuff, “I had to make it male. I made it black.” And that he was “90% English, 10% Male.” Points for levity, but badly timed, as I don’t think he understood just what an insult it was to have my content copied, my byline changed to his, and my writing degraded. “Do you live by the water?” he asked. It would have been really bad if he said, “… in San Fran.” Luckily he said, “…in San Francisco.”

On my/his site, he replaced my footer of “© 1998 banane.com all rights reserved, design by vlad, powered by WordPress” with his cell phone number, and “Use as much of this as you want!” Lovely. At least that proves he read my copyright, and ignored it.

He flattened the WordPress pages, and copied it wholesale to his domain. Then, he started to make changes- he put his name on top of my resume, “adjusted” my articles on spam with his “spam *secrets” (the secret is to “use pretty girls helps” [sic- and classic grammar issues that he has, see later]). He replaced my photo with a poorly scaled photo of him and his wife, and a yellow splash graphic. My “About” became “About Us,” which was left untouched for a day, as he removed the ways I had found him… my Google Ads, links to articles and internal content, counters, and Amazon links. At that point I had left about 4 voicemail messages and 3 emails. I told him I would file a Cease & Desist to him & his ISP in a few hours, if he didn’t remove all content. I saw some changes happening on his site which gave me hope- and ended up going to Dine Out for Life, and enjoying telling this shocking anecdote him to my friends. I also did some research.

(removed paragraph about person as recommended by Lorelle in comments)…

On my/his site, he retained phrases and paragraphs from my resume that are a little… unique. OLAP database designer? Less than 10% of the database designers in the world are OLAP, and you’re one of them? What a jack of all trades. Works with Web 2.0 startups? Interesting. Like one of his clients, a national military division, that bevy of 20-something digerati.

Lucky for me there is no fear that readers will run to his blog- he speaks as badly as he writes. Odd uses of the negative & verb tenses, and strange prepositional uses. I can’t remember verbatim this one phrase, but it was something like, “I done it to the backdoor server.” Anyways, He claims that he didn’t know this server was online. Still not OK, even if it’s offline. I just wouldn’t know about it! So, for a monthly fee you can hire him to design and host your web site (offline?), manage your ads, and promote your search status. Since 1997 (via my-his resume). Doesn’t know how to scale a photo… tell if a server is online.. isn’t familiar with WordPress, the top blogging software .. even though he’s been doing web work, since 1997!

I could see the conversation devolving into a debate of creative “inspiration” versus out and out stealing, so I just answered with, “Inspiration, that’s what you call it.” I was glad he took the site down, but it took him 3 days to remove the files from a public directory… even as a web designer since 1997!

I hated that I couldn’t help being helpful (those Minnesota genes die hard!) – and told him next time to simply use WordPress and these free themes. If he had reached out to me in the comments area or via email with a desire to get started with a professional blog, I would have helped him. Ironically, one of the pages he stole and rewrote had a link to starting a professional blog. Did he read it? I would have freely offered advice. That’s what blogging is about- free expertise. Instead, he tried to be sneaky.

In explaining to a friend how it felt like, as a writer- having my writing “expanded” by someone- with weaker writing skills- was bad, but having it done by someone who is ethically devoid (“not stealing, inspiration!”, “Spam Secrets!”) is a particularly fierce twist of the knife.

It’s down now, but if it ever goes up, let the ridiculing continue.

Links:
I call him a splogger, but essentially he’s just a copyright thief. Real sploggers are programs that go up in a flash for ad revenue, see: Wikipedia on spam blogs.

Could also be termed “website hijaaker,” except that he changed the content to his own ends. More info on copyright infringmet & blogging by Lorelle of WordPress.

Interesting note from Lorelle on opening up a dialog with one of her thiefs:

One person apologized for their ignorance of the law, then went on to tell me how disrespectful and ungracious I was because she’d posted what I’d written for a friend dying of cancer to cheer him up. I’m sorry about her friend, but theft is theft. If she had asked, I might have said yes, but stealing is still illegal, no excuses. Making me feel guilty for confronting the theft isn’t my problem. It is your problem.

2 Comments »

  1. Comment by Lorelle

    Posted on April 26, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    And linking to the copyright violator is giving them just what they want: links. :(

    Thanks for the recommendation, and sorry for your problem. Many try to confuse the issue, but copyright violation is copyright violation and illegal.

    I hope they are complying and removing the content, but do take care when making these issues public. As I warn in the article, you can be held responsible for libel and defamation, which carries greater penalties. Educating your readers is critical. Risking your life and future is serious business.

    Good luck and expect more of these creeps. There is big business in stealing content and making money on it. I also recommend you check out Plagiarism Today, my favorite source for help on copyright infringement issues.

  2. Comment by Kate

    Posted on April 28, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Is this man a total stranger? How did you find out what he’s doing? (At least you did find out!)

    I am sorry this happened. But yeah, it’s real flattery.

    I agree that linking to his web site is not something you want to do, but part of me really want to see what he has done! :)

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