Earlier today, I received an invitation from a network creator who is also a member of my network. No problem, I figure we share the same taste in music, what could be the harm. Well, I got the surprise of my life when I see every last one of my sign-up profile questions while in the process of signing up for his network!
This wouldn't have been a problem, if not for a question this person asked here on Creators today about navigation icons I recently removed from my site. The navigation icons were provided by Jen, so anyone can use them. But in this person's discussion, he used a screenshot of my network. So now there are two things going on here that lead me to believe the only reason this individual joined my network was to take ideas from my network for his own. Before you think I'm being paranoid here, you should know that my membership has just been approved, and I've had the opportunity to have a look around the site. Yep! There go my module headers!
Now look. When I purchased my network theme two years ago, I knew perfectly well that someone else could very well purchase the same theme. That's why when I rebuilt my new network on the ashes of the old last year, I changed the color scheme and did my own tweaks. It was never meant to be permanent, just in place long enough until I could do better. I'm in the process of doing better, and I will soon have a whole new professional theme in place. So what this person does with my old theme, doesn't matter. However...
One of my gripes with Ning has always been that Ning networks all look alike. I don't care how pretty your graphics are, or which theme or layout you use, if you don't possess the skills it takes to make your network stand out from the herd, there's nothing you can do about it. One of my suggestions since 2010 was that Ning build a column width feature similar to that of their competition. This feature allows network owners to drag and adjust the width of their columns. Having this would go a long way in giving us a way of differentiating our networks one from the other. I've been assured by someone up top at Ning that Ning will build no such feature in the near future, which (naturally) means never.
Well, there's nothing I can do about Ning and their decisions, so let's move on.
Original. Unique. Distinct. Individual. These words should mean something when we create our Ning networks. It should be the first thing to come to mind before we decide to put our communities out there on the internet. No one ought to look at another network and desire to make theirs look the same way. There are certain codes that good folks like Jen, Bernard, J Farrow and Soaring Eagle provide us with that help give our sites that extra something, but none of us use those codes in the same way. We edit or configure these codes to suit our themes and our particular needs. When you copy verbatim someone's work, you are stealing an idea. Unfortunately there is no legal recourse, we can't sue people for being unoriginal and uninspired.
Bottom line is this: If you lack imagination, you don't belong here. In fact, you have no business building a community on any platform if you can't come up with your own ideas. By the end of next week, I will have practically stripped the Ning-ness out of my network, and I will have graphics the likes of which I wish I always had from the time I first set up shop on Ning. The new look springs from my imagination, and the graphics from my pockets. It has taken me the better part of a year to get to this point. Anyone looking to make a name for themselves by swiping or mimicking my work better get it through their thick skulls that it takes more than just a gorgeous looking network to be successful. It takes vision, and that's one thing I've got they will never have, nor can ever take from me.
(By the way, despite swiping a few things from my network, the offending network creator has done a shoddy job of customizing his. I'm blinded by the Myspace-style glittery crap. It looks like a ten year old built it.)
being able to drag and adjust the size and shape of modules is a great idea,and a problem im having now with my site. that would make a huge difference for all ning creators and to me doesnt seem like that major of an upgrade to be ignored.... my site needs that feature ning!
Yeah, it's an awesome feature, Richard! Back in '09 I was exploring leaving Ning for good, so I went to their competition for a few months. They even have video chat, while Ning only recently upgraded their old chat.
I cannot speak for them, but after some dubious attempts at getting me to join their site, I did take a closer look and discussed with them what they are doing (such as forwarding a link to Ning's community guidelines).
My general impression was they were very respectful. The Network Creator doesn't seem to speak very good english, but he does have an admin who asked me about where to get that navigation- to purchase from Ning or as the forum pointed to- Jen's tip.
The site is a combination of goth vampire styling and rock/ metal music. There were some sharp graphics in their logos & backgrounds, but also some flash glitter type stuff that I didn't think was too tasteful. So kind of hard to pin down how much they knew what they were doing. There's some indication of previous music site experience, but also hints they might actually be novices with Ning.
There was some good effort at content. There's some concert footage and essay type articles on bands & music history. It definitely could use some improvement, but I can see why some people would find it an enjoyable social site.
Again, I can't speak for them as there's always the possibility you are right on it. I don't know where they got those questions or other elements of the site you mention. After meeting them, I would be kind of surprised if they were actually trying to malevolently steal anything. I would not be surprised though, if they were trying to incorporate things they saw and liked without much idea of what they were doing.
My guess is that it was more a matter of being clumsy and perhaps a bit naive about copying someone else's ideas...not unlike the lack of common sense I see by many new Ning creators. I wonder if you informed them about the infringement, regardless of the technicalities of rights and Ning's position, and explained to them why it was wrong- if they would not do the right thing and adjust accordingly.
What I can say is your site outclasses them- way outclasses- so their embarrassment in this is probably your compliment. That's not even including your upcoming redesign to the next level.
I figure for the courtesy they extended me in discussing their project, that I would suggest you might give them a chance to get in your good graces...or perhaps, upon correcting, to at least not have to bear the full Thunder coming down on them, lol!
So you know who I'm talking about, eh? LOL
It did occur to me later that they don't understand what they've done, as you say. In fact, I'd say your assessment of their character, intentions and network design is accurate. One other reason I was so pissed was because of another nc who has quite literally taken everything from another nc. Brian Floe is a great guy, and has offered many tips both here and at JenSocial. This other nc asked him for numerous tips, and Brian obliged, not knowing this person was going to steal everything he built. This person's network looks exactly like Brian Floe's network! Brian has since decided against participating here at Creators, and instead posts his ideas at JenSocial. Eventually, Jen had to ban this other person from her site because of his propensity to literally steal concepts and make them his own. This is the kind of thing I'm addressing here, and it is unforgivable.
I've picked up on that a few times...people that were literally trying to compete for the same members, being moles, taking advantage, and then boldy copying. When it is intentional, I completely agree it's unforgivable.
There's that little copyright thing and terms of service that should protect us. Not sure how much it does, but where it can be proven may actually be subject to legal action.
People who resort to that go nowhere. It's easy to take enough rope to hang yourself. Some ideas are in the public domain of web design. However, you can usually tell these people are intentionally trying to copy, because that same intention often goes so far to try to copy exactly.
Yesterday I was watching a national television program and almost subliminally I recognized some very high end graphics on their transitions. Several years ago I had asked the creator of those graphics for permission and got it. Their work was so amazing, and I can totally see why someone might have been tempted to incorporate it without permission. The graphics transitions modified it, but since I'm so familiar with the work, I noticed it as unmistakable. So I wrote the guy who owns the rights and just congratulated him...and mentioned that I'm sure he's entitled to some notable compensation for its use ;)
I'm sure, Patrick, that all of your features and instruments are part of an harmonic design and if anyone copies your ideas for an another network, he is not only unable to create a community (because he doesn't have a specific project in his mind), but also the result will be horrible.
I agree with you about ning interface, I advanced this suggestion several time, overall about body width size. It's enough to see a blogger site where you can decide how large you want your blog
Thank you Riccardo!
hmmm...imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, however, it's the joining your site thing that bothers me. Let's just hope Anthony is right and that they really didn't mean any harm. At least you brought this up, T, and perhaps other newbies will learn from the discussion.
While I was disgusted reading your post, you closing sentence made me laugh so hard!
I am not a code pro at all and I thankfully apply some of the great tips you smart guys (I wanted to put down smartie pants, but hey) post here. I am always so happy that you are willing to help me not so smartie skirt, LOL
Over time I have learned that no matter how good you are trying to be there will be always bad people that take advantage and abuse you. This was one of those people.
You are right to be disgusted and I love your attitude: Your creativity and imagination is all yours!
Great image, Debby! Powerful words.
Had the same problem this week with a cut&past network ! Grrrrrr....
Yeah, man. It's so not cool! It's bad enough other social networks have cropped up since I launched last year trying to do the same thing, this is the last thing I need.