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.)
I feel for you! I am a novice at all the design stuff- I still use an HTML cheat sheet! I hired Sweet Potato to help me. I am adventurous and I try all the new design toys when offered! and I appreciate the help so very much! I have vision I just don't know how to make my vision a reality! So I need all the help I can get!
But my biggest problem are content thieves and their egos! They think they can build it bigger, better, faster,stronger... more something...and then they try to lure away your good members! really ticks me off!! and it really hurts my site when it happens but I have found No Way to stop it!
If you find a way to control it please let me know!
Well, there's no real way to stop it. Certain custom themes are protected by laws, and my recent image purchases have terms of service that are enforceable by the creator. If I see any of my work elsewhere, I will point the companies I purchased my graphics in their direction.
Nothing wrong with being a novice, and needing assistance. My first Ning I built years ago while I was homeless, and I didn't know much. In no time, I was completely ripped off by someone else who stole practically everything from my site, then had the temerity to invite me to his. When Ning still used Ning ID, it was a nightmare back then. All Ning networks were connected, which meant you could join one network, friend 1000 members, then invite those 1000 members to your network.
This has totally happened to me as well. When introasian.com, a directly competing site with mine, switched to Ning format, they actively courted away tons of my members and directly copied the structure, nomenclature, marketing approach and much of the code I was using. In the end, it probably wouldn't be fruitful to sue them, but the truth is, some people don't have original ideas. The best they can do is copy.
I had the exact same thing happen to me in the early days of Ning, J! They had a team, money, recording studio, and video equipment. My old network never got above little more than 400 members, his numbered about 10,000. Now I got some dude in Europe trying to do the same thing. He and his team took my concept and are in the process of taking it to another level. Just like the other dude did to me years ago, this guy is using the same words and terminology I've been using to woo members to my network! I spoke to him yesterday, and told him that he's basically stealing everything I've ever written along with my idea.
What he doesn't know is I have an ace up my sleeve, and I am acutely aware of his Achilles heel.