Sunday, July 6, 2008

What to do when you suspect your hard work is being stolen?

Update: the author of the blog I'm talking about apologized and made some changes to his site and post. The important is to learn from our mistakes :)
Tip of the hat to him for acting quickly and being honest.

I started working on the Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP) over a year ago, first as a personal challenge and proof of concept, and more recently as a true viable commercial product. I've spent countless hours on this, and even got a group of "angel advisers" who I am forever grateful for helping me out.

Thank you Avinash!

This morning, an email from my friend Avinash brought me to a new web analytics practitioner site working at a large company. I will not disclose that company name or link to the blog... This guy had good words for Avinash's style and his article on Benefits of blogging. Avinash is one of the greatest guy I have ever met and is rightfully highly respected in the industry, he has a chearful personality and he is always ready to help. But I think Avinash might be as disapointed as I am about what follows...


There are only 2 blog posts on this guy site, along with an About and a Tools list. Let's look at it more closely:
  • The first post, "What is web analytics", is a copy & paste from wikipedia and a PC Magazine article...
  • The second post could have been a great praise for WASP... except the guy called it differently and didn't link to the official source. He even went as far as actually ripping of the page code from so that the extension installer can be launched from his own site. There is no way he can have done all of this without knowing about the real name and about my site.
  • The tools list is a ripp off of my page at, which is generated from the WASP configuration file. For God's sake, even the wrong alphabetical ordering of the products and the imperfect HTML tags are the same! The minimum he could have done is to mention/link the original source.
When I grade students assignments, if I suspect a copying and pasting was done (and believe me, it's easy to spot!), I do a search on Google with those couple of phrases or even the whole paragraph. If there is no reference to the original article and the abstract is more than a phrase long, I consider it to be stupid plagiarism. Thankfully, it only happened once... (and the horror: she said she did that all the time!)

Credit where credit is due

Mitch Joel posted about "One thing you should never do as a blogger" this week. I guess the flip side is:
The other thing you should never do as a blogger:
Never use others work as if it was your own, without citing or linking back.
Several blogs mentioned WASP, and I appreciate it greatly. They all follow the unwritten rule of linking back. Some commercial sites offering downloadable files also manually or automatically scrape my content and re-distribute the installer on their own site. When they do this, people often end up downloading an older version of WASP, which might cause some frustration for the user and additional support on my side. But at least, they clearly state the author and the official site.

What about you?

Am I pissed off at this guy attitude? You bet! And I hope he will act quickly to correct this situation.

Did people copy your work? What did you do? What would you do?