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  1. #1
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    How do you feel about a copycat site?
    How would you feel about a site that was profitable, but was an obvious copycat of an already successful site?

    For example:
    what if there were a search engine called Geegle.com (or something) and the search worked great, and it looked different than Google, but it does the same thing as Google and has a similar name.

    Or if there were a social network site called MyPlace.com, which looked different than MySpace.com, but it really did the same thing and had a similar name.

    Or if there was a site called DrudgePost.com, that publishes news items.

    Like I said, the copycat site is profitable, but it has a similar name and function to the giant site.

    Would you stay away from the copy site? Would you still use it? Would you invest in the site if it were profitable?

  2. #2
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    Stealing is stealing. I would stay away from it. I would not use it. I would not invest in it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy
    Stealing is stealing. I would stay away from it. I would not use it. I would not invest in it.
    thanks, is it the name that turns you off?

    Because there are thousands of search engines, social networking sites and news sites. So you cant really "steal" a function like that.

    So its the name thats the culprit, right?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    You very well can steal a concept, depending on how specific you get. There's a difference between MySpace and Facebook, but they're both "social networking" sites. You can't say that Facebook is a ripoff of MySpace though. If you create a service that acts like MySpace, and that is clearly based on MySpace, it doesn't matter what the name of it is... it's still a ripoff. That it has a name similar to the original property is just another nail in the coffin.
    Daniel M. Clark
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  5. #5
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc100
    So its the name thats the culprit, right?
    No, it has nothing to do with the name. I happen to believe in original thought and innovative thinking. When designing my site I don't go and look at how somebody else did it, first. I trust in my own ability to create.

    I have this argument all the time with a client whose website I have designed and maintain. It's doing very well. But she goes to other sites and looks at them and wants to duplicate what they've done because it looks good to her and I absolutely refuse to do it. Just because it looks good doesn't necessarily mean it is working.

    Another habit she has is looking at who comes up in the adwords and the search engines. She thinks just because a Nordstrom listing is coming up ahead of her, they are getting all the sales even though she offers better pricing.

    Bottomline ... if you have to copy what somebody else has done, what are you doing in this business?

    What is the point of this thread anyway? Are you looking for somebody to say it is okay to copy somebody else's work. It isn't. That's called plagiarism. You may get away with it for a while, but it is still not right. Of course, if you don't have a conscience, you're going to do whatever you want to anyway.

  6. #6
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    thanks for the responses.

    Let me ask this,
    is this: http://www.engadget.com/
    a copycat to this:
    http://gizmodo.com/
    or a copy of this:
    http://www.boingboing.net/

    All 3 are blogs that review gadgets. Is one a copy of another, or would you avoid the 2 that came after the first one because they are copying the idea of the first one?

  7. #7
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    Who's site do you want to copy?

  8. #8
    Chick with Brains Tracy's Avatar
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    Who cares? If I had an idea to create a site to review gadgets, I would just create it without looking at how other sites did it. If I was looking for a review of gadgets, I would use the search engines to find sites that did that and probably settle the on the one that provided me with the information I was looking for. It never would enter my mind whether one of the sites I visited was just copying one of the others.

    Once again, what is your point? Are you looking for a site to mimic? Are you looking for a site to promote as an affiliate? What is the point of this?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProWebAddict
    Who's site do you want to copy?
    Im not copying anyones site.
    Ive had sites stolen from me in the past, word for word, same colors and everything and I hated that.

    I'm curious about using the same concept as someone else. Like when Yahoo and Amazon both came out with auctions to compete with eBay.

    And Im curious about how venture companies feel about a site that is profitable and has a potential for way more, and has its own look and feel and fuctions, but it has a similar name and similar function to an already much more popular site.

    Kind of like starting a wedding site call TieTheKnot.com when theres already a successful wedding site called TheKnot.com.
    I wonder if VC's would stay away from TieTheKnot.com (just an example, I dont know if there already is one), or if theyd say Hey its profitable, lets invest.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    I do think that using existing works for your own foundation is okay - otherwise nobody would ever create anything. Using Facebook and MySpace as the examples again, if MySpace never existed, would Facebook? MySpace wasn't even the first social networking site, it was just the first to get as large as it did.

    If nobody ever built on the ideas of others, we'd all be driving Model-T's. How creepy would that be?

    But there's a line between building on a general concept and being a copycat. And the original post said "but was an obvious copycat of an already successful site" and that's over the line. You're not building upon a general concept and being original (and valuable) when you're making an "obvious copycat" of an existing work.
    Daniel M. Clark
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  11. #11
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc100
    thanks for the responses.

    Let me ask this,
    is this: http://www.engadget.com/
    a copycat to this:
    http://gizmodo.com/
    or a copy of this:
    http://www.boingboing.net/

    All 3 are blogs that review gadgets. Is one a copy of another, or would you avoid the 2 that came after the first one because they are copying the idea of the first one?
    No, even thought they cover the same basic target area, each is unique and provides it's own viewpoint on the technologies covered. I read all three of these everyday, if they weren't unique I could read just one and move on to the comics much quicker.

    But using that argument, if you have a McDonald's in your town, then Burger King is a copy. If you want to take that a step further toward the ridiculous, then any fast food restaurant is a copy and therefore redundant and unnecessary.

    Two sites, companies, restaurants, people can and do provide similar information, products. food and viewpoints without necessarily being a copy of another. Sometimes it's the subtle difference that makes the difference. Sometimes you feel like a nut .....

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    Marc (I'm assuming that's your name ), you're aiming too broadly. There's nothing wrong with another site doing online auctions even though eBay was in that space first (actually, I don't think they were even first, were they?). There's nothing wrong with yet another social networking site popping up. There's nothing wrong with another wedding site, or another auto parts site, or another widget site.

    The problem comes when you rip off a *specific* site. If you design a site with the exact same features and benefits of eBay. If you design a site with the same catalog as that wedding site. If you design a site with the same color scheme, layout, and functionality as MySpace.

    It sounds odd, but think more narrowly
    Daniel M. Clark
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HecticDMC
    Marc (I'm assuming that's your name ), you're aiming too broadly. There's nothing wrong with another site doing online auctions even though eBay was in that space first (actually, I don't think they were even first, were they?). There's nothing wrong with yet another social networking site popping up. There's nothing wrong with another wedding site, or another auto parts site, or another widget site.

    The problem comes when you rip off a *specific* site. If you design a site with the exact same features and benefits of eBay. If you design a site with the same catalog as that wedding site. If you design a site with the same color scheme, layout, and functionality as MySpace.

    It sounds odd, but think more narrowly
    thank you.
    one last question

    If FaceBook was called "MyPlaces.com" instead (I made it up, dont know if theres a real myplaces or not) . And MyPlaces.com had more features than MySpace, and MyPlaces was very profitable, do you think VC guys and interent users would stay away from MyPlaces.com? Or do you think they wouldnt care and would use it and invest in it?

    Say MyPlaces.com looks totally different than MySpace. It has completely different content, everything is different...but the names are similar and theyre both social community sites.

    Thats my real question.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy
    Once again, what is your point? Are you looking for a site to mimic? Are you looking for a site to promote as an affiliate? What is the point of this?

    I have a chance to grab a killer domain name, but its similar to a larger site that I knows makes megabucks, and I dont know if I should get the name and build a site on it or not.

    Id like to make some money too, but if it makes me a slimeball to have a similar name, then I dont want to do it.

  15. #15
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marc100
    If FaceBook was called "MyPlaces.com" instead (I made it up, dont know if theres a real myplaces or not) . And MyPlaces.com had more features than MySpace, and MyPlaces was very profitable, do you think VC guys and interent users would stay away from MyPlaces.com? Or do you think they wouldnt care and would use it and invest in it?
    Investors don't necessarily look at a potential investments roots beyond the legalities. If "MyPlaces.com" were profitable and they didn't foresee any legal issues with the the name, site or any other aspect I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to invest. They would be more interested in the potential profitability of a site than the ethics of it's origin.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    Honestly, I think it depends on how close to the original you are in your execution. MyPlaces.com would go over better than MySpaace.com. Folkbook.com would go over better than Facebuk.com, but probably not by much. There's also nothing that says you have to do the same thing with your site as the original. If you got MyPlaces.com, you don't need to make it a social networking site. Maybe it's a travel site.

    Basically, if you're going after a domain name that's similar to an already established mega-brand so that you can compete with that brand... well, you can do it, but you're going to come under fire for trying to ride the coattails of the original. If a shoe company called Noke suddenly popped up... that would not go over well, I think. If a company called Noke decided to go into the auto parts business, that would be just dandy.
    Daniel M. Clark
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Investors don't necessarily look at a potential investments roots beyond the legalities. If "MyPlaces.com" were profitable and they didn't foresee any legal issues with the the name, site or any other aspect I'm sure they wouldn't hesitate to invest. They would be more interested in the potential profitability of a site than the ethics of it's origin.

    -rematt
    thanks a lot.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by HecticDMC
    Honestly, I think it depends on how close to the original you are in your execution. MyPlaces.com would go over better than MySpaace.com. Folkbook.com would go over better than Facebuk.com, but probably not by much.

    Basically, if you're going after a domain name that's similar to an already established mega-brand so that you can compete with that brand... well, you can do it, but you're going to come under fire for trying to ride the coattails of the original. If a shoe company called Noke suddenly popped up... that would not go over well, I think. If a company called Noke decided to go into the auto parts business, that would be just dandy.
    Thats my situation. My name would be classy and real like FolkBook and MyPlaces examples. Its not a mispelling of the origional. Its different, but similar.

    Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it.

  19. #19
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    That's not to mean that just because you can do something that you should. If you are questioning the ethics of what you are contemplating then it probably isn't a good idea. I've often found that if I have to ask that question, I already know the answer. Let your personal ethics guide you.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

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