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REI's HikingProject regurgitated my content
23 points by myhikesorg 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments
I run a small independent trail sharing platform for hikers and backpackers, https://myhikes.org. MyHikes obviously has to compete in ranks against the big wigs like AllTrails, HikingProject, TrailLink, etc - which is impossible.

This competition has lead one 'competitor' (I say 'competitor' because I make no money), HikingProject, to publish a trail 2 weeks after I published the same one. That's fine and everything since all public trails are public and people should be able to find that information in multiple places. But, the issue I'm having is the almost verbatim regurgitation of content that they included in text on their platform here: https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7087026/dry-hollow-trail

Compared to my original content published and indexed 12 days prior here: https://myhikes.org/trails/dry-hollow-trail

A lot of this content was difficult to write since I hiked the trail, internalized it, and came up with data that would be relevant to someone who needs minute details - including information that HikingProject should have known if they had any pictures for their content as well.

So the best part about this terrible rewrite of most of my content is that now they rank above me in search. Additionally, they profit off of ads and apparently whoever decided to copy and rewrite my content didn't see the "Donate" button mentioning we run off of basically nothing. No one ever reached out to me to ask if they could use any information on the site, they just read it and rewrote it terribly.

I'm posting this because this is the modern internet. The little guy gets screwed over even when they create something original. HikingProject has a better rank than MyHikes, great... but ffs, can I at least have a rank based on originality AND high quality content?

Update: Since I cannot edit the main post anymore, I figured I'd leave an update here.

I was able to speak with REI's AdventureProject's / HikingProject's content team and explained my side of the situation and they explained the content was user-submitted. They spend a lot of time and money dedicated to publishing content to make sure that it's not outright copying anything else. From what I could see in my database, REI had never been on that trail on MyHikes in the past, so the similar-looking data they published may have come from the user who added the trail. That user may have read the content on MyHikes and regurgitated it in HikingProject. I can certainly appreciate all of that since I have to sift through and process user-submitted trail notes as well, but I'm a team of 1 at a much smaller scale.

Their content team said they would remove the offending text that I felt was too close in relation to what I had wrote, which is a really cool response. They also mentioned they believe trail information should be available in multiple places for the hiking community - which I 100% believe in and is why I started MyHikes in the first place.

To wrap it up, I did not go down this road to try and take their content down just to keep a better rank - I truly felt like they had some information that had been ripped off and they were totally willing to change it to accommodate my concerns.

Thank google! It used to reward original content, now it's all about users and likes, etc.

Yep and whoever makes them the most money through AdSense!

Some good suggestions here: https://neilpatel.com/blog/find-remove-stolen-content/

I like the idea another comment had about including very detailed "trap" content. And then use the suggestion in the article to set up a google alert for it.

Add a suitable copyright notice to your site then send rei a takedown notice. Better yet ask them for a licensing fee. Maybe they will hire you to write their content. Just be sure that you retain copyright.

You can also add in fake but irrelevant details to your descriptions to prove they took your data. This used to be common on paper road maps. Some include non-existent towns.

I had the same idea about the fake irrelevant data while trying to fall asleep last night. It's a great idea, but I also don't want to send any unwitting hiker or backpacker down the wrong route or include weird info that doesn't make sense - especially if someone gets lost on the trail and they're trying to decipher my trail notes.

I have contacted REI and submitted takedown requests on Google and Bing as well, but I'm not holding my breath for much. I do include a copyright at the bottom of the page from the site's inception until the current year as well.

It's nice to see that other people support this and don't just see this as me complaining. I truly think the internet is broken, but I'll continue to help build this stupid beast. Thanks for the reply!

Cool! As for “fake” info, I mean something like “look for the pink rocks next to the waterfall”. Something innocuous but you can point to to prove origin of their content.

Also, I’m a big fan of “if you can’t best ‘em, join ‘em”. I’d try to work out a deal with them rather than just take down your content.

Good luck!

True, you make some good points here and thanks a lot!

There likely isn't any need to add a statement about copyright.

I’m an REI member so I may be a little biased but they tend to be pretty respectful to people. You may want to write this up on their forums and see if you can get an admins attention.

Thanks I'll try that. I'm an REI member too, but may not be much longer.

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