Curebit not only screwed up bad, but they kept digging deeper and deeper in their debate. I'm really glad they're being called for with directness and severity. You should be too.
I recently had a conversation with one of the friendliest businesses I patronize (an espresso bar in Sydney). The owner swore like a sailor about an ex-staff member who'd come back with the keys he'd "lost", and stolen from him in full view of the security cameras.
You need to know our audience, and to have chosen the personality you're prepared to project as your businesses spokesperson, but DHH (and Ben) have clearly both chosen to be perceived as "guys who'll use strong language when people steal from them". That choice might not "work" if you're in the clergy, or a school principal, but making that choice as a café owner or software company spokesperson falls a long way short of "not acceptable", at least in my book.
It's always impossible to measure the _really_ interesting stuff, but I wonder if 37Signals earned more benefit from people thinking things like "DHH is _really_ passionate about his business." than they lost from people who though "he used curse words on Twitter, I don't want to do business with him anymore"? (Patrick? How do ou a/b test founder personalities for conversion rate? ;-)
I'd personally reserve a moniker like "fucking scumbags" for people who would steal from their family/friends to fuel a coke habit. Or maybe Go Daddy.
EDIT: ok, I'll now admit that I misunderstood the term "ad hominem attack". A more appropriate definition would be "overly-generalized insult left open to interpretation", e.g. "douchebag". Something along the lines of "fucking lazy hack" would probably have been more accurate.
"typical East Coast bullshit." is how Steve Jobs described this sort of drivel.
We've entered an age of clearer, more direct and transparent communications. There's no time nor need for formalities.
37signals is very open about being an opinionated company. Their blog is quite happy to take a stance, they've always enjoyed mixing it up, and they've never seemed to have an issue with telling people "don't like it, don't use our products".
Here's the thing: this is how they've built their company. This is the kind of thing they say.
It's totally "acceptable" for DHH to tweet whatever the hell he wants, because that's the image he cultivated. That's what people love him for. That's why they follow him on Twitter, attend his talk, buy the books he cowrote.
You can dislike it all you like - nobody's forcing you to read it, nor forcing you to talk that way. But where on earth do you get off saying it's "unacceptable"?
Which means that it's perfectly integral and congruent for DHH to call somebody a "fucking scumbag" when that person steals from DHH's company. His values, and his words, and his actions all line up perfectly. He is behaving exactly like himself.
Even if you fall back on the dictionary definition of "the quality of being honest and having strong moral character," it fits.
Just because YOU don't think somebody should use a certain word doesn't mean they lack integrity. It also doesn't mean that anyone else cares.
So now using some design without permission is called stealing? so, copyright infringement is stealing or not?
I've posted elsewhere how the Curebit misstep caused me to form an opinion about the maturity of their product. I'm not going to bother of relating how DHH's response has changed my opinion of the 37Signals business, especially on HN given the ridiculous moderating practices related to anything remotely critical of 37Signals.
I've been thinking this morning about the knee jerk moderation and failure to communicate in this thread. There's a strong undercurrent of "Internet entrepreneur" that makes up HN, and I'd expect the discourse here to reflect the manner in which people communicate in their business endeavours. Knee jerk reactions, pedantry and emotional dogma don't have much place in business.
I'd kinda hoped that there could be some discussion about professionalism, what it means and how we can apply it to what we do. It appears that I expect too much, or the wrong things from HN.
Professionals are judged on appearance and appearance of action: not on what they actually do and the consequences of their actions. Similarly, to act "professionally" often means to act against your personal beliefs, to suppress your emotion, to ignore empathy and to react coldly.
To be "business-like" is often to be cruel and socially irresponsible: that's "just business".
I would like to be judged by my demeanour rather than my appearance and on the consequence of my actions rather than my actions.
used for emphasis or to express anger, annoyance, contempt, or surprise.
a contemptible or objectionable person.
EDIT: here's full context per JackWebbHeller's request:
@dhh The Sharebooster site is serving even more images straight off the Highrise server: http://yfrog.com/oddh4zoj . Fucking scumbags.
An ad hominem is used within the confines of an argument. There is no argument here. He is calling them what they are. They stole, that is clear, the argument is air-tight (they have even apologized).
I wouldn't use this kind of language myself (not in any circumstance), but ad hominem it is not.
(DHH didn't say that using 37Signals assets directly was bad because they were fucking scumbags, just that what they did was bad and they were fucking scumbags as a result.)
With that being said, both sides definitely should have reconsidered their PR strategy. Both being techies, it's reasonable to assume that they should be fully aware of how things like this propagate on the internet.
If I found someone blatantly repurposing something I worked hard to create, I'd have a similar reaction. This guys aren't CXOs of a Fortune 100 company that need to fear how the board and stock holders may react (and god fucking bless 'em for that). They're scrappy guys still hustling like they launched yesterday.
Calling them "fucking scumbags" isn't a cocky response, it's a free reality check. Poor Allan had a pretty significant lapse of judgment, and DHH may have given him the most valuable lesson of his life.
I don't think DHH has had a need to hustle in a while. He could have easily embarrassed cluebit with a witty remark, rather than embarrassing himself at the same time by the choice of language.
Exactly. Guys in his situation don't need to, but they still choose to. When you're playing with that sort of passion and intensity, you defend with vigor. That's embarrassing?
It's not like he drove over to cluebit's office and started smashing shit. He called him/them out. That's it, that's all.
The starched shirts feel a need to make everyone conform to their view.
So sadly, it's never "that's all" when it comes to them. We shall fight them on the shores, etc. etc.
It's cluebit that are scrappy guys still hustling, even if they got over a million in investor money...
It's only in your head that he is embarrassed.
And yes, in my head I do feel embarrassed for him when I see him lowering himself to name-calling over such a trivial issue.
I have no problems with salty language between equal opponents or when the other side is clearly malicious. In this case the opponent is such a pity that it feels akin to someone slapping a 5yr old for scratching their lamborghini.
But what he said was true. This wasn't ad hominem because it wasn't an argument. The argument is clear, Curebit stole, and have apologized. Therefore his reaction is not an attack but an accurate label.
Whether it is "professional" or not is a different story.
Please. If we're going to hold an intelligent debate, you need to work on your analogies.
And the level of incompetence at play here is precisely what makes DHH's reaction feel so out of place. Without thinking anyone could come up with a dozen classy ways to play the situation. Instead he chose the one that makes himself look less than ideal...
And there's nothing morally wrong about fighting back against people who have ripped you off.
If a hughely talented but completely amoral PR specialist had scripted this, perhaps it would have turned out exactly the same way...
For comparison, when the Oatmeal found his comics stolen, here's how he responded: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/funnyjunk
PS. i'm not defending anyone, but as an outsider i found the response was over the top and allangrant didn't call any names
I understand that there's a large section of the US society that has a significantly lower tolerance for "curse words" than at least my cross section of Australian society, but "fucking scumbag" is pretty close the the terminology I'd use if someone "stole" a bunch of design work like that from my business (I'd not use that terminology quite so publicly, since the other stakeholders where I am wouldn't appreciate it, and I'm happy to self-censor on a business front to meet their expectations...)
This makes the whole debate even stranger. The fella from Curebit messed up in a lot of ways (really, he couldn't even be bothered to host the content himself?), but on a scale of 1 to a million, I would put this whole mess at closer to 1. Let's be frank, any html/css/js you toss online can be sourced, it is the nature of the client side rendering world we live in.
"To the users of FunnyJunk: I never had plans to sue FunnyJunk and get it shut down; I just wanted my stolen comics removed -- your admin is a moron who chooses his words about as carefully as a mule chooses where to take a shit."
You might want to go and study some LinkedIn profiles before apologizing for these guys. And as far is DHH is concerned, why would you want to steal from him in the first place. He gave his best work away for free. I'm no fan but I believe he's entitled to call these people out. In whatever tone he deems appropriate. Get used to it if you think following Curebit's steps is the way to go. It's a rough world out there.
Yet Stallman is coddled every time he calls someone "evil" and wishes them dead. Odd that.
Neither you, nor I, know what Stallman wished for or against.
Read your own answer here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3453379
It's a shame that we all can't be polite and friendly and remember pg's golden rule every once in a while, but alas there's not much we can do about it.
Let's spend our time on more important things :)
There have even been lawsuits, some of which Zynga lost.
They make so much money they don't care, and they made that money long before they were public.
I am personally not a fan of their attitude, but there are a lot of people enabling them.
And given that they also seem to have stolen someone's logo, seems like they're in need of a lesson.
I think DHH should have just said that "I am sure it will be resolved and Curebit will do the right thing." instead. The whole situation is just lame.
Recently we launched a site with several pages copied from 37signals' Highrise. We did more than take inspiration from their design - we actually used html & css code, and hotlinked to images on their site. We apologize to David and 37signals for ripping off their work. It was stupid, lazy, and disrespectful of their creative efforts. It's particularly painful for us to have done this to 37signals because they are big heroes of ours. We just hope they will accept our apologies.
The fact that their blog is now down with a database error does not exactly inspire much confidence.
So one of them snags the source from Highrise and changes some images around. I'm sure he previewed it, it looked fine and he published it. He probably forgot to change out the button images because they looked fine.
Who knows if this is how it happened, but it really seems like it could have been an honest (but definitely pretty stupid) mistake.
Edit: Not sure why this is getting downvoted, anyone care to explain? Action in startups is not always deliberate.
I would bet money there is not one web designer here who has never taken a tiny snippet from another site. It's kinda more of a matter of the quantity of content that they took. Plus the hot linking was especially dumb.
For full disclosure, I'm a young entrepreneur (<25), run a company that was started a few months after curebit (my cofounder applied and interviewed for the same YC class with a different idea), have raised pretty close to what curebit has raised, and am also a 500startups-funded company.
I'd just like to take a minute to hope that a couple of screw ups by others won't put companies like ours at a disadvantage. It makes me sad to think that "how old are you guys" is one of the first questions someone would ask, since I'm not sure physical age has anything to do with how people react to different situations. I'd sure like to think that if I screwed up people would chalk it up to me being me and not my generation.
I also hope people realize the big mouth investor with no taste (especially in what he wears ;) isn't the only person vetting 500startup companies. He has a whole investment team. Yes, Dave does pick a lot of the 500s companies himself (he was our biggest advocate), but the entire 500s team has a say. I also think you're overlooking the fact that curebit was also supported by YCombinator (and Dave has a lot of respect for PG's team and the companies they accept).
I don't condone what curebit did (far from it). I am close to positive someone at YC would have at least helped hash out ideas for design (and 500s' mantra is design, data, distribution), and, Dave has always said: running lean doesn't mean running cheap. But I hope that what one company does doesn't ruin it for the rest of us.
I knew that if I just asked "how old are you?" it would come off as a snarky comment on the situation. That's why I also included "Not making a judgement, genuinely just wondering."
While I wasn't trying to tie age to the issue at hand, I would have to disagree with your assertion that physical age doesn't have anything to do with how people react to different situations. Maybe experience is the real driver but obviously that is closely related to age. Either way that's neither here nor there.
As for the rest of your comment, I'm not totally clear on what you were trying to get across or who you were responding to but it still doesn't seem like it deserved to be down voted.
regardless, we don't shy away from helping our founders, even should they go astray. not proud right now, but we hope to be helpful where possible.
live & learn.
Proper apologies have three parts: 1) What I did was wrong. 2) I’m sorry that I hurt you. 3) How do I make it better? It’s the third part that people tend to forget…. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.
This has stuck with me and I noticed you were following on it very well, patiently and with humbleness.
Guess what? The issue will not die this weekend..
What is your plan B?
This is beyond the pale and it is not a case of 'live and learn'. Every single one of us as developers have taken the page layouts of others, even looked at their code and then coded something ourselves based around it. What you don't do is list layout code straight and insert your own images and URLs. I take it you're investing enough to employ people with HTML, CSS and front-end skills?
Will you throw some funding at me please?
The only way to try and stop it is to prevent people being able to create a new a/c from an ip address they were using to login with on their proper account. (and maybe penalize them for trying).
That's probably a fruitless effort though with proxies et al.
Although the page itself is defensible IP for 37signals, the chances of them taking legal action on it (see above) is so remotely slim that it puts this whole thing into the realm of creative and professional courtesy rather than copyright infringement.
It's more like a stranger coming into the town saloon, getting drunk, and spilling his beer on the local bad-ass.
from Google cache
Developing a nice-looking design is the easiest part of a startup. Generating the idea, interest, and funding is what stalls 98% of them. They had all that, but screwed up on the most doable aspect of the company. That alone greatly calls into question the judgment of the founders (not to mention the moral implications).
Anyone with half a clue knows that if you're copying HTML:(a) you'd better redact any references to the original source, (b) you ought to change the class names, and (c) you sure as shit better not link to resources on the owner's servers. After all, most HTML/CSS is borderline protectable under copyright in the first place.
P.S. If you're copy/pasting HTML/CSS, you're pretty terrible at web design. Anyone with even the slightest facility in web design could whip up a clone of the 37Signals landing page in an evening without doing more than sneaking a peek at the source.
Yes and no. They didn't choose the design because it looked nice, they chose it because it had already been A/B tested as more effective (admittedly, for a product other than their own, but still).
As someone who has created nice designs, and as someone that has also extensively multivariant tested designs to see which one gets a 1% boost in clickthrough... the 'nice' part is just the tip of the iceberg.
To clarify: not defending what they did. Just suggesting what I think their reasoning was.
If you're gonna name your kid something horrible, that's one thing. But if you actually think people are going to support you for it? A whole nother kettle of fish entirely.
The scariest people are people who not only do wrong, but who don't have the good sense to realize how others will react to it. They either entirely lack "theory of mind," or it's so out of touch with reality as to be utterly useless.
Whenever you come across people like that in life/business, I've found that it's smart to run as fast as possible the other way.
with the top half of
Edit: Replaced Basecamp signup page with Highrise signup page.
o FREE "On all Accounts" up top.
o Thicker border on center rectangle
o Offset rectangle in center
o Black / Same shade of blue for the Name, description of price.
o "Choose Plan" - Same name, positioning - and bit-for bit identical.
o "Cancel Anytime" Immediately above three options
o Statement of "Confidence" (Trusted vs Safe Secure)
o Quoted endorsement below the statement of confidence.
Real world story - when Netscape finally gave up the ghost as a software company and Mike Homer came up on top, and convinced Jim Barkdsale that our future was as a "Portal" - Jim Barksdale, our Beloved and incredibly well regarded CEO, came out at an all hands, spelled it out to the company, and said "The competition is now the portals - and that's something that we can go out and copy." - he used that word, "copy".
Within a week, we had _entire walls_ covered with plotted printouts (remember those?) of Yahoo's Portal, and, underneath those plotted printouts - element by element replicas depicting Netscape.com. You could almost overlay them.
It was successful. Netscape sold for $4 Billion to AOL ($10 Billion on the last day of trading) - but I can guarantee you that none of those designers were particularly proud of the work they where doing, and hopefully didn't put it in their portfolio.
Are you sure it's not illegal? From the bottom of the copied page:
"All text and design is copyright ©1999-2012 37signals, LLC. All rights reserved."
 Found an image of how it looked here for anyone interested: http://yfrog.com/nwxfxoyj
It's one thing to copy the design of a marketing page (which is pretty weak), but to serve assets from that company's servers? Such an action is so idiotic and pathetic, that it's absurd. It's completely inexcusable and deserves to be called out whenever it happens.
Please, can the disingenuous hyperbole. Nobody is buying it.
Most importantly, not everyone has to buy into your idea of "professionalism." Thank god.
This is indeed an open-and-shut case of blatant thievery and pathetic excuses and apologies, but let's not make it out to be the mother of all sins. 37signals will continue counting their millions in the morning and a light slap on the bare ass of a small-time thief would have been much more effective.
Somewhere else on this thread you called someone out on his/her analogies yet you invoke Samuel Clemons and George Carlin? Get it right, DHH is Andrew Dice Clay in this whole mess.
Please don't compare DHH to Mark Twain or George Carling, entertainers by trade and leaders at such, and call me disingenuous. #fail
And if you haven't heard people cussing in "professional contexts," you must not work with any designers or developers of any caliber. Or serious businessmen and women. Unless you live and work in Utah or in a church, perhaps?
Your defense of DHH as an entertainer is hilarious. O'Reilly presents... An Evening with DHH.
Wait, was this a subtle joke? Bob Saget's humor is very vulgar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctHArXFxu9A&feature=playe...
Not my cup of tea, but there it is.
Edit: The LaunchBit image is a stock photo. I apologize.
Both Launchbit and ShareBooster is breaking the iStockPhoto TOS by using it in their logo though.
Not for use as a logo, though, it would seem: http://www.istockphoto.com/help/licenses
> Prohibited uses for both Standard and Extended license
> Use in any logo or trademark
It all seems so incongruent to me. On one side of the coin, 37s wants to share their results openly but on the other using the idea they shared makes him "a fucking scumbag." I understand there is a copyright violation involved. However, I suspected 37s would have been more... tactful.
Unfortunately, this is the second time 37signals has disappointed me in the last few weeks. As a customer, they violated my sense of privacy and almost as worse one of their partners is a total hot-head. Personally, and this is only my opinion based on no fact...In the back of my mind I am thinking "what would a hot-head that does not respect my companies privacy do with our information?!" To think I used to look up to them!
This happened to a company I worked for, a company not only ganked our website but used pictures of our offices and staff we had on our about us page!
The great thing about it, though, is that you can move your originals and change the hot linked images to something else. Like a message to their customers, gross pictures, etc. it can be a hilarious opportunity to mess with somebody who is stealing your stuff!
I'm on the next flight out to the Valley!
- Some people will actually steal your CHECK icons
- Over-bashing a stealer will not make you look nice
- Immediatism never seem to work on your side
That's been said, but if this embarrassing event help someone to never ever steal elements again then it's is a goo thing.
Nevertheless let learn the lessons and move forward, inspire don't steal.
Thy have clear habit of doing so
And more copying from 37Signals:
Launchbit bought a stock image. So even if Curebit saw the logo through Launchbit, is there a reason why they can't buy it too? I imagine the creator of the stock image wouldn't mind the extra money.
I think that using a stock image for your logo is probably unwise for exactly this reason.
I thought they vetted these people or something and would have a damage control recipe in place after the AirBnB debacle last year.
Ex: DHH says http://elance.com is inspiration, not theft. Ok.
Ex 2: A more difficult edge is http://coursekit.com I instantly recalled their design after seeing this scandal, although I'd initially taken note of it for its effectiveness.
Their similarity to basecamp is on the front page only, and no assets stolen. (full disclosure: competitor, vaguely, for a hackathon-started education product I'm working on.)
Like, we can think up a MILLION edge cases. That's not the point. I'm really, really curious to hear what you guys think the difference IS.
and please, please, PLEASE don't respond to this with vitriol on other side. if you think there are problems happening here in the way we treat design, and how ppl react, just DON'T add to it in that way.
EDIT: edited to match repost, because of downvote(?) here