I was going to leave this to rest quietly, but the people involved (Mr Nataraj Sasid and Mr Vimal Raj) have accused me publicly (on LinkedIn) of hacking into their site. Not wanting to wash my dirty clothes in public, I decided to write a post here in case people are interested in the details.
For the last year at least, Nataraj Sasid of Equire Technologies (I have blogged about him before here) has been putting up frequent one-line posts on publishing-related discussion forums on LinkedIn, advertising their company’s blog. This in itself is frowned upon in the LinkedIn community. But it gets worse: on close inspection of one of the posts, I thought I had read the text somewhere before. So I googled that text and sure enough it was a copy of another blog post, with no attribution given. I mentioned this to Mr Sasid and advised him that this was unethical, and illegal, but he continued the practice. I let him know again many times, in public LinkedIn forums, and in private communications, but to no avail. Thinking he was a “rogue” operator who might cause legal problems for his company, after months of frustration I contacted the CEO of the company through their web site and alerted them. It stopped for a while, then continued as before.
By way of curiosity, I decided to take a look at how many of the posts were original and how many were plagiarized. I have to say I got carried away and it became a game of Googling a sentence and finding the original. In some cases the names of the original authors appeared in the text copied, in some they didn’t. Well, I wasn’t prepared for the statistics! Of 110 posts, 9 were original, and the rest were copied from a total of 38 different blog sites (with all the formatting tell-tale signs of cutting and pasting from a browser).
So blog posts were being blatantly plagiarized, with full knowledge of company personnel. At this point I decided to play the “policeman” and alerted two of the original posters who were surprised. The other 36 don’t know to this day! The two said victims separately contacted WordPress who were hosting the site. Within hours WordPress pulled down the site for violation of terms. So this is what you see when you go to the site now.
If you are really interested, here is a google spreadsheet with the gory details. The link in the first column does not work for obvious reasons. If anyone is interested in the original site, I have taken a full backup before it was taken down.
So, have I been mean, unreasonable, vindictive? No. I tried to be reasonable for months. Did the culprits deserve what they got? Yes, at some point we have to pay the price for misusing our freedom. The result is hundreds fewer annoying posts on LinkedIn, and perhaps a lesson to others.
I am inviting Mr Sasid and Raj to comment and to correct any errors in this post.