- UPDATE: Scroll to the bottom of the post for the other blog's response -
Now let me just say this, it took me a lot of thought before deciding to begin this post, because I want to get my thoughts in order, my references in check, and my talking points accurate. I have been privy to biting peoples' heads off every now and then, but I figured that's just part of my charm. I don't think I'll be needing that charm right now.
Sometime last year I chanced upon this blog that was oddly identical to mine. Not by look or by writing style, but by the simple fact that this blog's name is just one letter more to my blog. THIS blog. ToT. For sheer refusal to promote said blog, we won't name it out loud, but my readers are smart enough and can probably do a Google search to figure it out on their own.
I didn't make a big deal out of it, even if I had an initial reaction to its striking correlation to ToT. But this past week there were several instances which now force me to make this admittedly passive-aggressive jab at said blog in hopes that, well, the blogger will get my drift.
First, I met an acquaintance in Cebu who said, "OMG I'm a follower of Trip or Treats! (Me: Yay!) I'm excited to try Ukokkei Ramen, Nihonbashi Tei, ..." Then she proceeds to tell me about this buffet that I blogged about. I gave a quizzical look and said that's not me. Then she did some tinkering on her IPhone and said "Isn't your blog ___?" And I said. NO. Then she's like "Oh Trip or Treats, diba?! You know, I thought that was the same blog!" I calmly replied that there have been several mentions of its similarity, but that it's not connected.
Then, I receive a BBM from my brother, which was a link to the blog and its post on the buffet. Then he adds "Sino yan? Awayin natin!" (Who's that? Let's start a war!"
After my own brother surfaces with the similarity, I became quite agitated because so many people were commenting on why I wasn't commenting on its existence. So I went on Twitter to get some healthy feedback, and I got several reactions which supported my case, such as:
TheRealRichieZ - @TripOrTreats no way.. It's your identity that you've worked hard to build up.. You have every right to react :)
Then, a follower sent me a personal email confirming the blog's identity, then proceeded to say this:
"Thing is, I personally know the blogger. I was in awe when I first found out that she named her blog like that. I just so happened that I first followed you on Twitter, that's why I know that you have the "rights" for that blog name. When she updated her blog, the similarities were so obvious to your blog."
"I already sensed that you won't go down to her level, by confronting her (sic). Anyways, I'm not kissing your behind here but your blog is waaay so much better than hers."
After that short online conversation, I realized, DAMN IT! I have the right to be upset. But I wanted a trusted voice in the blogger world and asked my friend Anton Diaz, of OurAwesomePlanet fame, for some advice and opinions on the matter. Here's what OAP had to say:
"Well, I would feel a bit offended as well because my concept was plagiarized in bad faith. Although, I would feel a bit flattered at the same time since the concept was copied. The online community frowns upon plagiarism and it is not tolerated."
So, Netizens, let me make this easier to understand:
- Trip or Treats began in July 2009; copycat in 2010.
- The only difference between ToT and the other is ONE LETTER. Make a wild guess.
- It wouldn't have been a big deal if it was based in India, or US, or elsewhere in the world. The blog is in the Philippines.
- When you search for that blog, ToT is the first to come out on the list. (Hehe)
- Format and tones are eerily similar to mine (not that it's a big deal, I plan to come out with a new look, anyway)
- Blogging is all about creativity, self-expression and personal thoughts.
- Blogging is not about tagging along someone else's efforts in creating a personal brand and online identity, and attempting to displace a portion of my online traffic to your blog.
- If you're a smart cookie, a blogger would scout around several existing blog names to see if there are 'toes" that the name might step on.
- The web has made an industry of buying similar domains to popular brands and profiting from selling or auctioning the domains. Blogs are all about making your mark with your own brand.
- Per my legal consultation, Intellectual Property Rights can apply to my situation, as the blog is basically feeding off my traffic and online demand.
- And most importantly: I was in the blogosphere first, which means I GET FIRST DIBS.
- Lastly, I didn't even need to spell that (above) out. It's kind of an unspoken rule around the blogging world. I don't think Mr. Diaz would be so happy if a Filipino blogger decided to name his blog My Awesome Planet, don't ya think?
This issue would be nonexistent if not for the fact that so many people are reacting on my behalf, because it is my readers, friends and followers who think that someone is trying to gain fame by riding on ToT's coattails. I have invested on Trip or Treats heavily, monetarily, mentally, intellectually, physically, calorically, and sleeplessly. Let's make this clear: I AM PISSED at the fact that some people truly refuse to respect people's originality and integrity and benefit from it by racketeering as an identical substitute.
This is what you should do: HAVE AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT, and stay the hell away from mine.
This probably is very passive-agressive, but until I see an improvement, or an actual effort to correct this wrong (ie. CHANGE YOUR BLOG NAME), then you can forget acting like your blog name being 99% identical to mine is just a "coincidence".
It is bad taste, and you and I know it. And so do our followers. I'm putting "OUR" because after this blog post, I'm sure you'll gain a few readers too. Don't blame me if comparisons ensue.
ToT-ers: What's your take on this? Am I over-reacting?
ToT-ers: What's your take on this? Am I over-reacting?
UPDATE: The other blog has responded with an email:
"Hi, a friend sent me a link to your blog and she thought I should read it.
First of all, I would like to apologize if you feel that I was copying your blog. I started my blog last September 2010 mainly for my friends and thought of the name Trips or Treats (after reading Philippine Airline's promo that time, Trick or Treats). When I first checked with Blogger the name Trip or Treats and it was already taken, I thought why not just add an S in it.
I understand why you're so pissed at me right now, I just hoped you contacted me first before bashing me on your blog, madali naman akong kausap.
I never meant to "copy" yours, it was an honest mistake.
I'll come up with a new name soon. "
Thank you for your email. Also, I appreciate the gesture to reach out and communicate, alongside your willingness to change your blog name. As you can see, I take Trip or Treats quite seriously, as well as the blog world. Just want to make it clear that I never bashed you or your blog. I put out the facts as well as my emotions about it, never discussing your content or anything personal. Nonetheless, I do admit that some of the comments went south.
I would, however, like to ask permissions to share your email (without your name, of course) on ToT, to put an onjective closure on this issue. Also, I'm sure everyone will think favorably of your response, as I did.
"I understand if ever that happened to me and I had a successful blog like yours, I would probably get pissed off too. By the way, I already changed the name of my blog. I apologize again for the confusion I caused on your readers"
Quid Pro Quo, readers. Everything's settled. Let's move on from this. Kudos to the other blogger for taking the high road on this one. Another bloodless blog battle resolved."