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Speaking of appropriation and plagiarism ...

Take a look at this. It's the website I designed for SERI, the organization I worked for while in grad school (I'm linking to because I have since changed the page a bit).

Now look at this, which is the website from some organization I've never heard of.

Basically, ESR took all the HTML from the SERI site, as well as some images (but not the stylesheet), stuck in their own name and contact info, and put it on their site.

I sent them an email saying "dude, this is weird. Either take it down or pay me to make you a site that doesn't look like crap."

Right now my main emotion is not anger or hurt (I'm certainly not trying to compare myself to Brownfemipower!). My main emotion is confusion. I could understand stealing someone's page layout (and if that had been all it was, I would have just shrugged my shoulders -- my layout for SERI was hardly a page design breakthrough). It's that they also took almost all the text and images. They knew enough to change some things -- they replaced SERI's name with theirs everywhere, changed the contact info on the contact page, and completely removed the page with bios of all the Board of Directors. But they left the mission statement otherwise intact, and their list of projects is identical to SERI's (they even left in the names of the SERI personnel on each project -- I stumbled across ESR through their version of the description for the very project I was an RA for with SERI. And SERI's contact info at the top of each page is intact except that "Main Street" has been changed to "Home Street."

I'm trying to figure out what the motive is here. If they're a real organization, they did a pretty slipshod job of making themselves a website. But they don't seem to be some sort of "search engine optimization" site -- I don't see any visible ads or links to porn sites, nor does there appear to be anything hidden in the HTML.

I called the contact number they list, which was a trip. It goes to a very long message consisting of background noise, as if someone accidentally picked up the phone and let it sit -- apparently designed to make you think you weren't going to be able to get through. But if you listen long enough, it does beep and let you record a message.

If anyone has any clue what's going on here, I'm all ears.


Blogger ogre said...

Not to claim a clue...

But perhaps to create some depth (truthines) to a facade for some other organization or for a resume? Very peculiar. And yes, it does look like crap.

The fax number is in a different font. And it's a Ft Worth area code. You might pursue that with a fax.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I had a few minutes, so I went a poking around to find the faker who ripped you off.

Social and Environmental Research Institute – Real
Environmental and Social Research Institute – Fake.

I'll leave out the couple of wrong paths as I looked around, and just walk down this one --

Environmental and Social Research Institute comes back to a guy named Chintan Mistry

But how could you know this, Cranky Cindy? told me who owns ESRI, listed as Sabrina Coffman of 4451 South Fwy. Fort Worth TX.

Curiously enough, there's a Sabrina Coffman who died in 8/30/2004, in Sulpher Springs Texas, just outside of Ft. Worth.

And the address of this "Sabrina Coffman" is a 4451 South Fwy. -- That's a Delux Inn in Forth Worth TX. ($32/night)

And the IP address of shows up in Wikipedia Project Spam Report as being Chintan Minstry, who tells Wikipedia (and on his resume, below) that he's a Master's Student in Computer Science at UT Arlington.
This is his resume, supposedly, which is cached here:

To me an interesting and as of yet unanswered question is why this gentleman has a fake website up.

And the other question, is Chintan Mistry his real name? A search of U TX Arlington didn't turn him up, but that could simply be for privacy (although putting your resume on the internet doesn't strike me as really wanting privacy)

But I'm done poking around. I could do this all day, but it's not what I'm actually paid for.... alas.

But hey, you never know, I could be wrong. Maybe it's not him.

and yes, I am proud of myself.


8:37 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

but not of my typos.

whois is, of course, an org, not a com.

crankier and less proud.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I've decided he's real.

This is his flicker photo site

very cute kids.

and this is a posting he did one year ago of his college in India.

It'd be a long time ago to fake up an identity and not use it till this year.

so if he's real, this is his phone #,listed on resume and websites alike. 817-861-4339.

not the same as the fake website.

now I'm really done.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Stentor said...

Happy or Cranky Cindy -- thanks!

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - Cindy - you might consider moonlighting as a net detective!

10:14 AM  
Blogger laurenhat said...

Wow, that's bizarre. And baffling, despite the partial (and impressive) answers found by HoCC.

10:10 AM  

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