Website Hijacking

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004 at 7:00 pm | 636 views | trackback url
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I started going through my weblogs for all the domains I host, looking for 404’s, and correcting them. Many of the domains we host have updated their pages, moved files around, etc. and other sites and servers and users still point to the old files and content. Those were easy to fix with a bit of mod_rewrite and mod_redir hackery, and it keeps the users happy and logs nice and clean.

But as I was parsing out the logs, I noticed quite a few other curious things, which led me to poke through the referer logs and start tracing some interesting hits.

..which led me to these two sites:

http://www.actionweb.com/hosting/clients/
http://www.firstwebserver.com/hosting/clients/index.html

Both of these domains are registered in completely different states, by two completely different people, and yet… other than page color, they are identical, even down to the “testimonials” page. Whomever ripped this off from whom, can’t possibly be that stupid… or can they?

I’ve been taking a stern look at the various websites out there, especially those hosted and created by people local to me, in my community. Disgusting. There is one “designer” (and I use that term very loosely), who is trying to snatch up all of the local businesses here with his “Word-to-HTML” template sites. He charges these sites $250.00 “setup fee” and $50-$500/month for hosting and updates to these sites.

He puts them all on dynamic yahoo-based “free” storage, and rapes the customer for these prices. No quality at all behind his work, and in fact, he takes the website content from other sites directly. I found a complete rip of some CSS in one of his sites from a site in .nl, and he didn’t even edit it out. In fact, the page’s title tags still referenced the .nl site. Here are two more examples:

http://www.captainfish.com/home.htm

http://www.brotherstoofishing.com/home.htm

Both sites, competitors of each other in the same town, created by the same person, using the same design (and ugly buttons, stuck in the 80’s of web-design), and hosted on the same servers. I’m sure they’d find it interesting to know that little tidbit.

So the end-result is that I’m taking this work, all of it, and am not going to give it back to these people, until they get some sort of clue about usability, design, and proper web techniques. I’ve emailed the person who did the two sites above with a 4-page message detailing all of his mistakes on all of his sites, pointing to the proper tools he should be using, etc. and he never replied or even said thanks. Shrug.

We’re going to make a killing in this town, once these businesses see what real quality can look like, at much less cost to them in the long run, for much greater speed, usability, and prompt attention to updates.

Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13th, 2004 @ 19:00

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