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Stealing Credit : The plague of coding

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Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:36 pm
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Don't get much, huh?
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Over the years of being with the nuke community, I've seen my fair share of code thieves out there that take a system, mind it be a theme, block, module, splash screen, ect..., and claim that they made it and take full credit for it. This is nothing new, but is a problem that needs to be stressed to people, that it's not an excepted practice, and they are a driving factor for a lot of developers to stop wanting to develop for the free and open source stuff that most of you use and enjoy using.

Recently, I came upon a site that is owned by a member of our community, as well as in the Evo community, and I found on their site a system that they are claiming to have rewritten, which looking at it, I can tell that they haven't, but instead, they took the original script, renamed it, made some changes and claimed it as theirs. Both Lonestar and I have seen stuff like this before, and have talked about it, and people want to know why it takes so long for updates to get done, well it's hard to get developers that are willing to do this and not able to protect their work. What this individual has done is what constitutes as plagiarism.

A good quote:
Many technologists lack a clear understanding of what constitutes plagiarism, especially since researching others’ solutions to a technical problem is not only ethical, but also a best practice.

While acknowledging that plagiarism varies wildly from person to person and case to case, here’s how Elli Ferguson, a former programmer and principle systems engineer for a major bank, and plagiarism expert and consultant Jonathan Bailey defined it in an email:

When you copy someone’s entire solution, or a significant part of it, and present it as your own, that is generally considered plagiarism, as long as there are other ways that solution could be reached.


I am all for people looking up, using others code, just as long as they give credit if they are using a significant portion of it. I do get upgrading, cleaning up, improving upon others code to make it better. I did/do that myself with many scripts including the original downloads' system that came with Evo Xtreme, (That was the first time I met to Lonestar). If you're just doing some slight changes and fixing things, but the core is still there, (renaming variables/module is NOT changing the core), and if you take full credit for making it and removing the original author, or leaving them out and make the impressions that you are the sole developer, then you are just a thief, no tos, ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Sometimes, mistakes can be made, and accidentally removing credits can happen. I've seen it due to missing code or bad file, but does not happen often. Saying that you wrote a new system to replace an old system, but in reality, you just took the original system and changed a few small things here and there and DID NOT rewrite the module, is just stealing. Look at the Evo Lottery module, I used maybe 1% of the original code, and I think I am being way too generous on that since I only used like 10 lines of the math system for how many random people to remove each wave, but I even give credit for who created the first version.

But, that is why I am not calling out this particular person and their site, because I want to give the benefit of the doubt. They are not the first nor will be the last. It will continue to happen no matter what. I just hope that some of you out there when on some of these sites, if they are claiming to be a developer, and they show off what they did, be skeptical, especially when they seem to be putting out a ton of content in such a short time and looks like stuff already out there. We just hope to see people try to grow and become developers, but, do it with respect to others. Not only are you hurting others, but you're just cheating your self.

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Sat Apr 17, 2021 11:02 am
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Don't get much, huh?
Okay, on Skype, I was asked by a friend that I have helped a lot on ways that I can determine if the coding was taken without actually seeing the PHP. I will break it down into 3 sections that I can observe and determine if it has been stolen or not. Just know if you're using this to cover your tracks, if you are so desperate to go to the lengths to cover all that I am about to mention up, then just rewrite the damn module, you will already be over 50% there. Also, if you are going to use some code, just give a little credit to the original author.
  1. Design: This is a given. If the look of every page matches the original system, even all the broken sections, usually a huge giveaway. I have seen this with themes and splash screens a lot, but also with modules and block systems. There is more into the design of the coding, but that is below in the next section.

  2. Source Code/Inspection: When viewing someone's site, you can view source and inspect, you can see everything from their CSS, HTML, and jQuery/JavaScript which if it matches up to the original script, is usually a dead ringer. Even if you change names, add a few things and remove a few things, you can still tell, especially how everything is structured. You don't know how many times I have seen systems where they kept in the old "acceptable" ways to code which by today's standards, is only good on a case by case terms.

    For Example:
    Inline styles - Though many people out there that say inline styles are bad and should never be used ever, (had this argument with a few RavenNuke community, (They lost)), there are case by case times when it is acceptable. But most of the time, in some of these older scripts that are out there, it's not one of those "acceptable" times. In many cases, those inline styles should be put into a class as they are used multiple times over several tables on the same page and to clean up the coding, they should be moved to the style file, usually the style.css file for that particular script.

    But seeing the same poor coding across from the original to the "new" version is a dead ringer.

  3. URL in the address bar: Seriously guys, do you know how much information we can obtain from just the URL alone. I honestly think every module thief I have seen has never though about this even though with support, I have said thousands of times over the years, please post the URL for we can obtain a lot of information with just that, not just visiting, but also just looking at the full URL.

    Example: If we take a URL for the News module, it may look like:
    MySite.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=8&mode=&order=0&thold=0
     
    Well, first I can see that we of course is in the News module, and it is trying to display an article with the story ID of 8.
    Now, the most common thing I will see from someone stolen module is something like this:
    MySite.com/modules.php?name=New_News&file=article&sid=8&mode=&order=0&thold=0
     
    Seriously guys, what are the odds that you write the system to have not only the same file names, but the same functions and structures to everything. Even changing some variables and the name of the module is not enough.


Now, if you're taking this post and saying, well, I can change all that and people will never know, then you are wrong. Once your code is out there and people that know how to use diff checkers, have an IQ over a potato that do look at the coding, or is generally good at problem-solving, can usually assess that it is stolen or not. Me, I love solving problems, probably more than coming up with the solution. For example, I will see a system that is either broken, old, out dated and needs to be replaced, I like digging through and finding all the files that are affected and possibly coming up with a fix, like the reCAPTCHA. So, more and likely, I would be able to tell

Overall, if you read the OP and then this post and use the information I provide, answer this, why? To cover up all this to hide that you're using this other system and updating it, why not just say, New_News is a heavily modified and revamped module to replace the default News module. What ever work you put into it is going to be respected the same if you wrote it from the ground up or not. Hell, if  you do to the extent to cover up everything I mention, you pretty much are rewriting it anyways, and if that is the case, don't revamp the original, do one better and just rewrite it from the ground up.

I know writing a module from the ground up can be hard or scary, especially to get it started, but I will do a post on how Lonestar and I do it, so others can give it a try. Asking help is definitely helpful. I know Lonestar and I bounce things off each other often so don't think it makes you any less for asking questions.


 
Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:10 pm
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Unfortunately Corpse this is in almost everything in the online era. People are just to lazy, or lack the knowledge to do it themselves. Have seen several 3d modelers retire or go private only for some of the same reasons. In the long run they are cutting their own throats doing what they do, and most of the time you are right, all would be needed is just simple recognition to the original coder, modeler, whatever. Leave the credits in the code, etc etc. But I think their self-esteem is so low they have to do this to make themselves feel worthy of the air that is allotted them to breathe. Try not to let them get to you, they are not worth it.
Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:23 pm
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— fire wrote
Unfortunately Corpse this is in almost everything in the online era. People are just to lazy, or lack the knowledge to do it themselves. Have seen several 3d modelers retire or go private only for some of the same reasons. In the long run they are cutting their own throats doing what they do, and most of the time you are right, all would be needed is just simple recognition to the original coder, modeler, whatever. Leave the credits in the code, etc etc. But I think their self-esteem is so low they have to do this to make themselves feel worthy of the air that is allotted them to breathe. Try not to let them get to you, they are not worth it.


Oh, this is not really personal. I have seen this since the mid 2000s and I have had many times people taking my stuff and claim it as their own, from game mods/skins, to web modules. No, this was because a specific site/person going a bit beyond a single thing. This was more for them to read and hopefully figure out that we know. But also, this was also to make people take a look at the work of others and wounder, if they are doing all this work, yet, never posted anything on the Evo site about it, then why is that. So, that was the reason for the post, more of an educational post.


 
Thu May 06, 2021 10:07 am
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— fire wrote
Unfortunately Corpse this is in almost everything in the online era. People are just to lazy, or lack the knowledge to do it themselves. Have seen several 3d modelers retire or go private only for some of the same reasons. In the long run they are cutting their own throats doing what they do, and most of the time you are right, all would be needed is just simple recognition to the original coder, modeler, whatever. Leave the credits in the code, etc etc. But I think their self-esteem is so low they have to do this to make themselves feel worthy of the air that is allotted them to breathe. Try not to let them get to you, they are not worth it.


As CoRpSE said, it's not personal. But it does drive Developer (Like: CoRpSE, Lonesatar), Themer (Like: The Mortal, and I) to stop developing FREE contents like EVO, modules and it's Themes for the community.

I have in the past (from a different community) stopped developing Themes because of some similar situations like this. And I think some of my fellows Developer / Themer also stopped developing / theming due to the same situation too.

@CoRpSE - Speaking of accidentally deleting credits. I needs to go back to double check with all my themes that I am working on to make sure that I have not accidentally removed credits where it's due.  big grin I might have done it to some of them, especially part that I am using their codes. hrm


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Fri May 07, 2021 6:59 am
NOOB!!!
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I guess everyone reacts differently in these situations, but I can't really understand how it is not personal. You work hard on developing whatever it might be, and some slug comes by and takes it and claims it. In my experience with others they have taken it very personally, by either stop doing anything for the public at all or making it private and a charge for it. Some don't go that far, but it does affect some what how they continue. So I think even in a small way they take it personally. I just don't care for thieves myself, and that is how I tend to look at ones that do this kind of stuff. They sell their souls for a few minutes of fame or a few bucks. I guess I just don't understand people any longer.


 
Fri May 07, 2021 10:20 am
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Yes, everyone react differently. The reason I said it not personal, because (even though, if it was my theme that was stolen with no credit attached) I don't take it as personal against me.

It more of that person going against the community as whole, when they did something like that. He/she abused the trust in the community and the GNU agreement, etc...

Yes, we (as developers, themers) reacts harshly against these individuals. Because we put a lot of time and efforts into developing coding, etc... And to have someone to come and ripped us off just like that, it gets annoyed and irritated.

Everyone has their trademarks™ in coding, so to look at a code ripper and identified them. It's easy most of the time. Not unless they tried to change the codes so much (like CoRpSe said) to hide it from everyone that they stole the codes.


 
Fri May 07, 2021 3:13 pm
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The reason I never really take it personally is that most of the time, they aren't doing it to hurt me, but instead to play a character of a coder. I have come upon many sites where I see these people claiming the work as their own, and they are not even the owner of the site, but just a member that was given the status of Web Developer within their clan. Usually with those people, those are the ones that I will call out on the site since I don't want them messing up everything so much that it hurts the clan.

But, if they are the owners, there is no point in me saying much because I can't post on their site since they will just delete the post, and calling them out on my site or the Evo site won't accomplish anything. What I can do instead is, educate others on what to look for, and feel welcomed to come and ask me if this person or that person is okay. When it comes to coders out there, especially for Evo, Lonestar and I more and likely will know them and tell you if they are okay or not.


 
Wed May 26, 2021 2:01 pm
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@coRpSE

I know this is an older post now, so apologies for the late reply. I want to firstly say thank you for all you do on our website, I want to say that I am proud to give you credit on our site where credit is due as you work hard for us, and have to put up with me lol!! It is truly sad to see people stealing the credit, and the code on their sites! and you should take it just a bit personal, because it takes days, weeks, months and YEARS to create, and perfect the coding that goes into the sites! So I am sorry if someone has done this to you! I think you should call people out so others will see that they are plagiarizing people's work! Just my two cents!

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Wed May 26, 2021 2:52 pm
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Well, what caused me to come out about this now was not a script that I developed, and actually, is a script that needs to be upgraded. I just went to this persons site and found that they took the same module, altered a few things, and changed the name of the module, but, taking all credit for it, and it's clearly the module that needs to be upgraded, renamed, and some minor changes. So in my opinion, I would say that it is stealing for most of it is unchanged.


 
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