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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Unscrupulous Crafting Websites

My topic today is not pleasant. Unfortunately, it highlights the ugly side of the internet that surfaces now and again to reassure us that everything is not all sunshine and roses on the web. I'm talking about websites that take advantage of the fact that very little can be done to govern them in any real sense. These range from those that are merely annoying — like isewfree.com — to those that are full blown ripping you off, like 4crafter.com.

I recently found myself "featured" on both of the above websites. Here is the first:

Isewfree.com screen capture of eSheep Designs' Wave Purse Organizer
The folks at isewfree.com just want you to click on their ads by accident...

What appears to be a nice free listing for my Wave Purse Organizer project is surrounded by Google Adsense ads galore, prompting users to click on them — by honest mistake — because of those prominent blue arrows. Even when you click on the big photo itself, it just takes you to a larger version of the same photo. After clicking potentially in three different places (triggering commissions for two Adsense ads) and getting nowhere, the user may in fact notice the tiny little word "Download" at the bottom, in a light green that doesn't exactly stand out. (The red circle is mine; I added it to show you how easily the actual download link can be missed.)

This is a blatant contravention of the Adsense terms of use, so time will tell whether these folks get their just desserts. Oh, and by the way, when you do click on the right download link, the link is tied to their Craftsy affiliate code. That's not unscrupulous in itself, but it just goes to support my suspicion that this site exists merely for monetary gain. (Although, as of June 1, Craftsy affiliates are no longer getting commissions for membership signups, which reduces the gains from this type of promotion.)

But the aggravation doesn't end at that. There is a comment section at the bottom of the page...

Isewfree.com actually doesn't let you leave a comment...

The rest of my comment was "... access to sewing tutorials. Are you really "a bunch of sewing enthusiasts that love free embroidery designs, sewing patterns, and quilting patterns" or do you just want to monetize a site that pretends to offer a service?"

And you do notice the "eight-1=" bit of captcha nonsense, right? As a math major, I answered "7". (I later tried "seven" as well, just to cover all bases. I must admit I did not try "sept" or "siete" or any other language.)

Here is what I got when I submitted my comment:


Needless to say, it won't much matter what I enter. The point is not to allow anyone to leave a comment. They have an email address and for awhile I thought about sending them a message, but why bother? I seriously doubt it would amount to anything. Better that I put my efforts in spreading the word about these kinds of sites. They are not your friends and their motives are not to share your passion for crafting. The fewer people that go to them the better. (By the way, Isewfree.com appears to be a U.S. held domain.)


Check out Craftsy's latest promos...
Craftsy


The other site, 4crafter.com, used to be TrulyDIY.com. That alone tells you that there is something nefarious going on here, as they were likely shut down by bad publicity or negative positioning on Google and then decided to rise up from the ashes as something else. This one is troublesome simply for the fact that its roots are in China, where anything and everything can be had for a price. (I know this because I have acquaintances who do business over there.)

Here is my little corner of their world:

4crafter.com steals Wave Purse Organizer PDF from eSheep Designs
My Wave Purse Organizer PDF is available on 4Crafter.com...

And here is the most appalling part of what they do:

4crafter.com steals and charges for Wave Purse Organizer by eSheep Designs
4Crafter.com charges "2 diamonds" for my free Wave Purse Organizer from Craftsy...

I don't know what a "diamond" is worth in their terminology but the fact that they are charging anything for a file that they downloaded free from Craftsy (that is my only source of sales) is infuriating. That other designers have had paid patterns "circulated" in this way is doubly infuriating. (Yes, I have seen evidence of this from my online research.)

Have a read of their [outrageous] terms of service and see if you don't choke on your cereal:
NOTE: WE DO NOT DELETE ACCOUNTS - DO NOT REGISTER IF DO NOT WISH TO BE A MEMBER.
In order to become a Member at 4CRAFTER.COM you must first read the following Terms of Service and Conditions agree. By registering you agree to these Terms of Service and Conditions. Members must be at least 16 years of age to join.
Our Terms of Service is a legal document, by registering you agree to the Terms and Conditions listed below.
Registration is free and open to all individuals but we do ask that you post and interact in English. If you do not AGREE please click the CANCEL button and leave the domain.
SUMMARY
YOU AGREE that by registering you are granting permission for use of any materials owned or designed by you or or any company that you represent.
YOU AGREE that any content posted currently or in the future is free to use in any means we deem appropriate and that you will not be eligible for compensation in any means, by registering nor will any of your materials be removed for any reason.
YOU AGREE that any copyright or Government registration made on your part, or the part of any company you represent in the past, present and future, is hereby null and void on our Domain by registering.
YOU AGREE that 4CRAFTER.COM is not liable or responsible for the content posted or shared in any of our services including, but not limited to, private messaging, any content shared, blogs, groups etc.
YOU AGREE that you will not use our Servcies as a means of harassment, threats or any other abusive means towards this domain or another Member.
YOU AGREE that you will not post any material or content which is obscene, vulgar, sexually-orientated, hateful, abusive or that otherwise violate the law.
YOU AGREE that you will read all of the associated rules for this domain and apply them.
YOU AGREE that you will not repost content housed at any time on this Forum and Domain on or in any other Forum, Social Media, e-mail, private groups or by any other means.
YOU AGREE that 4CRAFTER.COM is not responsible for any loss of data or damages to your devices used to connect to 4CRAFTER.COM.
YOU AGREE that you may not receive compensation should damage occur and that you are responsible to use and keep current any virus or trojan applications you use and keep your operating system up to day and functional. You also agree that you understand that 4CRAFTER.COM is not responsible for lost, corrupt or damaged files or viruses that may be found. We strongly encourage all Members to back up their data accordingly, it is their responsibility. Members will not be compensated should they make a claim that they had a system or device failure or a virus while using this Domain or any content included herein.
YOU AGREE that 4CRAFTER.COM is not responsible for restoring any lost “Credits, User Groups, Medals or Virtual Currency, etc.” due to inappropriate posting, activities, system outages or changes or for any other reason at any time.
YOU AGREE that you understand that the misuse of services, failure to comply to the Rules or misrepresentation of yourself at any time may result your account suspended without notification to you.
YOU AGREE that you understand that all content housed is for EDUCATIONAL and RESEARCH purposes only. Content should be deleted by you, the Member, after reviewing the materials within 24 hours. 4CRAFTER.COM is not responsible for the manner in which a Member uses or manages content.
YOU AGREE that you understand that advertisements of any form, are strictly prohibited.
YOU AGREE that you will not solicit individuals directly or indirectly in any manner for any reason. Including but not limited to other similar Forums, Groups etc.
Members may not own more than 1 account. You may not register again if your account was suspended. Please contact us if there is an issue.
At no time will accounts be deleted for any reason. Requests for account deletions will be ignored.
You understand that through your use of any of our Services you consent to the Company’s collection and use of your registration data any any other data posted, shared, or used in any of our features or functions not limited to blogs, private messaging and other services, as well as certain other information about you.
REGISTRATION ACTIVATION:
Please use a Valid E-Mail Address when registering. You will receive a Registration Link to validate your registration. Once your registration is validated you have legally agreed to the Terms of Service and Conditions. Please check your Spam folder if a mail does not appear within 20 minutes.
4CRAFTER.COM reserves the right to edit, move or remove content at any time without notice. TERMS OF SERVICE AND CONDITIONS and RULES may change at any time without prior notification to Members. Members are responsible for reading current versions of TERMS OF SERVICE AND CONDITIONS as well as all RULES.

Of course, one should take their restrictive — not to mention utterly ridiculous — TOS with a grain of salt. However, it is the part that I've highlighted in bold red text above that is the most important. If they are telling you out and out that they will not remove anything currently already on their site, it becomes a moot point whether you want to register and holler at them, either on your own behalf or someone else's.

Like I've already implied, there is really little that we can do to counteract this. Certainly, it would be beneficial to ensure that all of your patterns present and future have some sort of warning about this on them, but even that's not foolproof. Once these crooks have your pattern, it is relatively easy to reverse engineer them to remove any such warnings. The best course of action is to expose them in the crafting community. Reveal them for what they are. I believe that legitimate crafters are largely respectful of the individuals who create designs and patterns and would not want to line the pockets of those who are out to scam.

And to be frank, there are already enough great free crafting sites established out there that we don't need more.




6 comments:

  1. Wow Rochelle, I had never even seen these sites before, but if I had to agree to all that mumbo jumbo I wouldn't sign up, that's for sure! I just hope people are smart enough not to deal with them in the first place. Thanks for the heads up.

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  2. Whoa--ugh, for sure. It's a good reminder that not everyone out there is into crafting for all the right reasons. I appreciate your levelheaded, straightforward approach to exposing these two websites. I prefer ads on websites to be kept to a minimum or not at all--because I operate under the assumption/perception that if many ads exist, then the website is about them, not about any other kind of content. I'm sorry that this has to be part of your pattern design experience--and I appreciate you being willing to let us know about it. I hope that your positive experiences will far outweigh these kinds!!

    Krista

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  3. I knew about 4Crafter.com some time ago, I got a membership and then I found that they are ''pirates'', they not only steals designers patterns but they also use malware and pishing in their site! Days after I create an account there (I had thought it was another Crafts Forum like others on the Web)I notices that my Bank counts had suspicious movements!!! Some contacts contacted me asking for that site, saying I had sent an invitation to them to participate!! OMG, I had to solve all these problems but I never could to unsuscribe from 4Crafter.com!! They uses designers patterns to tempt members pay 10 US a month as a donation to the site and they promise you that you can download as many patterns for free?? In fact, they are a real and very good thieves! I'm not a designer, I only make crafts for fun but I never saw a site like this! I had to change my mail and I had to make changes in my Banks accounts, a real nightmare! I hope you can do something to stop them! The designs belong to the designers and not to them as they say! Oh, real thieves!

    Helene

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    Replies
    1. So sorry for your experience - wow, what a pain! The site is still in operation now but it gives absolutely NO info as to what it is or does unless you sign up. If you google "complaints about 4crafter.com", you'll see more evidence of their illegal practices. Apparently PinDIY is another such site. I stand by my last comment above: there are enough established sites that serve this market. Be careful doing business with anyone new, especially if they promise a whole lot of freebies for signing up.

      Delete
  4. 4crafter is a really horrible site, run by the nastiest people. When you first sign up, you can't do anything. People can leave you messages but you can't reply. You can't search. There are so many rules which are really not clear. I saw a lot of people make comments in the forums that they were very confused and unhappy with all the rules. They weren't sure what the point of the site was. People wanted to delete their accounts but were told that was impossible. People show off their creations. I left 2 positive comments for one person and was told off by 2 different admin for "spamming". Then I misunderstood another instruction and left 2 messages, one asking please for assistance and then saying thank you for the asssistance. This too was "spamming". I got 4 messages from the two admin telling me off for that. This really upset me. I left a comment expressing my feelings. They deleted my account without further explanation. I'm relieved. Don't go there. It's vile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, unless they are actually managing to get money from their members (as the previous commenter indicated was happening), I'm genuinely puzzled as to why this site exists. Their business model is unlike anything I've ever seen before and yet, every business venture ultimately has a primary objective to make money. How are they doing it by holding their members under such intense scrutiny?

      Interestingly enough, I had a comment come through in the past few weeks (which I sent to spam, so you don't actually see it here) from some anonymous person saying something like "thanks for the advertisement". Yeah, right.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Perhaps if others check out this discussion before joining, we can save some folks a lot of aggravation (and maybe even more).

      I'm actually curious as to whether you were able to access any patterns for "free"...?

      Delete

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