Yesterday, Aral Balkan started twittering like crazy about this site called Ulitzer. I was pretty busy at work so didn’t pay much attention, but then he mentioned my name in connection with it. It turns out that Ulitzer is a company that is owned by Sys-con. What they are doing is recycling content from Sys-con and publishing it as new articles. Then they put up a profile page for the author with a bio and all your articles and make is look like you are one of the contributors to this site. Aral started searching names in the Flash / Web community and twittering their pages. I don’t think any of us knew we were “Ulitzer authors”.
Back in 2004 or 5 I had written an article for the short-lived Flash magazine that Sys-con published. The article was on Tools in JSFL. I didn’t get paid for it, but was happy to do it for the promotional value at the time. To now see this as an article on some other site, with my author profile page, slathered with ads, was a bit of a shock. I commented on my article that I had written the article for a Sys-con magazine and not for the Ulitzer web site. Someone signing themselves as “Editor” replied that Ulitzer IS Sys-con and that I could edit my profile and add my Google Adsense account number and get paid for ad traffic on the site. I replied that I had never asked for a profile in the first place, and how I could delete it. Within minutes, my article and profile page were gone. 🙂
Now that’s all pretty sleazy, but in itself nothing I would totally freak out about. But it gets worse. Not only does Ulitzer dredge up old Sys-con articles and present them as new content, they also blatantly steal blog posts from peoples’ sites without permission or even notification, publish them, and have the audacity to list them as “Ulitzer authors”! They did this to Ted Patrick and Mike Chambers. Beyond that, they even assign copyright and content licenses to this stolen material!
Honestly, this doesn’t shock me. The fact that “Ulitzer IS Sys-con” pretty much explains it. Just do a search and you’ll come up with plenty of slimey stories about Sys-con. Well before Ulitzer existed, Sys-con was stealing content. Example. Like how they killed Cold Fusion Developers Journal to Silverlight Developers Journal. When paid CFDJ subscribers complained that they didn’t want a Silverlight magazine to replace their ColdFusion magazine, they were given a free electronic subscription for any Sys-con magazine to replace their paid print subscription. Source.
It even happens that I have another personal story with Sys-con. Back in 2005, I was at FiTC in Toronto and a bunch of us went up to Ted Patrick’s room to discuss doing some kind of group project in the up and coming Flash 8. I snapped a couple of photos, including this one with Darron Schall, Peter Hall, and Aral Balkan.
I think I put it up on this site at the time, or maybe Flickr. Some time later, I run across this article in one of Sys-con’s print magazines, now republished as a web article:
Here’s a link to the web article itself: http://flex.sys-con.com/node/262481 And there’s my picture. They ripped it right off my site and put it in their print magazine with no request for permission or even notification. Also, notice the various examples of editorial brilliance in the article: “Darron Hall” in the headline – apparently they are confusing Darron Schall with Peter Hall, since Peter Hall is front and center in the photo that they label a picture of Darron. At least Darron IS in the photo, to the left, in the blurry background, with the yellow shirt. 🙂
I see Aral has now posted on his blog his viewpoint and some of Sys-con/Ulitzer’s response. All I can say is not only are their business practices completely shady, but the people running the business seem like pretty disgusting individuals, personally. Although Ted said Sys-con needs to die, I think such a statement is rather unnecessary. In this economy, businesses need to provide real value to have any chance of survival at all. Leeching off of, stealing from, and then attacking the very members of the community it is supposed to be supporting is not just slimy, it’s a recipe for suicide. RIP Sys-con.
Received this email from Engin Sezici (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Your article was published in Volume:2 Issue:6 of MXDJ Magazine on January 1, 2001 with your signed author’s agreement.
As per authors agreement, SYS-CON Media reserves the right to remove any and all content authored anyone, any time. Your author site as well as this article has been permanently removed from our archives.
If you chose to become an author, please fill out the author profile form and submit it for approval. You will hear from us within 30 – 60 days.
Thanks and best regards,
–Ulitzer Editorial Team
201 802 3020
Hmm… my article appeared in MXDJ in January 1, 2001? Interesting since the magazine was announced and first issue was published in 2003. Other than that, I’m not really sure what he’s trying to say there.