Pinspire vs. Pinterest

It doesn’t get more blatant than this. Pinspire is pretty much a pixel-for-pixel Pinterest clone, created by the serial digital ripoff artists at Rocket Internet. It’s a bit obscene just how much of a copycat Pinspire is — from concept to functionality to the cursive-style logo. Will it be as lucrative for the Rocket’s Sawmer Brothers as their other projects, an eBay clone they sold to the real auction site for $50 million or the European deals site that Groupon gobbled up? Or will someone finally serve them with a cease-and-desist letter? If that happens, someone please pin it.

Click here to view this gallery.

In the world of social media, discovering that worthwhile original idea for your app or website is by far the hardest thing to get right. It’s so hard, in fact — and the field so potentially lucrative — that many parties who jump into the field tend not to bother. Why should you create something original when there are so many successful sites and services that you can just rip off?

At least that appears to be the thinking behind many Internet companies whose concepts, web design or apps appear to owe a lot to other, more successful forebears. Once you start looking, it’s not hard to find digital ripoffs. At best, they’re quirky homages inspired by a successful digital brand. At worst, they’re ersatz imitators looking to cash in on someone else’s idea — just a step or two above malware.

Perhaps that’s a little harsh. After all, the humor writer Josh Billings once said, “About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.” If you substitute “web designer” for “writer,” he may have been talking about the state of digital design today. After all, it would be impossible to find a design that isn’t at least a little derivative.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Web Design Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Still, there’s a difference between borrowing some core design ideas and wholesale imitating. In social media, where the essential premise of connecting and sharing with your friends provides a basic architecture, perhaps the line between the two is blurrier than in other fields. After all, Facebook was called a MySpace clone, which was called a Friendster clone before that. But they are (and were) nothing like each other.

While building on existing concepts will always be part of design, so too will mimics, where the cloning is so pervasive and total that the site is nothing more than a copy of the original, merely slipped into a different skin. Here are the 10 most flagrant design ripoffs in social media today, at least to Mashable‘s eye.

More About: BlinkList, Copycats, delicious, DianDian, digg, DZone, Facebook, foursquare, Funded By Me, hacker news, heello, instagram, kickstarter, picplz, Pinspire, pinterest, reddit, scvngr, Social Media, trending, tumblr, Twitter, web design, yammer

For more Dev & Design coverage:

For all of Digg’s efforts, it has really had no luck in trying to get back to its glory days, when it dominated the social aggregation space completely. Starting years ago with changes to limit the power their top users had, it has been one failed release after another, with version 4’s release really marking […]

Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal


Despite being one of the oldest and most successful social networking sites, Digg has lost ground to Facebook and Twitter during the past few years. Perhaps it’s not surprising: Digg has a more limited scope and is primarily a link sharing and content review site. Internal political struggles, high-profile staff resignations, domination by overly-powerful users, and a sedate development schedule haven’t helped either.

Digg 4 is the first major update since 2006 and it’s currently available as an alpha to several thousand users at (you can request an invite). The redesign focuses on 3 main areas:

All operations should be completed in under a second — a major relief from the lengthy “We’re digging through your submission” process.

I’m pleased to report that adding links — the core Digg activity — is significantly faster and easier. An Ajax-powered “Submit a link” box is available throughout the site and there’s no CAPTCHA or other checks which get in the way.

A new “My News” page provides the latest stories from people and organizations you follow.

Digg My News

Diversity of Content
Digg 4 offers better integration with other systems. For example, you can add your own RSS feed and have stories auto-Dugg. You can also import friends and share links on Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

There’s no doubt Digg 4 offers a more attractive, slicker, and pleasant experience. It’ll please existing users but I’m less certain it will attract new users or prompt infrequent visitors to return on a regular basis. The web has evolved and Digg faces stiff competition from more established news aggregators and better tools to manage your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Are you using Digg? Have you recently abandoned the service? Have you tried Digg 4? Will it appeal to new users? Comments welcome…