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:



Reddit user SelfProdigy has declared Dec. 29 Dump GoDaddy Day, following the domain registrar’s short-lived public support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Although GoDaddy has announced that it no longer supports SOPA, the site is still facing the backlash from its initial position.

SEE ALSO: Stop Online Piracy Act: What You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

Despite the public reversal in a press release, Dump GoDaddy Day is quickly spreading among the Reddit community.

The domain registrar reportedly lost 20,000 accounts in a single day following the SOPA outcry, but only time will tell how many accounts they will lose.

More About: godaddy, mashable video, reddit, SOPA, trending

For more Dev & Design coverage:





Foursquare‘s Employee Number Three, Head of Server Engineering Harry Heymann, took to Reddit Thursday to answer questions about all things related to Foursquare and coding.

Heymann opened himself up to a barrage of queries from Internet nerds who want details on everything from Foursquare’s homebrewed dev solutions to the worst thing about working at the company.

Here’s the condensed highlights of the thread. You can go to Reddit to quiz Heymann on other topics — say, last fall’s epic bout of downtime and the post-mortem that involved an engineering all-nighter and a statement from MongoDB.


What were some of the major technology decisions you made, both good ones and bad ones, which have had the largest impact on Foursquare’s growth?


Harry Heymann: My four biggest technology decisions:

  1. Scala. Nearly our entire server codebase is written in Scala (if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a programming language that is basically what you would get if Java + ML had a baby). This has worked out super well. It enables us to write concise easy to deal with code that is typechecked at compile time. It’s also been a big help with recruiting.
  2. MongoDB. Nearly all of our backend storage is on MongoDB. This has also worked out pretty well. It’s enabled us to scale up faster/easier than if we had rolled our own solution on top of PostgreSQL (which we were using previously). There have been a few roadbumps along the way, but the team at 10gen has been a big help with thing.
  3. Amazon Web Services. Kind of a no-brainer: It’s the default hosting environment for startups these days. Mostly great. I wish the IO (disk) situation there was better.
  4. Lift. A web framework written in Scala. This one is the trickyest. Lift has a lot of cool features we really love but hasn’t seen super wide adoption and it has some rough edges. Still not certain how this will work out in the long run.

What are the best and worst things about working for Foursquare?


HH: Totally cheesy to say, but the best thing about working at Foursquare is the team. We really do have a great group of folks here that are very good at what they do and are all working incredibly hard to help the company succeed.

The worst thing is that Foursquare has invaded my life 24-7. I never stop thinking about it ever. Not being able to turn that off sucks sometimes. Also the pressure to meet our potential is pretty big. Scary sometimes. Don’t want to screw it up.


What kind of internal tools has Foursquare built?


HH: Jason [Liszka] and Jorge [Ortiz] wrote a nifty query DSL that we open sourced a while back called Rogue.


What is your favorite use of the Foursquare API by a third party developer?


HH: 4squareand4yearsago!


Having been involved since the beginning, do you feel there were any disadvantages to being based outside Silicon Valley?


HH: No, not many disadvantages. We had everything we needed for the early stages of our company in NY. We’ve expanded to San Francisco to increase our capacity to bring on great engineers (of which there are many in the Bay Area), but that was only after we grew to a certain scale.


Is it friendly rivalry between you and Gowalla, or more heated than that? I was just wondering.


HH: I think having them around pushed us to build a much better product much faster. Competition keeps you on your toes.

More About: AMA, developers, engineering, foursquare, reddit, server engineering

For more Dev & Design coverage: