Tuesday 13 March 2018

Imitation is NOT a form of flattery

They say imitation is a form of flattery but I don't think that statement could be more wrong. Most of you will know, as well as my own blog, I also run a blogging network called Southampton Bloggers. Southampton Bloggers was created in 2014 during a blogging chat on Twitter about meeting like minded people who understand what blogging is actually about. We held our very first event in May 2014 and we've been regularly holding blogging networking events ever since.

Southampton Bloggers grew from an idea one Sunday night to something that brings bloggers, local businesses and huge brands together. We've collaborated with Turtle Bay, Benefit Cosmetics, Lush Cosmetics, Revolution and so many more. We're currently in the process of working with Grosvenor Casino, Lakaz Maman and our old friends Mettricks, there is a lot to come this year and we're so excited. 

The blogging community as a whole is very supportive, we've grown so much in the last four years and it's been especially warming to see bloggers we've brought together go on to make strong friendships, work together and most importantly support each other. We've always said Southampton Bloggers is about community and support, it always has been and it always will be. We've seen incredible successes over those four years and I'm incredibly proud of what I've created. 

As with anything that is successful, imitations happen. There is a host of blogging groups in the south and the majority of us all work together. Unfortunately there are a few that don't do that and work against us instead. We've recently been victim to a copycat, who unbeknown to us or anyone for that matter, have decided to take on the name Southampton Bloggers because our social handles say 'sotonbloggers' even though our title, all social platforms, email, website and database all hold the name Southampton Bloggers. You can imagine our frustration. We tried to reach out but were met with confrontation straight away followed by a message about how they had a website bearing the name so they're not changing it.

And the reason for not changing it? They had bought the domain and it matches their social handles.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong but when you go to set up a blog, a business or anything for that matter the majority of people do a little Google to see what's available first right? Not these guys apparently, although we have since found out it's all lies because they knew Southampton Bloggers were already a well established blogging network because they'd set up Winchester Bloggers and they'd been following all our accounts since Summer 2017. The domain and the accounts were created July/Aug, the domain registered with her husband's business email the same month they reached out to Southampton Bloggers. 

Now what makes this even more of a kick in the teeth is that in August 2017, another account popped up with a very similar name, we queried it obviously and the woman behind Winchester Bloggers and now the 'new' Southampton Bloggers reached out to us to show her support. You can see in the screenshots below what she said. At that moment, we thought we'd possibly found a great group to support in Winchester, it's something Winchester had needed for so long so we were genuinely looking forward to this. We chatted briefly that evening and even mentioned about going for a coffee to discuss a possible Winchester Bloggers and Southampton Bloggers Collaboration but unfortunately she never replied to our messages or tweets and then I went on to have Joshua. Hello maternity leave.

Fast forward to today and boy were they talking a crock of shit! This all sounds so petty right? Well trust me when I say I could really do without this but when someone comes along and completely rips off the community you've worked so hard to create, especially during a time so many people are questioning blogging communities, it's really difficult to ignore it and honestly? WHY SHOULD I?! 

You, reading this right now probably understand the type of community I'm talking about, the one that has supported bloggers since 2009 when we all really cared about what we do and who we supported. Not the people that have clearly read a poorly written Daily Mail article in which blogging can earn you thousands and jumped on the bandwagon quicker than they can say Zoella. 

Today has been a day of truths, so much has come out and thankfully SO MANY have sent messages of support, shared their own frustrations, stuck up for us and sent us some VERY interesting screenshots I reckon they never thought I'd get my hands on. Truth is, Southampton Bloggers is full of very, very loyal people and boy has that been shown today. 

The above messages clearly paint one picture, the new group on the block, the lovely Winchester Bloggers who want community, they want to collaborate, they want to do this and that when really it was all lies and they'd actually already stolen the name, bought a domain (although that could also be queried because they obviously didn't do their research there either) and were ready to screw us over. 


Now, one of the main words they've spouted today is collaboration, ah that golden word but I can't be the only one that thinks Southampton Bloggers & Southampton Bloggers sounds ridiculous? Of course it does and why on earth, as an already established blogging network would we then go on to collaborate with someone that has stolen our name? It doesn't make sense. A Winchester Bloggers and Southampton Bloggers collaboration would've possibly worked but they didn't want to do that, they just wanted to come in, cause a scene and ride on our coat tails while sticking their fingers in that blogging pie. You wouldn't open a chicken shop and call it KFC, would you?

Also, time and time again she is saying "I tried to collaborate, she wasn't interested, she's not interested until now". In August, I was heavily pregnant, which she knew. In October, I had a traumatic labour and birth, she wished me well with the new baby. He is now five months old, please tell me if I'm wrong for not making a coffee and a collaboration with this woman a priority?! I am on maternity. She is aware of this yet she continues to bad mouth me and say I'm completely opposed to a collaboration. I had a baby, not a kitten. I could not make this shit up, seriously. 

They've shared posts saying we've made nasty and scathing comments but nothing I've said is false. It's all the truth and screenshots do last a lifetime. I can barely believe some of their comments and replies either, acting like they've genuinely done nothing wrong because they bought a domain? I buy lipsticks all the time, it doesn't make me a lipstick does it?! So many people have made extremely valid points but are being met with sticking together is always best, community is community, why can't we all just work together which is all good and well and I don't want to over exaggerate here but I don't see us all sticking together for Brexit because of community... ya know? I'll touch on a couple of points...

Competition is healthy - Yes competition is healthy but outright copying is not. Name stealing is not.

The town is big enough for everyone - I'm not saying there can only be one blogging network in Southampton. My issue is with some moron doing a lack of research and choosing the same name as an already established blogging network and then being shady AF about it.

The handles aren't the same - Honestly, it's like dealing with idiots. The network is called Southampton Bloggers, the handle starts with Soton which is commonly used as a shortened version of Southampton therefore it's called SOUTHAMPTON BLOGGERS. Stop being pedantic. It's black and white.

We're stronger together - No, we're not. We are not stronger working alongside a very new and young 'network' group that do not understand the REAL blogging world, bloggers and everything that goes on behind the scenes. I haven't worked for four years for someone to come jump on the train and expect rewards. We are for bloggers not someone that wants to get in on the act and clearly does  not understand a thing about the blogging world or business. First rule of blogging? DON'T USE THE SAME DAMN NAME OF SOMEONE ELSE!!! I'm not sat here calling myself  ZOELLAN am I? No because I'm not a dick.

Collaboration over competition - *eye roll* you chose the same name babe and you expected not to get backlash? Okay, that's cute. LOL.

What the people behind Winchester Bloggers have done is completely underhand and they know that otherwise I wouldn't have been met with the shit show that was our shared email thread today. Guys, it's a cracker! You might see it coming to a Waterstones near you soon when I sign that blogger book deal. Anyway, I digress. What I'm trying to say is, taking inspiration is great but outright copying, stealing and lying is extremely unprofessional so I'll leave you with the definition of plagiarism and another quick thank you for all your support, honestly, you've been amazing. 

Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work.

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