February 11, 2014

How The Shoe Game is trying (poorly) to steal our website

This article is very long.  For that we apologize.  But if you care about the integrity of the sneaker community in any way, we think you will find this important.  Thank you for reading.

I guess we’ve made it in the sneaker game (or at least arrived on the scene) if people are stealing our shit.

As you read this story, ask yourself this:  Is TheShoeGame the Dumb Starbucks of our community?  More than a few people have suggested that to me . . .

I hear people gripe all the time about pictures being used without attribution.  That sucks, no question.  But to add some perspective it’s probably what, a handful of swipes amongst thousands of your pics?  It’s some small percentage.  It ain’t the entirety of your body of work.  But a whole website?  I don’t know anyone who’s been jacked like that.  Until now.

It’s no secret that sneaker content is recycled, particularly within the Complex network.  They are intentionally collaborating.  Plus, the majority of sneaker content is fact anyway – release date, retail price, colorway, etc.  But the output of complicated statistical analysis?  That’s not fact.  That’s not recyclable.  Dabu, that’s not gangsta.  That’s the equivalent of plagiarism.  To put our data on your page – really any data – without clear and unequivocal attribution as to where it came from and how it was calculated – is the same as taking Russ Bengston’s words as your own.  It’s also destroys your credibility and makes you appear ignorant for posting it without proper sourcing.  If all this data stuff is new to anyone, we’ll teach you how to use it – that’s what we’re here for.

TheShoeGame has not been nice to Campless.  And this is Campless fighting back.

As a newcomer to the content-creator side of the sneaker game, Campless currently has very modest community awareness (see our article on social reach).  The last thing we want to do is a pick a fight with someone who has a combined social reach of 141k people (and just missed making our most influential list).  However, this is not us picking a fight – this is us fighting back.  This post is the result of not one, but two incidents, and numerous rebuffed chances to make it right.  As my father often said to me growing up, “Once is an accident, Twice is an idiot”. (True story, ask my brother).

So this is Campless fighting back.  This is us demanding that TheShoeGame stop.  This is us telling the world (er, sneaker world) what happened.  Actually, change that – this is us asking the community:  Is this OK?  Are we overreacting?  Is this acceptable journalistic practice by TSG?  Is this ethical?  If so, if the answer to any of those questions comes back as “Yes” from someone we respect, then we’ll leave well enough alone.  We’ll chalk up this frustrated rant to some bad nachos and never talk about it again.

So what happened?


On September 26, 2013, we published “Top 25 eBay Resellers”.

On January 3, 2014, TSG posted “Top 25 eBay Sneaker Sellers”.

Here’s the story, in screenshots:










To recap “INCIDENT ONE:  EBAY SELLERS ARTICLE”, this is what happened:

  • AlexThaGr8 (hereinafter “Alex”, as he definitely ain’t Gr8), who either owns or runs TheShoeGame, saw our Top 25 eBay Sellers post and decided to steal it create a post for his site using the exact same data
  • Alex looked at our data, which was being displayed on one easy-to-read page, and typed it into his website, split between 25 different pages, presumably to increase page views and destroy user experience
  • For attribution, Alex included one small line at the bottom of the front page which said “Source” and listed our name with a link to our homepage.  There was no link to our eBay seller post.  Neither a source line, nor link, appeared on any of the subsequent 24 pages.  Campless does not even appear in the tags.  This made it virtually impossible for anyone to figure out who created this content, let alone find their way to the actual article we wrote
  • Alex omitted from his article any explanation about how the data was calculated, presumably because he would have had to reference the 722 sneakers we tracked at the time.  Several commentators asked this exact question.
  • When I tried to comment on his post  – i.e., very politely provide relevant context to his article, answer questions from other commentators, provide readers with access to the actual source material, and gain a fraction of the attribution we actually deserved – Alex delayed approving our comment for almost two days.  He approved 10 other comments in the interim, almost certainly ensuring that our comment would be seen by as few people as possible

And we did nothing.  I let it go.  I didn’t want to start a fight.

But then he did it again.


On January 9, 2014 (now a national holiday at Campless HQ), we published the Campless Sneaker Price Guide – our seminal work – which we plan on continuing to update for years.

On January 31, Alex sends me a DM, asking for help . . .

TSG 10

The day after this exchange (February 3), Alex posts “Sneaker Price Guide:  Air Jordan Sneakers“.

TSG 11

It’s a travesty of deceptive sourcing and poor blog construction.

TSG 12

TSG 13

Politely (considering the circumstances), I ask Alex for only two changes to make the sourcing more explicit.

TSG 14

Hours go by.  No word.

TSG 15

The best part here is that he implies that because this article will not get a lot of traffic, it is therefore OK that he stole it from us.  As of February 10, this article is the 4th most popular post on his site.  I can now cite a mathematical law (the Inverse Theorem) to prove that Alex is a jerk.

TSG 16

By now I’ve calmed down a little and decide to take the high road – again.  I do not demand that he take down the posts but, rather, I give him the option to make the right decision . . . now clearly invoking the “Once is an accident, Twice is an idiot” ethos.

He doesn’t reply to any of my comments.  But I decide to let it go anyway.  Again, I didn’t want to start a public fight.  I also didn’t want to take the time to write this article which, as you can see, I was clearly not going to half-ass.

But then this happened:

TSG 18


First, there must be genuine knowledge isolation at Complex.  I have been in personal contact with many people at Complex about our Price Guide.  They know, not only that we created the Price Guide, but the excruciating exactitude and time that it has taken to do so.  The fact that one writer would report it as being created by “The Shoe Game” is upsetting, but I suppose not surprising given the volume of content Complex churns out and shares within its network.  Or, just as likely, Campless simply isn’t important enough (yet) to be discussed at the Complex offices.  So, no problem.  You get a pass there – even for refusing to update the article when I brought the situation to your attention. Because the real problem was caused by TheShoeGame.

I could handle having our data stolen.  I could handle intentionally delayed approval of my comment.  I could even handle deceptive sourcing.  But when respected sites are picking this up and reporting that “The Shoe Guide has created” a price guide “with the help of Campless.”  WTF!!  With the help of Campless?!?!  That was the straw.  Alex was about to be the camel’s back.

TSG 19

No response for days.  I gave him a final warning.  And then I started writing this article.

To recap “INCIDENT TWO:  CAMPLESS PRICE GUIDE”, this is what happened:

  • Alex asks me for prices not currently listed in our Price Guide because he said “I wanted to share your guide/data.”  Oh, sweet, he is going to make up for the eBay seller article fiasco by profiling our Price Guide and telling people to go to our site to check it out.  I go out of my way to comply, including spending several hours over the weekend calculating the price of several sneakers.
  • The next day Alex posts his article.  It is a re-keying of every Air Jordan from our Price Guide directly into his website.  He even lists the sneakers that we track but don’t have prices for (denoted by “/N”).
  • We are discretely sourced only twice, only one of which links to our Price Guide.  Campless is not mentioned on 24 of the 25 pages.  Campless is not listed in the tags.
  • The article is clearly intended to induce readers to believe that this is TheShoeGame’s Price Guide, including putting TSG logo on the main graphic and even going so far as to say that readers should return to this page for updates on the data.
  • Rather than display our Price Guide data on one easy-to-read page as it exists on our site, Alex split it into 25+ different pages, presumably to increase page views and destroy user experience.
  • I immediately contact Alex via Twitter and demand that he correct the deceptive sourcing, asking for only two changes:  put “Campless” in the title, and put “Campless Methodology” above the methodology section.
  • Alex refuses, implying that he did not need to source us twice.  He implies that these posts won’t get a lot of traffic so its OK that he stole our content and didn’t source us correctly.  As of Feb. 10, this post was the 4th most popular on his site.  I can now cite a mathematical law (the Inverse Theorem) to prove that Alex is a jerk.  (Joke intentionally repeated. Shit is funny.  Laugh.)
  • Complex picks up TSG post and reports it as “The Shoe Game created” the price guide “with the help of Campless”.
  • I give Alex one more chance to make it right.  No reply.
  • I start writing this article.

Here’s the worst part.  This probably sounds like we are selfishly hoarding complete control of our Price Guide, which is also illogical because we published it to the world.  But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  We want to share our data.  We would love if other people want to use the data that we’ve created.  In fact, we encourage it.  I have already given a soft copy of our Price Guide to several people who have approached me in a professional manner.  Just ask, we’ll give it to you.  All we want in return is credit – that’s it.  I didn’t think that needed to be said, but apparently it does.  Provide explicit attribution to Campless for creating the data and we will gladly work with you to create something awesome with it.  Don’t let Alex ruin that for all of us.

Earlier I asked if Alex is the Dumb Starbucks of our community, and the answer is actually No.  You see, Dumb Starbucks ripped off the big guy.  Alex only picks on the little guy.  You’ll notice that he doesn’t do this to the Goliaths of sneaker media.  For example, last year Alex posted an article titled “Complex:  The 25 Most Powerful People in Sports” and within that one page article he included a link to the Complex article (written by Russ Bengston and Nick Engvall) where a reader could go if he or she wanted to learn who those 25 people are.  Complex is listed four times in the tags.  If Alex were Dumb Starbucks, he would have removed the word “Complex” from the article title.  He would have put TSG logo in the main graphic of Tinker.  He would not have included Complex even once, let alone four times, in the tags.   And he would have taken Russ and Nick’s words, broken them into 25 pages, and made sure his readers had to suffer through a miserable user experience to get any content.

Twelve hours before I published this article I went back to Alex one more time on Twitter.  I said:  “I am publishing an article titled “How TheShoeGame is trying (poorly) to steal our website” very soon. Would you like to comment for it?”  No reply.

And there you have it.  That is how TheShoeGame is trying (poorly) to steal our website.  It’s only two articles you might say – not your whole website.  First, the Price Guide is the center of everything.  Second, if we don’t stand up now – and stop Alex – he has explicitly said that he will continue.

Alex, it’s not too late to do the right thing.

Sneaker community, what do you think?  Please chose one:

A.  Man, that sucks, Campless.  Sorry that Alex at TheShoeGame so blatantly ripped you off.  Thanks for bringing this to our attention.  We will make sure that the public knows you created the Price Guide.

B.  Suck it up.  This happens to all of us.  Alex is just a bully who will eventually get his comeuppance.  We’ve all learned to deal with it, so will you.

C.  Alex did nothing wrong.  You’re an idiot for wasting so much time writing this article.


UPDATE: See the follow-up post to this, and then the conclusion to this saga.