A funny thing happened this weekend. It was cold, and I didn't want to spend a lot of time outside the apartment. Apologies, there is a long, image-free post ahead. There's a lot to read and many links.
In all fairness to Cynthia Chesterfield, I did finally receive a response to my inquiry. Her response never addressed what I set forth in both my email and in my first post about her blog comment. [To recap, I requested the following: the title of her college publication, and for a reply on her university-issued email address.] I'm not posting Cynthia's response here, because it's long and most of it is not relevant to this discussion. [In the interest of not appearing to be misleading, if anyone has questions about the exchange, please contact me privately.]
Suffice it to say that Cynthia was not, as we had so correctly predicted here, doing research for her "college magazine." She isn't even a student! Instead, she was doing research for a college-based publication that her stepson hopes to start. I don't know the name of her stepson's college or the title of the publication. Those facts were omitted from her response.
Remember the whole thing about the initial message originating from an IP at Innovator Corporation? Complete coincidence! While our friend Cynthia admits to being employed by Innovator Corporation, Innovator itself is NOT involved with knitting in any way. Really?
Cynthia, honey, how stupid do you think I am?
Can you explain this? Looks to me like an online craft store with a section devoted to knitting and crochet. Innovator is the entity behind the "Addicted to..." brands; furthermore, addictedtocrafts.com is hosted on rubberstampmanagement.com. We already know that Innovation Corporation is the corporate entity behind rubberstampmanagement.com.
Finally, in an effort to "clear things up" Cynthia closed the letter by including her phone number.
Because my middle name should be "Nancy Drew," I googled the phone number. Well, well, well! The phone number was connected with a few press releases. Here and here. These press releases are for a website, shophandmade.com, that can best be described as an Etsy clone.
There has also been a lot of discussion about shophandmade.com on Etsy. There are many, many threads to read over there. Reviews are mixed. There was a great deal of confusion over the original wording of shophandmade.com's terms of service. Reading through, it looks like those concerns were addressed appropriately by shophandmade.com's administrators.
This press release describes shophandmade.com further. I'll quote from my favorite paragraph, to save you the trouble of clicking and scrolling:
As sellers flock to open new stores, ShopHandmade has got off to a stupendous start. It has become the `Facebook' of the crafting community. A free platform to buy, sell and network.
"...and network." Having established all of these connections, the fact that Cynthia (or Stacy or Nabanita) would be doing research with members of other crafting networking sites makes even more sense to me. Really, what's wrong with that? Nothing! If she was doing legitimate marketing research for her company (which I believe that she was), that inquiry would be innocent. There's no crime against asking questions. Had Cynthia been honest and upfront about her intentions, and revealed her connections with both Innovator Corporation and shophandmade.com there would be no need for me to post this.
My sole point is that her approach was sneaky and misleading, her response even more so, and I'm calling her on it. I don't want to deal with a company that works like this, and maybe you don't either.
Finally, finally, finally, DO NOT confuse shophandmade.com with shop-handmade.com. Shop-handmade.com redirects to winkelf.com. I can't find much information about shop-handmade.com or winkelf.com but I do not believe that the two are related to shophandmade.com. All three domains were registered with go-daddy.com, but I'm not sure if that's significant in any way. Maybe someone with more technical expertise than I have can dig into that a bit more.