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.
[Ahh, this is my first blog post written under a Democratic presidency. Ahh.]
So, yesterday morning I found an email in my box from Karen. Karen noticed that she and I received the same comment on Monday. Now, receiving comments from the same reader is not unusual, but receiving the SAME comment from the SAME reader is.
The first thing I did is hop over here and check my comments. Sure enough, there it was:
First, let me say that I?m a huge fan of your posts. You're on my List Of Ravelry Favorites, and I often share your stuff with my knitting friends.
I am writing everyone on my Favorites List with a couple of questions. If you can answer them for me, it would be a HUGE HUGE HUGE favor. Really HUGE.
Thing is, I am writing a piece on Ravelry for my college magazine. Topic is WHY Ravelry is such a huge success. I need opinions from fellow Ravelers like you to back up this claim I am making.
These are the questions:
1) Why did you choose to join Ravelry?
2) How did you learn about Ravelry?
3) What does Ravelry give you that other sites don't?
4) Absolutely anything else you?d like to share with me on this subject.
My quandary is this: I love the site and come here almost every week to look for knitting tips and ideas. (I haven't joined yet, as I am too shy to talk of my own work?)
I want to understand why others do the same. Each person must have his or her own reason and I am very curious to understand this trend.
Once I write the piece, I intend to send it across to Bob the dog. Maybe, he will post it on the site to encourage newcomers or even use it for other promotion purposes.
Thank you in advance
Keep writing, keep sharing, keep creating
My first reaction was "what?" For those of you not on Ravelry, you should know that it's impossible to create a list of favorites without registering for the site. Also, the poster claimed to be writing an article for her "college magazine" without identifying the title of the publication, and contacted me via her GMail account. Doesn't that college give you a .edu address? Hmmm.
Intrigued, I did what any crafty knitter would do. I did a WhoIs on the IP (What? Do you think that we knitters don't know how to do these things?) Turns out that the IP from which she sent the email [184.108.40.206] is registered to an "Innovator Corporation" with an address listed in Browns Point, WA. Phone number: 1-253-925-1000.
A quick Google search didn't turn up a website for "Innovator Corporation," but I did find a listing on YellowPages.com. One of the categories under which the company is listed is "Art & Craft Supplies."
Hmmm. Veddy interesting.
The listing also mentions "Rubber Stamp Management." Rubber Stamp Management has a website. Unsurprisingly, it's related to stamping and other crafty endeavors.
So, this could all be some kind of crazy coincidence. Maybe our friend Cynthia Chesterfield is sophomore at Tacoma State, writing for her campus magazine as way to fill the hours between Biology and Business Ethics. Maybe she just happened to be walking by the offices of Innovator Corporation when she decided that she needed to email me with her survey questions, and maybe some kind soul at Innovator Corporation allowed her the use of a computer. I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt (even though parts of her story don't check out).
Because I'm a doubt giver, I emailed Ms. Chesterfield and asked her to provide to me (via her university-issued email address) the name of the publication for which she is writing. So far, there has been no response.
Do you know what I think? I think that Ms. Chesterfield is employed by Rubber Stamp Management, and was doing a little covert marketing research. I don't mind being contacted for such surveys, but I do mind someone misrepresenting her intentions. Would I be more inclined to respond to a survey from a student, rather than a marketing type at a for-profit company? Of course! I'm sure that's what Ms. Chesterfield was counting on. I also wouldn't be expecting anything in return from a student survey. Whereas if I answered a survey from Rubber Stamp Management, I would at least like a free return-address stamp out of the deal, and preferably one that has a ball of yarn next to my name. Or maybe a sheep? Knitting needles? The options are endless.
Curious to see if Karen and I were the only ones to have received such a comment, I posted about this on Ravelry forum. Within minutes, I knew that we were not. There were others, including (and I love this) Mary Heather! [Incidentally, if Jess is Mama Rav, is MH Sister Rav?]
I bet you're wondering, did I reply to Ms. Chesterfield's survey? I did not. Do I think that what she did was illegal? No. Was it phishing? No. She didn't ask me for any identifying information, or my credit-card number. But I do think that it was sneaky. Is this a big deal? No. But I hate being fooled like this. Especially when five minutes on Google tells me what you're really about.
However, maybe you would like to respond? I'm sure that she would appreciate it! Here's her email address. Or, maybe you want to Tweet her? Her profile is here. You should ask her about a free stamp while you're at it.
Many people have asked me if anyone ever recognizes themselves as a "Mystery Subway Knitter of the Week". It's happened once.
Although yesterday something somewhat similar happened. I logged on to Ravelry (like you do) and noticed that I had two new messages. Am I the only one whose heart does a little skip when you see that you have messages? Probably not.
The messages were from Mary. [Click through to her Ravelry page, if you can, and read her profile. It's really funny.] One to add me as friend, and another to say "Hey! Remember me? You took my photo in Zaftigs in August 2006."
So I did. Actually, I remember the evening well. To say that August 2006 was an unsettled time in the life of Subway Knitter would be an understatement. To offer some support, some fabulous friends met me for dinner at Zaftigs. It was a fun evening, and really took my mind off of a few things.
And, like it or not, Mary was a part of that evening. And, now, she's a part of my Ravelry network. Awww!