Natrium?


#1

Natrium [link redacted; see below] appears to be a Complice-alike, at least in some aspects. Anyone tried it?


#2

Wow, this basically looks like a Complice clone, for minimalists who hate colors. I initially thought this might be a coincidence, but then here’s the pricing page:

and here’s Complice’s pricing page:

I’d put the odds of this happening by accident at basically nil at this point. It looks exactly like what you’re expect if someone were trying to copy the text but make it slightly different to avoid looking like plagiarism.

How did you find this @adamwolf?


#3

It came through my RSS–I don’t recall the feed, but I suspect Hacker News. (Update: it was https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17586375)

I told a buddy, “it looks like someone rethemed Complice with Bootstrap.”


#4

Wow, that’s… blatant.


#5

Oy, yeah, that’s uncool. Some seriously sincere flattery for Complice though! Have I mentioned lately that Complice is awesome and everyone should try Complice?

I think I’ll edit out the link in @adamwolf’s post above and we shall never speak the name “natrium” again, unless you’re talking about salt and speaking Latin, if that sounds good to everyone.

PS: Ha, I see they cite and link to Beeminder for their terms of service. That one’s totally unnecessary since we just copied ours (with permission) from WordPress. But no mention anywhere of Complice, which they copied without permission. SMH.

PPS: Omg, duh, it’s not that they cited Beeminder when copying our terms of service, it’s that they copied Complice wholesale and it’s Complice that cites Beeminder so Natrium is just copying the citing of Beeminder. Facepalm.


#6

Bwahaha this is hilarious


#7

Anyone else think of the Stanislaw Lem story?


#8

You are our new best friend. Fun Beeminder fact: @bee (the other Beeminder founder as you probably know) and I had an excerpt from one of Lem’s Cyberiad stories read as part of our wedding ceremony.


#9

Huh, I initially thought this wasn’t true, because they include the ‘Lawyers seem to have a funny definition of “agree”.’ I removed this from the Complice legal page a few months ago when I did the GDPR update, because the tone wasn’t quite what I wanted for my page. So since this app is newer than that, I figured that they did go back to Beeminder’s and copy theirs?

Except huh, the top section seems more obviously copied from Complice (and paraphrased) than Beeminder. I think it might just predate that.

I’m kinda wondering, should I call this guy out on Twitter or something? Seems likely to be net beneficial. Snarky option would be “Hey @KevanAhlquist! They say that copying is the sincerest form of flattery, so thank you for your appreciation of Complice. Were you intending to let me know that you had cloned my site?”


#10

I’m so conflict averse I just had a vicarious panic attack at the very idea. :slight_smile: But also I feel like I have to defend Complice publicly so I replied in the Hacker News thread that @adamwolf mentioned above and linked to this forum thread. :grimacing: But other than replies to things already public, maybe start with private communication?


#11

Public callout sounds fine for something this blatant, though make sure you have easy proof available that your site came first. This can’t possibly be a misunderstanding, and possible misunderstanding would be my only prerequisite for starting off “nice” with a private message.


#12

Just let it go. You have dedication to your site, keep working on it and make it better.
When this other site stops working in 6months when he gets bored and clones the next thing he notices, some of his customers will find their way to you.
(That saying about wrestling with pigs…)


#13

Aww I love you guys too! You are the coolest!
What excerpt? I can’t think of anything wedding-themed, not that that needs to stop you.

(I’m assuming it wasn’t the part where King Zipperupus almost got trapped in the Black Box forever due to his love for the Princess Ineffable.)


#14

@zedmango, ha, I guess that would be thematically appropriate? But it’s in fact the love poem spec’d for Trurl’s electronic bard as “…lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit.”


#15

Hey everyone, I’m Kevan, the person behind Natrium.

The criticisms you’ve raised are fair. I was watching Complice too closely when I was building my product and ended up with very similar content. That’s not cool and I’ve removed it.

Malcolm, Complice is a great product that you should be proud of. It solves the problem I had, but I didn’t want to pay for it so I built my own. Then I tried to see if there was a market for a minimal version.

I understand if you dislike me for the way I’ve built this product. I think that I would feel the same if this happened to me, and I apologize for how I acted. I’m working to be better at this. If you’re ever in Minneapolis I’m happy to buy you a beer.

Kevan


#16

You’re not Kevan of uin/nohari fame are you?


#17

It looks like it’s still up. I think you should replace the website with a link to Complice and additionally send Malcolm any money you’ve received from it.


#18

Ah, thanks for responding (and editing the webcopy)! I’ve argued for a long time (see blog.beeminder.com/competitors) that competitors, in a sparse market like we’re all in, help you more than hurt you.

(Just saw @zedmango’s take, which sounds extreme to me. I’d say the only thing to worry about is demonstrable plagiarism and it sounds like (though I haven’t looked close enough to vouch for it) that’s been addressed. A competitor that’s merely replicating functionality seems ok. In any case, I tend to agree with @insti that it’s probably not worth thinking about.)

But as I was saying, there’s a highly ironic and counterintuitive thing that I’m convinced is true. And, doubly-ironically, the following is adapted from a conversation @malcolm and I had some months ago about another Complice competitor, The Amazing Marvin.

If Complice’s whole goal were to make The Amazing Marvin eat Complice’s lunch and they literally put a banner like

The Amazing Marvin is a Complice alternative you might want to try!”

on Complice’s front page it would lead to more growth for Complice.

I suppose I’m slightly exaggerating (maybe) about having an actual “maybe use our competitor instead” banner, but my point is, you’re creating the Complice-Marvin link in people’s minds (and the Googlebot’s mind) which means that as people hear about Marvin they’ll also more likely come across Complice and try it too. Because 99.9+% of everyone has heard of neither of you. So when Marvin gets new users and more attention, almost none of that is at your expense.

It’s like how our public list of our competitors does nothing but help us by making it more likely that when any competitor gets press, we get mentioned too. We’re constantly pointing journalists to that list and mentioning it all over the web any time it would be too self-promotional to just pimp Beeminder. And it’s a genuinely useful compilation of apps so it’s all very win-win. (Or win-win-win-win: good for us, good for our competitors, good for potential users, good for journalists writing about such tools.)

In fact, in the above blog post listing our competitors, we also give an analogy about sushi in Peoria to argue the claim that pimping your competitors helps you.

Also relevant is RunOrElse.com. It’s amazing how small businesses are the diametric opposite of the dog-eat-dog stereotype. And I’m making this kind of Slytherin argument for how it helps your own business but the strategy is identical to just “be a total altruist and help everyone as much as possible”.

That was all pre-Natrium and I can’t decide how reasonable it is to take that to its logical conclusion and apply it to (real or hypothetical) direct clones.

Some final points from @drtall on advantages of talking openly about and linking to your competitors:

It highlights that the product space is populated which implies you’re solving a problem worth solving which helps convince users to actually seek a solution. If they only knew about your product, some wouldn’t be convinced they had a problem worth solving at all. Yet another advantage: It proves that either you genuinely care about the user getting their problem solved even if not by you, or that you’re just very confident users will choose you, or both. Ok, or you just bought into the argument that competitors help you and it’s purely Machiavellian.


#19

I come from the Open Source Hardware space, where we deal with literal clones–where folks will take our open source design files, and run them at factories they’re affiliated with and take a smaller cut and have an identical* output file.

This is different, but it informs a little as to where I am coming from. I think the serious issue here was the identical text. Having a workalike copy is just fine, in my third-party opinion.

In an extension of what dreev says above, it is comforting from a user perspective for a lot of reasons. Let’s say I wanted to use Complice, but early on I realized that if I switched to Complice, it would quickly become the dominant strategy for how I schedule my life. That is a little scary, in a space where if Complice goes away, there are no obvious places to move to. Compare that to task managers. If Todoist went away tomorrow, I could make my life work just fine in under a week of screwing around.

Having Complice and Natrium and The Amazing Marvin to a lesser extent helps me feel OK relying on tools like this.


#20

You both get transformed into large verminous insects, but the pig likes it?