When you are as long lived as The Syndicate is (approaching 20 years as of the writing of this history article) and as successful, you might expect that you have seen it all. We have seen lots of websites steal our graphics... steal our logo... steal our motto... steal our name... and even steal the text from our site. Some groups have come to us to ask if they could copy it and we have worked with those groups to help them develop their organizations and, in some cases, model them after our group.
However, in November of 2015 we had another "first". A group that was founded in late 2014 accused us of plagiarism of their website. It went like this:
We received an email from our Contact Form on this website. It read: "Kinda turned off at the fact you copied my website verbatim in your mission statement. I wrote that mission word for WORD. forsakenAA.guildlaunch.com".
So... if you go to that site then you will see its a guild for Archeage. And they state: Forsaken is an online ArcheAge guild in the Western faction located on the Ollo server. We have been around since launch." -- Ok.. It has existed since ArcheAge's launch... and they are a western guild so that mean's ArcheAge's launch date in the US/Europe which was Sept 16th, 2014. So, The Syndicate was 18 years old at that time.
Continuing on.. if you read the next 2 sentences then you read these lines: "We are a guild of adult, mature, veteran gamers. We are dedicated to a friendly, team focused, fun-loving gaming environment where every member is important and not just a number on a roster.
We seek to foster long term friendships among members and enhance the online gaming experience by virtue of those friendships.
Hmmm those do look really familiar. Shift over to LLTS.ORG and go into the CHARTER option off the menu at the top.. and under our Mission Statement you see those EXACT sentences (among others) except we say "community" where they say "guild".
Now... what are the odds of that exact word choice happening twice? Not at all. Except... our guild has existed since 1996, our word choice has existed since back around 2000 when we picked up the llts.org domain. The words were was revised a bit around 2008 but has been static since then. Our website has changed and been reorganized but the text in those areas was just ported forward through the versions.
But lets validate their age using the Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/*/forsakenAA.guildlaunch.com As we can see, their website only existed since early 2015 and from its very first incarnation, it contains those words they have a concern with.
Using the same wayback machine, lets look at a copy of our website from 2008 (when we adopted the current format) and low and behold, those exact words are there (7 years before they decided to exist): https://web.archive.org/web/20081019230059/http://www.llts.org/Charter.php
While normally we ignore things like this, we did decide to reply in this case and sent an email which read: "You do realize The Syndicate has been around since 1996 (and are recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for that achievement and hold 2 Trademarks validating that date of first existence) and our website has existed since then and the text you reference is from 2000 and the current version of our website since 2008. Thus the only way for that text to be on your site is for whomever assembled that page to have copied it off of our site, not vice versa as you have existed since September of 2014. Kind of hard to make a valid claim that we stole something from you that existed 18 years prior to your website and group coming into existence. I would look a little closer to home to find the source of the plagiarism."
The plagiarism didn't stop at those two sentences. Their entire core structure and values were "borrowed" from The Syndicate. On their forums is a Charter and Diplomacy page that is almost entirely a copy and paste of the equivalent sections from our charter. That even includes the "Guild First" concept that we debuted in 1996, followed immediately by our concept that we recruit the "PERSON not the TOON" (including the capitalization of the words). So while they were "upset" by sharing 2 sentences in common, a slightly deeper investigation reveals the entire core of their community is a copy of ours which is far far older than they are.
That said, The Syndicate believes that a stable overall community benefits us all. Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So for those two reasons, its not a big deal that they chose to model themselves after us. We are the longest, continuously operating gaming community in the history of gaming. We are THE most successful community in the history of gaming. If you are going to model yourselves after someone, picking THE best is not a bad place to start.