and plaigirism drama (resolved)

The problems made public here have since been resolved, the license is reincluded and the info is out in the open. This page is left up for completeness.
Some of the writing below is a bit tongue in cheek, and I admit I should have given myself more time to cool off before writing it. Some of it makes me cringe now, but this is what happened in full.

FYB/eSol-ExpertIT is a software development team committed to excellence, which can provide integrated digital solutions to your business problems that are highly scalable, user-oriented, and cost-effective. They are committed to your success, have lots of experience writing paragraphs like this, and use important sounding phrases like "development methodology".

The only problem is they don't know how to code. :-(

Luckily they have no morals, and don't have the foresight to realize you can't get away with stealing code used by thousands of people every day, and so they have developed this highly innovative development methodology:

Unfortunately their incompetence extends even to the simple task of changing code to appear different. This brief critique was written to help them improve their techniques by offering the perspective of the broke student who's free code they sold for thousands of dollars.

I even left their contact details at the bottom, in-case you notice any similarities I missed and want to helpfully inform them.

The recurring theme throughout these pics is you can just randomly change things without rhyme or reason and mess things up and thus baffle anyone trying to decrypt your masterful spider's web of plagiarism. Case in point: mapstore, storage for maps. -> games. There are multiple maps per game, so how can you call the map cache folder the games folder?

The syntax for where each map identifier goes is in exactly the same place.. This is like trying to disguise yourself by wearing a different name-tag: Put some effort into it.

The plagiarism is somewhat elegant in its simplicity, but unfortunately it's still obviously the work of a total retard. What's the point of all the other changes when you leave such a large string completely unchanged?

The PayPal link is highlighted because you should probably donate. Because clearly a lot of work went into this.

I know what you're thinking; "where's the paypal icon? Because I meant to click it on the last page and don't want to have to click Back to get to it". Well don't worry; it's still in the top-right corner.

At the top is the guide I wrote. I'm not 100% sure whether the images were omitted as a tactic to fool us into thinking these two are from different guides, or if they just couldn't be bothered recreating the images from their altered map. Oh yeah; they altered the map alright, in that unique way that only lazy thieves know how.

There are two things that strike me about this; First, this master of concealment didn't realize that the color of the country doesn't matter, as long as it's unique to that country. It doesn't matter how different the lines are if ~30 out of ~32 colors are exactly identical. I don't think that was chance..

Second, it seems that someone went over the original small map using some sort of basic paint tool to draw over it, and then expanded the vector diagram, thus turning a perfectly formed map of Europe into some sort of retarded stained glass window made out of random rejected glass shards. The supply-center dots couldn't be more misaligned if you got drunk, printed the map out and angrily threw darts at it. Just look at that line through Constantinople, it looks like it was drawn with a mouse.

Seriously, what was he trying to accomplish here? It would have been just as effective to apply a blur filter or a pixelate filter to hide the map's true identity, and it would have come out equally ugly and unusable.

"Ha-ha-ha, they'll never recognize the map now that I've scattered the supply centers randomly. It's a little suspicious that anyone would put anything that looks this stupid onto a web-page, but it's either that or give credit where credit is due." I guess no-one told him that supply centers are positioned above cities, not scattered randomly.

Ironically if he had taken the time to read the credits he would have seen that the map and a choice of many others are freely available from Rob Addison, but then again this guy probably doesn't understand the concept of a credits page, and deleted it without so much as opening it.

This map of Greece (Athens marked) serves as a beautiful symbol of the commitment and dedication of FYB; pride of Romania.

This is actually what first gave me a little inkling of suspicion.. "But who would be stupid enough to plagiarize something when there are only 4-5 widely used servers out there, two of which use phpDiplomacy, so there's no chance that the users from one server won't eventually notice similarities?"

If you want to let them know what you think of their hard work (or ask them to refund the admin of you can get in touch with them: Contact form&details

eSol ExpertIT is run by the same group, you can contact them here. Tudor Panturu is the name credited for playdiplomacy specifically.

I don't know how true any of the stuff below is. I don't know who's benefiting or who's to blame, so I want to be careful about demonizing anyone. It does appear that the webmaster of took down the credit when I posted this page on how FYB conned her. (This was added afterwards.)

Forum posts asking for money from the site's users

My commentary was added when I first discovered this, before contacting the webmaster via e-mail. It may assume things that aren't true, but the webmaster hasn't clarified that. She's referred to as "Avalanche", her forum username

Posts from the forum thread brainstorming ways to generate revenue from my code. If you are more than 9-weeks pregnant or are the author of phpDiplomacy you may want to sit down and have a vomit bag ready before beginning.

"And that's completely unfair to demand that Avalanche "plan ahead" to make sure he can run this site, when we're the ones using and enjoying it, especially considering you probably don't realise just how quickly this site exploded into activity. (It only came online in, what, late December? Look at where we are now.)"

That’s true; basically the recipe for success here is
1. Grab relatively obscure, poorly marketed open source software
2. Remove anything that could identify it
3. Use your specialist search engine optimization techniques to get more users than ever
4. Pretend that you desperately need lots of money to host and develop the application which you “built”

"your assumption that this is going to become all about the money. Obviously I can't read the future, but I think you're completely off here. For one, the community is already developing a strong core, and I doubt it will let that happen. For two - and this is the biggest reason - Avalanche is an honest guy who just wants to let people play. Now I don't know him personally, but I like to think that as one of the here-since-(near)-the-beginning players, and also one of the members who has probably had the most interaction with Avalanche, that I can have a bit more of a say in this matter than you. And he is not out to make a profit. His only goal was to develop a new medium to play Diplomacy in that will allow easy access for dozens, hundreds, even thousands of Dip players, and he only wants to improve on this goal, this site, as best he can. The site grew more quickly than he imagined, and he needed a bit of financial assistance, so he kindly reached out to the community, and we are willing to throw in a bit to help him out.

So as I said, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Because believe it or not, there are some websites and webmasters out there who just want to bring joy to a few people, and are not in it for the money."

I have to admit it hurts to read this post, because it has been the stated goal of phpDip, since 2004, to bring Diplomacy to more people, and I actually have only wanted to improve on the site as best I can, and I’m actually not in it for money – it has cost me hosting fees and only 2 kind donors have ever sought out to send me something (I don’t run a PayPal link on every page, like does).

Yet after that in comes Avalanche to take the credit and cash it in, the “honest guy”

I’m no Mother Theresa for working on a hobby that I enjoy, but you can see the irony here right?

"Avalanche wants anyone to enjoy the game. And never have I seen him care more about the site and less about enlarging the worldwide diplomacy community. [...] Avalanche you rock dude, go with the changes, you got this communities support! Without you, we'd be playing email and ftf games.

Next post:

Webmaster:":D You all brought a smile to my face. Thanks for the support."

Isn’t this when Avalanche should refuse the credit for work that isn’t his own?

11 Feb 2007, 2 months after "creating"

Webmaster:"Creating a website like this takes
1) a lot of time (over 400 development hours so far, even more time spent beta-testing)

2) a lot of money (I won't go into detail, but I paid the programmers a 4 figure-amount so far)

It started off as a purely non-commercial project: a website that would people allow to gather and play the game.

I'm not going to turn 180 degrees and sell out, but because of the huge (and a bit unexpected) popularity, I'm looking at an opportunity to recover at least some of the costs. Besides, I promise that all income gained will go right back into developing the website."

400 development hours and over 1000 Euros? Did, where he downloaded phpDip from, start charging by the byte? Or does it really cost that much/take that long to change around variables, filenames and style-sheets?

Is he telling us that he shelled out all that cash expecting the site to be tiny and non-profitable? He’s a search-engine-optimizer who experts in online ad revenue, and he blows 1000 Euros on a website out of the goodness of his heart?

There is no way that he could possibly actually think that his tweaking and disguising of my code took more time that it took me to actually write the code.

The e-mail discussion I had with the site's owner after I discovered the similarities

I wouldn't post e-mail correspondance under normal circumstances, but I have left her a day to respond to my last request for clarification, and she responded immidiately when I put a link to this page on my site by taking the license and link down.

Also I just know if I don't include absolutely everything for an unbiased view of the evidence she'll accuse me of extortion or blackmail, so here it is:

Hi there, I'm the guy you plagiarized from

I'm sending this PDF here first, in case you have some amazing
reasonable explanation for why my code is being used on your server,
but has been altered to be difficult to tell that it's my code.

I can't imagine how you would be unaware that you're using
phpDiplomacy, but then again I can't imagine how you thought a bunch
of little changes to my code would prevent anyone from ever noticing.

I'm not going to wait long for a response, having put so much work
into the code you're using it's sickening to see you talk about it
like you created it and take all the credit for my code.


Hello Kestas

First of all, thank you for contacting me with this PDF first. After reading it, I can very much understand your frustration. I'm going to tell you this: I'm not a brilliant evil SEO-mastermind looking to mooch off your code. I wasn't even aware of it. In fact, I started for the same reason as you: love for the game and the will to enlarge the community.

This may seem hard to believe at this point, but let me explain my situation.

I'm not a coder. I'm a (quite succesful) internet marketeer (specializing in Google Adwords campaigns for affiliate marketing, I have nothing to do with spambots or Myspace), but when I need code, I need someone else to do it, for all my websites. That's why in september 2007, I engaged the services of a Rumanian developer on

I asked them to create a Diplomacy website for me, the end result went live in December 2007 as -- quickly (more so than I expected) growing to be the biggest Diplomacy site out there.

Still, since December 2007, a lot of changes have been made to it. And since I don't code, I paid the Rumanian programmers to do it. So far, I didn't pay them 1000 euros like you said in your PDF, the total cost is currently at over 5000 euros. Plus hosting. And yes. It has been out of "the goodness of my heart", as aside from a few --much appreciated-- donations, I have funded it all myself.

The reason that I am planning to start charging for premium memberships is because that opportunity came along, due to the success. Not because I had originally planned it so. In fact, even with paying premium memberships in place (only 12 euros per year!) I don't expect to make a profit for a long time. I already needed to order a bigger server for the game (200 euros per month). So having people pay only cushions my personal expenses on the site.

Now, all this explanation I only give you because I want to show you that my intentions were honest. I can see why you think I am an unscrupulous, hypocrit, lying sack of shit, because it sure looks that way if you read what I said in the forums. If I was aware that your code was stolen, I would be all that. I wasn't, so I honestly meant what I said.

While I had every intention to make the best Diplomacy site out there, even better than yours, I do believe that stealing code is wrong. That's why I will immediately assign proper credit where due. Also, if you feel that people should know what happened, we can publish your PDF on our site, BUT with my response right under it.

Again, sorry for what happened. It was not my intention.

Best regards,

Jan De Volder
Volo Media

PS thanks for the compliments on my SEO work

Well Jan I expected to hear something like this, but I'm at least glad
you can see it from my point of view.
If what you're saying is true you're getting completely ripped off by
these Rumanians. 5000 Euros pays for almost 3 semesters of uni fees
for me, and I did far more work on phpDiplomacy in my own time during
the last holidays than your coders have done.. In fact I used to do
work on a site similar to Scriptlance, rentacoder, and got high
reviews without needing to steal.

As the actual copyright holder of phpDiplomacy I can actually give you
legal, full ownership of your copy. As it stands the LICENSE.txt which
was illegally removed by the Rumanians needs to be replaced and given
a link to on the site for your copy of phpDip to comply to the terms
of the license that came with it. I can also add in the latest changes
from phpDiplomacy 0.8, such as maps that don't look awful, and an
adjudicator that works 100% correctly, and any extensions you want
made I can add to your site alone and not add to my own. For me paying
uni fees doing something I enjoy comes above fun competition between
web-diplomacy sites (these days they're all phpDiplomacy-based anyway,
with the exceptions of and

phpDiplomacy 0.8 is also much more optimized, my site
runs about 1/3rd the games your site runs (~200vs~600), but it runs
easily in a shared host at Dreamhost which costs ~$200US every 2
years. As a student paying for out of my own pocket
optimization is always on my mind, and I'm sure I could optimize the
queries that your Rumanians have doubtlessly screwed up/left
unoptimized. There's no way phpDip should require anywhere near the
sort of hardware you're talking about

I'm not asking a favor; I'm certainly the best person for this job and
can do whatever work you want done in the shortest time and lowest
price (and I give quotes before-hand, so no runaway costs). I'm also
less ill-tempered and easier to work with than the PDF might have you

If that doesn't appeal for some reason getting the LICENSE.txt back in
place (and if you're feeling generous a small "derived from/based on
phpDiplomacy" link to in a corner/about page/splash
screen somewhere, but this isn't legally required) will resolve the
issue to my satisfaction. I've attached the LICENSE.txt from phpDip
0.75, just upload that and provide a link to it from the about page,
or somewhere out of the way but accessible like that.



I have added a link to phpdiplomacy to the index and will have the license information displayed in the about page.

I don't think you are ill-tempered based on the PDF file. You were only in your right to defend your sourcecode although there were some far-fetched assumptions about me personally or the way I conduct business, I enjoyed reading it and I think you have an excellent sense of humour.

I don't know how the Rumanians further developed the code and how easy it is to decipher now, but what do you normally charge as an hourly rate?

Best regards,

Jan De Volder
Volo Media

Thanks for taking care of that, but I don't know why you're
advertising the people who charged you for the work that I did for
free. In a perfectly fair world would owe me upwards of 95% of
the money you paid them, and the anger I expressed toward you in the
PDF is basically unchanged except directed towards them. I do plan to
release a modified PDF to which makes it crystal
clear who was at fault, by the way.

It's especially hurtful that the amount of money you paid them would
have had a much larger impact for me; I desperately need student fees
and couldn't get employed at a software development outfit if I tried
(because I'm "inexperienced" and "unqualified"). Over the summer
holidays I'm hoping to get a pizza delivery job to help pay next
semesters fees. Meanwhile someone else gets paid 3 semesters worth of
uni fees for the work I did for free.. I know it's not your fault, but
that's what's going to be on my mind while I'm driving pizzas around
for the next few weeks.

I aim to charge ~$25 AUD/hour, which rounds down to 15 Euros/hour. I'm
sure this is cheaper than the Romanians charge for the work they claim
they're doing, I'm positive it's cheaper than what they charge for the
"work" they actually do, and I definitely know my way around the code
much better, can work at a much faster rate, and produce better
quality code. Also as I said I have existing code developed in
phpDiplomacy 0.8, like the new map code and adjudicator, that can
provide lots of new functionality and I'll only charge for the cost of
integrating the existing code.
And that doesn't include the money you'll save by not having to switch
to better hosting when I fix the Romanians' inefficient code; my work
will probably pay for itself.



While I agree that you would be the best person in place to have developed Playdiplomacy from the start, I didn't know you. Yes, you would have saved time and money developing and changing the game rules, as the Rumanians didn't have experience with Diplomacy.

But most of the work done was on the point-and-click interface, removing judge bugs still in there, user management, and of course the website functionalities and the forum. A lot of things have nothing to do with the source code, meta-development like the victory system, processing the deadlines, implementing new rule variants and allowing speed games.

The Rumanians charge 15 USD per hour, which comes down to less than 10 euro per hour.

I don't understand why you would see the need to release another version of the PDF, as the intrusion of the license code was unintentional and we are now fully compliant. While I am sympathetic for your situation, the fact that I paid a Rumanian programmer to work with open source code has nothing to do with the fact that you have to deliver pizzas to pay your studies. If I had developed the website myself, there would be no money involved and no hard feelings about that. I didn't know you.

You told me that you had done several projects on Getacoder before, I don't understand why that still makes you inexperienced and unqualified for a job at a software company. Can't you get more jobs at Getacoder to pay your university fees?

Best regards,

Jan De Volder
Volo Media

> While I agree that you would be the best person in place to have developed Playdiplomacy from the start, I didn't know you.
Of course, I'm not blaming you for that. I'm not blaming you at all;
you're the victim here, but I'm just bewildered that you don't seem to
realize it. You should be hopping mad at them for selling you free
code! I would be demanding my 5000 Euros back and contacting the
scriptlance admins and my lawyer.

> But most of the work done was on the point-and-click interface, removing
> judge bugs still in there, user management, and of course the website
> functionalities and the forum. A lot of things have nothing to do with the
> source code, meta-development like the victory system, processing the
> deadlines, implementing new rule variants and allowing speed games.
The judge bugs are taken care of in the latest phpDip, if you want to
get rid of them all you'll need to give the Romanians a link to this
document: It outlines
some notes for those wanting to build an adjudicator, and tests for
whether an adjudicator is complete.
You can see some of the tests here:

I should tell you that the type of adjudicator in your version of
phpDip can't be modified to become a proper adjudicator; it needs to
be rewritten, since the algorithm is simple but doesn't account for
all cases.

As for your point about the work done, I'm not sure what you mean. All
changes you mentioned are modifications to phpDip that would be done
better by someone who knows phpDip, but anyway I'm not writing back to
advertise my services since I've let you know I'm available and I'm
not going to pester.

> The Rumanians charge 15 USD per hour, which comes down to less than 10 euro
> per hour.
So they have worked for 500 hours, and in that time made some changes
to the interface, points system, scheduling system, and other (useful
and good ideas, but still) relatively small changes? They're lying to
you I'm afraid, it's that simple.
I'm not trying to be rude or trying to get you to hire me by dishonest
means; you would get a better deal from anyone with 2 shreds of
integrity, not just me.

I feel like I should be frank about this, since you don't seem to
realize it and it's a lot of money (at least to me): You have been
scammed, and probably are still being scammed. 5000 Euros for the
differences between and phpdiplomacy 0.75 is
absolutely absurd.

They are earning *far* more than 15USD per hour because they have
worked *a lot* less than 500 hours on It would take
me less than 5 days to clone the changes made to I
might actually take a few days out of the holidays to do this just to
remove any doubt over anything they might have told you.

I'm honestly not trying to disrespect the work and care you've put
into requesting changes, and the value that those changes bring to the
site, only the amount you're paying for them.

Also again note that you could be using much less powerful hardware
while running the same code if your code was more efficiently
developed; this is an area where if you're an unscrupulous developer
you'll happily write inefficient code if it makes your job faster, but
an honest developer won't try and go as low as possible if it means
writing sub-par code.

> I don't understand why you would see the need to release another version of
> the PDF, as the intrusion of the license code was unintentional and we are
> now fully compliant.
I'm not sure what you mean by "we" here. :-/ Are you saying this
project is in close cooperation with the Romanians or that you know
them outside of this project?

If you think it was unintentional you're being very neive (or
deceitful, I'm still only taking your story by your word, and your
protection of the developers that stole from you is very odd).

The changes made to lots of places around the code are clearly
intended to prevent it from being associated with phpDiplomacy and
serve absolutely no other purpose.
Take the "mapstore" to "games" directory change; no-one sees the name
of the folder when using the site, the only way you can see it is if
you look for it by right clicking on an image and going to
"Properties". There's no explanation for changing it other than to
hide the source of the code, and the same goes for changes all
throughout the site.

As to why I'd release another version of the PDF; I want to let people
know what FYB/eSol are doing, so that when someone googles they
can easily find out what they get up to. Perhaps someone will check
their portfolio and find another site that uses stolen code, just
because they didn't get away with it this time doesn't mean they
haven't gotten away with it (so far) before. If FYB can remove the
license and charge for the code it removes the very reasons phpDip is
open source in the first place.

I don't get how you can take this so lightly; I'm not even the direct
victim and I'm more angry about it than you are! :-|

> While I am sympathetic for your situation, the fact
> that I paid a Rumanian programmer to work with open source code has nothing
> to do with the fact that you have to deliver pizzas to pay your studies.
As I said it's not your fault that you ran into an unscrupulous
developer; I only mentioned this to try and help explain why your
crediting them is hurtful to me, and so explain why I'm so keen to get
an explanation. If someone stole thousands of dollars from me I
wouldn't want to credit them on the front page. :-|

> If I had developed the website myself, there would be no money involved and no
> hard feelings about that.
No offense, and I really don't want to offend you (even though that
remark was a bit offensive to me, implying it wouldn't be such a big
deal to create the site from scratch), but if you had developed the
code yourself from scratch you would have a very different perspective
on this. It isn't as easy as you seem to think.

Your site didn't develop over 1 month like you thought: It developed
over 3 years since December 2004 as a culmination of years of
on-and-off work. The code has been designed and redesigned, debugged
and optimized, features added and tweaked and scrapped.
Your Romanians came along and added a few weeks of work on top of it,
a lot of it simply hiding the code's origins, probably less than 5% of
the total work put into the site was put in by your team, unless I'm
not noticing vast amounts of new functionality.

I'm not trying to degrade your changes, I like the surrender button,
the new game listings and having the forum separate. I'd probably find
more to like if I used it more.
But these changes are all to the "surface"; adding new features to a
solid design is no problem, but the solid design needs to be optimized
and written to be extended and changed, and that takes more time than
new surface-level features and options.

This is especially true when these new features are "hacked on", i.e.
added quickly without thought for future maintenance or efficiency.
The fact that you are facing a move to a 200 Euros/month server while
I'm easily fitting on a 5 Euros/month server (1/40th the price with
1/3rd the active games) shows that shortcuts have been taken regarding
code optimization.
Another webmaster like yourself running a modified phpDip 0.75 has
~500 active games going on compared to your 600, and he's a student
who is on shared hosting like me
( He's not even using the new
optimizations introduced in 0.8, so it must be code that has been
added by your developers that is slowing things down.

These are all things that are typical of a development team that only
wants to give an impressive hourly rate; they cut corners everywhere.
Why should they care how much you pay for hosting, after all?

> You told me that you had done several projects on Getacoder before, I don't
> understand why that still makes you inexperienced and unqualified for a job
> at a software company.
Unfortunately real software companies don't pay much attention to
freelance sites or open source projects, and want experience at a
software company. The problem is getting your foot in the door and I
think I'll need to finish my degree before I can get my foot in. :-(

> Can't you get more jobs at Getacoder to pay your university fees?
Yes, but competing with Romanians and Chinese people who can quote
excellent prices per hour (but as such take many hours, cut corners,
and are untalented) is very difficult. This is why I work based on
quotes instead; I can compete with Romanians and Chinese based on what
I can actually do for a given price.

Sorry if I've offended you during this e-mail. I'm trying to be honest
and upfront about what the developers are doing, because I want to
make sure there are no misunderstandings about how much work the
developers stole.

If they told you phpDiplomacy only formed a small part of your code
and that they still earned your money they were lying. If you want you
can grab the 0.75 code and compare yourself, instead of believing
either me or them (we both may want your employment and so may both
have our own agendas, but the evidence is available at

I'm not going to beg you to find someone else, I think I've made
everything clear that needs to be clear in this e-mail. For now I'm
just trying to make sure that we both understand what happened here,
because for me even if not for you this is a serious issue.

I've uploaded the page to , but
haven't given the link out anywhere. I haven't mentioned the 5000 Euro
figure you gave me since you didn't seem to want to mention it in your
forum. If there's any particular reason you don't want a document
shaming the guys who stole from you released let me know.

On the page I've asked anyone who decides to contact fyb to ask for a
refund on your behalf. I did this before I read this reply which seems
to defend them, if there's a reason for that let me know or the refund
request complaints will sound a bit weird. :-|


Sorry to any Romanians who didn't like that I used "Romanians" to refer to FYB. It's what she was using and I hadn't been given the company name to refer to at the time.

That was the last e-mail, which was sent 44 hours ago and which I've recieved no reply to yet. After that I posted this page on my site: After an hour or so I checked and noticed (not unexpectedly) that the link crediting phpDiplomacy as the source had disappeared.

Open source - How it works when people don't steal

The idea of "stealing" open-source code might be a bit strange to some, especially when I use a license as open as the BSD-license which doesn't even require that the code is kept open-source. Here I'll briefly explain what the license tries to achieve:

First off it means I get credit; that's the only thing I ask for and it shouldn't even require a license, it's just common courtesy. But, second, as a result of requiring I get credit you cannot resell the code that has already been written; who would buy it knowing it was written by someone else? What this means is that you only pay to improve on existing code.

If the money had been put towards improving the code things would improve for everyone. Instead the only thing that was done was renaming files etc, so the money was for nothing, i.e. it was stolen.

Result: arguably hasn't improved, despite all the money spent. The users don't get much out of it, Romanian developers get lots out of it.

How it should work is someone likes the code but they need more functionality, they hire someone to improve the code in the ways they want, and the open-source license has helped the quality of the software improve. Code to do the same thing doesn't need to be rewritten over and over, no-one needs to re-do the work; the open-source code has benefitted everyone and made the average quality of software better for users.

Result: is much better for the money spent, credit is given where due, the users get more choice and a better experience.

Thanks for reading