When a service makes its debut by getting accused of stealing code from one of its competitors, you know that it’s going to be a tough road ahead. That was the case with the Twitter aggregator application Retweet.com, which went live earlier this week. Allegedly, the company snagged the code for both their JavaScript retweet button and WordPress plugin from their rival and current top aggregator, Tweetmeme.

Now with Retweet’s official launch, you may be tempted to give them a second look… especially considering the $10,000 they’re giving away. Don’t bother. The service is still buggy, still using that stolen code (or so it seems), and that $10K? Well, you had better read the fine print.

The $10K Contest

A contest to promote the new service isn’t really a bad idea on Retweet.com’s part. But with this contest, there’s no guaranteed winner. If, and only if, the site reaches their goal of 1 million visitors will that “lucky blogger” receive any money. And then there’s the fact that their promotional video doesn’t even say “visitors”; it says “page views” (or “page votes”… it’s kind of hard to tell). Obviously, 1 million page views is quite a different thing than visitors. In fact, it’s quite a different thing than unique visitors, which is what they’re actually counting by the looks of it.


Still, if you’re thinking of taking your chances, be warned that your button might not end up displaying the correct number of tweets, which is the entire point of the service. As one Twitter user discovered, the button seems to have gone completely haywire in this case:

Over 3 million tweets? We don’t think so. Normally, we’d give a new service a pass when they first launch, expecting there to be bugs here and there, but considering that Retweet.com stole the button code from Tweetmeme, you would think they could get it right.

Stolen Code

Oh, and that stolen code? Apparently even by launch day, they were still using it… or at least it appears that way. As Milo Yiannopoulos and others discovered when receiving errors on their link submissions, the table name referenced in the database error still reads “tweetmeme_web.firstlinks_new.” That’s right, the table name. For those of you who aren’t all that familiar with databases, this is much more troubling. Notes one commenter, this means that the Retweet.com folks somehow managed to get their hands not just on Tweetmeme’s front-end code, but also their database schema and backend code, too. Either that, or they decided to write their own code using the names of their competitor for the table names. Which are you inclined to believe?

Tyson Quick of Mesiab Labs, the company behind Retweet.com, responded to the blog post angrily saying “I can assure you that Mesiab Labs isn’t using any of tweetmeme’s code.” However, he made no mention of the screenshot or how the word “tweetmeme” got in there. We would still like to know.

Even with all of this drama, an imitator such as this still stands a chance, unfortunately. That’s why it’s encouraging to see Tweetmeme taking the high road and staying busy creating new features for us like the upcoming “retweetable comments,” for example. The comments are part of a major overhaul which will also bring improvements to the news filtering, spam detection, and search features as well as other small changes. Hopefully, Retweet.com won’t try to rip off these features too.