You may have heard that there was serious drama on the UK blogging scene last week. A drama that was unexpected, unheard of and unprecedented among industry professionals and bloggers alike. Drama over the Pipdig scandal.
If you haven’t already heard about it, then where have you been?
Granted, not everybody has bought a Pipdig theme in the past. However, you could say that the man behind the brand (Phil Clothier) is one of the go-to providers of UK blog themes. In fact, I recently saw that he’d expanded overseas, with many popular American bloggers choosing his themes over US providers.
Regardless, it was unearthed almost two weeks ago that the team behind Pipdig have been doing some very shady things with the website code they use to create their templates.
According to WordFence, the coding contained malicious content. This could be used to wipe your blog, remotely access your admin whenever they wanted and attack their competitors using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
As a result, top website developers in the industry have advised that everybody who currently uses a Pipdig theme changes it ASAP. This is to avoid being implicated if legal action is taken against the company due to such a big data breach.
It goes without saying that it’s completely up to you as to what you decide to do about it (if anything). Personally, I decided to back up my website and change my theme last weekend.
That said, just because I’ve been rocking a new, shiny theme for over a week now doesn’t mean I’m over what happened. No – I still feel scarred over the Pipdig scandal. And here’s why.
The crux of it is that I feel massively let down by the team at Pipdig. I, like many others, put a lot of trust and faith in them to keep my blog safe and functional.
After all, running this blog and my freelance writing business is my livelihood. These websites pay my bills every month. Therefore, the team’s hugely unethical behaviour makes me question other companies I rely on in this business. It’s not nice feeling like I’m going to have to be extra cautious in the future with regards to who I choose to collaborate with. As human beings, we like to see the best in people until we’re proven otherwise.
I still really like Phil as he’s given me and my blog a lot of time in the past. That said, he’s personally responded to the accusations and basically denied everything, which certainly doesn’t make this bitter pill any easier to swallow.
In addition, I guess I feel cheated by the Pipdig scandal in a sense because I’ve previously spent a lot of money with the company.
Not only have I invested in two blog themes, but I also used the Blogger to WordPress migration service on both of my websites (which wasn’t cheap). Not to mention, I’ve had to buy a brand new theme from a different provider. And then spend hours of time setting this up when I could have been working on my business.
(If you’re a fellow freelancer, you’ll know that time equals money in this industry.)
Some bloggers have already tried to get refunds from Pipdig and even PayPal (the payment provider they used in the transaction), but have been refused from both parties.
I know I’m not the first to feel cheated by the whole thing, and I certainly won’t be the last. But it seems like a whole new level of unfair that we won’t be given a refund by Pipdig or PayPal for essentially buying what turned out to be a “faulty” product. It’s false advertising at its finest.
Even though I don’t agree with what the Pipdig team has done and the fact that they’ve abused the trust of bloggers everywhere, as a small business myself, I can’t help but feel for them. I mean, their reputation is in tatters.
Last week I saw on Twitter that Phil, in particular, is receiving a lot of hate and unnecessary threats.
I think it’s important not to be too personal and start targeting individuals for the mistakes they’ve made. After all, we still don’t have the full story. We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors and what has been done intentionally and unintentionally. We can’t judge too harshly because we don’t have the full picture.
Be that as it may, if the Pipdig team have made mistakes, I believe the best thing they can do at this stage is own up to them. The constant denials don’t help their cause.
After all, the original information and follow-up information came from website security professionals who work for some of the leading global companies and have decades of experience. Plus, it has since been backed up by various other web developers in the field.
We’re always taught as young kids that when we make mistakes which hurt others, we should acknowledge them and apologise – so why is this situation any different?
All in all, it’s no secret that the Pipdig scandal is still a bit of a mess. Many bloggers are still questioning what to do with their websites and don’t know which way to turn due to the conflicting information from Phil versus the industry professionals.
Even though it’s been a pretty big deal for those who use their blogs as their income, like myself, I believe this is a good thing to have happened overall. I mean, it’s better that we know sooner rather than later if our blogs contain illegal coding so we can switch to a more ethical provider – am I right?
Whatever your decision, the important thing is to educate yourself so you have all the relevant information at your disposal – and do what you believe to be right. After all, it’s your blog, your rules.
Struggling to process what’s happening? Need a less technical breakdown? Check out Jenna’s post at The Bloglancer.
What do you make of the Pipdig scandal? Are you over it? Let me know in the comments!