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Narconon and urban75
Witness the ultimate homage
(Photos © urban75, 2000-2010)

We've had people pay tribute to our work before, but this truly is a work of absolute worship.

It seems that Narconon (drug abuse 'charity' allegedly owned by the Scientologists) were so 'inspired' by a previous design of urban75 that they simply couldn't help themselves!

like looking in a mirror....

Sharp eyed viewers may just notice the odd passing resemblance to urban75's navigation, graphics and layout.

In fact, such was their enthusiasm to be like us that - by a remarkable coincidence - they ended up with a stylesheet that was identical to ours - line for line - and the HTML code was dazzlingly similar too - including the unique javascript code for the 'whassup' function on our front page that they weren't even using!

Someone call Agents Mulder and Scully!

When we get a moment, we'll post up some of 'their' HTML too, and you can gasp at the amazing coincidence that resulted in both sites sharing the identical directory structure, the same image file and javascript naming conventions and even the same comments! Truly remarkable, eh?!

And it wasn't just the design that inspired them so much: they liked the cordial greeting on our homepage so much they just had to have one too!

urban75 original text

In fact, they must have truly fallen in love with our homepage - just look at how nicely they go together in our
> side by side comparison!
> another side by side comparison!

And boy, did they warm to our icons! If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we must have a book of love poems coming our way soon - look at this:

boy do these look similar!

And it wasn't just the homepage that 'inspired' them so. They fell in love with our inner homepages too. Check out the
> side by side comparison

All good stories have to end, and we're delighted to tell you that the bottom of each and every page didn't disappoint. We warmed to the welcoming glow of our very own navigation icons and felt right at home with the style of the text navigation:

urban75 graphic

Now, all these 'similarities' must have got you thinking: 'Whose design came first?'

We can tell you: ours! The Narconon sites weren't even online till May 2000 at the very, very earliest (that's when the domain names were registered). urban75 has been online since 1995, and this particular layout and navigation was online way back in May 1999. The icons were used in 1997 and were seen on the Jenny Jones Show in Jan 99, no less!

Can we prove it? Most certainly! Our designs have been seen in a host of magazines and TV shows (including NBC in the US and BBC in Europe).

But the absolute proof comes in the shape of an internationally published web design book, called 'E-zines' by US-based Rockport Publishing.

This book features six pages of full page screengrabs of urban75, all featuring the exact same design that 'inspired' Narconon's sites. The screengrabs are all clearly dated September 1999, as the book's author has kindly confirmed

So what's been happening?: Naturally, we immediately contacted Narconon and their ISP, Earthlink, asking them to remove their 'tribute' to us. They didn't reply. We wrote again, offering more proof. And again. And again. And again. (In fact we still haven't receive a single response a year later).

Annoyed by their refusal to return our mails, we suggested to our readers that perhaps they might be able to get a response instead, and provided a nice little ready-made letter for them to send - and would you believe it, their site suddenly started changing! (More...)

First, the intro text disappeared, the chevrons changed shape, the icons were swapped, filenames changed, stylesheets reorganised and renamed, the layout was rearranged and even the useless piece of javascript finally went.

We've registered full and dated backups to our legal representatives and we've also got hundreds of urban75 regulars keeping archives of the disputed pages. Just in case.

WHOOPS! Despite Narconon's efforts to quietly change the design, the excellent has kept dated copies of their websites. Admire the astonishing similarities again here:

The serious bit
Our biggest concern is that people are going to associate urban75 with Narconon and we wonder if targeting a site such as ours for such an unexpected 'tribute' was entirely accidental.

urban75 has long been dedicated to offering impartial advice and information on drug harm reduction, and we naturally are not happy to be associated with Narconon's drug treatment 'techniques'.

Either way, we want to make one thing clear: WE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH NARCONON WHATSOEVER.

>> It's in the news!
The Register
The Register 2
The Guardian

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