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The problem with GoDaddy web page templates

by Mike McFeely

This is sort of funny, in a techy modern-world kind of way. And sort of sad, in a goodness-people-are-lazy kind of way.

Some people approached me about Moorhead city council candidate David Hallman's web site, because they believed it looked an awful lot like a web site for an organization called the Detroit Democratic Club, a political group in the Motor City.

Hallman's web site listed his values as being the exact same as the Detroit Democratic Club. It also included a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. 

Some people thought perhaps Hallman was plagiarizing from the Detroit Democratic Club.

Here is a screenshot of the "About" page of both web sites, side-by-side. You can see the similarities (as in, exactly the same).

Hallman's "values" are listed as:

  • Family comes first.
  • Integrity matters.
  • Justice should prevail.
  • Service above self.
  • Honesty is a given.
  • Humility is a gift.
  • All voices should be heard.
  • Doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing.

The Detroit Democratic Club lists its "values" as:

  • Family comes first.
  • Integrity matters.
  • Justice should prevail.
  • Service above self.
  • Honesty is a given.
  • Humility is a gift.
  • Bipartisanship is a must.

Additionally, both pages include a quotation from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

My curiosity piqued, I called Hallman's cell phone Monday morning to ask him about his web site. I left a message. He did not return my call.

I also called the Detroit Democratic Club and was put in contact with the person who administers their Web site. His name is Cary Eatmon. And he explained to me this rather humorous tale:

The Detroit Democratic Club's web site came off a template at GoDaddy.com (a web site that allows you to build your own website cheaply and easily), and the "values" and quotations included on the club's site are exactly as they are on the GoDaddy template. Eatmon didn't change them, he said.

So, I asked, Hallman didn't plagiarize the DDC's web site? He (or whomever is administering his web site) likely just didn't change the template from GoDaddy? 

Eatmon agreed that's probably what happened. Since Hallman hasn't yet gotten back to me, I don't know for sure that's what happened in his case, but there is a link to GoDaddy on his web site. So it makes sense. I'm going by Eatmon's story until Hallman gets back to me.

Couple of things here:

1) Mr. Eatmon should've perhaps thought about changing the DCC's "values", at least a little bit, before publishing the web site.

2) Mr. Hallman, as a candidate for political office, should have changed the "values" listed on his web site to reflect what he actually believes instead of what was provided in a template. Also, perhaps changing the MLK quote to something that reflects his political hero or belief in life might have been a good idea, too. (Although it's possible that King is his political hero and that quote does actually reflect Hallman's beliefs.)

Just sayin'.

Here's the richest part of the story, in my view:

Hallman was the chairman of the Clay County, Minn., Republican Party as recently as 2012. He is listed as contact on the party's Facebook page. He's attended Republican Party conventions and is known as a libertarian. Politically speaking, he is as far as possible from the Detroit Democratic Club.

Conversely, to be fair, the Detroit Democratic Club is as far politically as possible from David Hallman.

I wonder how many other political candidates around the nation have the same "values" as Hallman and the Detroit Democratic Club?

(Mike McFeely is a talk-show host on KFGO-AM in Fargo, N.D. He can be reached at mike.mcfeely@mwcradio.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcFeelyKFGO.)