Well, this is weird.
In the wake of Torontoist’s impending new year’s shutdown, announced last Friday, contributing editor Jonathan Goldsbie created a Facebook group called “Torontoist is dead…Long live Torontoist!” in the interest of, as he put it, “gaug[ing] interest in the site being resurrected in one form or another.” (Adam Giambrone joined it!) Suggesting that Torontoist might continue if it splintered off from its current publisher, Gothamist, and was created anew, Goldsbie hastily put together a new logo for a joke site he called “Torontoest”—our current logo with an “e” slapped over the “i.” Other amazing suggestions offered on the group’s wall included “Torontoish” and “Torontoesque.”
“Torontoest” and the accompanying logo were, of course, wishful thinking, a “fanciful suggestion” as Goldsbie later put it. But on Monday, Himy Syed—who is most known for creating Torontopedia.ca—registered Torontoest.com and began discretely recruiting contributors from the “Torontoist is dead” Facebook group. For the past few days, Torontoest.com has been promising a launch of 5 p.m. today.
Here’s the problem: the site is not now nor was it ever affiliated with, approved by, or in any other way involved with Torontoist or any of its current or past staff members, Goldsbie and myself included.
Until yesterday, Syed had the site set up with the Torontoest logo (used without Goldsbie’s permission) linking to the “Torontoist is dead” Facebook group, even though upon learning of the site, Goldsbie distanced himself from Torontoest in the group’s “Recent News” section, writing that: “Please note that the site http://www.torontoest.com is unaffiliated with Torontoist and that no one from Torontoist (including myself) is currently involved with it.”
After Gothamist’s publisher, Jake Dobkin, sent Syed an e-mail, notifying him that the site was infringing on Torontoist’s name, reputation, and intellectual property, and warning that Gothamist was willing to pursue legal action, Syed changed the site’s name—to The Toronto Est. Then, Syed replaced the Torontoest logo with, amazingly, a link to the “Torontoist is dead” Facebook group that has now so clearly distanced itself from him.
And Torontoest even has a Flickr pool whose “About Torontoest” section simply copies and pastes from the description of our Flickr pool, so shoddily done that the word “Torontoist” has only been replaced with “Torontoest” once.
A last-ditch e-mail I sent to Syed today—requesting that he not go ahead with the project in its current form and warning him that if he did I would be forced to publicly distance Torontoist and myself from the project—was not returned. Gothamist is serious about calling in the lawyers, as Jake Dobkin told Torontoist earlier today: “If they launch, they’ll definitely hear from our lawyers,” and, “If they persist, I guarantee they’ll spend every dollar they make and then some defending a lawsuit from Gothamist LLC.”
Toronto needs more blogs like Torontoist, not less, and we’re sure that Syed has the best (albeit totally misguided) intentions at heart. But imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Torontoist and its staff are enormously grateful for everyone’s interest in preserving, resuscitating, or reworking Torontoist—and we share that interest. We’re optimistic that in some form or another, in some way, at some time, Torontoist will continue. But Torontoest is not Torontoist or anything close to it; it’s a lame, confused, and confusing attempt to cash in on the site that we’ve worked for years to make great and to trick our readers into accepting something much, much less than the real thing.