How our tribute to “The Hacker Way” pissed off a Facebook designer

Inspired by this photo and Mark Zuckerberg’s letter to shareholders, we decided to get some of the posters the Facebook guys have on their offices. That letter and the messages on those posters resonated with our “Hacker Mentality”. So, we decided to make a few prints for ourselves and some to give a way to the presenters at the upcoming Barcamp Mayagüez which we helped organize.

We searched the web and found nothing, so we decided to order prints. In the process we learned that good quality poster prints are expensive and we had to order hundreds. So, we did what hackers do, find a way around the problem.

After some math it turned out we needed about $900 to get the posters printed. So, we made a store on Goodsie and offered the posters at $0 profit, in order to sell enough of them to be able to get them printed. We wanted posters not to make a business out of them.

This morning I searched our store url on twitter and found this tweet by Ben Barry, the awesome Facebook designer that made the original posters. Before reading this tweet, we were unaware of who the designer was.

Needless to say, we felt pretty bad and took the store down immediately. When we made the posters we saw them as an ode to Facebook. We felt inspired by their “Hacker Way” and wanted to emulate and share their spirit with our very young and small startup community. We don’t run a poster business and we don’t want a poster business.

But, even though our motivation was clear and honest we want to apologize to Ben Barry for using his designs without asking. It was a rookie mistake. We did not think of what we where doing as taking advantage of a very talented designer, we saw it as “spreading the word”. Sorry.

What’s next
We are going to refund every one of the 12 buyers. We will find another way of getting those words into the hands of the members of our community. Maybe Facebook should find a way of selling the posters and ship them to Puerto Rico. We would buy a few of them.

That’s it, now back to work.

The designer decided to release the posters under a Creative Commons license. Here’s the link to the posters.

39 thoughts on “How our tribute to “The Hacker Way” pissed off a Facebook designer”

  1. “WORDS ON A PAGE”… how dare you copy the same sentence and print it!!   I’m rolling my eyes here, this is ridiculous.

  2. “But, event though our motivation was clear…”But , even* though our motivation was clear…”
    A minor edit , but necessary imo !

  3. I don’t see any design on there … just plain text? I could understand if you’d pissed off a copywriter .. but if that’s the best ‘design’ he could come up with I would refrain from using the word ‘talented’ … 

  4. Don’t suck this facebook designers cock for such a petty mistake. He should have been more civil than to publicize it like this.

  5. Dude sell the posters. Zynga steals game ideas and makes a fortune. There’s no shame in it … The execution is what matters.

  6. Wait one . . . Still don’t get the dickish tweet from BB. Now if someone sold them as original memorabilia from FB’s offices and put fake signatures from famous staff members . . . well that would be something to be a DICK about.

  7. So @benbarry made some cool posters. Solid idea. Good job. But seriously, everyone involved in this needs to contemplate the ridiculousness of these whiny teenaged first world problems. Print your posters. No one can copyright text on a page.

  8. I wouldn’t worry too much about this. Inspirational words to hang on your wall… It would have been good to mention in the description where the idea came from, and that you weren’t making anything off of it – maybe you did. In my opinion this isn’t a big deal. Does he have a trademark on that phrase?

  9. It made me look closer at these guys. People are way too critical. They did what they did, and then they wrote this article and said, hey, sorry. It’s two guys with talent trying to get by. Kudos. I’m looking forward to seeing what they put out with Blimp now that they are on my radar. If they are in my neck of the woods, I’ll buy them a drink. Or two. And a pizza. They are doing more than most of the armchair warriors on the ‘net.

  10. The timing of releasing these made it incredibly suspect in my opinion. It seemed very exploitive, and out to make a quick buck at the expense of Facebook. Your intentions my indeed have been honorable but it didn’t come across that way to me. 

    I freely acknowledge that many of the quotes are taken from other sources and reprinted. The style is not that unique either.

    My only issue was that you were selling them. I think it’s awesome to make them, design your own, etc.. Because of that I’m releasing these poster designs today for anyone to use or remix for non-commercial purposes.

    1. “make a quick buck at the expense of face book.”

      Are you fucking kidding me!!

      How much does Facebook make off us?

      What a tool.

      1.  You put information, pictures and everything you want on Facebook at your own expense, you accept their terms before signing up, so no complaints about  how much Facebook makes from people.

        This was done to make a profit that was his complaint.

    2. Get a life. Just because you work for Facebook doesn’t give you sole responsibility to crack down on re-using already recycled quotes on posters at cost. 

      Why don’t you take your own advice and stay focused on shipping. All those cool new features like subscribe to your ex’s photos in the social graph or something.

  11. They operated in the same spirit as the posters eschewed. Perhaps there should be another poster, “DON’T APOLOGIZE”. Two guys trying to get by and “at the expense of Facebook” are difficult concepts for me to put together. The original designer could say something and did — and they apologized. But c’mon. Font and color and big words. How many of us could have done the same thing in 30 seconds? When I make something like that, it’s the end purpose that is to be proud of, not walking around all day showing everybody the coolest poster in the world you just made. Not. It’s the house to be proud of, not the hammer. Facebook could have leveraged the situation to make themselves look magnanimous; i.e., look what we have fostered! Lost opportunity.

  12. So what he put some words on page? Big fucking deal. They aren’t even his quotes or quotes associated with FB. Sell the posters and tell him to fuck off.

    1. “Stealing designers”? Are they holding at gun point? If you want good designers you have to seek them, pay them well and give them interesting yet challenging problems. 

  13. You guys are scumbags for trying to profit off of someone else’s work.  Post the link of the print shop you were using, I’d like to see if you were really trying to do it for $0 profit.  Now you are trying to be the victims, boo freaking hoo  Jerk offs.

  14. I think your post dealt with the issue properly, good on you for it. 

    The proper way to go about this is start by doing your homework on where the work came from, ask permission to use for whatever means, and always give credit where credit is due. It’s simple, respectful, and professional.

    I’m actually baffled by the majority voice of opinion on the matter. The posters done by Ben have become a very distinct and notable brand. If people inside or outside of Facebook see the posters, they know Ben did them. Not every clever or motivational saying gets to make the run of the gauntlet, including burning his own screens and hand printing each one. There is a lot of time, craft and love that goes into each run and it is all done in his off time. 

    You naysayers obviously have no regard for the artistic and creative process, let alone understand the meaning of plagiarism or attribution. 

  15. I’m tired of leftist idiots who rail against copyright and intellectual property, bitching– as this Facebook “designer” does– when their rip-off of someone else’s original idea is copied by a third person.   Oh, the hypocrisy!

  16. This is so funny. ”
    and out to make a quick buck at the expense of Facebook.” Then why comment. I wonder who is being ”
    exploitive ” here.

  17. All due respect to Ben Barry, who is obviously very talented. Great artists steal. Ben steals/”borrows” a lot of his ideas from here:
    I find the notion that anyone is doing anything at Facebook’s “expense” completely hypocritical and nauseating.

  18. I think there are misguided people here.

    1) Both parties are wrong in some ways or another. Both apologized in a way or another. Case closed, no need to bicker who’s being a dick.

    2) For those who believe it could have been done in 30s. I’d like you to reconsider this. Would you be able to do this in 30s without a reference? Or something from thin air? Chances is unless you’re a designer or good in typography, it’s not going to turn out the same or very similar. Why when all it takes is slapping words on? Many people fail to realize importance of the spacing between words & letters, the type of font and even the way the text was laid out and broken up.

    3) Regardless if it’s an easy 30s work or an unremarkable and not a new piece of work, whether it’s an unknown designer, your 12 yr old kid, an unpatented design, a work made by someone falls under the IP rights. Read here for more info:

    4) “How much does Facebook make off us?” >> Why does it matter to you on how much they earn while you surf free on their website? Are you paying anything to validate this indignation?

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