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I am sick of splogs Copying our Content!

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May 10th, 2009
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LinkyLoo

I sincerely apologize for having turned our RSS feed into summaries. I understand it is annoying and creates an unnecessary step for those who read our content through the news feed. But rarely a day goes by when we do not have five to ten new trackbacks from blogs that are copying our content. I end up adding them to our blacklist and then sending a notice to the infringer. It gets even more annoying when the infringing blog does not have a contact page or I get a reply back stating that they did not know our content was not meant to be copied.

askfirst1

I am not against some use of our content but I like to be asked and like proper attribution be provided for displayed content. I understand that duplicate content is bad for SEO but I believe that it is a give and take. Our content is for the better good of the WordPress community and we have no problem with sharing the information in every way that is useful to our readers. All of this is, after all for our readers to use.

Lorelle has written some really nice articles on Content Theft and she links to a bunch of tricks and tools that can be used to curb content theft. One of the ways I know to deter the scrapers is to reduce the content in an RSS feed to summaries and I have done just that. There are other tools such as CopyScape that I could use but I fear that those will just increase information overload. Sadly, I hope to reduce the amount of time we spend fighting off scrapers but am pretty sure that theft will not disappear.

We apologize again for serving summaries through our RSS feed. Please ask if you would like to use and/or re-display our content, we will probably say Yes! Also, if you are using the content from this blog, please do not claim it as your own but provide proper attribution.

[UPDATED] I heard and frankly agree with all the complaints. Back to full feed after a mere three hours. Trying an RSS footer plugin instead. Any and all other suggestions welcome!

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82
Responses

 

Comments

  1. Sue (10 comments.) says:

    Mark, I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I’m going to say it anyway:

    doing this says that sploggers are more important than your readers. And wrapping the post in *two* “please subscribe to our feed” links adds insult to injury. Not that having your content stolen isn’t infuriating, but there are better ways to deal with it than this.

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      I agree with the two please subscribe links, removed second link. However I am not sure I understand your point about sploggers being more important than my readers nor do I get the last line. What would be better?

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      After re-reading your comment a couple of times, I see what you are trying to say and I agree with the premise. Not sure how I am going to solve it, but I see your point.

      • Sue (10 comments.) says:

        Sorry – must stop commenting when I’m too annoyed to be coherent. ;-)

        I meant that you’re allowing the sploggers’ actions to dictate the form of the feed, rather than running things with primary concern for what aids your readers. That would be wrongly ordered priorities IMHO.

        Irrelevent now, in any case. Thank you so much for putting the full feeds back.

  2. Steff (Inari) (1 comments.) says:

    Such a shame! So sorry you’ve had to take the strict path, but I understand why you’ve had to do this.

    In fairness, I have passed on your content to other people in the past, but never as spam. Usually I either send people to your site via forum postings, or I Tweet your articles with a shortened link directly to your site. Hope that’s OK with you.

    Still, at least you’re not throwing in the towel completely. That’s something I can be thankful for.

  3. Leland (16 comments.) says:

    I hate splogs just as much as the next blogger, but do you really think serving summaries instead of a complete posts in the feed is a suitable solution? Sure, it will stop a lot of your run-of-the-mill sploggers using that WordPress plugin that grabs RSS feeds, but what’s to stop someone from setting up a custom scraper? What’s to stop them from manually copying your posts?

  4. Rob says:

    I definitely understand your decision to serve summaries in the feed. However, the one thing I would suggest/ask of you is to use the excerpt function of WordPress to create slightly more detailed summaries, essentially summing up what the article’s about, so it’s easier for the reader to decide if it’s an article they’re interested in or not.

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      Thats a good suggestion. Any tips on creating good summaries that have worked for you? This might be temporary as we will probably either go back to full feed (I HATE summaries in news feeds) or go to a password protected full feed.

      • Rob says:

        It’s a drastically different genre from this blog, but Fight Opinion has some really good summaries that manage to capture the essence of the article in a sentence or two. Nothing fancy, just things like “Chuck Liddell has a big career decision to make. His personal trainer doesn’t think he should quit, while his employer is practically barking at him to go into retirement. What will the Iceman do?” and “There has been a passionate plea by MMA bloggers to get credentials to go to UFC events and cover them. I say that the MMA media should start paying attention to problems within its own sector before starting to make a push for UFC media credentials.” It just has to be two or three sentences that describe what the article’s going to be about, the basic point the author intends to make, etc.

        Although if you hate summaries in news feeds that badly, I have a strong suspicion that this will indeed be temporary, and will last a week at most before you go back to full feeds. :)

        • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

          I suspect they have excerpts requirement for every post, which we do not have. This is indeed a slippery slope.

          • Rob says:

            Yeah, it’s one guy writing the posts over there, and they’re usually not as intricate and detailed as the ones here. I think ultimately, you’re going to have to sit down and ask yourself if reducing the threat of content theft is really worth having to have summaries in your feeds.

          • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

            For now, yes. That might change.

  5. Peter (1 comments.) says:

    I agree with Sue,

    this is one of the only sites I actually read through the majority of posts (via feedreader). I hate summarized feeds, yuck. Is an encrypted feed an option? Anything is better than the summaries (unless they are informative enough like Mark suggests).

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      Our feed is legitimately copied on a variety of aggregators, which we would hate to jeopardize. Thus the dilemma.

  6. Nicolas (5 comments.) says:

    Splogs are highly annoying, and I understand why you did what you do. I guess everybody who does WP plugins/themes is familiar with spammy trackbacks that scraped your content. But I doubt this change will have a big impact. The serious spammers will just get the content right from your site. But yes, you may reduce the numbers at first.
    If you’re worried about SEO: your blog should be recognized as a quality source by the search engines and it should be indexed quickly. Search engines should only penalize sites that get the duplicate content later (at least google is supposed to work this way).

    Please, full feeds :-)

  7. Rudi Crichton says:

    Real bloggers congregate at the their CMSs support forums, where do sploggers congregate?

  8. R J says:

    Why not just make your entire web site a non-selectable PDF, if you really want to be childish and annoying to users? Tools.

  9. Matt (27 comments.) says:

    Aw, sucks that the spammers made you do this.

    • Matt (27 comments.) says:

      On the bright side, comments layout is looking much better.

      • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

        :-) Comments and actual layout are the upside of reading a post on the real blog. There has to be a sane way to counter this problem. Thinking of setting a bounty on this.

  10. Jono (1 comments.) says:

    Your going about it the wrong way – your hurting your real users. I see so many webmasters do this, it’s crazy.

    It’s a breach of copyright, contact them via their web site and ask them to discontinue republishing your feed, if they continue contact their web host. If they still republish their feed, go further. It might work.

    Although legally it goes without saying, add a copyright notice to the bottom of your RSS items saying that this content is not for redistribution. No-one can then argue.

    Also make sure you link back to the original post so you get the pingback and you’ll get a back link that you can trace through search engines (and you’ll even get some rep from search engines for the link! :) ).

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      I agree, the wheels are churning. :)

      • Matthew (5 comments.) says:

        Would you be interested in an IRC or blog-conversation (brainstorming and conversing through a series of blog posts) on this subject? I’ve been dealing with scrapers for a while and come to a few conclusions on the subject that might be helpful for you all.

        Also, in regards to utilizing excerpts, I’ve recently had to learn how to write them because my new theme utilizes excerpts extensively. If you’ve got a number of different authors, you might consider having someone serve as Quality Control and just review the excerpts before a post goes live.

        That being said, I hate having just summaries in feeds :-P Good luck fighting the splogs, but I don’t think limiting you feed will solve the problem.

        • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

          Just trackback this post if you end up writing something relevant or have some methods you would like to share.

  11. S.Smith (3 comments.) says:

    Hey, I’m all for summaries in feeds…I like getting to the website. It’s the website where your message feels contextualized.

  12. adrian boioglu (2 comments.) says:

    try using a combination Full RSS+ RSS Footer. this will make everybody happy. well, everybody except the guys that copy your content.

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      I like that idea and will try it for a few weeks. Thank you!

      • adrian boioglu (2 comments.) says:

        hey, happy I could help you and make your readers pleased :)

        i don’t use an RSS Footer plug-in. instead I’m using Feedburner to add a Footer and it works great.

        • S.K (15 comments.) says:

          I just added a function to the theme’s functions.php to concatenate an appropriately worded header and footer to the RSS feed of each post.

          S.K

  13. Jonno says:

    Please do not punish us. The RSS feed subscribers are your most enthusiastic fan base. We are all bloggers and consequently we all subscribe to many blog feeds, about 500 in my case.

    I know the frustration. They do it to me also. At one point a major Canadian website was publishing a “snippet” of each entry along with the page title as their page title. This resulted in them getting higher rank on google for everyone of my pages. That is the worst case scenario.

    In most cases they are lowly ranked websites, and google detects that they have ripped you off (add a link at the bottom of each post to the original page. This way google knows that you are the original).

  14. Nicolas Prudhon (1 comments.) says:

    I hate people who steal content. Just like when doing online marketing, I hate spammers too.

    But the fact is no matter how much I hate them, they are here and probably always will be. I’m not saying that we should let them roam free, but I have to admit that I have many more important things to do for my blog and my readers.

    I think putting your readers in priority is more valuable, but that’s only my point of view.

    There are usually 3 ways to deal with this kind of situation:

    1) Spend your time fighting the thieves.
    2) Spend your time improving your site.
    3) Spend your time improving your site and fighting the thieves.

    For as much as I would like to do #3, I don’t have that much time to spend. Doing #1 only comforts me, while #2 comforts my readers without who, I would be where I am now. So I choose to go with #2.

    That said, this doesn’t mean that I would go easy on an offender I caught red handed! :)

  15. Joshua Parker (1 comments.) says:

    I understand the frustration. I think the RSS Footer plugin is a good move.

  16. sean65 says:

    I’m fine with summaries, and in fact, I prefer it. The desktop reader that I use only shows summaries and I read what interests me on the website. I guess I’m just old fashioned.

  17. Jason Kemp (1 comments.) says:

    Why not use the Feed Entry Header it might not stop but will slow them down as it has attribution at the top of the feed. It

    * Adds a copyright statement and a link to the original article to the top of your feed entries
    * Build your own customised message, including your site name, site URL, post name, post URL and author name
    * Simple HTML can be used to enhance appearance
    * Doesn’t affect the comment feed
    * If you use DualFeeds, the message is only shown for the full post feed

    http://www.scratch99.com/wordp.....tryheader/

  18. Johny says:

    Isn’t a lot of your content coming from the wordpress.org blog? Kind of hypocritical no?

  19. Christopher (3 comments.) says:

    Haha, and I totally believe you too when you say your content is highly targeted to be stolen and redistributed, because I’ve seen this with my own eyes for a very long time now.

  20. Jenny (28 comments.) says:

    I totally know how you feel. I think I’m gonna have to do the same thing because they’re starting to do the same thing to me.

  21. Stefano (5 comments.) says:

    Well,
    just a vote for the “short” version feed ;-)
    Really, I think your posts are very dense and informative so I really don’t mind to “spend” a1 mouse click and visit your blog to read the whole post.
    If this choice helps you combat the sploggers, keep it and go on,

    Stefano

  22. milo317 (1 comments.) says:

    I have to say I’m with Mark, as on almost every theme release the scrapers do popup in the dashboard, while WLTC does not,
    annoying effect, how about branding the WLTC feed via feedburner?

  23. Gwapito (1 comments.) says:

    I don’t bother myself with the sploggers that use my content, as long as they put a link to my site, fine. If they don’t it’s still ok with me.

  24. Francois Botha (1 comments.) says:

    Why are ‘Copying’ and ‘Content’ with capital letters? I’m referring specifically to the new footer you put in the posts.

  25. Andrea_R (29 comments.) says:

    Get the Better Feed plugin from Ohz. At least that way when they scrape, there’s a huge copyright footer.

    And I’ve found it’s better to contact their webhost to get the scrapers booted, but it’s like fighting a hydra.

    On two blogs, I haven’t had a useful trackback in months, maybe years, so I ultimately turned them off.

  26. Alexander (1 comments.) says:

    An RSS footer is the way to go. Hook into the_content with is_feed() and you will find it nearly effortless to tack on a link back to your blog, a copyright statement, comment number, or sharing tools (that share your original article). Much better than depriving legitimate users of a quality experience!

  27. Richard says:

    I can’t say that I blame you for switching to summary on the feeds. I did the same thing and have refused to switch back. I was at times having to file sometimes as many as 6 DMCA violation notices per week and it simply isn’t worth the time it takes.

    I for one would not complain if you switch to summaries as I understand the problem.

  28. ciarak says:

    If you’re interested in protecting your blog content from sploggers you should try out http://www.digiprove.com.

  29. Weird Harold (1 comments.) says:

    If you want to “protect” your content, I would suggest that you make your RSS feed URL different from standard. 90% of scraping is done entirely automatically, based on URL.

    Your hosting company should also be able to provide help in blocking out people who are using your feed for content without permission.

  30. demetris (9 comments.) says:

    What I find most strange in this almost surreal situation is that some splogs have Google ads. Why do Google do business with them?

    Mark, good call on putting back the whole content. (I understand your frustration.)

  31. Jason (1 comments.) says:

    I use RSS Footer plugin on pretty much all my WP sites, plus I try to interlink posts often and link to tags/categories, so I’m basically getting more backlinks even if it’s scraped (low-quality ones but still). Not that I approve of scraping, but it doesn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

    It’s not scraping that frustrates me, but those douches out there who only copy one or two posts and claim it as their own. Worst thing is they sometimes get more comments than on my own blog!

  32. Wayne says:

    The issue as I see it is the whole concept of the internet. In the beginning it was to freely share content and information with other users. Now everyone has it in their heads that they own the information they post even if they grabbed it from somewhere else. Unless your content is original, you hold no copyright claim to that material and, therefore, should not be truncated.

    It would be nice, however, if you got a link back to your article but, realistically, almost no ones does it.

    The bottom line is, if protecting your content is more important then sharing, educating, and informing your users then you miss the whole point.

    • Mark Ghosh (386 comments.) says:

      The bottom line is, if protecting your content is more important then sharing, educating, and informing your users then you miss the whole point.

      If only everything in life were this simple to fix.

      • Wayne says:

        Life is easy if we just stop complicating it with trivial pursuits. Be glad someone thinks your content is worth sharing on their site. Your reward will come to you when you least expect it.

  33. James (1 comments.) says:

    Mark – I feel your pain on this one.
    I’ll keep watching to see how you effectively deal with this ever growing problem.

    Good luck

  34. Anup Mukherjee (1 comments.) says:

    It is a matter of great concern. Though I have been using summarised feeds – I find even these pop up in unseemly sites.

    And worst of all – when some sites use copy paste content to make content for their own site – its even worse.

    I had experience with one such site: history-of-india.net – which is made of copy paste content – and one of its webpage was copy paste of my article on my site. When I wrote email to its site admin/owner – he replied that he would remove that content – and till date – it has not been removed.

    DMCA is a longish process – keeping track of multiple correspondence (they want hard copy) – when many of such writing is for hobby or freelance work – and given this how many would really pursue legal option unless the stakes are very high ?

  35. Tori (1 comments.) says:

    May I use the picture that says “Ask first before using my blogs content! I might say yes” in my blog? I would like to put it in the sidebar.

  36. Pande (3 comments.) says:

    Summaries are OK for me….

  37. monique (1 comments.) says:

    just curious, my blog is mostly a collection of interesting articles about how dna is used today in interesting ways. i always list the source and give full credit to the author. would you guys consider that splogging? i’m new to this and don’t want to be outcasted. just trying to spread useful info that i find on the web. FYI i don’t use content form other people’s blogs, just new articles and such that i come across.

  38. Luna (1 comments.) says:

    I think you have the right to protect your posts. I have a Paranormal blog where I repost other people’s content, BUT I copy & paste, put a credit link to the original post at the top & host my own images as apposed to stealing their bandwidth. There are lines and it’s lazy to cross them, not to mention rude.

  39. Craig Hitchens (1 comments.) says:

    What whinging priss! Here I was thinking the whole purpose of the internet was to make information accessable to all…you sound like a elitist wanker! Switch off your feeds then, put a right click disable on your site etc etc…basically if people are copying your content, then it must be worth the effort. Stop making apps like Feedword press then..etc etc, honestly you folks out there all created the monster but now you are whinging..slap yourself! Personally i couldn’t care less if someone copies my content..I published it first, Google attribute that to me and penalises those that copy…what’s the problem then???? Just means my articles are going further and more people are getting to know about health…this is good. You sound like a selfish keep it all for me toss pot! The irony is you’re essentially borrowing from WordPress anyway…step awaty from your keyboard and go outside and play.. renew your perscpective possum.
    Craig

  40. william (1 comments.) says:

    Mark, in this case, isn’t it feels good, if only you can catch those copycats and give teach them a big lesson? Honestly, you should track the imposer and report the cases to the authority!


Tweetbacks

  1. blognews (blognews) (104 comments.) says:

    [planet wordpress]: Weblog Tools Collection: I am sick of splogs Copying our Content!: I sinc.. http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj

  2. Iggy (Iggy) (1 comments.) says:

    If you like someones content discuss & link to it http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj But stop stealing it or full quoting it in other places

  3. visaap (visaap) (3 comments.) says:

    Reading: “I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! | Weblog Tools Collection” ( http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj )

  4. wptavern (wptavern) (2 comments.) says:

    Heh, after 3 hours of using partial feeds, weblogtoolscollection is back to full feeds – http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj damn those sploggers!

  5. antiprivacy (Anti-Privacy) (18 comments.) says:

    I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj

  6. antiprivacy (Anti-Privacy) (18 comments.) says:

    I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj

  7. matthewsinclair (Matthew Sinclair) (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve noticed a serious uptick in this lately, but i didn’t know it had a name: #splogging. http://bit.ly/DGvdd

  8. antiprivacy (Anti-Privacy) (18 comments.) says:

    I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj

  9. antiprivacy (Anti-Privacy) (18 comments.) says:

    I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! | Weblog Tools Collection http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj

  10. madysondesigns (Sarah Whinnem) (1 comments.) says:

    I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! http://is.gd/yF8j

  11. RealtorToby (Toby Boyce) (1 comments.) says:

    Another blog community post on those horrible sploggers. http://tinyurl.com/oyjyxj


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] by Jonathan Bailey Yesterday, Mark Ghosh at Weblog Tools Collection made an announcement that, due to the rampant abuse of their RSS feed, that the site would be moving over to a truncated, or shortened, feed. [...]

  2. [...] posts. I saw a site do this recently, in fact it actually prompted me to make this post – see I am sick of splogs Copying our Content! @ Web Tools [...]

  3. [...] have forgotten about this issue when I read that weblogtoolscollection turned the RSS feed into summaries (but changed it back to full feed later on) cause somebody stole [...]

  4. [...] would give an example of their content but Mark Gosh just recently complained about him being sick of splogs copying their content. Though we’re definitely no splog I think you’ll just do as well looking for the themes and [...]

  5. [...] really don’t believe switching to excerpts is the answer, as opposed to full content feeds. You might deter scrapers, but really annoy your RSS subscribers [...]

  6. [...] really don’t believe switching to excerpts is the answer, as opposed to full content feeds. You might deter scrapers, but really annoy your RSS subscribers [...]

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