RSS is a wonderful thing as it allows us to easily distribute content. On the other hand, it allows slime balls to rip content off at will. Sites are cropping up like mushrooms that do nothing more than scrape the feeds of blogs, press release distributors and article publishers to repurpose this information, often as their very own, on a blog. These sites have no user value as they are often written by robots and don’t make much sense to the human eye. They do however, generate some cheap search engine traffic and AdSense clickthroughs for the owners.
I guess these folks figure that since you publish an RSS feed, it’s not really stealing. These are the same people that would reason, “since you left your door unlocked I thought it was okay to take your new big screen.”
Here is a Scam Blog (no follow tag used) that takes every single one of its posts from other blogs – word for word – and gives no credit. You will notice also that there is no person to contact regarding the blog and even the comments sections are monitored so that no one can post a cautionary comment.
One way to locate these types of blogs is to do an exact search on the title of your blog posts and see what comes up.
Now, what to do about it.
Some have proposed putting really nasty copyright notes in your XML file that will be written when someone or something merely republishes your RSS feed. Something like:
“This content is copyright Bill Blogbucket and if you are reading it on someone else’s site then they simply ripped it off and are violating every known copyright law in the free world. The fact that you are reading this makes you a criminal too.”
There, that ought to keep the scammers away.
The problem I have with this any other form of policing is that it sort of defeats the purpose of RSS. I want people to read what I write, I want people to use what I write, I want people to aggregate what I write and I know that some may rip me off along the way. To me, I don’t have to be happy about it, but it’s part of the price of admission.
There are a host of other solutions, such a making people register to view or publish your RSS feed or setting your RSS to show only headlines. The problem I have with any of these fixes is that they make it harder for legitimate users to get the content. I don’t think the trade-off is worth it.
When I can find the guilty party I send them a note imploring them to stop at once and leave it at that.
I choose to view it as a compliment I guess. I wouldn’t dream of doing it myself but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it either.
I believe these folks will rot in hell someday, so that’s good enough for me!
On the other hand, these scam artists may someday pose such a problem for the search engines that they may be forced to view RSS feeds, good and bad, in a different light than they currently do – that may be a really bad thing.
Please, bloggers and any other form of Internet marketer, have the decency to give credit where credit is due. And, stop spending your money on those software programs that promise to create thousands of high quality content pages for you in minutes and just do the work.
And on that note: Darren Rowse at ProBlogger is the source for some of this rant and good source of information on all things blogish.
Update: Added no follow tag to the scam blog link so as to not give the link from my site any credit . Alert DTM reader Derek Organ reminded me of this.