This is the Year of Original Content

Filed as Features on February 18, 2009 2:35 pm

This blog has no brain - use your own - caution signI’m working on my annual Things I Want Gone from the Web article and I’ve personally designated this “The Year of Original Content.” We’re done playing around with feed scraping and autoblogging.

The blog echo chamber effect of someone blockquoting and linking the same content as a recommendation, echoing through the web without original content, is a beginner’s mistake. Don’t do it. Always add your original voice and content to your recommendations, telling your readers why it is important to leave this blog and go to another, then come back for more.

Google took action to penalize duplicate content within a site and between sites, and added bonus points for original and unique, appropriate and relevant keywords around links, especially link lists, rewarding original content providers with nicer PageRank scores. Similar actions are being taken by other major search engines, directories, and legitimate content aggregators.

As a serious blogger, you’ve learned the lesson and stay focused on creating original content. You link to other people’s content appropriately, taking care to protect their copyrights and not confuse your reader’s, putting other people’s content in blockquotes with clearly indicated links and credits.

For scammers, scrapers, and plagiarists, other people’s content has turned into a major money-maker as they use other people’s content for financial gain and misdirection.

The blogosphere has long fought against scrapers and spam blogs, those using your original content without permission. Yet, black hat SEO villains continue to promote quick schemes to get-rich-with-blogs and auto-blog and auto-scraper tools, and people fall for them every day.

They don’t work and it’s up to us to stop them. Help me declare this the year of original content.

The Year of Original Content

I want to declare this is the year to honor original content. Sites like WordPress Direct and other WordPress scam sites which offer tools for autoblogging and feed scraping are old news. Unwanted. Unnecessary. Wasteful. Clutter. Yuk.

Let’s make this the year to crush black hat WordPress blogs, to put Blogger/Blogspot abuse by spammers, sploggers, and scrapers our of our misery. Search engines are tired of the copyright violations requests that flood their inboxes and clog up the web with redundancies. We’re tired of finding spam blogs in our search results. I believe they are going to hit harder on autobloggers and scrapers – as should we.

If you are a splogger, spammer, scrapper, scammer, or black hat SEO fan, consider yourself warned.

We’re going to take action, every one of us who publish original content on the web. We are going to say NO to those who don’t ask first and use our content without permission.

This is the year to celebrate original content. Original thoughts. The unique voices will rise up, with everyone having their say on the issues, letting their voices be heard through their blogs and social media tools. We will take the conversation out in many directions, each direction adding to the conversation, not echoing redundancies.

Bye-bye get-rich-quick blogs. You are unwanted. We’re going to drown you out with our unique, original content this year.

In the next article on The Year of Comment Spam, you’ll learn what you can do to join the cause and fight back against the abusers of original content.

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  1. By Dinesh Mathia posted on February 18, 2009 at 4:07 pm
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    Lorelle, this is a brilliant idea, and its about time someone took this matter ahead..

    There are many bloggers and webmasters who are willing to work hard to research, dedicate time and resources and create unique and informative content , and only they know, this job requires hard work and dedication!

    I really, really appreciate this idea. Although i am not quite regular with blogging, but I share good stuff with my friends and the bloggers are the ones who devote time to develop it and deserve better results for their work.

    Since you are an experienced blogger and have faced this issue in the past and even now, I would really like to see you take this forward and also, give bloggers tips and ideas about how they can fight back!!

    I am sure, this initiative would be quite successful and I wish you good luck in making this possible for all of us!

    Reply

  2. By Alexis Bellido posted on February 18, 2009 at 5:39 pm
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    Very well said.

    I hate it when I spend so many hours crafting every article I publish, worried that every fact is verified and every word correctly written, to then find that some idiot have copied and pasted my content with a tiny ‘via’ link at the bottom.

    Do they really think that’s enough? A miserable link on a miserable site where the owner can’t even write a few paragraphs by himself?

    Thanks for the inspired article and hey you “Year of Original Content”, welcome to 2009!

    Reply

  3. By Kelly McCausey posted on February 18, 2009 at 7:04 pm
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    I’m with you! Can’t wait to hear your suggestions :)

    Reply

  4. By Maria posted on February 18, 2009 at 7:15 pm
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    Thank goodness Google penalizes duplicate content. As with most things, the quality will (hopefully) rise to the top.

    Reply

  5. By Tom Salzer posted on February 18, 2009 at 8:11 pm
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    I’m curious how you and your readers feel about the Google Reader widget for WordPress. I use it on my blog to share stories I find interesting, assuming it helps gives my blog visitors more insight into what makes me tick. I’m not copying content, but I am linking to a wide range of content on other sites.

    Reply

  6. By Naoko posted on February 18, 2009 at 8:16 pm
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    Geminianeyes from Twitter here, and I completely agree! How can we begin?

    Reply

  7. By Bean posted on February 18, 2009 at 8:55 pm
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    A week ago I would have been whole heartedly cheering this initiative. This week, I applaud the need and spirit of more original content. What intrigues me about blogs is the personality and opinions that flavor the facts and information. If you are just recycling someone else’s content, the only thing you have shown me is that you know how to cut and paste, but not that you can think or evaluate.
    So why the ambivalence? Last week, I found out that one of my blogs was blacklisted by Technorati. It was blacklisted because on World AIDS Day, I held a blog carnival. The intent was to gather and recognize some of the stories from around the world. I can and did write about my own experiences, but I can not write about villages anhilated by this disease, how Chinese citizens are circumventing the official party line, talk about witnessing the evolution of AIDS care as two uncles die of AIDS 10 years apart or the need, confusion and stigma of confronting safer sex as a young college student in India. All of the stories were submitted by the author, I did not go around and harvest information without their knowledge. I introduced links to those stories and separated categories into posts. That was my downfall and it got my blog blacklisted.
    I could totally understand if I did a blog carnival every week and did nothing but post lists of links. If there was no original content other than link lists. Does anyone ever read those anyway?
    So, my question is how do we foster and reward truly original blog content and still provide a gathering of resources?

    Reply

    • By Lorelle VanFossen posted on February 18, 2009 at 10:27 pm
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      @Bean: How can one post be the one that gets you blacklisted, and how did you even know that Technorati had done that? There are blog carnivals all over the place.

      If the people had published the content on their sites, then all you would need to do is either link to them, or post excerpts with links, not full posts, keeping the usage within Fair Use. I do know that Technorati doesn’t have the time nor resources to inspect individual posts, so unless someone reported that post specifically, I can’t imagine why it would have been singled out. Very strange.

      @Tom Salzer: Sharing “stories” that consist of post titles and excerpts with feeds and Widgets keeps the content within Fair Use constraints. This is very different from replacing content with other people’s content.

      Honestly, people don’t want to read other people’s content on your blog. They want to read your words, your thoughts, your impressions – even if it is about other people’s content. Linking to other people’s content is fine, needs no permission, but surrounded by your words, it can become magic.

      Reply

  8. By Brendan posted on February 18, 2009 at 10:58 pm
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    Great post…can I share it ;)

    Reply

  9. By Andy Merrett posted on February 19, 2009 at 2:19 am
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    Excellent article. I’d like to be optimistic that we can make a dent in at least some of the auto-generated diatribe out there. I have to admit this made me laugh, though:

    “If you are a splogger, spammer, scrapper, scammer, or black hat SEO fan, consider yourself warned.”

    They don’t actually *read* our content, do they? In fact, this article will probably end up on a splog about blogging!

    Reply

  10. By ian in hamburg posted on February 19, 2009 at 2:38 am
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    Lorelle,
    As a follow-up to this most timely article, you might give concrete tips on how wordpress bloggers can spot and destroy the scrapers and sploggers before they multiply.

    My tip: use wordpress tag surfer. You know, that mini- wp.com-internal feed reader that takes the newest posts with the tags you alone have selected and lays them out in reader format.

    I have only four tags: Germany, Canada, humor and humour, but nearly every time I go to read them I come across another obvious splogger.

    What to do? Go to the top right of your dashboard, hit report spam, write a couple of words why you think it’s a scam, and hit send.
    Often I get a little mail back from wordpress thanking me for this small effort, sometimes the remark that in their investigation of that one splogger, they uncovered a dozen more operated by the same outfit. My record is 20 at one go.

    Reply

  11. By markLtuttle posted on February 19, 2009 at 3:03 am
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    “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.” — Ambrose Bierce

    Nothing original about being a [self righteous elitist nag]. How about a original post on how to get over yourself.

    Reply

  12. By Andy Merrett posted on February 19, 2009 at 6:31 am
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    Mark, I really don’t understand the use of that quote in the context of this post. This is about blog scrapers and scammers ripping off other people’s content, not about finding something a completely original subject to write about (nigh impossible).

    I’m not clear quite why it comes across as self-righteousness or elitism for someone not to want their hard-worked content pinched for other people’s no-effort gain.

    Reply

  13. By Bean posted on February 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm
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    @Lorelle If you look at your blogs on technorati, they will tell you if they have been flagged. One of mine was flagged for blog quality guidelines based on the blog carnival. The flagging is automated and they won’t tell you exactly how it crossed the line. My best guess is it got flagged because there were a number of posts with lots of links all in one day. If I had a written one huge post instead of writing a post per category, I doubt I would have been flagged.
    http://support.technorati.com/guidelines/
    I am currently in the appeal process and am awaiting a review by a real live breathing human. I am confident that it will pass human review.
    For me, it is totally different to post links excerpts from bloggers who have submitted their content than to go harvesting it from them to fill up my blog. I just wanted to point out the pendulum is shifting.

    Reply

  14. By Andrew posted on March 6, 2009 at 9:51 pm
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    Well said, Laurel,

    I cannot possibly express my feelings about the practice of blog scraping in language which is appropriate here, and I am certain that the vast majority of the blogosphere (myself included) fully support your call.

    Reply

  15. By Ram Chaturvedi posted on July 2, 2009 at 5:34 pm
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  16. By edhardy posted on July 13, 2009 at 7:31 pm
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    please browse our website http://www.edhardydiscount.us.good and cheap products are for you.you will have a good harvest here

    Reply

  17. By Michelle Tee posted on January 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm
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    Great post. Content is king.. especially our own original content. Thanks again.

    Reply

  18. By Mobile Themes posted on January 13, 2010 at 8:49 am
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    “Who soweth good seed shall surely reap; The year grows rich as it groweth old, And life’s latest sands are its sands of gold!”…..And the same makes me stick on…Great idea..

    Reply

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