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May 11, 2009

5 Alternatives to Truncated Feeds

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.

However, the decision did not last long. After less than three hours, Ghosh reactivated the full feeds after many of the site’s readers posted comments objecting to the change. He instead said he would experiment with RSS footer and reopen the full feed.

Still, Ghosh’s frustration is more than understandable. With countless spam blogs scraping content without permission, the temptation to deny them access is understandable. However, users overwhelmingly prefer full RSS feeds and denying access to spammers is almost impossible without hindering access by legitimate aggregators.

The good news is that there are alternatives to shortening your RSS feed, practical ways to protect your content without cutting off your readers. read more

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April 23, 2009

Year of Original Content: Make Money From Copyright Thieves

Ask First Copyright badge - by Lorelle VanFossenI and Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today have long been advocates of copyright protections and education, leading the way with projects such as “Ask First,” the Year of Original Content,”5 Content Theft Myths and Why They Are False,” and “The 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft.”

It seems that the rest of the world is waking up to the fact that stolen content is big business. Within the past two years, there are a variety of services you can use to track where your online content has gone, report and stop it. A new project is underway called the Fair Syndication Consortium that might put a dollar amount on that stolen content, paying you for others abusing your content. read more

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February 18, 2009

This is the Year of Original Content

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. read more

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November 24, 2008

WordPressDirect: Blogging Tool or Spam Engine?

A recent post on Mashable regarding a tool called WordPress Direct elicited a great deal of passion on both sides. One commenter, for example, called the service a “one stop shop spam blog engine” while another, who claims to have used the service, said it was “a simple solution to adding new posts to a blog in between longer, hand written posts”.

But what is clear is that tools like WordPress Direct are becoming more and more common. Part of the double-edged nature of open source development is that, while most will use the license to extend the product in healthy ways, a few will do so in ways that can be used for unethical purpose. Though this is not an argument against open source, more and more tools like WordPress Direct have sprung up, often charging high monthly fees for “maintenance free” blogging.

But what does WordPress Direct do and is it a spam tool? The answer is complicated and made more so by the fact that the nature of spam and even the definition of spam is a moving target. However, it is clear that WordPress Direct, along with similar products, have a lot of potentially dangerous uses and, if its marketing is any indication, those uses are very much by design. read more

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October 6, 2008

Blog Scams: Blog Scams Are a Growing Business

While I can excuse those who overhype their Plugins, Themes, and contests on their blog, I have a hard time forgiving those who use their blogs as scams. As the blog platform becomes more ubiquitous and easier to use with a lot of automatic content generating tools and comment and trackback spam tools, blogs are being used more and more for the dark side of blogging.

In The Thin Line Between Legitimate Blog Models and Scams, Weblog Scout writes that there is a think line between a scan and legitimate blog model as scammers tend to use the same tools as legit blogs do, such as autoblogging WordPress Plugins, auto-pings, mass site submission tools, and feed scrapers: read more

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September 29, 2008

The Future of Blog Spam

When Steven Carrol of The Next Web admitted to using a content generation service known as Datapresser, reportedly after seeing it used by an unnamed author at TechCrunch, he seemed to indicate that it was the future of mainstream blog publishing.

But while there is no doubt that at least some mainstream blogs use content creation tools to aid in meeting their deadlines, content generation has found a much more comfortable home with another group, spammers.

Creating content from nothing has always been something of a holy grail for spammers. Traditionally, filling their junk blogs has required scraping content from article databases, other blogs (usually without permission) or other sources. This has made them easy for search engines to spot and also drawn the ire of many bloggers who have had their content reused.

But technology is advancing and content generation is becoming increasingly practical. Many spammers have already moved to it and it seems likely that others will follow soon. This has some strong implications for both the future of spam and the Web itself. read more

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