May 11, 2009
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
Tags: fairshare, Feedburner, rss, scraping, spam blogs, Splogs
April 23, 2009
I 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
Tags: Adsense, blog content, Content Scraping, content theft, copyright, copyright fair use, doubleclick, Fair Syndication Consortium, fairshare, make money, monetize, scapers, scraping, spam blogs, sploggers, splogging, Splogs, tracking content theft, writing, year of original content
November 24, 2008
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
Tags: content theft, rss scraping, Spam, spam blogs, splogging, Splogs, WordPress
October 6, 2008
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
Tags: abusive blogs, autoblog, bad blogs, blog industry, blog scams, fake blogs, phish, phishing, scammers, scams, spam blogs, splog, sploggers, Splogs
September 30, 2008
I hate hyperbole, and what really infuriates me are claims that “there is nothing like this anywhere!” Oh, really.
With the modern treasure trove called search engines, there is little left in the world that can’t be found, and odds are that your original, can’t be found anywhere, is findable. Have you looked?
A few months ago, a WordPress Plugin author claimed that he had the first Plugin of this kind. I knew of three others published over the past few years that did the same thing, and two did it better. I didn’t need a search engine to find that out, but why didn’t he search first before making the claim?
A day later, a WordPress Theme designer told me that he’d designed a Theme that was such an original, he bet me I couldn’t find anything similar. I found over twenty five similar Themes with a Google search before calling it quits.
Another blogger bragged to me that he was going to hold a contest unlike any other contest. No one in the world had ever done anything like it. When I told him that two similar contests were held over the past couple years exactly like his, one was a success and the other a failure, he was really angry at me for taking the wind out of his sails. I wished him good luck anyway. Maybe his would work, but bragging about it as the “only one of its kind” isn’t the truth. read more
Tags: blog scams, evil, exaggeration, scammers, scams, Splogs
September 29, 2008
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
Tags: content theft, copyright infringement, plagiarism, rss scraping, scraping, Spam, spam blogs, Splogs
September 8, 2008
Many say, “It’s about time.” Others are saying, “We told you.” Either way, it’s as official as it gets. Bye-bye WTF blog cluttering CAPTCHAs. According to the Guardian in “How Captcha was foiled: Are you a man or a mouse?”, the CAPTCHA has been proven to not work.
While most of this ongoing series on WTF Blog Clutter has been focused on the blog sidebar and design elements, a big clutter element is the continued use of the CAPTCHA with comments with the misguided belief that it would stop comment spammers. NOT.
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, created to ensure that humans can read the letters and numbers in a way that computers can’t, so automated scripts and bots can’t leave a comment on your blog. Pass the test and you’ve earned the right to comment. Except that the CAPTCHA techniques have been broken and bypassed easily by computers for years. read more
Tags: blog clutter, Blog Design, CAPTCHA, comment spam, Comments, spammers, sploggers, Splogs, web design, wtf blog clutter
September 2, 2008
A blog post linking to one of my blog posts has been scraped dozens of times. Recently, it was scraped by eight different sites in the same day. The eight trackbacked sites turned out to have a single owner/webmaster using their auto-blogging scraper across multiple splog sites. I’ve let the blogger know – after the second time it happened – and now that it’s happened multiple times, it’s time to change strategies.
It’s now time to work together.
Have you received multiple trackbacks over time from an blog post with a link to yours and the investigation finds that it isn’t the original site but a scraper? What do you do? read more
Tags: blog content, blog writing, Blogging, Content Scraping, copyright, copyright violation, jonathan bailey, plagiarism, plagiarism today, scrappers, splogging, Splogs
August 4, 2008
It appears as if Google’s Blogger service have had some issues over the weekend. On Friday, they marked bunch of blogs as spam, which was quickly identified and written about. The issue was resolved on Saturday, with explanations:
We want to offer our sincerest apologies to affected bloggers and their readers. We’ve tracked down the problem to a bug in our data processing code that locked blogs even when our algorithms concluded they were not spam. We are adding additional monitoring and process checks to ensure that bugs of this magnitude are caught before they can affect your data.
This isn’t a good thing for Blogger of course, and certainly hurts the brand.
Tags: blogger, Google, Spam, Splogs
June 2, 2008
Fighting spam has proved to be a nearly impossible task.
The best and brightest minds of the legal and technical worlds have failed to come up with solutions to stem the flow of junk email, splogs or spam comments.
Every new law or technological advancement has just been an escalation in a never-ending arms race between the many who hate spam and the few that send it out.
To be certain, spam plays a much smaller part in our lives today than it did a few years ago. We rarely see spam in our inboxes, spam comments are largely filtered out and only search spam seems to work with any reliability, especially with blogs.
However, the junk content keeps flowing at an ever-increasing rate. More and more junk email gets sent out every year, comment spam is on the rise too.
We have managed to treat the symptoms, but not the illness. This is because we have been dealing with how spam mails us, one issue at a time rather than looking at the bigger picture.
It is time to take a look at the spam puzzle and how it all fits together.
Tags: copyright, Ethics, Legal, plagiarism, Spam, Splogs, Technology