The Only Spam I Like Comes From Monty Python.

Spam isn’t tasty when it arrives unbidden in your mailbox. It’s just annoying. In fact, as I have noted in the title, really the only spam I like comes from Monty Python.

Alas, these days spam doesn’t just come to you, it also tricks you into going to it. It has a slightly more sophisticated half-sibling, the splog.

Spam by Any Other Name Still Stinks

Splogging is a minor evil, right up there in terms of irritation with the sound the drill makes when you are getting your tooth filled.

The word “splog” is an amalgamation of spam and blog. The content of this beast is made up or has been excerpted from many legitimate blogs and the majority of it is ads.

Even more nefariously, there’s a variant called a “scraper.” It’s like a raccoon except instead of ransacking your garbage, this time it has gone through your safe and your fridge and it has taken your valuables and the best leftovers back to its lair.

As noted in an invaluable post by Jeffro on his Jeffro2pt0 blog, a scraper is a little thief of sorts:

“A scraping blog is a blog that uses an automatic tool, often a WordPress Plugin, that snatches the content from legitimate blogs, called “scraping”, and uses it as its own with no original content. Some present the content in full posts, a big copyright no-no….”

Copyright’s been a hot button issue as of late when it comes to the net. I covered the main event (AP vs. bloggers everywhere) and today we’ll look at an interesting undercard match–Duncan Riley vs. perceived sploggers.

Round One Wrap-Up of Sorts

This is a week where everyone’s tolerance levels were low because of the AP mess.

That potential clash went out with a whimper and not a band and left some large questions unresolved, as the mysterious Media Bloggers Association mentioned here.

[Regarding the above link, I must disagree with the MBA about “blog rage” not work. It was more the howls of protest from the blogosphere than any dialogue that the MBA had with AP that made this go away. They realized they’d awakened a sleeping giant who was now in a bitterly foul mood.]

Round Two: Riley vs. Splogging

But I’m off track. This week on FriendFeed, there was a lot of discussion clustered around a post by Duncan Riley entitled Why Has Keith Teare Gone Into Spam Blogging? Seriously Dumb.

His beef with Teare is that the latter has blogs such as SeriouslyTech that apparently republish full content from many influential bloggers- including Riley’s own work! It must have been quite a shock when he came across it.

But in fact, it seemed Teare was really a handy representative for the many sploggers out there who basically snatch your textual child and put it in their own nursery- so to speak.

I don’t like it and I’m a Z-list blogger. I can’t imagine how irritating it must be for the A-listers to have their work snatched like that because people want to capitalize on their reputations for increased web traffic.

Riley was civil but clearly upset and gave Teare the benefit of believing he had been badly advised:

“I’ve met Keith before and he’s always struck me as being a smart guy, so who ever convinced him that doing this is a good thing (he’s not doing this alone, but it’s all in his name) needs to be quickly purged. I’m sorry Keith, but I’ve gone after companies and people for far less than this…. Whatever this site aims to be in the future, it needs to die now before you start getting the lawyer letters from the very annoyed people you are currently stealing from.”

fav.or.it meets with no favour?

Riley saved the worst of his ire for fav.or.it, and rightly so. As he noted, not only does fav.or.it often reprint full contents of blogs, it makes the authors jump through hoops to prevent it from happening again.

Look at their help page which explains the process. That’s more than anyone should have to do concerning content that they created which turned up unexpectedly elsewhere.

No wonder Riley was compelled to ask “exactly when did splogging become a business model again? It’s like a whole chunk of the world missed the memo that ripping peoples content off for your own commercial gain is immoral and wrong, no matter how well you flavor the end product.”

Aftermath

There was A LOT of discussion on FriendFeed about this and it also branched off into discussion about copyright. (Though that was also in large part to the “AP vs. the world” business.)

It was fascinating to watch the ripple effect in play. It was also exciting to watch all these smart, tech-savvy key influencers discuss and debate such important issues. And hat’s one of the things that makes FF so compelling.

According to FF (or, to be accurate, Twitter via FF), Teare has apparently taken Riley’s content off his site. Teare has also tried to explain his position in comments on Riley’s blog – see that and many other insightful comments here.

But this does raise some questions: Is fav.or.it actually a splog or just an aggressively grabby aggregator?

Is what they are doing wrong or is it the way they are doing it and the arrogance they are displaying in asking the copyright holders to get a license to get them to back off?

Are they actually adding any kind of value at all to the work? Or are they just coasting on a lot of other people’s coattails?

Why do you think copyright has blown up into such a hot issue again? And is this some kind of turning point?

And does anyone else agree with me that it might all be due to the humidity?

UPDATED: Wow. Riley really does feel very strongly about all this and I suspect his latest move may generate some interesting discussion. To hear the man speak the situation in his own words, please go here.

(But please come back – or stay on FriendFeed- and answer this question: Is he right? How do you see the copyright issue?)


AM


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6 comments so far

  1. Ironic on

    Three things:
    1. Without Spam, who would we hate?
    2. How is an ARG different from Spam?
    3. http://wordle.net/ (Possibly a very useful tool)

  2. abbymartin on

    Oh Ironic, do you want that list in alphabetical or chronological order?

    Small sampling: irresponsible landlords; humidity; intolerant extremists of any kind; those who fix sports; the new Mike Meyers film (which apparently is pretty bad if even AICN hates it); taxes; and those who prey upon children (there’s a special circle in hell for them.) And didn’t you say at some point you loathe hipsters? Them too.

    Wordle looks interesting- I’m going to play with it a bit. Nifty. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. And for taking the time to leave regular comments. It is appreciated.

    As for ARG vs. Spam: I’ll get back to you. Right now my child has climbed on me and is trying to “surf” my back. At age two it was cute, at age four it kind of hurts. I’m old.

    AM

  3. Old Copyright Hand on

    To repeat: theft is theft. Be it copyrighted material or blog creation. And why do people seem to have so much time to steal these days?

  4. Margot on

    Worry not. Soon there will be software to stop scraping. Too many people are getting ripped off in all sorts of ways, and content is being resold or people are using descriptions on, say, eBay that don’t even apply to the example of the item they have. It will be stopped.

  5. Esme Callendar on

    Wow, Abby. I certainly learn new things from your blog all the time. Why doesn’t WordPress seem to have those links where you can send interesting stuff otherwhere? Anyway, thanks for the info.

  6. abbymartin on

    Sorry- a little bit behind- but I really do appreciate all the comments!

    OCH: Do people see it as stealing? Or do they not understand the need to give credit where credit is due? Do they not understand the whole issue of copyright- and does that lead them to perpetuate these wrongs? Can we give them the benefit of the doubt? And how do we educate them?

    Margot: Welcome! Thanks for coming aboard. I hope you are right. I hope there will be a leap forward and that software will be there SOON. (Side note: back when we were looking at puppies, I did come across a Border Terrier site where there were recent pictures of puppies. My husband wanted to copy the pictures to e-mail to his folks and mine. When we rolled over the photos- we couldn’t copy them and a pop-up comment state “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Kind of intimidating but also kind of wise.

    Esme: Thank you. You’re very kind. Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.


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