Those of you who read along via RSS have probably noticed odd little things popping up in my posts, and since you’re undoubtedly wondering that in the heck is going on, I thought I should explain, but in order to do so, I briefly have to discuss a foul beast without discourse of reason known as a splogger.
Sploggers steal things. Things like my content. They use these things to make money. Here’s an article all about them. Basically, a splog is a spam blog, filled with nonsense content, and most splogs aren’t even really meant to be read, they just hang out, making money for their lazy, two-bit, worthless owners who can’t even be bothered to do actual work.
This irritates me. I really don’t like seeing my content smeared onto websites which don’t belong to me and being used to increase their PageRank and revenue, especially since I don’t profit at all from this site. I’m fine with a little fair use action, but I really like people to visit my site to read my writing, and I like to have some control over who reprints my work.
I think this is reasonable, because my work is a part of me, and there are certain things that I don’t like to be associated with. As a general rule in the past, any time someone has approached me and asked to reprint my photographs or writing, I have consented, and in some cases I have donated work to charities, so I don’t have a problem with people making money off my work, I just like to know who is making the money, and where that money is going.
Once I started tracking the theft of my content, I was pretty amazed and rather disheartened. Those of my readers who are also bloggers who aren’t aware of the splog problem might want to use Copyscape as a jumping off point to see who is stealing their work. You’d be astonished at where it pops up, and if you’re even a bit like me, a twinge of infuriation will burn in your heart when you see your words on someone else’s site without your consent.
One of the ways in which sploggers steal content is through feeds. I could turn off feeds for this site altogether, and I have considered this as an option, but I find sites without feeds immensely inconvenient and annoying, and as a result, I don’t keep up with them. And it would be rather hypocritical of me to rail against sites without feeds and to then close my feeds.
I could also turn my feeds into excerpts instead of full posts, except that it annoys me all to heck when people do this. The whole point of having a feed reader is so that I don’t have to read 80 million websites every morning. When people turn their feeds into excerpts, I only click through when they are really enticing, which is rare, so once again I would be kind of an ass if I did that.
Therefore, I’m having to be a bit more crafty. I’m using two WordPress plugins, AntiLeech and Digital Fingerprint. I don’t really want to go into lengthy detail, but they are designed to thwart sploggers, and they are designed in a way which allows me to control them, which should prevent y’all from getting caught in the crossfire, except that you will notice weird little things in my feeds like sentences which look out of place.
Splogging is really frustrating to me on a lot of levels. Not least because it clutters the Intertubes, making it really hard to find valid, useful, interesting content. It is also frustrating to have my words repeatedly stolen from me (and yes, there are measures to deal with it, but it’s a pain in the ass). A lot of blogging services are starting to realize that splogging is a major problem and they are theoretically taking steps to combat splog, but sploggers are of course getting smarter, making things even harder for those of us who are trying to maintain our integrity.
There’s no easy way to solve the splog problem, but I do appreciate it when readers pass on information about other sites passing my content off as their own, or using my content in a way which violates fair use. And I also encourage you to report splogs when you encounter them on hosted services like Blogger (a favourite splogger domain which should probably just be changed to “Splogger” at this point).
Splogs have been around almost as long as blogs have, illustrating the amazing talent spammers have for filling every possible niche, and they are unlikely to go away anytime soon. But I’m not going down without a fight.