Saturday, November 10, 2007

I learned a new word today - splog

Hate to break it to my readers, but this blog is where I work out things in my brain. (And if you think it's bad now, wait until tomorrow.)

I use Google Reader to scan for blog mentions of "Ontario Emperor." My dream, of course, is that I'll run across something like this:

"I read Ontario Emperor every morning." -Bill Gates

But more often, I run into something like this:

Music lyrics B fidelity musical w undeadline music leones music world windsor ontario emperor....

...The first lady cruised to victory but rising inflation and a looming energy crisis await her entry into office. Yankees expected to name Joe Girardi manager Tuesday. The sonority opens up in the manner of. B fidelity musical w?...

This wonderful text is dotted with links to all sorts of interesting URLs that I don't really feel like exploring.

But I don't really have it that bad. Consider TechCrunch:

Here at TechCrunch, there is nothing we love more than when one of our posts gets linked to and talked about. And like the majority of other blogs out there, we try to be good citizens by linking back to any source from which we excerpt. But there is a growing minority of spam blogs, or splogs, that indiscriminately take entire posts from other blogs and present them as their own....

Any blog that produces fresh content on a daily basis is an easy target. Google makes it economical to create such splogs through AdSense and then rewards them with traffic through its search engine. Google (and the other search engines) need to stop rewarding such behavior.

We knew the splog problem was bad, but we didn’t know how bad until earlier this week, when I did a post about Attributor (a new startup that can track who is copying your stuff all across the Web). I noted that Attributor found one TechCrunch post that had been copied in one way or another 572 times (not all of them bad).

Attributor catches all matches of blocks of text, so I asked them to break that number down. First, they threw out anything that was less than a five percent match, which left us with 467 matches. Of those 315, or two thirds, linked back to the original post. So that is the good news. It appears that most bloggers are good citizens. But 152 of them, or fully one third, did not link back. And of those, 115—or 25 percent of the original—were plastered with ads, making money off our work without so much as a link.

Of course, some people object to ads in any blog, including ads from the original content creator. And I have to admit that it's strange to see the following ads on this original TechCrunch page:

  • Bloggers earn money with Tag Cloud Widget

  • Top 10 Work at Home Jobs

  • Mate 1 Intimate Dating
Supposedly these ads are supposed to be targeted to the content on the page, but what the heck does intimate dating have to do with the content?

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