When I converted my site to a “for real” blog using WordPress about a year ago after nearly a decade “pretend” blogging, it was like I’d moved into a nice, upscale neighborhood. The neighbors were friendly and reasonably intelligent, and everyone’s yard was tidy. The rare comments to my site were reasonably intelligent, and were obviously written by real people who were actual visitors.
Now the new, evil side of the blogosphere has moved in. My site is receiving a hundred or so spam comments a week. They are just like spam emails- only sometimes even more stupid. It really started in earnest in the January time-frame, and thank goodness a new version of WordPress came along at about that time with an anti-spam feature. Akismet is the name of that feature, and its caught 1,250 spam comments since I activated it about three months ago.
About a week ago, something new (for me, at least) happened. I noticed several new sites linking to mine. When I went to check them out, I discovered they were meaningless template sites with no original content of their own. They had large excerpts of my postings with author taglines implying the site “owner” had written the content. The one redeeming feature was that each such posting had a link to my site.
Those sites have since disappeared (at least I can’t find them any more- the incoming links seem to have gone away)- maybe my content wasn’t working out for them 🙂 But it does make me a bit uncomfortable. I mean, I don’t write my posts to line someone else’s pocket…heck, I don’t line my pocket with my posts. My words are my words- warts and all- and I’d prefer them only to exist on my site. Link to me- sure! Excerpt a sentence or two? Fantastic! But add your own comments and make the blog “universe” grow, not shrink.
None of what I’m experiencing with my blog is in any way “new”. Other bloggers who’ve been officially blogging for a while longer have been experiencing blog spam and content theft for a long time- its just new to me because I’ve only become a target recently. And it doesn’t really surprise me at all- its part of the wild west Internet. But it is a bit sad…
Update: After writing this post, I did some googling and came across Jonathan Bailey’s site- Plagiarism Today. It has a ton of information, tips, and reports of real-world experiences with content theft and “site scraping”. Shortly after I found this site, Jonathan himself posted a comment here- he must keep an eagle-eye on the Technorati keyword lists or something 🙂