Lawyers, and Scrapers, and Splogs, Oh My!


Sorry to get all meta on you, but at this moment I have no choice but to blog about blogging.

Over the weekend, I was told by someone that they did a Google search for one of the recipes in the Ethan’s Family Cookbook and found it online. Actually what they found was one of the Family Cookbook 2.0 posts on how to convert old content to XML and then HTML for the Web. Sounds great. The only problem was that they didn’t find it on Publicious, or my Comcast page. It was on another blog, without any attribution or link back to here. WTH? That’s not very nice. And what made it 10x worse was this blog was a total crapstorm of blinking ads surrounding my content.

Now to put it mildly, I am not a fan of advertising and marketing in general. I bristle each time I see another landmark slapped with a corporate logo. I refuse to call the concert stadium in Mansfield, MA the “Tweeter Center”. It’s Great Woods, period. If this makes me a curmudgeon, so be it.

I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to put ads here, and so far have chosen not to in spite of the fact that my son ends up needing a new pair of baseball pants every time he slides into second base. So it turned my stomach to see someone else making ad money off of my content. I didn’t stay up till 2 AM picking just the right adverb to make someone else money.

Welcome to the blogosphere, eh? So instead of writing actual new content this weekend, I spent my time reading up on copyright law. Opened my eyes not only to what was being done to me, but what I was doing too. I thought it added a lot to some of the posts to grab pictures of things like the Terminator, Dr. Evil, and good old cousin Oliver. Well, it probably did, but I didn’t have any right to use those pix. So I have taken them down and will be careful to resist the temptations of Google image search in the future.

I have chosen to leave up images of book covers, screenshots, and the like since they are in the context of reviews or parody, which are both generally protected categories of digital “speech.” I don’t want to be a hypocrite, so I’ll keep researching the topic, and will take more pictures down as needed.

In the meantime, I got to learn some nifty new terms like “scraping” and “splogging.” Scraping is what was done when that blog that shall not be named lifted my content, either from the RSS feed or the site itself. Splogs are spam blogs made up entirely of stolen content and large blinking ads. Now I have to spend time blocking the IP address of the splog, blacklisting them, monitoring Google, and adding a copyright tag to my feed. All this takes away from the simple, happy act of writing the stuff I want to. I suppose it comes with the territory. You can’t cook up something in the kitchen without having to take out the garbage later.

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