Sploggers Are Stealing Your Blog Content Here’s What We Can Do To Stop Them

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Almost every post you publish is stolen by people who use it to sell everything from pills to vacations to guns. These people are called “Sploggers” or “Blog Scrapers“. The blog scraper who stole my “Weekend Update” post and published it on his site (screenshot above) is a freak named Mike Hiliok. Until now there was nothing we could do to stop them… or at least what we could do was time consuming and difficult.

But I think I have a solution.

Here’s what they do… they start a website using a blog theme, most times from one of the WordPress themes. They then look for keywords in your RSS feeds… they look at the tags you use, the categories and the words in your post. Once they key on something like “S3roquel” (3=e) your link appears on their page surrounded by ads for pills.

If a blog scraper is gathering content that is copyrighted material, it is a violation of law. In addition, there are a number of more practical problems that blog scraping causes for the person or business who owns the blog.

If they have an archives in their sidebar their latest month will be in the thousands of posts.

The first time I realized people had been stealing my blog content was almost as soon as I started blogging. Almost every time I posted I’d get a “pingback” from a “blog” where the post was simply the headline from my post with a link to my site, with a few random words surrounding it… so something like “Gabriel… has written an exciting post on Luc Is My Little Brother And He’s Alive Today Because Forty People Forced A Plane To Crash In A Field In Pennsylvania check out more of this funny and informative post here”.

Then the entire page would be surrounded by Google Ads for Halloween costumes. My most intimate thoughts and ideas were being used to sell cheap plastic costumes and the money was going to some random bastard who may, or may not, be using the money to fund his kiddie porn collection.

Then a few months ago I started getting “link-backs” on my WordPress stats page from sites which were using entire posts of mine to raise money for their free-crack-for-children empire. Entire posts… photos and all, photos of mine with big freaking RED copyright notices. Photos of my family, of my friends, being used by these people to make money.

So I’ve had more than enough of this bullshit. They are Stealing from you, they are stealing from me, Google refuses to do anything about it and I’ve had enough of it…

The solution I have only works, however, if there are a lot of us willing to do a simple three step process, once a week. Most sploggers and blog scrapers register their splogs under their real name and use their real email address. Actually they pretty much have to…

So what if there was a place to send the URL addresses from the pingbacks and the Incoming Links coming from these splogs we receive almost every time we post on our blogs? A central blog to collect and filter the information… then publish the splogger’s email address and registration information…

And this is the easy three-step process:

1) Once a week we copy the list of sploggers provided on the central blog;

2) Insert the splogger list into an email containing a form letter saying “You’re a splogger, we know it, stop doing it”, then;

3) Send email to sploggers

Imagine a single splogger receiving 100 or 1000 emails in a single day from a bunch of pissed off bloggers.

As individuals we have to put up with their crap, but as a group we can harass them until they take our words and pictures off their sites, or until the site hosts take the splogger’s otherwise useless sites down.

Sending a single email once a week to the addresses of a hundred sploggers may not seem like much, but 100 or 1000 people sending a single weekly email to a hundred bloggers might be enough to get them to stop… plus it’s a whole lot more than what’s being done now to protect our blogs. Until now there have been individuals trying on their own to stop them, but the power of blogging comes when we’re in groups.

Just think of how much is done collectively to prevent spammers from pissing you off, Askimet for example works because we’re acting as a group.

But Spammers only send stuff and you can either erase their crap or your tech admin can block it… sploggers steal your work, your ideas, and use them to fund their gambling habit.

Please try it out and offer ideas and criticism… it’s called “The Anti-Splog Blog” and I’ve republished this post there.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in crazy people with no pants, Health, WordPress. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Sploggers Are Stealing Your Blog Content Here’s What We Can Do To Stop Them

  1. This is a great idea, G. If I notice any splogging on my blog, I’ll come back here. (I just delete spam pingbacks but I can check now.)

  2. I don’t want to sound like a pessimist (but I am one, so that’s how it comes out), but this won’t work.

    A lot of splogs aren’t intended for human eyes – they’re about increasing the PageRank for some other page that they link to.

    The splogs that you see on public hosts like wordpress and blogger are often entirely automated – that is, there isn’t a human copying your posts, but a piece of software.

    The more sophisticated splogs that are human run tend to be run from jurisdictions that are outside the law. So the host will be in Russia or the email account registered through a webmail service in Uzbekistan. The same kind of people who run splogs are the people who run phishing scams and the like, so they have plenty of practice at avoiding the consequences of their actions.

    Which is not to say that something should not be done, but mass emailing them probably isn’t going to do much.

  3. Gabriel... says:

    I’m not saying it’s a cure, but it’s better than just wishing things would change or collecting the URL’s for some later date when someone can find a cure… the one’s which have an email address attached to the Internet Registry we can get to…

    There are late night infomercials here which teach people (for $20) how to set up hundreds of Splogs at a time, it’s those people we can reach.

    This is just as much about showing Google that their AdSense need to be changed so Sploggers and Blog Scrapers can be dealt with. The ones we can’t see I’m not interested in, once we start targeting the ones we can see I think it can work basically like Askimet does where multiple people target single Splogs for eradication.

  4. Nita says:

    I get these often but have no idea how to send emails to them. Just had this problem today. My complete post is up at this site: healthcentershop.info/2008/04/03/are-indians-feeling-the-shortage-of-doctors/
    So what do I do?

  5. Gabriel... says:

    I’ve received that one as well… just copy the URL into the comment box on the Submit Splogger page

    If you want to join go to the Join The Fight page and leave a comment. Once I have enough splogger emails and enough Bloggers willing to participate I’ll put them into a post, then you just have to copy and paste a couple of things and click send…

    This is what will be published:

    Domain Name:HEALTHCENTERSHOP.INFO
    Created On:27-Dec-2006 15:46:14 UTC
    Last Updated On:04-May-2007 21:37:24 UTC
    Expiration Date:27-Dec-2008 15:46:14 UTC

    Registrant Name:Mike Hiliok
    Registrant Organization:NY Traveler
    Registrant Street1:Ave 43 – 8 – 234
    Registrant Postal Code:34563
    Registrant Country:US
    Billing Email:bbong80@yahoo.com

    The next best thing you can do to help is put http://nope into your blogroll and subscribe to the feed at http://nope.

    Thanks Nita.

  6. Gabriel... says:

    This is the email, for example, I just sent to Mike Hiliok and cc’d to the Google Blog for AdSense, “Inside AdSense” at adsense.blogspot.com:

    Your website, healthcentershop.info, has been identified as a Spam Blog or a Blog Scraper. There are consequences for theft of intellectual property. Splogging and Blog Scraping are illegal under the copyright laws of the United Nations, United States, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and many other countries.

    “If a blog scraper is gathering content that is copyrighted material, it is a violation of law.”

    Bloggers United Against Sploggers & Blog Scrapers

  7. Nita says:

    Well I did submit the url but the comment isn’t even in moderation. Perhaps it went into spam?

  8. Gabriel... says:

    I’m keeping the comments moderated for now, I want to find out if there’s support for the idea first. I did put you into the blogroll though… it would really help if you could let people know about this, just to find out if they’d be interested in the idea.

  9. fracas says:

    Hi there! When I signed up that UASS petition, it was more to help create awareness among bloggers who didn’t realize sploggers are a bad thing. I know tons of new bloggers are happy for the backlinks, thinking they’re a good thing. I figured educating other bloggers so that they go after the ones who scrape their site, would be better than nothing.

    What you’re trying to do here is quite commendable.

    I thought you’d find it interesting to know that your post about sploggers and stolen content was actually stolen almost as soon as you posted it. I got a backlink via my stats page at WordPress. I thought I’d share it with you. I’ve broken it with the word THIEF so that you don’t have to be supplying the site with a link they don’t deserve, and can just copy/past it minus the word THIEF to your browser to go there.

    http://healthcentershop.infoTHIEF/2008/04/03/sploggers-are-stealing-your-blog-content-heres-what-we-can-do-to-stop-them/

    Kudos to you Gabriel. I’ll come read it more fully later today. I’ve got a repair-person showing up to the house right away.

  10. Gabriel... says:

    I saw that right away as well, it was the first incoming link on Exposing Sploggers… I love irony. Thanks very much for taking the time to take a look… good luck with the repairs.

    You’re right though, getting people educated on what these thieves are doing is the basic goal. Everything else — harassing Google AdSense people and the sploggers until something changes — is a cherry on the sundae. And thanks for the “UASS” inspiration.

    And if you do think it’ll work please pass the link around, I think the best chance it has of working is to get as many people in the blogroll and willing to send emails as possible. I’m going to send around an email this weekend to the bloggers I know… I’ve already got Nita (A Wide Angle View Of India) to sign up so I’m pretty stoked about that.

  11. I’ve been thinking about this. Mass emailing won’t work – email’s easy to filter and/or ignore.

    If you really want to tackle the splogger menace, may I recommend borrowing the tools that spam-fighters have been using for years?

    Ignore the sploggers. Target their hosts. In the case of wordpress and blogger this should be as easy as reporting the blog as spam. For splogs hosted elsewhere, use whois tools to find out the details of the ISP that hosts it. Report the splog there. If they’re not responsive to that, send a cease-and-desist notice. If they have Google ads on the page, complain to Google.

  12. Gabriel... says:

    You should probably go look at the site because that’s the plan… the emails will go to three people:

    1. the splogger
    2. their host
    3. the official Google AdSense blog

    It works, I’ve seen it done before on a small scale only the dude who did it doesn’t like his URL to get around. I’ll send him an email later to see if it’d be cool with me linking to his site.

    http://nope

  13. ExChimp: I created a page on the ExSploggers site for Beta feedback, I’d really like to get yours on the site itself… ease of use and clarity of vision and all that. I’ll need a better blog header and some kind of “support the cause” button people can put on the blogs. Anything you’ve got would be appreciated…

  14. Kitty says:

    I’ve seen a few of these and had no idea what that was all about.

    I didn’t know what a troll was either until i read your blog. LOL.

  15. Pingback: Sploggers Are Stealing Your Blog Content Here Are Four Simple Ways To Fight Back « …salted lithium.

  16. Pingback: New WordPress Links Feature May Expose Your Blog To Trolls Even After You Opt Out « …salted lithium.

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