Posted August 2, 2007 9:59 am by with 14 comments

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CNET’s Elinor Mills picks-up on the latest frustration of bloggers – spammers who scrape their content. Her piece looks at some of the ways popular bloggers try to tackle those that have a blatant disregard for their hard work.

[Lorelle] VanFossen has several ways of checking to see if other sites have scraped her posts. She puts full links in her posts to other articles of hers so that when one of her stories is posted on another Web site, it will link back to her story, and she can see the Trackback. Trackback is a “linkback” method Web publishers use to identify who is linking to or referring to their articles.

She has set up Google Alerts with her byline so that she will get notifications any time Google comes across a news site or blog with a reference to her. She also does a keyword search for her name on Google search, Google Blog Search and Technorati. In addition, she uses a WordPress plug-in that allows her to insert a digital fingerprint, a series of unrelated words, into her posts that she can search on in case her byline is stripped.

I definitely agree that you should keep an eye on who’s copying your content. For the most part they’ll be anonymous spammers and my advice is to just forget about them – why waste valuable time trying to track them down. However, every now and then, you’ll discover someone that is truly ripping-off your content and building their reputation on the back of your writing. Those are the guys to send a cease and desist to.

  • yes,content copying is always these days

  • The depths of human nature never cease to amaze me. Ripping off someone’s work and passing it off as your own rates a 9.2 on an Suckitude meter. +1 for exposing and fighting this nasty behavior!

    Our site recent instituted automated references to interesting blog posts, but we _always_ do it with full attribution and backlinks, and only use what’s available in the blog’s RSS/Atom feed. We believe that being a responsible net citizen pays large dividends in the long run, because users get a sense of whether a web site is resonsible or not, and keep coming back or not accordingly. Stories like this make us feel confident that we picked the right path.

  • The first few times it happened to me it was hard to take someone stealing content I’d worked so hard to create. I always make sure now to add a few links to other content and for the most part try not to worry about.

    Most of the offending sites will probably disappear before long.

  • In most cases, if you implement a certain level of protection, spammers tend to move off to an easier target. So it’s worth putting some measures in place to avoid being scraped. Luckily there are plugin available to help.

  • Pingback: Search Engine Optimization Journal » Ways To See If Your Content Is Being Stolen()

  • rcjordan

    i am *shocked* –shocked– i tell you!

  • Chris

    It all depends on what blogging system you are using but….

    If your content is being ‘scraped’ from XML feeds, then don’t provide the feeds. Switch that feature off.


    But a much better way is to configure your feed such that it contains a summary or introduction to your blog post rather than publish the full article. Perhaps, always include a line similar to “click to read the full article by on my site” (or something along those lines)

    Now your feeds will contain basically an advertisement for your post/site.

    Don’t publish your full article in your feeds. Simple as that.
    The beauty of have a feed is that YOU should control what is in there.
    Make the feed work for you.



  • It is really infuriating when your work is copied without acknowledgment. I too have set up Google alerts so I see when anything related to my travel website is published on the web. However as a small business owner you don’t have much time to spend as a detective meticulously checking for scrapers. I agree that you would only chase up serial offenders. After all they do say “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” so you must be writing good content.

  • Chris


    But that is what providing feeds is all about.
    By providing that feed you are giving consent for people to ‘syndicate’ that feed data and use how they wish to.

    So you should be controlling which content gets placed into the feed.

    Even if you only posted the first 30 chars and then included a link back to your site, you would benefit (even from the scrapers).

    Then you only need chase up those that pull down your feed and remove your links.

    If someone uses your feed correctly, it will include a link back to your site (since it will use the author attribute).
    It is those that modify your feed that you should chase up.


  • Chris.

    I should have been more explicit in my previous comment, by acknowledgment I meant a clickable link back to your site or blog.

  • I have some people copying my content and adding stuff from wikipedia to it for a more complete version on the topic. But I’ve also noted that if the content they “dupped” has a link to another one of my posts, that former internal link automatically turns into an external pointing to my site. 😉

    They usually add a bibliographical reference with a link at the top or bottom of the post though. If they don’t then not only is it kinda linkhate (sould I coin the frase?), it’s also a lot harder to find them.

  • That’s where a site like comes in handy.
    The freebie version finds most stuff, but signing up for a paid account gives you much more searching capability.

  • Ah, don’t sweat it, unless they’re overtly claiming they wrote the stuff 🙂

    Otherwise, just make sure you’re branding yourself and your site on a regular basis.

    As long as people are reading about Paul Hancox, I’m happy 🙂

  • At my Blog, I used the Copyleft… and many people are coping, but they left my footnote with my name, who I’m and the URL of the original content… so… I’m happy