A New Spin On Blog Spam

Lorell On WordPress Logo

According to Lorelle, blog spammers have developed a new technique of scraping a blogs content and then publishing it on their own blog. The new technique centers around the use of WordPress plugins that excel in scraping the content and then using software or other plugins to replace certain words with synonyms. The result? The same old same old.

Here is an example of some text from an article that Lorelle wrote.

Yesterday, I wrote an analogy of comparing blogging to dancing, and how it helps to know the steps, but I also addressed the issue of blogging in your native language compared to blogging in English.

Words carry a responsibility. They convey meaning. They reek with intent. Change a word and you change the meaning.

And here is the text scraped from the article, with certain words replaced with synonyms.

Yesterday, I wrote an faith of scrutiny blogging to dancing, and how it helps to undergo the steps, but I also addressed the supply of blogging in your autochthonous module compared to blogging in English.

Words circularize a responsibility. They intercommunicate meaning. They exudate with intent. Change a word and you modify the meaning.

I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever, heard of the word autochthonous before. Does it even exist? At any rate, if you compare the two excerpts, it’s clear that the second one is obviously some sort of spam. I realize their are people out their who write in this fashion as English is not their native language. However, since the text IS in English, it has to be noted that there is no way a human being would write something like that. It comes down to common sense.

In the end, this is a new technique that is netting the same results. Crappy look a like posts which don’t gain any value for the spammer, unless the trackback link makes it through the spam filter.

Near the end of the article, Lorelle goes on to discuss various aspects of copyright law and if this new spamming technique violates a bloggers copyrights. Here is a published quote on her blog from Jonathon

Fortunately, the law is very clear on this subject. Copyright is not merely the right to copy one’s own work, but a set of rights that includes the right to create derivative works…This right to create derivative works covers the right to create translations and any other work based on copyrightable portions of the original. Spinning, since it starts with a copyright-protected work and creates a new work based upon it, violates that right.

Fair use arguments fall equally flat in the eyes of the law. Spinning is not transformative as it is designed to replace the original, it offers no commentary or criticism, it is for commercial use, it can greatly harm the market for the original work and usually is unattributed. There is almost no fair use argument left for the spammers who modify the posts they scrape, leaving the door wide open for rightsholders to take action.

Interesting, but here is my point regarding this mess. You’re more likely to waste time and energy going after these sploggers than actually accomplishing anything worthwhile. Most of these sploggers are automated, meaning they can be tracked to a particular location, but the only thing you’ll find is a machine with a programmed set of instructions. The reality of the situation is that, spam, splogging, feed and content scraping are all part of the game known as blogging. It happens and there is no PRACTICAL solution to combat the problem.

Here are some tips to help you go up against a content scraper:

  1. Do as my friend Brad of Strangework.com has done and add a text link that says something like “By NAMEOFBLOG“. Because sploggers scrape the entire content of the post, this link will always be presented in the spammers post which will not only raise a red flag that the post was stolen, but will allow people to follow the link back to the source.
  2. Instead of publishing the FULL RSS FEED, switch to only publishing a PARTIAL FEED. I don’t like partial feeds and neither do alot of other people but it helps in dealing with the spam issue.
  3. If you notice a trackback URL on one of your posts, be sure to visit the blog the link points to. If the offending site has posts covering all sorts of topics with no rhyme or reason, chances are, it’s a spam blog. Instead of deleting the URL track back, submit it to Akistmet by selecting the SPAM it option within your commenting admin panel.

This post has inspired me to write up another article called, ‘What To Look For On A Blog You Suspect To Be A Splog‘. Look for that in the coming days.

What do you think of the issue of content scraping and splogging in general? If you’re a blogger, let me know how you do deal with issues and what you look for when deciding if a comment or trackback url is considered spammy.

11 thoughts on “A New Spin On Blog Spam

  1. Lorelle’s site is pretty good. What I want to know (and pardon my ignorance), is what purpose these people see in copying blog posts?

    What’s the point of a splog exactly? To get more hits in Google? Clearly it’s not to pretend they wrote things themselves, since it’s clearly not the case when reading the posts.

    Thank god my site is so unpopular I don’t have to worry about this crap. :)

  2. @Mike I don’t know what the true purpose of a splog is but it would be nice if they just went away :) By the way, I know I shouldn’t be laughing but it’s sort of funny how Akismet is slapping you around. I did change a setting or two in the comments area for the blog so maybe that will stop happening.

    @Julia Roy Yeah I know. This is the way it is though.

  3. The benefits? All you have to do is view these splog sites once and they make money. Any time the links are scanned by a search engine, money is made. Anyone ever fooled into thinking this is “good content” makes them money. Just publishing posts can make the splogger money depending upon the arrangement they have with their employer. The more blogs they create, the more posts they publish, the more they make money just for increasing the exposure for the employer.

    PageRank also works against all of us when those who learn how to game the system use PageRank, especially the links within the blog posts to increase their score, for even more money making. If they steal one of your posts, a post which contains a link to a top page ranking site, one you hope to help you increase your own PageRank, they also get points for your link in your stolen content.

    Don’t forget, when you publicize a splogger/spammer, the link from your site to theirs earns them points, too. It’s a nasty system and the good guys are losing.

    For someone who thinks that going after sploggers and scrapers is a waste of time, you’re offering great advice.

    Going after them takes very little time. I deal with many of these every week and it takes only a few minutes a week. I have a template letter I email to the web host and report the URL to Google’s Splog Reporter, and it’s done. It’s amazing how fast most shot when confronted. So don’t despair.

    And don’t trust the “big bloggers” to do the dirty work to help stop this. Many top bloggers are getting scraped less as they are often the first to respond to shut down the site. So they are going after the little guys, since they feel impotent and unable to fight back. There are no special skills or expertise required to fight back. Just do it.

  4. Not only this, I was reading an article that said duplicate content can severely lower your pagerank.

    I’ve had some splogs copy almost all my content and not give credit.

    I believe this could lower my rankings. Not sure what to do. I’ve also had several sites in china commit copyright infringement on me without even linking to me. Just claiming the article as theirs and even directly linking to my images.

    Not sure what to do about it.

  5. Great post! That is interesting that they are starting to use shady techniques to change the content a bit.

    Splogs are everywhere and show no sign of slowing down. I get hit with at least 5 trackback pings for each article I post on my blog from splogs.

    I now delete every trackback URL from splogs. I won’t delete the trackback if it’s from a legit blog mentioning one of my posts, but if it’s a splog its gone!

  6. @Brad After checking out a few splogs to verify the Trackback, it’s pretty easy to pick up the patterns that signify a crappy blog. Notice how I used you in my example of tips :)

  7. @James. Damn mate, is there no way to prevent this? Perhaps doing something with the web server to deny images unless it’s requested by your own server?

    Also, might give Lorelle’s advice a go! Thanks.

  8. Sure did, thanks buddy! I really feel better about my content constantly being stolen since it will always have my URL at the very beginning. I recommend that technique to everyone!

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