A post over at ProBlogger.net is asking the following question: “Is syndicating content kosher or not…ie running someone elses content through rss into ones own blog?” And the answer to that varies depending on the circumstances. For starters, I feel that no website should be able to syndicate my full RSS feed while at the same time, displaying some sort of advertising on the page/site. This makes me think the webmaster of the site in question is trying to profit from my work. There is an exception to the rule however.
So you may ask then, what about blog scrapers who simply use an excerpt of the post but usually have the name of the post author switched around. Well, they actually link back to the original post most of the time and I’m not hard pressed to go after those that use an excerpt. Using excerpts is fine, using the full feed is not. I don’t syndicate anyone’s content without permission and it’s very unlikely I’d do so anyways. However, I am completely fine with sites who syndicate my content, only after they have received my permission to do so. An excellent example of this would be Planet WordPress managed my Ozh. Before syndicating my WordPress related content, Ozh got in touch with me and asked if he could syndicate the WordPress category on my blog in which I gave him permission to do so.
So how do you feel about those who syndicate your full RSS feed without permission? Do you syndicate content from other people on your own site?
4 thoughts on “Un Authorized Syndication”
I have often wondered which is in the better interest of a blog. Release a full RSS feed, such as your site (and many others) or release teasers RSS feeds?
I have seen that both get the content out there, but the teaser provides a few features that to me make it worth the extra typing for the teaser text.
1) User clicks. RSS is passive, and you don’t really know who is reading and what they are reading, your details are limited. When you setup a “Read full article” link you can actually tag your audience, and find out what they are reading.
2) Syndication problems. As you mention above posting full posts is not fair to the person who wrote the article, only quotes and excerpts (with links) should be posted on others blogs/sites. Using teaser RSS feeds requires the offending blogs/sites to at least take the one more step to getting the data, which may not stop them, but will deter them for sure.
So then you have to ask, will your readers stick around with teaser RSS?
For my personal site, I’m not hugely bothered — although I think that in 99.99% of the cases, if my posts or my feed is being syndicated (in excerpt or in full), it is being done by a splogger. THAT pisses me off — link or no link — I’m not a fan of having my stuff come up on a splog page. Now, if a legitimate site or user wants to syndicate some of my content, I’d appreciate a heads-up before a full feed, but an excerpt is totally fine for me.
But for my personal site, I don’t really see much re-purposing (legit or splogged) at all. Where I do see it, and where it DOES really piss me off, is with my posts for the blog network I work for (Weblogs, Inc.). The number of TUAW and DownloadSquad posts (I haven’t written as much for StyleDash) that are just blatantly republished from our feed is astounding (especially the Apple stuff) — and while some are clearly splogging sites, plenty of them attempt to look legit. In any event, it pisses us all off (and we’re fortunate to have AOL legal to go after anyone who totally just steals our content and sells ads next to it — but keeping up with the number of sploggers is impossible). If someone wants to publish the first paragraph and then link to the rest as part of an RSS bar, fine — but I hate seeing the full content of something I wrote on a site that is making (or attempting to make) money off my work.
As a reader, I think full RSS feeds are important. When I stumble across an interesting blog, I add the feed to Google Reader and categorise it. If I notice at this stage that the RSS is truncated, I usually unsubscribe straight away. There is every chance that I will forget all about that site and never return, but if I get a full feed then I will continue to read and occasionally return to the source to make a comment (like now). I also share interesting stories via Reader, which gives the site some additional promotion.
I am sympathetic to the authors, who may want the visits, and I have no answer to the splogger problem (although you have my permission to flog any sploggers that you find!).
@Utahcon You make some valid points in regards to using a partial RSS feed however, I’ve already received a few emails from those that have to click through their RSS feed reader to the actual website to view the entire article, and those people were not happy. Thankfully, WordPress now provides a way to include the READ MORE link into your content while still maintaining a full RSS feed. Before 2.5, you couldn’t do that as the READ MORE text would cut the content off, essentially turning a full feed into a partial one.
@Christina WarrenFirst off Christina, thanks for stopping by. If there is at least one good thing about sploggers ripping your content off, they usually end up linking to the website where the article originated, giving you the chance to deny the trackback/pingback as spam. Not having the sploggers link on your own blog is a good way of letting google or any other search engines know that the splogger has nothing to do with your website.
@Foomandoonian You are the classic example as to why I syndicate my content through FULL rss feeds rather than partial ones. I’ve had RSS junkies tell me that if they have to click through a link to get to the article, it’s a waste of time and they will unsubscribe right away. In this day in age of RSS feed readers, the user usually ends up having an option to turn an RSS feed into a partial one or not. So if you offer a full RSS feed, you kill two birds with one stone.