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.

I Need Your Help With Spam

Spam Sucks

Comment spam has never really been a problem on this site thanks to Askismet. However, I’ve recently become a victim of Trackback/Pingback spam. It looks like bots are creating automated blogs which either scrape the entire block of content or in my case, an excerpt. Sometimes, the bot states that I’m the author of the post. Other times, the bot gets the author incorrect but still displays my content.

When I visit the culprits site, the posts are usually posted in the UNCATEGORIZED category by either ADMIN or UNCATEGORIZED. At first, I was fooled a couple of times thinking these were legitimate links but I’m starting to recognize these sites as being spammers. The joys of maintaining a blog right?

How have you tackled this problem of linkback/trackback url spam? I was told that I should install a plugin called Bad Behavior but the site was down.

I have also noticed that I am receiving spam comments on at least two specific posts within my blog. The first is on the subject of joining a forum pertaining to your niche, the second deals with my take on guest blogging. I have no idea why these two posts are attracting so much attention from spam bots but they are.

I’m open to discussion on how to combat my apparent spam problems. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. 

Instructions Written By A Spammer

The guys over at TheGlobalGeekPodcast have posted an image of a document which supposedly instructs users on how to install a hard drive. Whoever wrote this document has a poor understanding of the English language and while reading it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how much this manual reminding me of a piece of spam in my email inbox. Instead of saying, Install the hard drive, this document says to “Install the hard dish” That’s just a prelude of what to expect. Check out the full sized image to read the entire thing.

10Links Consumes SPAM Sandwich

10Links.net Logo

10Links.net the site I reviewed a few days ago has temporarily gone under because of the vast amount of spam that was getting into their site queue. This is easily understandable considering their submission form, at the very least, didn’t provide a CAPTCHA image to ensure that human beings were the ones submitting websites.

10Links.net has vowed to keep the archive of links public while informing us that they are currently in the secondary stages of their next project. Don’t ask me what their next project is because they didn’t tell me! Whatever they are working on, I’m sure they will be using some sort of Anti-Spam measure this time around.

Look At All That Spam

The Akismet blog has posted some statistics involving the amount of spam being blocked. The figures are as follows:

Notice the last stat compared with the previous stat. Indeed, spam is growing. Akismet has put together a detailed chart which highlights the increase in spam from 2006-04 to 2007-07. As you would expect, the graph looks like the side of Mt. Everest. I don’t think we will ever see the graph enter a downward state. How has Akismet worked out for you?

Click on the image to see the full version