What Sploggers Think

Early this morning, Tamura Jones tweeted a link to a new splog called Family Tree Gazette. I went and checked and immediately recognized two blog posts that I’d just read in the past few days. This person was simply copying other people’s blog posts onto his blog without permission or attribution. He did have a link back to the original blog, or back to a Google feed of it in one case, but that doesn’t make it much better. A couple posts had the author’s name at the bottom, but only because they were actually included in the blog post. How many bloggers sign their own posts? Well, I guess I’ve seen a few who do.

Among all of his various advertisements that completely fill up the left sidebar, he included a link to a Facebook page. It has one fan, no doubt just the owner. So I left a message on the page.

His response was:

The purpose of this site is to aggregate news from a lot of different sources. Each post has a link back to the original story. We are not claiming that these posts are ours. Also, on the sidebars we have links to many other blogs and other resources.

Such a quick reply from someone who just steals other content. I commented again and the next response was:

This is a news feed, I don’t “copy” anything. If you subscribe to a Google news feed, you automatically receive each story in the feed, and Google doesn’t ask permission to feed any of the stories. Same with a Google blog feed (which is where these posts come from), Google doesn’t get permission to feed these stories. It would be plagiarism if I was claiming that these posts were mine, but that’s not the case, there’s a link to the original story at the end of each post. The bloggers that I’ve talked to about this like it because it gets new people to visit their blog.

So, he thinks he’s a Google news feed? No, Google doesn’t ask permission, but the blog owner gives permission for news readers by turning on the RSS functionality. Funny how there isn’t an RSS feed link anywhere on his page, including in the footer, where WordPress usually has a link by default, even though he’s claiming to just be a news feed. I guess he wants you to visit his site to load up all the ads instead.

Also, I wonder which bloggers he’s “talked to”. I’ve never known a blogger, or the NY Times, that wanted their story printed in its entirety, without permission, without attribution, on someone else’s blog that was full of advertisements.

Looking a little more into the site, the domain is registered to Roger McClannen, so I would assume the comments are from him, but there is no way to be sure. Facebook pages don’t tell you who administers them. I don’t see the conversation on the page now. His top menu, besides the Google ads, has options for Pages and Categories. There are no categories, but the pages just link to more affiliate links on Google, Amazon, and eBay. There is no About or Contact page, so the only apparent way to contact him is to go to the Facebook page or look up his domain registration for his email.

When I searched for his email, I found that he also runs a site called Froomb, which apparently is just another coupon site.

Also, when I first commented on his Facebook page, I accused him of plagiarism. I never actually mentioned copyright infringement. It was early in the morning. I wonder if his responses would have been different?

10 thoughts on “What Sploggers Think”

  1. Thanks Banai for the heads up – I am going to try and contact Roger McClannen but I don’t expect to get anywhere. Which means I’ll have to give him the “beat down” via GeneaBloggers.

    I notice that he has cleverly avoided using any of my content from my many blogs, thinking he could fly under the radar. Thanks to your post Banai, I’ll rally the troops (and give you props of course).


    1. I heard back from Roger McClannen and I believe that while his intentions might be good, that he doesn’t understand copyright and fair use. For now I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and I’ve asked him to consider some adjustments in terms of how he uses content. I’m taking a wait and see attitude before I determine what to do next.

  2. Even the Google News Feed Widget is just the title and a few sentences with a “Read More” link that links back to the original online article.

    While it’s true that blogs and websites need and, indeed, should want backlinks to increase their search engine optimization, they don’t or shouldn’t want this kind of backlink because it’s fake, figuratively speaking, in that if the article in its entirety precedes the backlink, why would the reader click on the backlink? They’ve already read the article.

    This type of site only serves itself because it’s using the whole article without any original content in order to use the keywords provided by the stolen content to increase traffic to the site in the hopes of increasing the percentages of visitors to click on a certain number ads and actually purchase something. Thus, increasing revenue of the site without actually having to work for it, which would be great if they weren’t stealing content. And, no doubt, they are stealing it.

    My personal opinion? Call them out on it, but then don’t worry about. The market will correct itself. Do you know anyone who actually repeatedly returns to sites without original content that is surrounded by a plethora of blinking ads in shocking colors?

    Unless it’s my content that they are stealing. Then, I’ll go hound them to the ends of the earth. No one steals my “Spice Fairy” and “Pink Bunny Slippers” content and gets away with it. No one.

    However, no one ever steals my content. On any of my blogs. And I’m not real sure if I should be thankful or offended. What’s wrong with linking genealogy to Spice Fairies and Pink Bunny Slippers?

    ~Caroline Pointer
    For Your Family Story

    1. He didn’t copy from mine either. Possibly because I hadn’t blogged anything in a while. But knowing that he could have bugged me immensely. His first page had two blog posts I had just read. Doesn’t everyone have a copyright notice on their site? Mine’s been there since 1994… well, not on this site quite that long, but that line is built in to all my web sites.

  3. Oh. And the funny thing about all this stealing of content? Most geneabloggers don’t really optimize their content for search engines. They don’t study Google keywords to know which ones to use in their content. They don’t know the methodology and business of keywords in the blog business.

    They just write about genealogy, and may never use the terms genealogy, family history, ancestry, etc.

    Mr. McClannen would be much better off creating his own content. His business model sucks, and doesn’t follow any successful blog business model. In my humble opinion, of course.


    1. Google keywords? Optimized for search engines? Nope, I do nothing of that on my blog. I let it speak for itself.

  4. Just heard from Roger McClannen via email – he said he would remove the google feed plugin. This was after a long email exchange where we discussed various issues. While we don’t agree as to whether he is violating copyright, he said that this is more trouble than it is worth so he’ll remove the feed.

  5. I sent an email requesting that my content be removed and it was done within the hour. Thanks to Thomas, who probably made my job easier with his discussions yesterday.

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