One-Minute Book Reviews

September 4, 2008

Warning to WordPress Book Bloggers: A Splogger May Be Stealing Your Posts – A Victim’s Tale, or My Fight to Keep My Site From Turning Into a Really Bad Polish Joke

How to protect yourself from a spam blogger targeting WordPress literary sites

If you write about books or literary topics on a WordPress.com blog, watch out for sploggers who may be stealing your posts. Sploggers are spam bloggers, people who “scrape” posts off your site (typically using the RSS feed) and post them on their own. They may then sell advertising against your posts, so they earn money from your work.

Worse, sploggers keep people from reaching your posts through search engines, because their URL appears on your posts instead of yours with no link. If this happens, you pay a double price: Your work is stolen and you lose the traffic you would have had if your work had appeared under its own URL on a search engine.

Any blogger can become the victim of splogger – the risk isn’t limited to literary or WordPress bloggers. But if you are both of those, you have a reason for extra caution right now.

Since August 12, my posts on One-Minute Book Reviews have been aggressively scraped by a Poland-based blog that claims to offer “books and reviews from all over wordpress.com.” The splogger appears also to be lifting text without linking from many WordPress blogs besides mine, including Stuff White People Like, which recently earned a widely publicized book contract for its creator.

I can’t link to the offending splog, which would send traffic to it. But if you’d like to get a sense of how the scam works, go to Technorati www.technorati.com and search for “Janice Harayda” (not “One-Minute Book Reviews”). Look at the URL for any of my post–Aug. 12 posts, such as those about the children’s books Read All About It! and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. You will see that my URL oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com doesn’t appear on these posts (as on pre-August 12 posts) — the splogger’s URL appears with no link to my site. The splogger’s fake posts have preempted my real posts, so you can’t here from there.

This mess remains unresolved. But in trying to protect my work, I’ve found that you can fight sploggers. Here are some tips based on my experience or on ideas from WordPress Forums or Support:

1. Search for your site on Technorati and other blog search engines at least once a week, ideally every day. Use the “Contact” form on Technorati to report copyright violations or other abuse.

You may also want to:

2. Go to stolen.wordpress.com to report the abuse or learn more. WordPress may be able to provide an e-mail address for the host of the site if there’s no contact information on the splog, as there usually isn’t.

3. Send a “Cease and Desist” letter to the site if you can and, if not, to the host or a search engine that lists it. You can find sample letters for the different parties here: www.plagiarismtoday.com/stock-letters/.

4. See the responses to my cry for help on the WordPress Forums for other helpful ideas: en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/technorati-refusing-to-recognize-valid-wp-url?replies=7

5. Get in touch with support@wordpress.com if you are still having trouble.

6. If the splog has advertising from Google AdSense or another agency, use the contact information the agency’s site to report the abuse. To do this with AdSense, search the site for “Report a Policy Violation” www.google.com/adsense/.

7. Search the Internet for terms such as “fight sploggers” or “protect yourself against sploggers” for more ideas.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

9 Comments »

  1. I’m new to WordPress and I enjoy this service. I found a post of mine on a site (that isn’t mine) and had no idea what was going on there. Thank you for the “heads-up” on this issue.
    I will take the appropriate steps. Thanx again!
    Good luck on your end.
    Peace,
    Clay

    Comment by cuzzoclay — September 4, 2008 @ 5:43 am | Reply

  2. I just found my stuff has been pirated, too. Thanks for the “heads up.”

    Cindy

    http://bookomnivore.com

    Comment by cbertel — September 4, 2008 @ 8:29 am | Reply

  3. Janice, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this! I have as well, but the content thief in my case was a high school kid blogging with an established blog host in the U.S., and it was simple to contact the host and get my content taken down.

    It’s the international content thieves like your “Polish joke” that worry me. Especially if the content gets translated. I try to track my content with Google Alerts but it’s not fool-proof. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck protecting your content.

    Comment by impatientreaderdotcom — September 4, 2008 @ 9:29 am | Reply

  4. Thanks for the warning. It’s amazing how true the old adage is: “Where there’s money, there’s thieves.”

    Comment by Daniel — September 4, 2008 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  5. Thank you all for helping to spread the word about this rapidly spreading form of abuse and often copyright infringement. Impatientreader’s tip about tracking your content with Google Alerts is one I’d have put on my list if I’d thought of it.

    I suspect that much more splogging is going on than many WordPress bloggers know about, because to spot a lot of the abuses, you have to monitor the use of your content daily. I do this by checking Technorati, but doing it through Google Alerts might work just as well. Excellent suggestion.

    Interestingly, the abuse has occurred only on Technorati, not the blog search engine Ice Rocket, which seems to have found a way to limit or prevent such abuses.
    Jan

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — September 4, 2008 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  6. Google Alerts might be a helpful way to track this sort of thing, assuming you have a phrase that appears in every post, etc. Good idea!

    Comment by thewritingrunner — September 4, 2008 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  7. thanks alot!!

    Comment by ashrafweb — September 10, 2008 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  8. Golly – how interesting. I did not know such things happened. I don’t get that many visits so my posts are unlikely to be nicked!

    Comment by Gladys Hobson — October 13, 2008 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

  9. What’s scary is that it may not depend on the number of visitors … it could happen to anybody.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — October 13, 2008 @ 7:55 pm | Reply


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