Poaching Blog Posts

I was just about to write a different article today when I noticed a strange pingback on one of my older articles (I’ve now deleted it). It looked like a self-referential link from another one of my posts but I didn’t remember making it. Anyway, I followed the link and found a site called MMOFire.com and, low and behold, it was full of other blogger’s posts.

Let’s not be mistaken about it. This isn’t a normal blog linking to a few other blogs, it’s a blog completely comprised of other people’s articles, taken without their knowledge or permission. It’s a new site, only registered on the 21st of June and all contact details (either on the domain look-up or on the blog itself) are unavailable.

I was pretty pissed off to say the least. I have absolutely no problem with people re-distributing my posts so long as they acknowledge me and asked first. This site did neither of those and to anyone who stumbled upon it it would appear as if they had been written by that blog as there is nothing to indicate it’s being pulled from a feed.

It then occurred to me that this must be a common enough thing and there must be some way of doing something about it. Fortunately I found a post by World of Matticus that had been poached by the site and saw that he had added a “security” signature to his RSS feed (clever devil!). A few minutes later and I found a nice simple Wordpress plugin called RSS Footer that lets me do the same. I checked some other blogs I follow and seems like it’s not an uncommon practice as obviously they’ve encountered this before.

Chances are that if you run a MMORPG blog, your articles are being poached by this site. It seems to have an absolute ton of stuff from everywhere on it. I’d highly recommend adding a security footer to your feeds and if anyone has a better solution than else, please let me know.

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40 Comments

  1. Bill G says:

    Gordon, Although our site isn’t in the MMO space, we have had similar problems. One was so blatant that I was able to have the site’s hosting provider intercede and stop it. The fact that the host was so helpful was likely very unusual though.

    Besides simply Googling to find thieves, this site is useful http://www.copyscape.com/.

    We had to go so far as not including our entire posts in our RSS feed (which saddened us), because that’s the way the theft often happens. It doesn’t stop it, but it limits what is taken.

  2. Debby says:

    I was surprised when I goggled my name and MMORPG to see how many different sites linked to my articles on MMORPG.com. They did credit the pieces to me. Still, I was surprised to see my articles popping up all over the web, not just at MMORPG.com.

  3. Gordon says:

    @Bill Thanks for the link. Very useful site – I’ll need to keep an eye on it. I’m not fussed about sharing my stuff at all, I just don’t like the idea of someone publishing it without acknowledgement or permission.

    @Debby It’s kinda sad really that so many people try to steal feeds and then make a quick buck by turning them into another site that they take credit for.

  4. Ogrebears says:

    As your blog get more popular it happens more often. The first time this happens to me (2 years ago… damn i feel old), i was pissed, today, I’m annoyed but i don’t let it bother me.

    What these people do is they find blog matching keywords a certain set of keywords. There goal is to get as much traffic as possible by stealing popular post from those keywords to make some revenue form Google Adsence (or what ever ads they have).

    Google tends to watch out for this stuff and disables their adsence account and removes there site from google all together if they find out or get a report that what they are doing.

    So it will happen more and more often :<… I do recommend that you do not link to there site though. Google page rank is based off how many link point to a site, so link directly to there site can increase there standing.

  5. Beej says:

    That does indeed make me sad. Being an English teacher, I deal with plagiarism on a daily basis, but I still get up in arms when I hear about people stealing like this.

    I wonder if Blogger has a secure footer widget to add to my feed. *rushes off to check*

  6. Tesh says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few of my articles out there, and while I’m sensitive to plagiarism concerns, I’m actually encouraged that my ideas are getting out there. Sure, it’s a bit of a double edged sword, but what I post on my blog is put out there expressly to get other people thinking. I’ll protect ideas I intend to make money on by keeping them off of the net in the first place. *shrug*

    That said, yes, it’s annoying that jerks might profit from my work. I just don’t let it bug me; there are bigger things to worry about. If I were getting paid for my articles or making money from advertisements on my blog, I’d be concerned about it because it’s theft. Sadly, I don’t make money writing.

  7. Gordon says:

    @Ogrebears Don’t worry, I stuck a nofollow on the link. I might just remove the link completely to be sure though…

    @Beej Yeah, it’s very low isn’t it? I’m sure Blogger will have something similar.

    @Tesh I don’t make any money out of my blog either (although who knows, it would be nice to become an internet baron one day!!). It’s more the principle of the matter than anything else. If they’d just stuck my name on it, I would’ve been happy with it. I actually had a Asian website contact me the other week and asked if they could post by feeds with full acknowledgement to me. I said of course!

  8. Bill G says:

    The biggest potential problem for folks trying to run their site as a business is that depending on your site’s level of search optimization, the copying site might appear *above* yours in search results. That’s a downer for your own site’s traffic.

    Even for folks not running their site as a business, losing those potential visitors to a copying site just sucks.

  9. Gordon says:

    @Bill G Presumably once that starts to happen though more people notice and then complain and try to get Google to block the site or the ISP to shut it down. At least I’d hope so anyway. Otherwise I thought I would’ve seen this thing a lot more. It’s a pretty low tactic anyway IMO.

  10. if only their were more quality websites like yours on the internet, please keep up the good work.

  11. Nelson Minar says:

    Yeah, this is a particularly sleazy kind of ad spam on the Internet. This site’s adds are coming from snap.com, if you feel like filing a complaint it may help a litle.

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  13. Tesh says:

    Aye, I’d certainly prefer that places went above board and honest, like those who wanted to properly attribute you as author. I’m in agreement with the principle. ;)

  14. Jeremy S. says:

    Yeah, i consider it no better than a scamming site.

    On a similar note, I hate how 3 of my last months posts had eerily similar posts on Massively, like a day after each of my posts.

    Oh well, I guess I should be proud, if it’s not all just coincidental.

  15. Brendon says:

    On the bright side, at least it’s an obvious “quick buck stealing content” site. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen well-visited blogs steal content I (or someone I worked with) wrote. THAT’S when it gets REALLY depressing, because suddenly you don’t know how many articles on said site are original, and how many are plagiarized.

  16. Gordon says:

    @Brendon I guess plagiary doesn’t worry me so much because I feel that part of what makes blogs unique is their writing styles and personalities. Someone might be able to steal the idea in a post but they can’t steal the voice behind it. Unless they just rip and re-purpose the RSS feed that is :)

  17. wilhelm2451 says:

    This is part of the reason I tend to be self-referential in my own posts, often linking back to other posts on my site. That way, when some site snaffles the post I at least get a ping-back to let me know and sometimes send a bit of traffic my way. That and I like to recycle my old content.

    There was a site that was ripping posts about Pirates of the Burning Seas off from Potshot and I at one point. Fat lot of good it did them in the long run I bet!

  18. Yetian says:

    Just spotted this post via the related posts bit. ;) I’ve just added the plugin to my own blog, thanks for the info.

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