The splog menace

By | August 24, 2008

Problogger Darren Rowse had an interesting post talking about what many bloggers experience. He posed the question of, “Is writing great, unique content enough to build a successful blog?” I think this is a prevalent problem affecting many good blogs out there, in that they hardly get recognized for what they are worth, and break out from the gaggle behind them. But more than that, good blogs have to contend with another menace, namely splogs. I would describe splogs as opportunistic spam and junk sites clogging up the Web with copied material from other sites.

Splogs are simply worthless spam-blogs that copy/scrape other blogs. A sign of good blog is when it gets copied by splogs. There are probably almost 200 million blogs in existence today. The odd thing is that a large majority of them are splogs!

How do you recognize a splog? For many splog creators, the primary motive of creating splogs is to put up advertising on them and hopefully profit from them; Adsense being the favorite. Most splogs feature lots of scraped content with lines attributing the content to the legit blogs from which they stole from, in order to “legalize” them a bit. That makes them pretty easy to recognize, but how do you deal with them?

Making sure they don’t appear in the search results is important in keeping the Web clean, and so far, Google seems far more diligent in removing splogs from its index than either Yahoo or MSN. Some of the ways of dealing with splogs are:

  • Report the splog to Google. You could sign into Google’s Webmaster Tools and report the offending splog under the “Report Spam” link; or you can also report the splog here.
  • Report the splog to Yahoo here.
  • Report the splog to MSN by using the Feedback link at the bottom of their search results page.
  • Report the splog to AskJeeves here.
  • Submit the splog to several active splog databases, which search engines may refer to, such as SplogSpot, a fairly large splog database.
  • Use Google Alerts by inputting a unique phrase from your post into it, and Google Alerts will email you every time a site appears with those phrase instances.
  • Switch your RSS feed settings to “Excerpt” instead of “Full.” This measure can prevent legit readers from easily reading your content, so use it only for sites that are routinely plagued by splogs.
  • Contact the hosting company which the splog is sitting on, and ask them to take down the site. This method doesn’t work on personally run dedicated servers though. Some sploggers use dedicated servers to house their splogs.
  • File a DMCA notice with Google, against the splogger here. A DMCA notice is one of the most effective ways to hit the sploggers – hard. But it takes time, and a physical hard copy letter, to take effect.

Additionally, some plugins for WordPress exist, which can append a copyright notice to your RSS feeds, or help you locate splogs that are scraping your content.

I’ve always pondered why people make splogs, and some of the reasons I can think of are sheer lack of knowledge/skills to create meaningful or decent stuff worth reading, opportunistic behavior, and downright laziness. And with that, it’s not likely splogs will be going away anytime soon.

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