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Bitacle and Splogs: Final Thoughts

Written By: frenchy on September 23, 2006 4 Comments

tWas quite a busy night I spent reading and discussing on the intarwub thingy about what’s been happening with bitacle dot org. Here’s what happened:

  1. Found jogy’s post (in Dutch) two days ago about a weird trackback that lead to the bitacle site. It showed jogy’s content as hybrid feed posts with accompanying Google Ads. This was a point of great anger for jogy, who understandably felt robbed and exploited, because people were using personal content of others without consent and generating money from it
  2. Started sniffing about on the Net and it amazed me how small the number of posts was concerning this site’s behaviour: almost no complaints..
  3. Another thing was that some of some bloggers posted that they were getting more traffic thru bitacle, and of course they were happy about it
  4. The next day I started encountering more discontent posts of bloggers who made the same discovery jogy did and the tempers were getting quite a bit foul: people were checking publicly available info about this site and posted the name and phone number of the registrant of the bitacle domain
  5. I kept discovering articles of very discontent bloggers (1, 2, 3) and saw that bitacle was in the top ten of searchwords at technorati
  6. As posted earlier, I also came across stories about spam bloggers (or sploggers, if they were cool, they’d be called splogrs ;) ) – baddies scraping rss feeds for profit. And that subject is being discussed quite a bit on the web too. Along with subjects like copyright, Creative Commons and of course the different methods to combat this evil
  7. As the hours passed I saw more bloggers posting about taking actions against bitacle, there’s a site just for that cause that’s just been set up

How to deal with sploggers? Here’re some links to some informative posts on this:

But can you really deal with sploggers? Some interesting opinions:

Now, during the nightly hours of this endeavor I kept wondering about a coupla things:

  • Was this intentional stupidity or theft? The amount of effort put in bitacle and some positive reactions of some content bloggers/readers really made me wonder. I’m not saying that using other people’s content to make money is an okay thing, but with bitacle it’s a bit confusing: no splogger would be that stupid to send trackbacks of content they’ve just stole, would they?
  • Still, the bitacle organisation is a stupid one: they didn’t provide enough info about their business setup. Hold on, they might have done that but their English info site is like the attendee list for Congress for the session on political ethics: nada. Speaking of nada, their Spanish site does have a bit more info, but even that doesn’t explain a lot. And what they do tell you is, should you have any problems with their using of your rss feed, that you should turn off the feed: ouch!
  • The emotions surrounding this s(h)ituation are understandable, but the mob mentality scares the living $#it out of me. It’s how things are done on the web, I know. I even suggested to some bloggers to create “negative momentum” by posting about this bitacle thing. I think that bitacle should get their asses off their lazy couch and start answering the questions of some very, very concerned and pissed off bloggers. If this momentum thingy helps, that’s fine. But accusing someone of theft? Posting name and phone numbers? Naaahh.. just not my style of exposing injustice – this is never a holy cause (and yes, I keep choosing my words very friggin’ carefully)
  • Some people countered the whole indignant reaction stuff about theft and copyright with quite a good argument: if you don’t like people using your content to make money out of it, why do we allow Google, Yahoo and others to do just the same? I’ve argued that this comparison isn’t totally fair because of the difference in business models, but still.. People don’t mind the exposure on Google, probably because it’s that part of recognition and identification bloggers appreciate of search engines (and.. some of those bloggers choose to use that to generate their own money through Google Ads). I’m not sure what to think of this part of the discussion..
  • What happens afterwards? Here’s an example of this can evolve into a standstill, but it’s a serious and interesting read

Now what?

  • Well, part of the problem is with SEO’s offering money for context related ads. Probably.. So, maybe addressing those parties would be nice
  • One option bloggers could use is to shorten their rss feeds. Depending on the blog software you’re using, it could be done and I’ll be doing that for sure. I know that I’m gonna try out the Wordpress plugin called Better Feed that helps me achieve that and adds some nice extras. Also saw that Feedburner has this Summary option.
  • Another option is to disable the feeds, but that’s something I can’t really imagine myself doing. Btw: I saw a site that offers feed processing for sites that don’t even have syndication – ponyfish dot com. I’m not saying this is a potential problem (hell, no) but it’s an example of how things develop on the net: one person’s useful and trustworthy tool for browsing can become another one’s inspiration for foul deeds.
  • Negative momentum: confront the bitacle people with questions and demand they change their policy – the more people who do this and post about it, the better. BUT: give the guys a chance to explain themselves and fix their mistake – there’s nothing more pathetic than a lynch mob after the hanging’s been done, especially if they start wondering if they got the right guy for the right crime and performed the right punishment.
  • Another tech-solution (a poor one at best): ban the IP or the whole ISP – not quite as drastic as a lynching, but, you know.. still quite a step to take

People are really concerned about their content being stolen or misused and that’s a concern I share. But for the ten years I’ve been on the routed road of internet, I’ve learned a coupla things:

  • People will continue to make money off of you (or your content)
  • There is no limit to the creativeness of people to create and/or solve a problem: once this phenomenon has been dealt with another spam/hoax/phishing/rhubarb thingy will be roaming the web
  • My content is not unique neither a cure for cancer – it is always part of a conflict caused by posting personal content on a shared and reasonably public environment – so I do not expect my content to be sacred or protected from evil-doers
  • I still hate cheats getting away with their evil deeds ;)

I’m kinda done with this topic though I will continue to follow any new developments. Off to set up a better syndication and then afterwards, blog about some of my favorite things ;)

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4 Responses to “Bitacle and Splogs: Final Thoughts”

  1. Jacques said:

    One thing I want to be reminded of, is that I don’t want the joy in what I do on my weblog, being taken away. The only way this could happen is by my own choice.

    Bloggers and other users of the internet, don’t let these people make you feel bad, they aren’t worth it. Enjoy life in all it’s appearences, feel good, feel free!

    Thanks frenchy, for reminding me! :o )

  2. Interesting links « Stop bitacle.org said:

    [...] Frenchy’s Fracas: Bitacle and Splogs: Final Thoughts [...]

  3. Those Bastards!! (bitacle.org) at spoken for said:

    [...] frenchysfracas.com/…bitacle-and-splogs-final-thoughts/ [...]

  4. Frenchy’s Fracas » Bitacle, or how a small swarm can start.. said:

    [...] Summed up some of my final thoughts here These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

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