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Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

Good! Wordprexy has removed the ads and readers in Turkey can see WordPress blogs…

More power to them for breaching the “Great Firewall of Turkey” and, now, in a way that does not violate bloggers’ or readers’ rights or sensibilities.

For the background on the banning of WordPress in Turkey, see “Why We’re Blocked in Turkey: Adnan Oktar” by Matt on WordPress.com

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I’m all for open access to the Internet, so I was prepared to be somewhat lenient in my views towards wordprexy.com in their stated efforts to get around Turkey’s ban on WordPress. What I wasn’t prepared for was to go onto my blog on wordprexy’s mirror and see porn ads. Enough already.

Freedom of speech and open access or no, and I do make my allusions from time to time, bethonged buttocks and promises of 3 more inches in three weeks are not what I think my readers expect to see here. I’ve sent in the email requesting to be removed. After today’s spammer/scraper trench warfare and hours of research on copyright issues, plus several buggy things on my Drupal dev project, I’m done in for today. I hope that they really do remove my blog, but I’m tired and cranky enough at the moment to be more than a little cynical.

Even if wordprexy’s actions are for the stated purpose, I just don’t want my work being used in that way. Did they think it through first or try to come up with a better solution? The vitriol in the comments on their blog makes me wonder at the whole premise. Get a sponsor or a recognized NGO to help ahead of time…something…find a way to do it right, folks.

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Okay. Now I’m really confused. I just got what, at first glance, appeared to be a trackback to an earlier post on this site that somehow got caught in my Akismet spam filters. It was the standard form of trackback, but with someone else’s name and IP, plus inserted text.

Note – I have removed the link, site name and other identifying site info. The rest is an exact duplicate. I have no idea if the person named is in any way actually associated with the offending site. Maybe, maybe not. I have no way to know. (My name is certainly plastered all over a bunch of sites that I want no association with.) Notice what was done:

[…] David Szetela wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerptI clicked on one of the sites for “free guitar lessons” and saw pretty much what I expected with my content. Gee, I didn’t know I wrote for “Guitar News.” (This is not the site’s actual name, just what they are using in their scraped … […]

The inserted string at the beginning (ending with the word “excerpt”) included a link to my post on the other person’s name. (The lack of a space, and the otherwise poor punctuation, sort of gives it all away…) The only thing I can figure is that in a matter of hours, someone scraped the scraper, inserted their own name, but kept the original URL (though not the hypertext itself) intact.

Good going, guys. I went to the site and they’d used the title of my post as their own page title – “Web Para-sites.” Indeed. It seems they are cannibalizing each other, in addition to everything else.

Once again, this is Ariel Laurel Strong for the Cloud of Unknowing on WordPress.com, signing off at 20:47 UTC on September 21st, 2007.

Afterword: I went and looked more closely at my original vs. the scraper’s scrapbook job and I think I see what was done. They simply sliced off the first two sentences, that contained a link back to my site, inserted their all-purpose lead-in with the post link and went on from there. Quite an easy thing to do with scripting. They could have at least gotten their punctuation right, though, the stinkers. 21:06 UTC, Sept. 21, 2007.

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While it was a great diversion from the other frustrations in my life, I have to admit that I behaved rather badly in this matter of dealing with content scrapers. After reading “What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content,” by Lorelle on WordPress.com, I’m ashamed of myself.

I read most of the article before I realized that I simply don’t have time do those things right now. (And it will take several readings and some note-taking to get all the action steps lined out.) Until I get settled in Phoenix, go through all the information and do everything in a professional manner – which is what I have thus far failed miserably at – I am going to have to accept that I can only do the bare minimum to deal with the content thieves right now and simply endure my indignation and wounded pride.

That’s just the way it is. I can sally forth in defense of intellectual property rights in a month or two, and do so in an a more honorable manner, instead of being such a barbarian about it. Mea culpa. Sometimes I still act like there’s a fire on the other side of the door and I’ve got a halligan in my hands.

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Clustrmaps

I don’t know why I get such a kick out of stuff like this, but I do. A couple of days ago I signed up for a free account on Clustrmaps.com and they just drew up my first map. (See lower portion of the sidebar to the right.)

They do a very good job of explaining how it all works on their site. They are evidently experiencing major growth – and the associated growing pains – so updates are a little slow and I only got a partial day’s worth data on the first one, but I’m a happy little camper.

Ari, signing off for TCU, September 21, 17:21, UTC.

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Now I’m really getting cynical. I did my Alexa search and after half-a-dozen pages of seeing my scraped writings (and with more to go), I got angry all over again. I clicked on one of the sites for “free guitar lessons” and saw pretty much what I expected with my content. Gee, I didn’t know I wrote for “Guitar News.” (This is not the site’s actual name, just what they are using in their scraped pages. I don’t want to malign any legitimate site that may use that moniker.) My evil twin must be ghost-writing out in cyberspace.

I went to the home page of the site and saw they’d gone one better on their AdSense links. They’d used CSS to turn a row of AdSense titles into navigation links! Gotta give them one for deviousness. I was impressed enough to go in and look at their page source. What an education! They’d stolen and/or repurposed numerous scripts and plug-ins, and had some fairly sophisticated javascripting going on, as well.

Well, well. What do you do when you are sailing in pirate infested waters? There’s no turning back. I’m already adrift on the bright blue sea and I’ve gotten plundered more than once. This deserves some real thought and considered decisions. It will definitely affect how I promote and monetize http://www.flamencophile.com and other sites I develop.

I keep going back to the original premise of the scraper sandwich I devised – humans can scan and discern genuinely valuable content when they want to. I can only conclude that the people that click on the scraper sites ads are being lazy and clueless, and that the scrapers do not have as good a click-through rate as a truly worthwhile site. It is the “volume” paradigm at work as opposed to the “value paradigm.

Parasites. Hey! “Para” – “sites,” that’s for sure. “Para-” meaning alongside of, beside, similar to or resembling. Definitely parasites – the tapeworms, liver flukes, and cattle bots of the web. Just have to be a hardy enough host to withstand a few, I guess.

That’s all for now. This is Ariel Laurel Strong signing off for the Cloud of Unknowing on September 21, 2007, at 17:20 UTC.

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OMG. The scraper site that I originally made the “spam sandwich” for scarfed up both of my “vigilante blog posts,” one of which even has the unchanged link in it to the original stolen work…on their own site.

And it looks like another blogger is using a similar tactic. There’s an obviously scraped post with links back to the originating site in the first and last paragraphs with a content summary sandwiched in between. Way to go Binary Moon.

There is a lot of opinion out there regarding how Google penalizes people in their search rankings for duplicate content. I wonder who will listen if I submit this site showing the links and dates…the search engineers and the AdSense team would seem to be at cross purposes with one another.

This whole experience is making me rethink my strategy on my upcoming websites like http://www.flamencophile.com. I had been just assuming that I’d have a bar of ads down one side. Though I hate subjecting people to the advertising, I need to make something for my time and effort and it’s been sticking in my craw how others are making money from illegally reusing my content. I’ve been reading too many webmaster discussions lately about whether to even syndicate your content, the hours of time it takes to go after the scrapers, and the generally poor results of doing so.

I remember back in 1996 having discussions with colleagues how the imminent monetization of the web would affect its usefulness and integrity. Back then, we never dreamed of the vast junkyards that would come to lie scattered across the virtual landscape. (Erluvi.com, this means you…)

What would an internet renewal look like? Green zones…places where there was quality content and ad-free sites could flourish. Pardon my dreaming, or reminiscing, as the case may be. As in all things, the best and the worst of humanity seems to flow towards the newest frontier, and left in that wake, the little settlements pop up and are subject to the predations of bandits and marauders. The good, the bad, and the ugly…

This is Ariel Laurel Strong signing off for the Cloud of Unknowing on September 21, 2007, at 15:38 UTC.

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