Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fight Back Against Scraper Blogs

Are your posts being scraped? Scraping happens when a scraper bot grabs your RSS feed and posts your posts (without credit) on another blog. Sometimes they run posts through a translator and back again, which makes for some pretty interesting (and sometimes entertaining) reading. Here's a scraper blog that scrapes Baby Cheapskate, for example. It used to display the entire post, but at least now it's linking to BC.

Three easy ways to tell if your blog's being scraped:

  • Your referrals will give you a clue
  • A reader will let you know
  • Copying and pasting a short block of your content will turn up word-for-word theft
It's one thing when another blogger "borrows" your work, but how do you deal with plagiarism when it's not even committed by humans? Although it really won't take away your traffic, scraping is copyright infringement, and it's against the law. While it may be nearly impossible to prevent your feed from being scraped, it's pretty easy to make sure you get credit for the posts.

You can prevent scraper blogs from pulling anything useful from your feed by using partial feeds. The problem is, as we've discussed here before, your readers don't like them. Your teaser has to be pretty darn special for the reader to click through to your blog. Not recommended.

The recent Blog Herald article, 5 Alternatives to Truncated Feeds discusses a few scraper-spoiling alternatives to partial feeds. One recommendation is to create an RSS footer which links back to your blog, lists copyright information, etc. That way, your link will show up on the scraper blogs and direct any readers back where they belong.

How do you add an RSS footer? The Blog Herald article mentions the RSS Footer Plug In for Wordpress. For Blogger users, it's even easier. Just go to your blog settings and click on "site feed." Scroll down to "Post Feed Footer" and enter your link, etc. using html. Give it an hour or two, and you'll start seeing your footer in your feed items.

In his post, Scraper sites steal your content. Use them to Build Your Traffic, Brad Geddes suggests including the name of your blog within your post and linking to at least two of your previous posts within each post among other useful tips.

Realistically, it's probably better to avoid wasting too much time chasing down scraper sites. As Kevin Muldoon notes in his post, Don’t get stressed about blog scrapers stealing your content, "do as much as you can to deter them but don’t waste your time chasing them. Include a copyright area in your feed and try to link to other posts of yours if you can but don’t stress over these spammers."

Has your blog been scraped? What did you do?

Further reading:
Scraper sites steal your content. Use them to Build Your Traffic.
Don’t get stressed about blog scrapers stealing your content
5 Alternatives to Truncated Feeds