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Is This Scraping?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2010

Something new has been added to people borrowing one’s content for other purposes. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, and thus I thought I’d put it out here for y’all and ask what you think about it.

Scraping Snow
by Erica Blasdel

On my business blog, where I talk about all topics associated with the different things I do in consulting except technology, I wrote a post titled The Quick Way To Organize? Get A Box! It was a recommendation for a way to clean up your space and then decide what you want to do with everything that was in that space, one piece at a time.

Hours later I noticed a trackback in my spam filter and decided to check it out. I always do that because if it’s a legitimate trackback I’ll let it sit as a comment on my post. What I found was that it linked to a blog that had the first paragraph of my post, most of it anyway, then had a product listed that the site is trying to push. Here’s that link. “nofollowed” of course. If you check it out, the product is on topic with what I wrote. And there’s a little line underneath saying “Full reference (Copyright acknowledge)”, linking back to my original post.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I mean, I can’t fully say my content was stolen since the site didn’t even use all of my post. It does give my kind of an attribution in linking back to my original post. Yet it’s using me indirectly to market a product, although the product, in some fashion, is about what my post was about, kind of like “borrowed” content.

So, do I view it as a free backlink, or as a piggyback onto my content to push it’s own product, like scraping? I really don’t know. I will say this, however. Because it’s different I’m not going to file a DMCA notice, and I’m not going to contact the person and ask them to remove it. This isn’t an endorsement; obviously I don’t know anything about the book, and it could be a good book. This is one of those slippery slope questions that might be personal choice, or there might only be one correct answer; I’m just not sure.

The questions goes to you; is this scraping, is it legit, how would you feel if it were you and would you do it?

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If it was mine I’d ask for it to be pulled down because it’s not until the (likely rare) reader scrolls down to figure out that there’s more context and that “Janice” didn’t write any of the content. Doesn’t sit well with me but maybe it’s them journalism standards creeping in.

November 12th, 2010 | 12:14 PM

Could be Natasha. I certainly understand your point, which is why I’m sort of confused by it all.

November 12th, 2010 | 12:36 PM

This is a weird situation. Why would they take a few sentences of your content and put it on their site when they could have written something original themselves? The part they did take from you didn’t really have much to do with their product (unless the book comes with a box…?).

Is this scraping? I don’t really know. They did give a link back to your site, but they didn’t mention your name nor website. If I had to pick yes or no, I would say no because they do have that link and they did only use 2 sentences, but there’s a fine line there…

Is it legit? There is something really fishy about this whole thing, so I would say no, it doesn’t feel legit at all.

How would I feel and what would I do? If they used my whole article and didn’t link back to me I wouldn’t like it at all. In this case, I would probably be confused and just let it go, since like you said, it is another backlink. This would be another story if the article they used had made me look like I was endorsing the product.

November 12th, 2010 | 12:23 PM

You’re in the same place I’m in, Keith. Without using my name they can’t associate me with the product, but without using my name it looks like someone else at least started the post, even if that someone else ends up being me. Heck, I wonder what Mimi Tanner, the writer of the book, thinks about this site; hmmm…

November 12th, 2010 | 12:40 PM
John Dilbeck:

Good afternoon, Mitch.

I agree, this is a weird situation. They’re not really stealing your content and they are linking back (although it’s not obvious).

Comments are open on the post.

One way to find out if it’s a robot scraping your site or if it’s a person who just doesn’t know any better would be to comment on the post, identify yourself as the author of your original post, and then ask why they did what they did instead of writing something original his/herself.

If it’s a robot, nobody will answer (most likely).

It’s a person, maybe you can start a public dialog and learn more about their intent.

Since they’re not using your whole article and are giving (non-obvious) attribution, it’s not really plagiarism, but it does feel very close.

All the best,


November 12th, 2010 | 12:53 PM

Hi John,

I thought about leaving a comment, but I’ve done that on other blogs and never received anything back. That plus I did take a look at some other posts on the site, which has many each day written by other people, and not a single one of them has a comment, which does lead me to believe it’s software and not a person doing it all.

November 12th, 2010 | 12:57 PM

Mitch, I would not even waste the time to do a DMAC on that site. It looks as if only the front page is getting cached, and their incoming links are forum profile spam. The site will never out rank you for the words & I bet that if you had not had trackbacks on….no one would ever have found the site.

They are only picking up titles that have the word ‘declutter’ or ‘organize’.

They have more code than text and that site will just flush down the toilet in a slow death. :*(

I have stopped worrying about the little crap sites that auto grab partial content. If I do get irritated by a site that has taken my total content…I just send a note to the host.

I probably spent more time writing this comment than that entire site will ever be worth. LOL

November 12th, 2010 | 5:21 PM

You’re right Sheryl. I knew I wasn’t going to send a DMCA, but I wasn’t sure what was bothering me. So I did the next step; I wrote the woman who wrote the book, since I figured out she probably had an affiliate program of some kind, which she does. She wrote back saying the site pretty much violates the terms of the affiliate program because its name is almost the same as hers. She asked me what I’d like her to do, and I said it would be nice for me, and everyone else, if our names were on it as the authors rather than “Janice”, which I think is a fake name. The site isn’t ranked for PR and is ranked over 22 million on Alexa, so I told her the site isn’t doing her any good either. So, at this juncture I figure I’m pretty much done with it.

November 12th, 2010 | 10:19 PM

My take is that it’s an automated program or something that is scraping content from the internet, related to some products that the owner wants to promote. Maybe your post ranked high for that a search term related to that book.
I mean if it was something legit they could have wrote a 3 sentence introduction instead of copying yours.
So I incline to say it’s content scraping!
I hope you get to the bottom of this and find out or have your content remove from that page.

November 12th, 2010 | 5:37 PM

Thanks Alex. As you see in my response to Sheryl I did contact the book writer, so now we see what happens.

November 12th, 2010 | 10:19 PM

I agree with Sheryl – it’s pretty minor in the grand scope of thingees (in my opinion). I’d dedicate my time to other issues.

November 12th, 2010 | 7:14 PM

For the most part I am, Barb, but I just couldn’t stop myself from going one more step. lol

November 12th, 2010 | 10:20 PM

Hi Mitch

I wouldn’t like to be associated with a site that does that! Even for a backlink. You have quality posts and plenty of readers here. I would distance myself and I think you have had some great suggestions from experienced bloggers here.

Patricia Perth Australia

November 12th, 2010 | 11:56 PM

Thanks Pat. The more I think about it, the less I like it, but in this instance wasting a lot of time on it doesn’t make much sense, so I’ll leave it alone, but I’ll still be interested in hearing what the writer of the book has to say. Heck, she might send me a free copy. lol

November 13th, 2010 | 12:29 AM

Mitch, apart from that small snippet of good content that site hasn’t much to offer, and if he thinks he’s going to make a sale from that little bit he’s borrowed from you I think he has rocks in his head.

I wouldn’t worry about it, but I would delete the trackback. That’s what I do, and I’ve had a couple of these.

November 13th, 2010 | 2:51 AM

Sire, the trackback was in my spam filter, so it’s been deleted from the time I noticed it. And you’re right, that site is bad.

November 13th, 2010 | 8:13 AM

It’s a pretty crappy thing to do, but like you said, the site is really going nowhere….

November 13th, 2010 | 9:26 AM
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing:

The paragraph with the backlink; I let those go all the time.

A product that isn’t mine associated with me though?? A different story entirely; I wouldn’t let that slide so easily.

November 13th, 2010 | 12:36 PM

It’s an interesting point, Dennis; I hadn’t thought of it that way.

November 13th, 2010 | 6:04 PM
Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing:

Look at it this way. Whether YOU think it is you endorsing it or not, is irrelevant.

How do the readers see it?

November 14th, 2010 | 9:02 AM