Addicted to novelty since 2001

Is Lame?

Today I noticed that one of my posts had been syndicated by Blog-O-City. It appears to be a network of sites featuring blog posts related to a specific city–everywhere from Etobicoke to Shanghai. Here’s what I’ve been able to conclude about these sites:

  • There are apparently no human filters. The results seem to come automagically out of Google’s blog search.
  • The sites feature excerpts from blog posts, with no added information.
  • Each excerpt has its own permalinked page.
  • The sites are plastered with Google ads.
  • All outgoing links are include the rel=”nofollow” parameter, meaning nobody gets search engine benefits from being linked to.
  • The fairly cool design is a free template created by this guy (who has a frickin’ awesome looking site).
  • I can’t easily identify or contact whoever created the sites.

In short, seems to be hosting reams of excerpted content from other sites for no purpose other than to wrap ads around it. I wanted to contact them to ask about their rel=”nofollow” policy, and to have a chat about the ethics of what they’re doing, but I couldn’t find an email address.

What do you think? Is this a legitimate re-use of content, or just an automated cash grab? It’s the latter if you ask me. After all, they clearly aren’t trying to send people to the websites they aggregate. Their first priority is to pass people on to advertisers.

12 Responses to “Is Lame?”

  1. Elliott Back

    They’re just using excerpts, so it’s ok. If they yanked your full feeds, you’d have something to be mad about. Still, the perma pages are terribly sparse on information…

  2. brian

    “Currently, comments are extremely slow”

    Darren: When oh when are you going to resolve this problem? Can i help?

  3. Krishen

    Thanks for that link to the page about rel=”nofollow” — it’s great to see such cooperation amongst the major search engines — not something I’d expect.

  4. WCG

    The page would look a lot nicer if they ditched the second set of Google ads at the top of the content column. Neat idea, expanding upon Google’s “local” idea but using blogs. Methinks it needs a lot of work before I’ll use it, and even more before I’ll click on those zillion ads…

  5. Boris Mann

    I would be fine with it as long as they *didn’t* have nofollow. I syndicate so people CAN re-use my content….as long as they link back and I get my Google juice.

    We’re rethinking how we’re going to do UrbanVancouver. One of the ideas is to have people submit their feeds directly — usually the “Vancouver” category of their system.

  6. Matt

    I tend to agree with you that it’s a little exploitative. They’re taking the principle of “create a blog to generate more search engine traffic and promote return visitors” and sort of leaving off the “create” part. Sure it’s only excerpts, which would be fine if they used them as supplemental material to their own content, but the inclusion of the “nofollow” directive is pretty good evidence that they’re treating the excerpts as original content, rather than as secondary source content.

  7. Richard

    “ seems to be hosting reams of excerpted content from other sites for no purpose other than to wrap ads around it.”

    Other than the permalink for each article, I’d be interested to know how this is different from what Technorati does.

  8. Derek K. Miller

    Really, it’s little more than what a log of splogs do, except with a very slight attention to trying to focus it geographically, rather than simply being random content from other sites.

    That they try pretty hard to obfuscate who they are (WHOIS records are hidden, for instance), use rel=”nofollow” for no good reason, show no email or other contact information, and seem to be moving their hosting mere days after first registering are all not good signs.

    Yes, Technorati does similar things, as does Urban Vancouver, but those sites have clear ownership and also tell you what they’re doing. At least blog-o-city links back, unlike the splogs do, but this:

    “This special metablog is devoted to all aspects of the great city of Vancouver. Whether you’re a local, interested in visit or are moving to Vancouver, we hope that you’ll find something useful here. Blog-O-City is a network of sites dedicated to collecting and organizing information on some of the greatest cities in the world.”

    is hardly proper disclosure. A grey area, and annoying, to be sure.

  9. Darren

    I pretty much agree with what everybody’s said.

    Yeah, Brian, I know, it’s actually underway. I’m thinking two weeks at the most, and I’ll be swapped over to WordPress.

    The main difference, Richard, is most people would agree that Technorati offers some pretty useful functionality. Also, as you say, Technorati has become infrastructure, which Blog-o-city has not. I think (and I think you do too, if I read your entry right) the rules change a bit when that happens.

  10. Justin

    I guess I do something kind of similar, except that I don’t use the rel=nofollow and the blogs are hand picked (though not the posts) and there is plenty of contact information etc., Still, if anyone has any questions, comments, input or feedback I’d love to hear it.

  11. Darren

    Only sort of, Justin, but you’re applying a human filter, which is pretty important. Also, the service you’re providing–Canadian blogs sorted by location–is a lot more useful that ‘blogs entries which feature the name of a city’.

  12. Justin

    Thanks Darren. I also make it a point to tell people when I’ve included them on the off chance that someone doesn’t want to be included. That doesn’t happen often, I’m actually trying to drive traffic to people and most people who blog, vlog, podcast etc., like traffic but I have had 2 that asked to be removed.

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