Aggregation Not Adding Value?

Splogs or spam-blogs are a problem I’ve touched on before. I find them annoying and whenever Technorati points me to something smelling sploggy, I hit my SplogReporter bookmarklet.

My criteria for splog:

  • whole-cloth copying of another weblog’s post
  • minimal or nonexistent attribution to the original authors and weblogs
  • no explicit “we’re aggregating these sites” messaging

RSS makes it real easy to communicate with readers frequently and automatically – and real easy for robots to make splogs. Simply subscribing to an RSS feed isn’t “content theft” – doing so and not explicitly crediting the original site/author is. Absolutely. No Question.

I can appreciate Mark Cuban’s position that “a search on any blog engine should uncover the unique content on their original source” – not any of the derivatives. The lack of this strictness is why slogs exist anyway. I don’t agree with his position that aggregation doesn’t add value. Aggregation is a very simple way to provide value – Bloglines, Yahoo, and Google have based a number of products on that belief. To me, aggregation and search are two ways of answering the same problem. The trick is to know who’s the aggregator and who’s the source when the aggregator is being dishonest.

When I’m pulling together some feeds for an aggregator, say PodcastMN or MNRep I use the link – or preferably the guid – element in RSS to point back to the original author. Upon reviewing the spec while writing this post, looks like source exists “to propagate credit for links, to publicize the sources of news items.”

Makes sense – and I’ve just added that tag into the aggregators. Seems to me being strict about RSS tags first and checking sources second is a useful to fight splogs and un-attributed content aggregation.

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