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Stolen Hubs, Plagiarism and Spammers
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Stolen Hubs, Plagiarism and Spammers
There is obvious concern amongst fellow Hubbers about stolen hubs, if recent forum posts are anything to go by. So what can you do if you discover your work has been plagiarised and posted elsewhere?
Well, you could write to the webmaster of the site that is hosting your content and ask them to remove it. You could add a copyright notice or a Creative Commons Licence to your work. You could even go as far as filing a DMCA complaint against the offending site. However, believing any of this will make any real difference is incredibly naive.
To understand why, you first have to understand the spammers, their techniques and tools of the trade and how they reposition and profit from your content.
Who Are The Spammers?
Spammers have no concern for the law and for the most part are totally anonymous and beyond the reach of the legal system. They falsify WHOIS data, open hosting accounts in fictitious names and, more often than not, there is a total lack of contact information on any of the sites they publish. If that wasn’t enough to throw you of the scent and you actually managed to track a spammer down, you would probably find they were located in Russia, Romania or some other country where any legal recourse would be completely impractical.
The DMCA Digital Millennium Copyright Act only applies within the US, so if the spammer is operating outside the US the act won’t apply.
The Tools of the Trade
Splogging: Spammers and Black hat SEOs have their own version of blogs often referred to as Splogs or Spam Blogs. Splogs are created to get other sites indexed and increase their search engine ranking in order to:
- Promote affiliated websites.
- Artificially Increase Adsense earnings
- Create backlinks and Increase the search engine rankings of low quality or disreputable websites that find it difficult to obtain links naturally.
Spam blogs generate content by scraping other sites or by automatically generating unreadable content from RSS feeds, some simply copy and paste. Scraping and copy/paste are simple to detect and computer generated content is usually unreadable. So, many splog owners now use Article Spinners to rewrite stolen content. Although the quality may be lower than the original document it is far more readable than the automated content generators and more difficult to detect than a simple copy and paste job.
Scrapers: A Scraper is a very simple software application that can grab an entire website, blog or RSS feed. There are various reasons that content might be scraped and, depending who you are, might not be considered a bad thing. For example, many SEO tools are in effect content scrapers, some companies use scrapers to track competitor prices and there are many applications for scraping within data mining. However, when used to steal and profit from the hard work of another, there is no justification.
Article Stitching: Article stitching is the process of mixing (or stitching together) paragraphs and sentences from multiple related documents to create multiple hybrid documents. This process lessens the likelihood of these documents been detected by tools like Copyscape or tripping any duplicate content filters.
Article Spinners: An Article Spinner is a semi automated software application or web based service that rewrites original or PLR articles and generates a number of variations. Most article spinners produce junk which will be rejected by any quality conscious site exercising editorial control and could damage the credibility of the author if they are brazen enough to put their real name to it.
At this point the original article or articles should be undetectable, so, when you discover one of your articles being reproduced word for word on a website it is probably the work of a complete novice.
What Do You Write About?
Hubs about finance, mortgages or insurance that attract high price Adsense ads are more likely to be stolen than topics that make little profit for the spammer. Spammers make serious money from the hard work of others, much more than the original authors. If they get caught they just move on and do the same again. Closing one site will have little effect if they have set up a network of hundreds of similar sites. If you are writing content around high paying keywords don’t be surprised when it gets stolen by a spammer.
So What Can You Do?
If out of principle or self satisfaction you want to chase each offender then do so but it can be a time consuming business and for each page you find there is probably tens of others that remain undetected. Rather than fight a battle that you can never win there are a few steps you can take that will lessen the benefit to the splogger.
- Ensure that each webpage, hub, blog post or article you post contains a link back to you. Scraping and republishing are highly automated activities and links often go undetected.
- Each time you post a new webpage, hub, etc. make sure you bookmark it and create links to it from any blog you have under your control.
- Visit blogs that are in keeping with your article enter the discussion and post a link if it would be helpful to the readers of those blogs. Never spam.
Unfortunately, this will not curtail the activities of the professional spammer but it will help identify your document as the original and perhaps get a little link juice.
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