The Rise of the Autoblog

October 30, 2007

Vista busy cursor Wonderful. We now have a new and pernicious variety of spam to combat: the autoblog. It is spam for websearches, which is ironic as Google stands to make money from it.

What is it?

It’s a blog which requires no time or effort on the part of the author because it automatically scours the RSS feeds on the Net for other people’s content to appropriate and use to populate the blog. The intention is to attract search engine traffic, to make money through AdSense or similar web advertising schemes.

It’s the ultimate. Set one up and the money will just start to trickle in on its own, without maintenance, effort or cost. It will though be just a tiny trickle of cash in the vast majority of cases.

An example

Look at this blogpost. It looks at first sight like a blog that collates and links to interesting articles around the web, in this case majoring on audiobooks and iPods. It looks like the author found and blogged about a post called “An iPod named Lazarus” by Keris Stainton. But both the Keris Stainton link and the “Read the rest of this great post here” link point to this very blog.

But the whole website is made up of posts like this. Created by software, robotically and formulaically, presumably by feeding off and filtering the output from RSS aggregators. Left to its own devices it will just keep adding content mindlessly: an autoblog.

Here’s another example of one of my posts being commandeered.

Who’s to blame?

That’s easy. Just look here.

As with any other “get rich quick” book, you have to ask why the author did not just take his own advice rather than write a book. The answer is, as ever, that the advice is not really going to make anyone rich – these autoblogs will never generate enough traffic to make worthwhile money at paltry AdSense rates. To become wealthy himself, the author needs fools to buy his book for $24.97 a pop.

Do we need to worry about this?

Yes. There are enough fools who will buy the book that the Internet could become swamped with this drivel. These bogus websites, full of indirect recycled content, will start popping up in all your websearches and the traffic they create in aggregate will eat into bandwidth and other Internet resources that ought to be put to better use.

What do we do now?

Declare battle on them now. This I guess has to be fought on a legal front. The creators of the original content have rights to their material which should enable them to get offending autoblogs taken down, but this can’t be done piecemeal. It would be too costly to challenge each abuse on a post by post basis.

Any ideas out there in cyberspace? And how long before, ironically, this article itself gets picked up by some hellbegotten autoblog?

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  1. Well that didn’t take long, did it?

  2. […] Dennis Wright Did a great write-up today on hastalavistavista.wordpress.comThe first few lines are here: […]

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