// Internet Duct Tape

Bitacle emphasizes the problem with RSS

Posted in RSS Syndication, Technology, The War on Spam by engtech on September 26, 2006

RSS (Really Simple Syndicate or Read Some Stories) is a great technology. It is like a spam-free inbox for web sites. You subscribe to a web site using your RSS Reader (they could be Windows programs, web browser extensions, or other web pages), and whenever the web site has new information your program finds out. The information from the web page is called a feed.
RSS makes it easy to collect or aggregate feeds (getting information from several sources and displaying them as a unified whole). Take a look at TechMeme that gets the latest stories from top tech bloggers or PopUrls that displays the most popular results from social bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious and Reddit. This is the future, and it’s pretty dang cool.

Where it falls down is crap sites like Bitacle who use RSS to steal content from others and present it as their own, all the while collecting ad revenue for displaying it. A few people from the WordPress.community got hit by this recently, and thankfully the excellent team at WordPress put in a filter to prevent Bitacle from stealing our blogs. But still, this is a problem for a lot of sites.

What is the difference between a news aggregating web site and a content stealing feed scraper? The good guys are a trusted resource of what’s good on the Net. Getting listed with them increases the number of visitors to your site. It helps you find an audience. The bad guys are out there to make a quick buck off of your content. They don’t credit your work, they might not link back to your blog (or if they do, it’s by accident).

I’m not sure what Google’s AdSense take is on feed scraping, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t allowed and will get you immediately banned.