All of these images are real screen captures, taken tonight, cropped and in some situations sewn together in Microsoft Paint so that the example is legible. I have not reprinted the web addresses, as I am sure that at least some of these sites try to embed viruses. They are caught by my Anti-Virus, but may not be by yours. This is why I have chosen to use images rather than linking directly to the sites. Click on the picture to get a larger copy!
Aggregator #1: Blog Search Results Embedded in another Page
This is so common that it's getting out of hand. Google search results can be embedded in a page for reference, for selling, for information gathering...the possibilities are endless. And legal, if you submit your site to Google's search ending (under your Blog Settings). I did. You pretty much have to, if you want people to be able to find your site.
However, things like this can happen, from one of the most ubiquitous culprits, the 'People Finder' type website. This entry is for cross-stitch designer Jennifer Aikman(-Smith), and references this post of mine (my blog name is on it, and there is a working link:
I have to post this in its entirety, because it is rather bemusing and sort of accidentally hilarious. I've pasted the three screenshots together to get the full text, which refers to this post and one of its comments (my blog name is on it, but no link, no context):
From Bye2Regret: Small Box Hinges (there is no paragraphing):
This little gem is actually the first rip-off I found, and this sentence...
You see, the sewing appliance and I have a Daedalian relationship.
...made me laugh my ass off. You see, my very slim background in Classics let me know that this is a psychological term that originated with the Daedalus of Ancient Greek Myth, the architect who was commissioned to build the Labyrinth to contain the minotaur Minos, and when he was trapped in the Labyrinth (i.e. the problem of his own making) with his son Icarus, fashioned wax wings for them both so they could fly away. And we all know how *that* turned out *rolls eyes*.
The term "Daedalian" has since become an adjective meaning, from Answers.com:
Yes, indeedy, my Mother's sewing machine and I do have a complicated relationship. Some would even say byzantine. And the fact that some little piece of badly written web-bot code managed to pick up on that amuses me to no end. It must have been programmed by a philosopher, methinks *grin*. When I first came across it, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm going with laugh, since DMC 3371 is described as a "cryptic and fecund" tint, LOL.
Aggregator #3: Blantant, Shamless Post Stealing For Fun And Profit
This is the one that really, really, really annoys me. It would possibly make me angry, but very few things truly make me angry (thankfully), and so I will settle for a state of severe snit whereby I would happily strangle whomever thought that this was okay to do.
Here are the three pages, FULL OF MY POSTS:
As you can see, my post titles and text have been taken and reposted without my permission or knowledge on a foreign site whose primary purpose appears to be selling things like low-discount flat-screen televisions. All that gobbly gook in the right sidebar are search terms for electronics, furniture, etc. Why such a site would take my content, I have no idea; I highly doubt that anything I've written here will help sell dubious merchandise to stupid people (and I'm sorry, but anyone who buys anything from a site that sketchy deserves whatever horrors that are visited upon them).
Curiously, some posts contain my blog title (Eglantine Stitchery). Others do not. There are no links, no context; some posts have been taken in full, others in parts. You can click on the title and the get the full article in most cases.
Thankfully, none of these aggregators has reposted my photos. But from the reading I've been doing about the coming genesis of photo-aggregation sites, it will only be a matter of time. Some sites are stealing photos already. All that needs to happen is for some sneaky little hacker to build a web-bot code that is able to steal both text and image, and all blog contents will be fully replicable. Without, of course, context. Or coherence, as Aggregator #2 so unintentionally wittily proved.
I think it's kind of obvious why I would have a problem with all this. There are some people that argue that aggregation of content is the future of the Internet - that a site that can pull information from multiple sources and post it at one page (like Aggregator #1 did with all references to Jennifer Aikman-Smith) will save time and be more efficient for computer users seeking to find information.
But this sort of stealing of bits and pieces is akin to taking the body and not the heart; without context, most of this data is absolutely meaningless, and it becomes merely junk that clogs up the Information Highway with dead ends and dead leads. It is frustrating for someone who is trying to find information. And it's very frustrating for those of us bloggers who have our content stripped of meaning and repackaged as 'junk information', all in the name of selling someone a likely non-existent flat-screen tv, "small box hinges" or the latest scam of the week. Not to mention launching viruses that could destroy your computer.
If this is the future, it's frightening. As bloggers, all we can do is try to protect each other - if you come across content from a source you recognize and think it may be stolen, please contact the blogger. You may be wrong, but you may be right. And while there is really no safe way to communicate with the mysterious sleazy entities who run such sites (do not e-mail them - all it gives them is your personal information, your name and e-mail, and a confirmed site to target), at least if we know that they're out there, and where they are, we can take steps to avoid visiting and to let others know that we do not condone or appreciate such behaviour. Some of these sites - like Aggregator #2 - look like any generic blog on the block. And that's all the more reason to warn people that there are unscrupulous villains out there stealing your content and breaking your heart.
I sincerely hope that this information will help raise awareness of this growing problem, and will help you know what to look for in the future. If you know someone that might benefit from this post, please pass the link on, or copy the text, or send this information around however you need to. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, and it is truly better to be safe than sorry :)