How do you build a spam blog network? One spam blog at a time.
That’s at least how one spam blog network is trying to get off of the ground, not through fancy automated software, but through a slow build up that, to the naked eye, can almost seem legitimate.
What is perhaps most worrisome though is that this network, though poorly conceived, may be a sign of what is to come. A spam blog network that moves past the scatter-shot approach of most scrapers and focuses on quality, not quantity, in a bid for financial success.
It’s the type of site that might fool humans, not just search engines, and could trick both readers and victims alike into believing that it is a legitimate service, operating completely within the bounds of the law.
“My Goal is to Get Rich”
“It will be a network with new blogs added daily, and it is something I believe will be my first financially success. I don’t have to put much time in it, new content is updated automatically, and it will receive natural organic traffic.”
In short, what he is saying is that, since he doesn’t have the time to update the blogs on the network himself, he will pull content from other sites automatically (IE: scrape) and that he hopes the network will be a financial success.
It’s a rare moment of honesty where the scraper is both admitting to the theft and to the commercial nature of his use. Like a thief advertising his crime beforehand, Rodland is telling the world what he is planning on doing and then executing it.
Though it sounds like a bad joke, his victims are not amused and at least one has taken the chance to strike back, getting his content removed from the network.
A Victim Strikes Back
When Robert Irizarry discovered that his blog’s content was being used on the T3Blogs Network, he took action immediately, emailing Rodland to demand the removal of his work.
Rodland removed the content quickly and added a disclaimer to his site stating the following:
“Original authors retain their copyright material. If you own material represented here and do not want it displayed, write to us at (blogmaster [ at ] t3blogs.com) and we will be happy to promptly remove it.”
However, as readers of this site probably already know, copyright is not a matter of opt-out, but rather, opt-in. In order to use the full articles, Rodland would need permission beforehand, either in the form of written permission or in the form of a blanket License, such as a Creative Commons License.
Sadly, a quick scan of the “contributors” failed to find even one that had offered such permission. All of the sites I checked offered their content under default copyright law, making their use on the T3Blogs network a flagrant violation.
But this doesn’t seem to have stopped the network. It currently has at least seven blogs in niche areas such as celebrities, tech and finance. Though it is absolutely minuscule in terms of spam blog networks, which can reach into the hundreds of thousands, its format may make it more dangerous.
How It Works
Rodland seems to take content from well-written, but lesser-known blogs and compile three or four of them into one automatically generated spam blog. the goal seems to be not to create as many sites as possible in the hope of building links for the purpose of search engine optimization, but rather, to siphon off traffic and subscribers from the legitimate blogs.
This is a frightening proposition for many reasons.
- They call the victim blogs “contributors” making it seem as if the bloggers gave permission for the use, making them less likely to be reported and more likely to be subscribed to.
- They can provide a benefit the original authors, writing content by hand, can not and they do so without returning and traffic or visitors (no need to click through since the article is displayed in full).
- Inexperienced bloggers may feel that the site is legal to reuse their content, because they offer an opt out, making the blogger less likely to take additional action such as contacting advertisers and Web hosts.
But while it is easy to see how these spam blogs are more dangerous to their victims than the “scrape in mass” spam blog networks, what is less clear is how he intends to turn these sites into profit.
Right now the network is just a blip on the radar but, even with a large volume of traffic, it is unclear how he intends to make his millions.
Though he does use Google Adsense ads, those are only on the home page for the network, not the individual, scraped blogs. All of the scraped sites, however, do contain links to a dating affiliate site that Rodland runs (underneath “Recommended Sites”) and also interlilnk with other sites in the network.
How all of this translates into a large amount of passive income is unclear, but that element of the site may still be in the works.
That is just one of the reasons why it is important to deal with such sites before they they can establish themselves fully.
All in all, Rodland is being very foolish about the way he is going about this. He has admitted publicly to his intents, including to commit copyright infringement, he has only created a handful of blogs, has no clear monetization strategy and has already earned the ire of at least a few bloggers.
His clumsiness puts him at risk of losing everything.
However, in the process of creating such a poorly-conceived spam blog network, he may have stumbled upon a form of plagiarism that is more harmful to Webmasters than any automated blog and ping operation ever could be.
He’s created seemingly legitimate sites designed to attract human visitors, visitors that have no incentive to visit the original sites and reward the authors that put in all of the hard work.
Any “passive income” that Rodland receives comes solely at the expense of the Webmasters that he is scraping from, the ones that spent the countless hours creating the content in question.
That’s enough to make any legitimate Webmaster upset and certainly more than enough to amount to copyright infringement.
The good news is that Rodland’s blog network seems to have hit a speed bump. No new spam blogs have been posted in the past three days, despite a promise of new ones being added daily.
Hopefully, this is where the network ends, a bad idea shut down before it truly got off the ground.
Note: An email sent to Rodland has not been returned for comment as of this writing. I will post an update should he respond.