Bitscan, the duplicate content detection service previously reported on here, has released a new service under the brand name Copy Alerts to help bloggers and Webmasters more easily check for their content on the Web.
The new service meshes the functionality of its existing service, the ability to check URLs for duplicate content, and that of Google Alerts, the ability to receive automated emails notifying users of potential infringement.
The service also has a new WordPress Plugin to make the process of creating alerts easier for WordPress users and may be a compelling reason for users to give the copy detection service a try.
How it Works
The idea behind Copy Alerts is extremely simple. You provide the site with the URL that you want to track, an email address to send the alerts and the site will monitor the Web for your content, emailing you when it finds duplicates.
If you want to create a large number of alerts, it may be wise to create an account with the, a process that requires only an email address and a password, so that you can manage all of your alerts in one location, rather than going email by email.
When Copy Alerts finds duplicate content for your pages, it sends you an email, one email with all of your alerts, and provides you with a series of links to a “comparison page” that displays the original and the duplicate side by side.
Though the side-by-side display can be cumbersome without a very wide monitor, you can use tabs at the top to switch between the original and the copy if you wish. You also have basic Whois information for the site at your disposal. However, there is currently no information about who is hosting the allegedly infringing site.
Still, at this point, it is trivial to move forward and take action on the site, thus resolving the issue, if one exists.
Over all, the system itself is extremely straightforward, both requiring almost no additional information and offering few options. For example, many users of Google Alerts will notice that there is no setting to determine how often alerts arrive, meaning that, in some cases, the volume of alerts could be overwhelming.
However, Copy Alerts also has another reason WordPress users might want to take a look at the service.
The new Copy Alerts Web site also comes with a WordPress plugin to help users of the blogging software create alerts and track their content.
For users familiar with the installation process of WordPress plugins, the install will be nothing new. You simply extract the zip, upload the folder to your plugins direct and activated it via your WordPress plugin interface.
Once activated, the plugin adds a function to the post edit page entitled “Copy Alerts” that contains a simple link to create a new alert.
Clicking the link opens up the Copy Alerts site in a new tab, letting you know that the alert has been created and that you need to verify your email address by clicking a link sent to you. Once you’ve done that, the alert is created and placed into your account, if you have one.
The whole process takes only a few seconds though I did experience some delay in getting a couple of my confirmation emails, something that likely is on my end and not Copy Alert’s.
Since I have just returned and have only used the system this morning, I can not comment on the accuracy of the system or effectiveness of it. I will post that information in a new review in a week or two.
But even though this is more of an announcement than a review, I’d like to offer at least a few initial observations, starting with the things that I really like.
- Distinct Free Feature: The Copy Alerts tool really separates Bitscan and, if it is accurate, distinguishes it from its main rival Copyscape in a major way. This feature could be a big motivator in getting people to switch to Bitscan for content theft detection, especially since Copyscape charges for a similar feature.
- Great Simplicity: One of the questions I get at every conference is “How easy is this track?” so I favor any site that makes it as easy as possible. Copy Alerts definitely meets that goal.
- Advertising Free: At this time at least, both the site and the email are completely advertising free and very minimalist. This helps keep it both very simple and very fast.
The Rough Edges
- Alerts Expire: Alerts created expire within 60 days of creation unless you log into your account. Though the reason for this is obvious, to prevent the site from being burdened with unused alerts, it keeps the service from being a “set and forget” tool.
- The Plugin: The WordPress plugin, though nice in theory, has little purpose. You have to remember to click the link for every post, you still have to log into the account to prevent your alerts from expiring and you still have to verify each alert in your email. There is no functionality in the plugin that is not in the site itself.
- Lack of Options: As great as the simplicity is, I worry that the lack of options may hinder the service. The first results I received were for almost all very small matches, including the blog search engine pictured above. There is no way to set alert thresholds or frequency, meaning that you may get a lot of false positives.
All in all, the first impressions are that of a service with mountains of potential, but a few flaws that may hold it back down the road. I will be testing the service out over the next few weeks and will have a more thorough report then.
Currently, all that I want to provide is a quick announcement of the new service offer some initial feedback. I will be doing more thorough reviews later. However, there is little doubt that this service is, potentially, a huge step in the right direction. Though there are some issues that may hold back its potential usefulness, there is little reason not to at least try it.
One of the co-founders of Bitscan, Mark Nelson, posted a comment on the site while I was away inviting PT users to beta test the service and to look at Bitscan’s new paid accounts service that automatically spider and monitors an entire site.
It will be very interesting to see if and how Copy Alerts and the new Bitscan system changes the way content creators monitor their work.