I often have these kinds of thoughts: “What if smokers had to ask for a smoking section in a restaurant, assuming all restaurants catered first to non-smokers?” “What if everyone thought first of asking permission before borrowing and taking what wasn’t theirs?” “What if the people were able to vote on whether or not they really wanted their country invaded, or just their leaders replaced?”
These thoughts all boil down to responsibility. I think the weight of the responsibility should be on the abuser. If you are thinking of doing wrong, I think bells and sirens should go off inside your head for a long time before you can act.
Unfortunately, the responsibility to protect ourselves against evil and idiots lies with us, not with the abuser. Among the new tools available to us bloggers, the responsible ones, is Owen Winkler’s AntiLeech WordPress Plugin.
The AntiLeech WordPress Plugin doesn’t stop blog feed scrapers and splogger bots from grabbing your blog’s content. According to Owen Winkler:
No, it does better than that. It produces a fake set of content especially for them that includes links back to your site (and mine, too, ok?) and sends it only to them. When they steal this content, it appears online just like normal, except now you’ve turned the tables on them. You’re actually using the sploggers to promote your own site.
AntiLeech can detect a splogger bot using its User-Agent string (an identifier that some bots send when they are collecting data), or by IP address. You can enter a User-Agent or an IP address into the Options panel of your WordPress blog. When a visitor with a qualifying (any checked option on the options page) User-Agent or IP address visits your site, they will see only the generated content. They will see it in your page layout and in your feeds. Anywhere you’re normally outputting content, that’s where the fake content will appear to them.
Regular users whose browsers do not match these strings will see your normal content. RSS aggregators should be able to display your content normally, too.
When a splog (spam blog) grabs the feeds from your blog and uses it as it’s own content, it is called scraping. Different blogs have different copyright policies. Use of full content feeds on sites with advertising or considered “commercial”, even with links back to the original site, is often a violation of the most common blog copyright policies. Putting a stop to these content thieves can be difficult, as seen recently with the Bitacle Battle.
Then Owen Winkler, WordPress hero, straps on his splog fighting coding tools and steps forward to help us fight back against the splog content thieves. He understood that everything and anything visiting your site leaves behind a footprint. The key is finding their footprint and identifying it as a splog and then stopping them from getting their foot in the door in the future.
The AntiLeech WordPress Plugin sends a small graphic “AnitLeech” graphic in your feed’s output. The graphic helps AntiLeech collect User-Agents information that you might want to block. The Plugin’s Administration Panel lists on what page it first saw the User-Agent using the graphic, and provides information to help you better make the decision to block that User-Agent or not. From the Admin Panel, you can choose to block those site’s access or not.
AntiLeech will add information to your robots.txt file, a file in the root directory of your site that contains instructions for web crawlers and web bots, computer programs that visit your site and collect information and data. Instructions on denying access to these splog abusers and scrapers is added to the robots.txt file, putting a stop to their visit before they get more than a toe in the door.
Once you have activated the AntiLeech Plugin, you will find its panel under Options > AntiLeech. You have several options you can control from there.
Under Observed User Agents is the area that will help you detect who may be stealing your content through your blog’s feed. Once you have determined which splogs are stealing your feed content, you can enter in an identifying name in this section. For example, if bitacle.org is stealing your feed content, to block it, add “bitacle” in the form. Any access with an identifying footprint with bitacle in it is considered evil and AntiLeech will kick into action, delivering fake, truncated, and other “unhelpful” information to the scraping site.
Under IP Addresses, you can enter part or all of an IP address to identify abusers. Many serious sploggers will play games with hiding and changing their IP address, but not all. Using a combination of IP address and User Agent name will act in combination for stronger protection. If you add the IP address to the list, they will also get the “faux” or fake information when they access your feed.
The Output Control section is probably the most fascinating as it gives you an insight into what AntiLeech really does. You can control the various options on how AntiLeech will respond to the User Agents and IP addresses you’ve targeted. They are:
- Do not insert the AntiLeech image for detecting leechers into feed output.
- Do not link to my blog inside the generated posts.
- Do not publish the correct link (in the tag) in my blog’s RSS.
That’s some serious options. I especially like the last one. Stopping income generated from your stolen content is brilliant.
The last option in the Output Control section is setting what you want displayed in the feed information sent to the scraper. It can be the generated content, truncated content, or custom text that you write. You can say anything you want, but a good start would be: “You may be reading stolen content. Please visit the author’s site to read the original, copyrighted material, and find even more great related content.”
The last option to set in AntiLeech is the option to control your FeedBurner Redirects. While many think that giving control of your blog’s feeds to FeedBurner will protect you from scrapers and copyright theft, it doesn’t. They help, but they don’t always stop splogs from using your feeds.
This is brilliant stuff and a fantastic complement to Digital Fingerprint Detecting Content Theft WordPress Plugin which I highlighted recently, which puts a unique searchable phrase into your feed content and displays search results on your WordPress Administration Panel to help you track if your content shows up in search engines via splogs or scrapers, content thieves.
Only when we, the responsible ones, are well armed and fight back, we may see an end, or at least a decline, of the evil doers. I just wish they would bear more of the responsibility for being responsible for other people’s interests and not their own. Don’t you?
- What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content
- Digital Fingerprints Help Track Blog Content Theft
- The Bitacle Battle of Blogs
- Finding Stolen Content and Copyright Infringements
- How To Spot a Splog
- The Growing Trends in Content Theft
- Splogging or Clogging: The Worst of the Worst of Blogging
- Blogs That Look Like Blogs But Ain’t – Splogs
- Splogs – The Dark Side of Blogging
- Comments on Comment Spam
- What are Feeds?
Site Search Tags: splogs, sploggers, splogging, scrape, scraping, blog scraping, content theft, copyright, copyright violation, copyright infringement, antileech, splot a splog, stop a splog, splog detection, wordpress plugin, wordpress tips, wordpress help, defend yourself, rights, blogging rights, content rights, owen winkler, asymptomatic
Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network