Blog Scrapers, And Dealing With Them

If you’re a blogger, you may have heard of that despicable practice called blog scraping. It’s when some lowly scum somewhere sets up a “blog” and then goes on to populate it with entire posts scraped or stolen from real blogs. It’s like blog identity theft, and the idea is to steal traffic from the real blogs and gain advertising revenue. Not surprisingly, most scraper blogs are plastered with AdSense ads.

Although I’ve been blogging for years now and I’ve often enough encountered outright plagiarism (where people lift pictures, recipes or ideas) from my blog, I learned of blog scraping not so long ago when I happened to google up a recipe and ended on a scraper blog that had copied my entire post for vegan curd rice. Every word was exactly reproduced, as were the pictures, with the only difference being that the name of the poster had changed from my name to “TN.Bused”. Worse, as I looked through this “blog,” I found several other entire posts and pictures from my blog there, and posts that were no doubt lifted from other bloggers. As you can imagine, it made my blood boil.


Then last week two other bloggers sent me links they had discovered to two other scraper sites that had lifted multiple recipes from Holy Cow! and reproduced them exactly.

Scrapers are notoriously hard to track down because their “blogs” don’t usually carry any contact information (why would they?). Also, if they happen to be hosted on Blogger, they usually have the “Report Abuse” button in the navigation bar turned off. Also, as vast as the web is, it can be hard to actually locate blogs that are scraping your content although you can get some help from services like Copyscape. I don’t find their free service very useful because it never did show up any of the offending sites, but they do have paid services that might better help monitor the web universe for plagiarism and scrapers.

Over the past week, I’ve been exploring ways to deal with these content thieves because my blood’s still boiling. I’ve been reading up a lot on blog scraping and what to do about it, and I thought some of the information I’d gathered might be useful to other bloggers seeking help for this dilemma. 

1. Report the abuse to Google
Google has a copyright infringement form that lets you enter the urls of the offending sites, so long as those offending sites are located on the Blogger platform. I am not sure how quickly or well this works though, because one complaint I filed nearly a month ago has still not had any results and the offending site is very much online. I’ll wait and see if this works out.
Update: Google just informed me today that they had taken down the posts from the blog I’d complained about- so it does work. Yay! I’m going to go ahead and file complaints against the new ones I’ve discovered.

2. Report the abuse to AdSense
Although the scrapers who’ve lifted my content do not appear to have any ads– yet– many scrapers will post AdSense ads because it’s easy enough for anyone to do so. I found this blog post that has what appears to be some useful information on how to report AdSense abuse, but I can’t really vouch for how well it works. The blogger also has some other good ideas on knocking out scrapers that could be worth a try.

3. Use FeedBurner FeedFlare to add a copyright notice to each post
Because scrapers usually lift your RSS feeds, this can be of some help. While it will not actually stop the scraper from lifting your content, it will at least (hopefully) show the reader that the content actually comes from another site. Also, as this Blogger Buster post points out, it will help your page rank higher in search results.

4. Add links to other posts on your blog within each post
This easy enough trick that I read about might be one of the simplest ways to ensure that scrapers who lift your posts do actually end up linking back to your site. As with the FeedFlare addition, it will not actually stop scrapers from lifting your content, but you might be able to ensure that readers who land on these thug sites will find their way back to your blog.

If you have been the victim of blog scraping and have experiences/ideas to share on how you dealt with it, I’d love to hear them.

Have a great day, all!

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

18 thoughts on “Blog Scrapers, And Dealing With Them

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    T

    April 4, 2011 at 8:09pm

    Wow, I never heard of this before! Thanks for the warning and great advice!

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cilantro

    April 4, 2011 at 10:54pm

    Its is always sad, I once had the same experience but could do anything. I am not sure where else it is reproduced. The popular magazines steal pictures of mine. I am tired of waiting for their reply.
    There are few good souls who ask for permission and I jut love them.

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    harini-jaya

    April 5, 2011 at 1:01am

    There are all sorts of people …we can only do so much may be…there doesn’t seem to be a sure shot solution to this menace.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Andrea

    April 5, 2011 at 1:39am

    This did happen to me, and I wish I could remember all of the things I did. Alisa, from Go Dairy Free, gave me lots of good advice. I tried to find my post about it but couldn’t. One thing I remember was looking up the owner of the blog on whois. I then sent the blogger a (polite but firm) email saying that what she was doing was theft, and could invoke legal action. I asked her to take down the posts asap or I would have my lawyer contact her, and she complied.

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    April 5, 2011 at 5:47pm

    Debra, T, Andrea, You’re welcome– it’s always good to be armed with information, but hoping you never have to encounter such a situation.

    Scott, thank you! That’s a great tip.

    Cilantro, I’ve often been in the situation where some other blogger picks up a recipe or photo and you can usually get it resolved by just writing to them. But blog scraping is far more serious– these unscrupulous people literally replicate a real blogger’s entire blog, and it is not easy to track them because they do not have contact information on their pages. They are not looking for recognition– only for ad revenue.

    Harini-Jaya, yes, it’s difficult, but I think bloggers have to get together and speak out against this one so Google will work harder to catch these web criminals. To some extent AdSense is also the culprit here– Google makes it so easy for anyone to paste some code on any site and earn ad revenue. Maybe they need to be more vigilant about who is allowed to put up ads.

    Andrea, again, this is not about another blogger picking up one recipe or post or picture here and there, but about stealing pages and pages of content and replicating it exactly on another blog. And like I pointed out earlier, it’s not easy to contact these people because they don’t list any contact info.

    Cumincoriandercardamom, you’re welcome. :)

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Andrea

    April 5, 2011 at 7:16pm

    The blogger did exactly what you described — stole multiple pages and posts of my blog and others, and claimed them as her own on a site dedicated to ad revenue. I was able to discover her identity on whois.com by using the url of her blog.

    The last couple of times it’s happened, I chose to ignore it because there were links to my real blog embedded in the posts or the photos.

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Anonymous

    April 5, 2011 at 7:26pm

    This is really pathetic….I hope there are better laws and better ways to deal with such scums. This is a really informative post. Thanks for putting all info together.

    - Karthika

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    April 5, 2011 at 7:35pm

    Andrea, Thanks, and it’d be really helpful to me and other readers if you could explain how this is done. I tried looking up the offending blogs on Whois.com but didn’t get any contact info for whoever it’s registered to. When I searched my own blog and a couple of other legitimate ones I could only come up with info for the registrant and for GoDaddy, but not for the specific blogger. Maybe I’m doing something wrong?

    Karthika, Thanks!

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priya

    April 5, 2011 at 8:06pm

    Its really pathetic, recently i can see more posts like this, dunno when its gonna stop,makes me angry..

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Manasi

    April 7, 2011 at 12:39am

    I’m sorry u had to go thru this… it hurts to think that ur hard work is blatantly stolen.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cilantro

    April 7, 2011 at 9:52pm

    Thank you Vaishali, it is indeed a very good information and it helps in dealing with plagiarism. Thank you again.

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    saravixen

    April 14, 2011 at 6:40pm

    It’s really sad that people do stuff like that… I can’t understand, there’s no fun in it right? I hope things work out!

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Isn't That Ironic

    May 1, 2011 at 9:31pm

    Haha, this is great. You aren’t going to believe this!

    So, I was searching the internet for articles about blog scraping to find out ways I could report this despicable practice. Though I’m not a blogger myself, it irritates the heck out of me when I see content that I know has been stolen from legitimate sources.

    Anyway, I stumbled upon you’re article, and it was you’re article, except for one thing, it was on a different website! The thing is, that I found that page first, and thought that IT was the original page. (I was a bit surprised that such a great blog post was on such a plain blog, with no comments.)

    Then I found the real page here, and I wondered why holycowvegan would steal an article, and aritcle of all things, about stealing content. (yes I can be slow at times.)

    Well ANYWAY, the scumbags webpage is here, in case you are interested. http://www.breadrecipe.biz/blog-scrapers-and-dealing-with-them.html

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Vaishali

    May 2, 2011 at 12:09am

    Isn’t it Ironic, That’s ironic indeed. And the article appears on the scraper blog with the Holy Cow! copyright, which demonstrates how arrogant these scumbags are and how little they care about being seen as thieves, so long as they can make a buck. Thanks for pointing it out!

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