Black-Hat Sploggers Leave a Bad Taste
The other day, I got invited to help promote an Internet marketing report. Since I don’t endorse anything I haven’t seen (unless I make it very clear that it’s a favor to a friend, etc., and I haven’t personally evaluated), I asked for a copy–and boy, was I appalled.
The model these folks were pushing was to steal content, intersperse enough meaningless blather so Google doesn’t think it’s a duplicate page, and build traffic/ad revenues.
I let it simmer for a couple of days, until I could respond with enough politeness to get read, and until I could find a way to talk to the part of these people that wants to be better (with a tip of the hat to my friend Bob Burg, who taught me how to do that), and then responded this morning, thusly:
“Let me know what you think, good or bad. I appreciate your opinion.”
OK, you asked. I read it over the weekend.
I’m sure you have good intentions, but frankly, I find your business model unethical. It is one very small step above splogging; the only difference is you’re adding meaningless content around someone else’s words instead of just presenting someone else’s hard work.
It devalues the Internet as a useful information medium; I’d hate to see search results be as useless as e-mail, but if people follow your model, they contribute to poor search results.
And then there’s the matter of making a buck on other people’s hard-earned intellectual property without compensating them in any way, or even asking permission, and doing so in a way that most definitely violates the Fair Use provisions of the copyright law.
I think with the intelligence and understanding of the Internet that underlies your black hat approach, you could come up with a business model that would be just as profitable and a whole lot more palatable. Come talk to me when you’ve done so.
Postscript: I got a response, quickly, that basically said, “well, that’s fine, but I disagree.” Needless to say, I won’t become her affiliate any time soon.