10 thoughts on “The Ethics of WordPress Automatic Content Aggregration (Autoblogs vs Splogs) Leave a comment

  1. I say go ahead and release it as-is, meaning with only post excerpts and proper attribution. There are already other plugins that do this, like FeedWordPress, so there is no reason not to.

    I’d love the plugin to be able to add an author for the name of each content source as well as put that content source in the post tile. For example “Mashable: Ten Great WordPress Plugins” or whatever. Then it will be obvious where the article came from and people can even go to the author page to see all the posts from that news source.

    1. That’s an interesting thought. So what you’re suggesting is to make it really really obvious what the source of each post is, including attribution fully and clearly. I quite like that – and it should be easy to do as well.

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  3. I had a news aggregation site which failed because google wouldn’t index it.
    I feel like I made every effort to expose and link back to the original content.
    Most sites viewed this favorably. Only one site complained.

    It was necessary for the site to be in google because it was more efficient for a potential reader to find a post on a topic there than on my site.
    Ironically google is under pressure in the EU for doing the same thing en masse.
    I got the feeling the reason google killed the site was because it was potential competition.

    One day I will revive the site as soon as I can figure out how to do it without google.
    Beware of google!

  4. i didn’t forget about this. i have a post scheduled for later today to address this.


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  6. If people want to act unethically they will do it with or without your product. Just release it. What if Bentley halted production on their cars because they were worried someone might intentionally drive too fast and cause a wreck? πŸ™‚

  7. I definitely understand your situation, and why you’re second guessing yourself. For the most part, I think, there isn’t such a thing as a “bad” plugin. Just bad use of the plugin. The eternally (over?) optimistic side of myself says that a developer can’t be blamed for the nefarious ways someone might use their work.

    At the same time, I’m not sure any creative person can completely separate themselves from what their work allows others to do. It’s worth recognizing that people will — absolutely will — use the plugin in ways you didn’t intend or don’t want to defend or support.

    Ultimately, it will come down to which of your convictions is stronger: providing utility people want, or making sure you can’t possibly be contributing to some of the nastier habits of the internet. I think both positions can be argued, and as long as you’re comfortable with what you’ve done, I think either option can be the right way to go.

  8. Hi Ben

    I enjoy this article and chain of your thoughts. I am with Dan on this one – people will do it, with you or without you. So better publish it and make life easier for people who will use it properly. For the example my sister is ballet dancer now in 40tis and I always tell her she should start website for young girls wanting to be dancers. And she could offer some resources and make special Q&A section for direct chat with girls. but this plugin could add directory of posts related to ballet. What would be nice addition.

    Still it would be good to have very prominent source and also flexibility how much to show – featured image (or first image as fallback) and number of words that could be defined. with something like ‘Read more at ….” at the end. Is that idea, right?

    As per my knowledge of SEO, Google will anyway penalize website that just ‘steals’ full content, so they would not get traffic anyway.

    By the way nicely designed website. I landed here looking for some WP query (posts form last 30 days in random order).


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