TechCrunch: Linkblogs are evil?

Ahh, TechCrunch gets after linkblogs and warns Google not to turn on more features in Google Reader.

As publisher of the biggest linkblog on the Internet, with about 300,000 items collected over the past year, you might be right to sense that I don’t agree.

But you’d be wrong.

Content producers should be able to keep their content off of such link blogs.

The thing is TechCrunch is way behind the times here. If you don’t want your content used on such link blogs you should look at what Sphinn is doing: providing only partial text feeds.

Also, reputable link bloggers should comply with the wishes of content producers.

So, Mike Arrington, are you asking me to stop link blogging TechCrunch? If so, I’ll unsubscribe from your blog and stop doing it.

I figured that since I’ve been doing it for a year without a single complaint from any of the feeds I’ve been using that the copyright holders have agreed that linkblogging is OK with them.

Is that no longer the case?

You all know my email robertscoble@hotmail.com and phone number 425-205-1921.

Comments

  1. This sounds all the more bizarre that in Google Reader when you share an article, the article retains it source information (content url, feed information, authors, etc.) This is simple digital representation of word of mouth.

    Do you have a ball park idea of how many people subscribe to your linkblog?

  2. This sounds all the more bizarre that in Google Reader when you share an article, the article retains it source information (content url, feed information, authors, etc.) This is simple digital representation of word of mouth.

    Do you have a ball park idea of how many people subscribe to your linkblog?

  3. Edwin: I have no idea.

    But, when I link to something the feed I link to reports getting anywhere from a few hundred new visitors to a few thousand. So, I’d assume a few thousand.

  4. Edwin: I have no idea.

    But, when I link to something the feed I link to reports getting anywhere from a few hundred new visitors to a few thousand. So, I’d assume a few thousand.

  5. I don’t think linkblogs should necessary aggregate, just link with commentary. Doing so means you avoid the whole copyright issue, and nobody’s got a leg to stand on when they say you shouldn’t be linking to them (don’t want linked? don’t put the content on the Internet).

    See http://nevali.net/category/links for how I do it. I think it works well.

  6. I don’t think linkblogs should necessary aggregate, just link with commentary. Doing so means you avoid the whole copyright issue, and nobody’s got a leg to stand on when they say you shouldn’t be linking to them (don’t want linked? don’t put the content on the Internet).

    See http://nevali.net/category/links for how I do it. I think it works well.

  7. [...] Doesn’t this sound like Sam Zell’s complaint against Google News? I am not sure if Mike Arrington subscribes to this view of Duncan Riley. If he does, I would say that techcrunch is still in the Web 1.0 era while covering a lot about Web 2.0 companies. Isn’t Mike Arrington the guy who was pitching Digg as a replacement for New York Times? I wonder what he feels when his employee takes an entirely opposite stance when it comes to new social media technologies. Duncan dude, get over it. The way we consume media has changed a lot. The ideas about copyright has changed. As long as the original source is linked, it is not a copyright violation. If linkblog is bad, techmeme is bad, digg is bad and we can extend such a logic to claim that the whole idea of social media is bad. It is not Google that should drop the idea. It is Duncan Riley who should drop the old fashioned thinking about media consumption. Times are changing dude. Being the torch bearer of Web 2.0 companies, it doesn’t look good to talk in Web 1.0 slang. Robert responds to Duncan’s comments here. [...]

  8. Robert, there’s no down side to having a linkblog, or having my content on your linkblog. It’s simply a running public bookmarks page, which never hurt anyone. It’s a lot like del.icio.us, and last I heard, that service was just fine.

    I do have your LinkBlog in my Google Reader, and appreciate it for what it is. Through your LinkBlog, I’ve been exposed to voices I wouldn’t otherwise.

  9. Robert, there’s no down side to having a linkblog, or having my content on your linkblog. It’s simply a running public bookmarks page, which never hurt anyone. It’s a lot like del.icio.us, and last I heard, that service was just fine.

    I do have your LinkBlog in my Google Reader, and appreciate it for what it is. Through your LinkBlog, I’ve been exposed to voices I wouldn’t otherwise.

  10. Robert, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, don’t you dare give up on your link blog! Pleeease! It’s one of the most important data-streams in my life and save me loads of time every week by filtering out the noise and bringing me the important stuff.

    Don’t mind Riley, he’s way behind the times on this. I can’t understand how he didn’t see the writing on the wall. Last January I started writing about “Google ReWriter” -

    “…. blog posting, commenting and social bookmarking are various forms of the same thing – annotation…. we must shake off the page-centric mindset. The ‘Wide Web was about reading pages, the Live Web is about annotating microchunks (e.g. permalinks). While we tend to categorize our annotation according to the point of submission, each form is essentially the same. Whether to your own blog, someone else’s blog or a third party note-taking site it’s the same mechanism. Different context but same mechanism.What sense does it make that I have to open my Performancing plug-in to blog, visit a blogger’s web page to comment and invoke a del.icio.us pop-up to take a note? None! I should be able to perform each annotation from within my aggregator – a single unified interface to the Live Web. And I’m betting that’s exactly what Google ReWriter will become.”

    I followed up in February -

    “…. how will we publish these microformatted comments? With our Google ReWriters (or other 2nd generation aggregator/annotators). We can already use Google Reader to annotate (tag) posts, just press ‘T’. A new version will allow us to comment, just press ‘C’. These comments will be microformatted and tossed back into our uniFeeds, there to be scanned and recombined back into the discussion flow by any microformat aware aggregator.”

    Not meaning to blow my own trumpet but it’s been very obvious to many that this was on the cards.

  11. Robert, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, don’t you dare give up on your link blog! Pleeease! It’s one of the most important data-streams in my life and save me loads of time every week by filtering out the noise and bringing me the important stuff.

    Don’t mind Riley, he’s way behind the times on this. I can’t understand how he didn’t see the writing on the wall. Last January I started writing about “Google ReWriter” -

    “…. blog posting, commenting and social bookmarking are various forms of the same thing – annotation…. we must shake off the page-centric mindset. The ‘Wide Web was about reading pages, the Live Web is about annotating microchunks (e.g. permalinks). While we tend to categorize our annotation according to the point of submission, each form is essentially the same. Whether to your own blog, someone else’s blog or a third party note-taking site it’s the same mechanism. Different context but same mechanism.What sense does it make that I have to open my Performancing plug-in to blog, visit a blogger’s web page to comment and invoke a del.icio.us pop-up to take a note? None! I should be able to perform each annotation from within my aggregator – a single unified interface to the Live Web. And I’m betting that’s exactly what Google ReWriter will become.”

    I followed up in February -

    “…. how will we publish these microformatted comments? With our Google ReWriters (or other 2nd generation aggregator/annotators). We can already use Google Reader to annotate (tag) posts, just press ‘T’. A new version will allow us to comment, just press ‘C’. These comments will be microformatted and tossed back into our uniFeeds, there to be scanned and recombined back into the discussion flow by any microformat aware aggregator.”

    Not meaning to blow my own trumpet but it’s been very obvious to many that this was on the cards.

  12. I’m speechless: you’re advocating part feeds. Major, major backflip.

    As for people being able to opt-out: great; you do the right thing and good for you, but you’d be nearly entirely alone. I didn’t name you in the post and I wasn’t talking about you in particular so to say I’m some how wrong is incorrect: believe it or not you are not the be all and end all of so-called link bloggers; folks aren’t all like you Robert.

    To some of the other commenters: I’m not for one minute advocating that people shouldn’t be able to read feeds in a feed reader or find stuff by social bookmarking (indeed the notion that you’d think that says more about yourselves than me, this isn’t an all or nothing proposition). You’re confusing what I’m say with republishing those feeds on another site for all to read: link blogs with full content create a new destination which bypasses the publisher in ways they may not have agreed to: that, when done without permission is copyright theft, plain and simple. The line between a so-called link blog that republishes full posts and a spam blog that publishers the same content is non-existent, and I’d note that it would be as easy as day to monetize a Google Reader link blog as well.

    James
    I’ve written about this in the past as well…the difference today is Google is thinking about adding a comment facility which further enhances the link blog as an alternative destination to the source…in effect a link blog basically becomes a fully fledged blog under this proposal.

  13. I’m speechless: you’re advocating part feeds. Major, major backflip.

    As for people being able to opt-out: great; you do the right thing and good for you, but you’d be nearly entirely alone. I didn’t name you in the post and I wasn’t talking about you in particular so to say I’m some how wrong is incorrect: believe it or not you are not the be all and end all of so-called link bloggers; folks aren’t all like you Robert.

    To some of the other commenters: I’m not for one minute advocating that people shouldn’t be able to read feeds in a feed reader or find stuff by social bookmarking (indeed the notion that you’d think that says more about yourselves than me, this isn’t an all or nothing proposition). You’re confusing what I’m say with republishing those feeds on another site for all to read: link blogs with full content create a new destination which bypasses the publisher in ways they may not have agreed to: that, when done without permission is copyright theft, plain and simple. The line between a so-called link blog that republishes full posts and a spam blog that publishers the same content is non-existent, and I’d note that it would be as easy as day to monetize a Google Reader link blog as well.

    James
    I’ve written about this in the past as well…the difference today is Google is thinking about adding a comment facility which further enhances the link blog as an alternative destination to the source…in effect a link blog basically becomes a fully fledged blog under this proposal.

  14. I’m not advocating them. I +hate+ them with a passion. It’s just that partial text feeds DO keep your content from being reused. So, if you really are worried about that then partial text feeds ARE an alternative. That doesn’t mean I like them, or will send you a lot of traffic. Look at my link blog. I RARELY link to partial text stuff. Only when I have no other choice.

    Please do give us some examples of other link bloggers and how they differ from my behavior.

    It’s also TOTAL BULLSHIT that there’s no difference between what I do and what a spam blog does.

    SPAM BLOG=Automated, reprints every item of your blog, no human involved.
    LINK BLOG=Human picks every item, only occassional items used.

    I find it very interesting that no one has asked me to remove them from my link blog. Even you. And I most definitely are reprinting full text feeds in my link blog.

  15. I’m not advocating them. I +hate+ them with a passion. It’s just that partial text feeds DO keep your content from being reused. So, if you really are worried about that then partial text feeds ARE an alternative. That doesn’t mean I like them, or will send you a lot of traffic. Look at my link blog. I RARELY link to partial text stuff. Only when I have no other choice.

    Please do give us some examples of other link bloggers and how they differ from my behavior.

    It’s also TOTAL BULLSHIT that there’s no difference between what I do and what a spam blog does.

    SPAM BLOG=Automated, reprints every item of your blog, no human involved.
    LINK BLOG=Human picks every item, only occassional items used.

    I find it very interesting that no one has asked me to remove them from my link blog. Even you. And I most definitely are reprinting full text feeds in my link blog.

  16. Robert, your linkblog application is stripping out usage information published with feeds.

    I did ping you in my post last week, not sure if you saw it.

    As I have said many times, I publish under GPL, I even don’t mind being splogged as that gives me more links and traffic, but Google really do need to pay attention to existing copyright and distribution mechanisms in feeds, and not strip it out.

  17. Robert, your linkblog application is stripping out usage information published with feeds.

    I did ping you in my post last week, not sure if you saw it.

    As I have said many times, I publish under GPL, I even don’t mind being splogged as that gives me more links and traffic, but Google really do need to pay attention to existing copyright and distribution mechanisms in feeds, and not strip it out.

  18. Andy: I must have missed that.

    What kinds of usage information is stripped out? What kind of RSS tags are you putting that info into?

    UPDATE: Nevermind, I found this post of yours: http://andybeard.eu/2007/09/open-social-web-google-reader.html

    So, basically, you don’t want people to repost your content. Are you asking me not to do that? If so, I’ll just unsubscribe.

    RSS is still a SYNDICATION system. It’s different from the expections you have with your social networking data.

  19. Andy: I must have missed that.

    What kinds of usage information is stripped out? What kind of RSS tags are you putting that info into?

    UPDATE: Nevermind, I found this post of yours: http://andybeard.eu/2007/09/open-social-web-google-reader.html

    So, basically, you don’t want people to repost your content. Are you asking me not to do that? If so, I’ll just unsubscribe.

    RSS is still a SYNDICATION system. It’s different from the expections you have with your social networking data.

  20. My content is GPL, I love people syndicating it, splogging it, making it into ebooks they sell, republishing in print publications, even sticking their own name on it, as long as they give me credit for my contributions.

    Legally you are allowed to use my content and I encourage it.

    there are 3 problems

    1. Google and Feedburner are not supporting what was implemented by Bloglines last August (and no one really knew about it)
    2. Google Reader strips this out when you share stuff
    3. It is possible to share RSS feeds by mistake using a hotkey, and RSS content is becoming more and more sensitive.

    It is not just a copyright issue, but it would allow content providers choice.

  21. My content is GPL, I love people syndicating it, splogging it, making it into ebooks they sell, republishing in print publications, even sticking their own name on it, as long as they give me credit for my contributions.

    Legally you are allowed to use my content and I encourage it.

    there are 3 problems

    1. Google and Feedburner are not supporting what was implemented by Bloglines last August (and no one really knew about it)
    2. Google Reader strips this out when you share stuff
    3. It is possible to share RSS feeds by mistake using a hotkey, and RSS content is becoming more and more sensitive.

    It is not just a copyright issue, but it would allow content providers choice.

  22. Andy: Bloglines crap shouldn’t just be implemented by everyone. That breaks the RSS standard, doesn’t it?

    Or do you advocate implementing, say, stuff that Microsoft does?

    I have to do more research into the Bloglines stuff and how it’s implemented.

    That stuff isn’t RSS, to me. I wonder what Dave Winer would say about it. Or what the RSS Advisory Board says about it (Dave Winer, by the way, doesn’t agree with the board on lots of stuff, but it would be good to know).

  23. Andy: Bloglines crap shouldn’t just be implemented by everyone. That breaks the RSS standard, doesn’t it?

    Or do you advocate implementing, say, stuff that Microsoft does?

    I have to do more research into the Bloglines stuff and how it’s implemented.

    That stuff isn’t RSS, to me. I wonder what Dave Winer would say about it. Or what the RSS Advisory Board says about it (Dave Winer, by the way, doesn’t agree with the board on lots of stuff, but it would be good to know).

  24. As far as I can see, it is implemented just like creative commons, or the way Feedburner implement the Yahoo Pipes blocking.

    I can’t see any reason why Feedburner hasn’t implemented it as an easy option.

    The Facebook guys are also fairly smart, I am sure they wouldn’t have implemented it unless they thought it was necessary, and in their documentation they suggest it works with Google Reader… it doesn’t as I had my shared items updating live for 24 hours.

    I should have grabbed a screen shot when one of your shared items was being displayed ;)

    Lets put it in perspective.

    Eventually Google are going to provide a complete “Robert Scoble” interface to the web, one master control centre, well unless Facebook get there first.

    Within that you will manage all your private and public communication.

    You will have both public and private RSS feeds in the same river of news, including baby photos you only want to share with family but don’t want them to share any further (Miriam’s wishes I believe)

    “Maryam doesn’t want Milan to become a public object. She doesn’t want to see his photo taken onto some gossip or hater site and turned into a Kathy Sierra-style caricature.”

    But in your Google Master Console it could happen by accident, especially if you are accessing it from your iPhone which probably isn’t so accurate as a normal keyboard.

    Then think about some of the companies you have interviewed in the past, such as FreeIQ

    They are offering premium content, and they even have RSS feeds.
    The RSS feeds only contain thumbnails of the content you have paid for, because they can’t keep video content secure.
    They have some other bugs with enclosures as well for the free stuff that gets syndicated, but long-term wouldn’t it be great if that content was delivered by RSS, and the content owner was fairly sure the content couldn’t be syndicated by mistake.

    It is impossible to prevent distribution totally, you just include safeguards to prevent it happening by accident, and maybe watermark it – it is easy enough to watermark videos in private feeds, if there was a purpose.

    Email is fairly secure, in that people rarely “splog” email, even though they could do it easily.
    In many ways email spam would be the ideal content to use for splogs, maybe some smart guys already do it.

    Also it is important to realise that you are not a typical user, and other people probably make more mistakes with hotkeys.

    You know, those people who phone you up and say that a program doesn’t work any more, and it turns out they or their kids have dragged one folder into another on their system, breaking almost everything.

    Typical users will make mistakes with sharing private data the more RSS is adopted, in much the same way people make mistakes with CCing all their contacts on something that is confidential.

    The funny thing is, the video from Google was probably shared by accident.

  25. As far as I can see, it is implemented just like creative commons, or the way Feedburner implement the Yahoo Pipes blocking.

    I can’t see any reason why Feedburner hasn’t implemented it as an easy option.

    The Facebook guys are also fairly smart, I am sure they wouldn’t have implemented it unless they thought it was necessary, and in their documentation they suggest it works with Google Reader… it doesn’t as I had my shared items updating live for 24 hours.

    I should have grabbed a screen shot when one of your shared items was being displayed ;)

    Lets put it in perspective.

    Eventually Google are going to provide a complete “Robert Scoble” interface to the web, one master control centre, well unless Facebook get there first.

    Within that you will manage all your private and public communication.

    You will have both public and private RSS feeds in the same river of news, including baby photos you only want to share with family but don’t want them to share any further (Miriam’s wishes I believe)

    “Maryam doesn’t want Milan to become a public object. She doesn’t want to see his photo taken onto some gossip or hater site and turned into a Kathy Sierra-style caricature.”

    But in your Google Master Console it could happen by accident, especially if you are accessing it from your iPhone which probably isn’t so accurate as a normal keyboard.

    Then think about some of the companies you have interviewed in the past, such as FreeIQ

    They are offering premium content, and they even have RSS feeds.
    The RSS feeds only contain thumbnails of the content you have paid for, because they can’t keep video content secure.
    They have some other bugs with enclosures as well for the free stuff that gets syndicated, but long-term wouldn’t it be great if that content was delivered by RSS, and the content owner was fairly sure the content couldn’t be syndicated by mistake.

    It is impossible to prevent distribution totally, you just include safeguards to prevent it happening by accident, and maybe watermark it – it is easy enough to watermark videos in private feeds, if there was a purpose.

    Email is fairly secure, in that people rarely “splog” email, even though they could do it easily.
    In many ways email spam would be the ideal content to use for splogs, maybe some smart guys already do it.

    Also it is important to realise that you are not a typical user, and other people probably make more mistakes with hotkeys.

    You know, those people who phone you up and say that a program doesn’t work any more, and it turns out they or their kids have dragged one folder into another on their system, breaking almost everything.

    Typical users will make mistakes with sharing private data the more RSS is adopted, in much the same way people make mistakes with CCing all their contacts on something that is confidential.

    The funny thing is, the video from Google was probably shared by accident.

  26. With full content publishing in RSS feeds like you’ve asked for you should realize why so many of the articles you read, where there are links in them, link back to the originating site.

    RSS is a double-edged sword. As a reader I love it, as a website owner I can feel the sting of low site interactivity because people read and never visit (this may not be such a deal for big sites, but for niche sites it is felt stronger).

  27. With full content publishing in RSS feeds like you’ve asked for you should realize why so many of the articles you read, where there are links in them, link back to the originating site.

    RSS is a double-edged sword. As a reader I love it, as a website owner I can feel the sting of low site interactivity because people read and never visit (this may not be such a deal for big sites, but for niche sites it is felt stronger).

  28. I’m not sure what the problem is with letting others republish your full text posts via a link blog. So long as link bloggers aren’t changing the article, are sourcing and linking it correctly and aren’t removing in-feed ads, I see this as a good thing for publishers.

  29. I’m not sure what the problem is with letting others republish your full text posts via a link blog. So long as link bloggers aren’t changing the article, are sourcing and linking it correctly and aren’t removing in-feed ads, I see this as a good thing for publishers.

  30. As for adding comments to link blogs, I don’t really care. It still goes to republishers maintaining the integrity of the content. As a publisher, what’s the downside to expanding your ads to other sites, too?

  31. As for adding comments to link blogs, I don’t really care. It still goes to republishers maintaining the integrity of the content. As a publisher, what’s the downside to expanding your ads to other sites, too?

  32. I’d love to be picked up on your link blog. If Arrington objects, then consider linking to some of us who don’t mind the exposure. ;-)

    My thinking is that if you publish an RSS feed, you’re inviting people to read and share it. Isn’t that the point of social networks?

    Now, commenting is a different issue. I’m not exactly sure how Google plans for comments to work, but if it’s similar to delicious, where I can add a comment about why I’m sharing or highlight what I liked about the article, I suppose that’s okay. But I’d like to see comments posted to the blog itself, frankly, because I don’t want to have to hunt down all the ‘shared items’ comments around the web to see what people are saying.

  33. I’d love to be picked up on your link blog. If Arrington objects, then consider linking to some of us who don’t mind the exposure. ;-)

    My thinking is that if you publish an RSS feed, you’re inviting people to read and share it. Isn’t that the point of social networks?

    Now, commenting is a different issue. I’m not exactly sure how Google plans for comments to work, but if it’s similar to delicious, where I can add a comment about why I’m sharing or highlight what I liked about the article, I suppose that’s okay. But I’d like to see comments posted to the blog itself, frankly, because I don’t want to have to hunt down all the ‘shared items’ comments around the web to see what people are saying.

  34. This is all new to me. Writing articles with links attached (Affiliate links) I thought I could make an
    extra income working from home. But my gosh you are all so serious! I almost felt like someone should break out the soccer boppers. Those inflatable boxing gloves my
    kids played with back in the seventies. Even I was getting a little overheated reading all of your comments back and forth.I thought all of your comments were legitimate to the person giving it. You are all very passionate people. Oh! congratulations on the new little one. You now have a new passion!

  35. This is all new to me. Writing articles with links attached (Affiliate links) I thought I could make an
    extra income working from home. But my gosh you are all so serious! I almost felt like someone should break out the soccer boppers. Those inflatable boxing gloves my
    kids played with back in the seventies. Even I was getting a little overheated reading all of your comments back and forth.I thought all of your comments were legitimate to the person giving it. You are all very passionate people. Oh! congratulations on the new little one. You now have a new passion!