Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blog Cannibalism

There are more than 20 blogs in my bookmarks list. I open them in tabs and either read or at least scan each of them every day. While a fair number of them are about Japan, some of them are also about technology or news. By far, the ones I enjoy most tend to be those where people talk about their lives in an interesting fashion but I also like to see what's new (even if I'm very unlikely to purchase anything).

One thing I have noticed from reading so many blogs is that there appears to be a fair amount of cannibalism going on. That is, I see a lot of people posting exactly what other people have posted about already. This is particularly pervasive when it comes to posts about items or certain news bits which tend to appear on the big technological announcement sites like Engadget or from major item-oriented sites like TokyoMango. In many cases, the same graphics are pinched and used in the copycat posting.

While I like it when people say things like, "I read about this on (site name) and I think this/want this/think it sucks/love this because...", I don't like what boils down to outright content theft. The reason I don't like the repetition of announcements isn't that I'm annoyed that I'm not being served new content. It's mainly because it makes me think some people have blogs but really don't have enough to say so they go around stealing someone else's work. It also makes me feel like people who work harder to get content are being ripped off.

Obviously, there are situations which occur where everyone tends to ride the same bit of news at the same time, particularly when that news is a major release from a big company like Apple. I'm not talking about those situations. I'm talking about when someone will post a picture and talk about something relatively esoteric then the exact same picture and essentially parallel content are posted on another blog shortly thereafter. I've seen this happen with Roy's Q-taro blog on occasion because he tends to come across more quirky and unique items than most people.

I guess this sort of copying is the result of the profitability of some web sites but also from the pressure people feel to steadily feed their audiences with "new" content each and every day. I sometimes wonder why people care so much about posting every day if there's nothing to say. After all, if you have to pinch content to fill the space on a particular day, then you didn't really post everyday and saying you posted for x number of days straight has no meaning.

To be honest, early on in my blogging, I intentionally skipped days so I wouldn't fall into the trap of thinking 'I've posted every day since I started'. It prevented me from falling into the ego-gratifying but ultimately empty trap of feeling posting everyday was a necessity since I "failed" at posting once a day without fail very early on.


Sean P. Aune said...

Posting every day IS a trap... and I've been going for 2 years, 4 months now. *sigh* (Course, I am an amateur compared to Luis *laugh*)

On the upside though, it just helped me get a job with a tech blog because they liked my "tenacity". So... there are things to be said for it.

Shari said...

Is this a real job where money is handed to you or like my blogcritics "job" where I write for the "fame"? ;-)

I think that missing a few days a month isn't going to undermine the perception that one is tenacious.

Roy said...

It's taken lots of effort to not feel bad about not posting everyday. As you know I have cut down my posting by half. This is partly on purpose but also because there hasn't been much that is compelling enough for me to post about. I guess I'm just bored and haven't really gone out too much because of the rain.

Search engines like technorati and google monitor how often a site is updated and spyders will come more often if there are multiple updates a day no matter how trivial, so there is some value in doing daily updates.

Shari said...

Roy: I guess that, if you are making money from your blogs and care about traffic, it'd be better to push but, honestly, I have to imagine that coming up on searches won't do you any good if the content isn't interesting or qualitatively decent such that people won't continually come back and read what you have to say.

What you said about searches reminds me of something I call "Google whoring" which also irritates me. People will find that a random search will bring people to their blog at some point in time and that random word (or combination of words) doesn't normally appear in their blogs so they keep mentioning those unusual words despite the fact that they have nothing to say on the topic anymore just to keep drawing in those random searchers.

The absolute worst are the double Google whores who will find out someone else had a lot of hits with a topic and then mention that someone else had those hits in the hopes the same random collection of words will draw people to their sites even when they have nothing to say on the topic.

Honestly, it's just sad that people are so desperate to have random strangers boost their hit counts that they do this sort of thing (both cannibalizing other people's work and Google whoring).

I'm glad for you that you don't feel bad about not posting every day anymore. You have a good and interesting blog and it's value lies as much in what you choose not to post as in what you choose to post. I visit everyday whether you update or not because it's worth checking back even if there are several days (or a week or whatever) without an update.

CMUwriter said...

I work for a newspaper as a reporter and read a few blogs everyday (including this one) and I always see content spread around. In some cases it is good because the people who comment find out additional information and thus expand the overall story. I don't mind when blogs link to my stories, but I hate it when stories get lifted from the pages of our paper and get printed on the internet with no attribution.

This has happened a few times. We have a web site, and we put a few of the stories on there and the classifieds so people can read them, but we don't put all the stories on there. Through Google searches I found a ton of my stories, with or without my byline and newspaper name on the sites. The name of my paper was almost never on the sites, and my byline was hit or miss.

I recently did a story in regards to a Chrysler product and a guy from the the company called me for permission to reprint my photos and story on their company website. I am not going to get any extra money for this, but it is a feather in my cap, and it give me the credit. That is how I wish people would do it.

Sean P. Aune said...

Shari - Actual job where I shall be handed money to ramble about tech and gadgets. It's like a dream come true ! *laugh*

Shari said...

cmuwriter: I was going to mention that I bet that paid journalists who do the legwork for all the stories getting ripped off are probably pretty unhappy about this sort of thing as it undermines their value.

Personally, I never include the details of any news I comment on but only summarize (hopefully in one sentence) and provide a link.

Sean: I can't tell if you're joking or not. ;-)