Are You Feeding Your Ancestors to Splogs?

Are You Feeding Your Ancestors to Splogs?

by Kerry Scott on 29 September 2010

A couple of days ago I was working on entering all of the people I found during my Pop-Tart-fueled middle-of-the-night research binge.  As is often the case when I’m doing data entry, I got bored.  Who doesn’t like doing the research more than keying in the results?

I decided I’d indulge just a little bit by googling each person as I entered them.  Imagine my surprise when I found multiple mentions of each person!  “Oscar Conrad Lauby”, for example, had nearly a full page of results.

Then I noticed something interesting.  The first result when I searched for “Oscar Conrad Lauby” was my own post about him.  The other results were…also my own post.  The words were mine, but they were appearing on splogs.  Poor Oscar has been kidnapped and taken into some pretty ugly neighborhoods.  My paragraph about finding him in the Minnesota Death Index is now on a site for people who want to meet horny Atlantic City women, another for people who like “casual Latina sex women,” and several other sketchy sites.  They haven’t stolen the whole article—just a few lines, often (but not always) with a link back to my site.  I’m not sure what sort of SEO strategy involves linking dead people to horny people, but apparently somebody out there thought this was a good idea.

I found the same thing when I searched for others from the same post.  I found content from other posts too.  In fact, my favorite part of this whole exercise was finding content from a post I wrote about funny things employees did when they failed pre-employment drug tests on a site that provides information and products designed to help you avoid testing positive for drugs.  At least the thief had a sense of irony.

I know Thomas MacEntee has done a great deal of work trying to stop content scrapers from stealing content from members of GeneaBloggers.  It seems there are more and more of these out there; I’m a little overwhelmed by the number I found when I looked.  In about a 20 minutes, I found about 70 sites with at least a few lines of my content.  There are probably more, but by then I’d run out of time and patience.  I do have Google alerts set up for my name and blog name, but not for every sentence I write.

Some folks think the best strategy is to just let it go, and make sure you have lots of links back to your own content in your posts (something I do anyway).  The idea is that you’ll benefit from the links in terms of search engine rankings, so your original content will always be at the top of the list (and with those Oscar Lauby snippets, my post WAS at the top).  I’ve resisted this thought up until now…but geez.  This is beginning to feel like a part-time job.

What do you think?  How do you deal with content scrapers?

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas MacEntee September 29, 2010 at 2:30 pm

This is why I have about 20 different Google Alerts set up – for my name, the names of my blogs and websites, etc. I also use FairShare and a few other programs as well to identify splogs.

My rule has been: if I find them, I send a standard cease a desist message or comment if possible. The one’s who steal entire posts without linkback or attribution are reserved for special punishment – such as being called out at GeneaBloggers and a warning put up to the genealogy blogging community.

Some say it is a waste of time – but we’ve actually forced several sites to go offline. I think that if we act together and confront this, then folks will know not to mess with genealogy sites.


Kerry Scott October 1, 2010 at 6:38 am

I think I need to automate the process more…like having a C&D all queued up and ready to go. I’ll check out Fairshare as well.

Interestingly, none of the blogs I found were genealogy blogs. Out of 70, not one related to genealogy. I’m not sure whether that’s because this blog started out on another topic or what, but I was surprised by that.


JL September 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I don’t know if ‘letting it go’ is the best policy. The SEO rules change constantly so I can’t say for sure, but my understanding is that back links from low class neighbourhoods drag you down in whatever way Google can drag you down. You are who you associate with.


Kerry Scott October 1, 2010 at 6:39 am

Interesting! I always thought it was the other way around (where you were evaluated by where your outbound links go, but not your inbound links). I need to do some reading on that.


JL October 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

You are definitely evaluated by your incoming links. “Important” pages pointing to you mean you must be important.

Some sites will go after hundreds of zero-value back links, like from link farms, hoping to impress Google with the volume and, of course, Google isn’t that stupid so they penalize people for being such dorks. Better really that the scum steal your feed and don’t link back to you. Like I said though, just my understanding.


Heather Wilkinson Rojo September 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Complain to their advertisers. Some of the sploggers that had my posts also had big time advertisers like Ancestry and Apple. Both of those companies contacted me right away, after I notified them of what was going on. My content disappeared quickly from those splogger sites. I suppose Ancestry and Apple’s lawyers were much more effective than my wimpy complaints.


Kerry Scott October 1, 2010 at 6:40 am

That’s a great point—a lot of times, the advertisers are probably going to care more than anyone else, especially if they’re respectable companies.


savvysavingbytes October 1, 2010 at 12:00 pm

In my incoming links I have started seeing links from weird sites. The few times I’ve clicked on them I haven’t been able to find the link leading to my site. Some of the links are so grungy I’m too chicken to click on them thinking they might be malware/trouble-making sites.

I’m glad to read all these suggestions here for dealing with this stuff. I like the bit about contacting advertisers. I’ve also read that if a site doesn’t remove your stolen content after requested, you should notify their IP service; their warning will be more effective than yours.


JL October 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I get a lot of these too and the reason you can’t find the actual link is that it’s gone by the time you get there. Your Webmaster Tools are running a few days behind. The site is rotating feeds and images, and whatever, and your link is yesterday’s news. The only reason they’re linking to you at all is because it’s happening automatically. They’re picking up content wherever they can so they don’t have to produce it themselves. If I paid attention to this with any seriousness I wouldn’t get anything else done, ever.


savvysavingbytes October 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Thanks JL, It’s nice to have this little mystery of the disappearing links solved. It’s been happening more and more, so glad I won’t have to mull it over in the future.


JL October 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

How do I get my gravatar to show up here?


Kerry Scott October 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm

You have to set it up on and it’ll show up here and on other self-hosted Wordpress blogs (and I think some others as well). You don’t see it much in the genealogy world, where everyone seems to use Blogger, but it’s nice for other niches where most blogs are on WordPress.


JL October 2, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Continuing way off topic here: obviously I mastered but how do they show in WordPress comments? Before you roll your eyes all the way around, I know the options are under Discussion in the dashboard, but this is just not working. I can’t find anything in the forums. I can’t find anything online. You’re my last resort. Is it Thesis causing the trouble?


JL October 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

It’s OK, thanks. I got it. Thesis indeed.


Bohemian Hijabi October 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

How awful! Thanks so much for the post, because it definitely makes me more mindful. I don’t know how effective it is, but I registered my blog with, so every post gets “protected”.


JL October 3, 2010 at 11:20 am is nothing but a bunch of ads. Nice try.


JL October 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

The correct address is

If you upload your feeds, they give you a badge that says “Protected” that won’t make any difference to sploggers scraping your feed because they won’t see it. You would still have to go through the regular channels of issuing a cease & desist order or taking legal action if you prefer.


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