Scraping, Aggregating or Referencing?

Updated June 8, 2011

Doc Sheldon

Nobody likes to see their content stolen. It’s bad enough when someone uses your content without your permission. But when they do so, and present it as their own work, it can push your blood pressure beyond safe limits. Personally, I normally don’t even like it when they give me credit for the work, if they haven’t asked my permission first, as that can create a number of issues, none of which I care to have to deal with. But at least that’s neither malicious nor larcenous on their part.

But when it’s just plain plagiarism, I’ll go out of my way to ruin your day. If you’ve changed the byline and links in the copy, don’t even bother trying to express your innocence… you’re a thief, plain and simple, and as such, you’ll get no mercy from me.

I do understand, of course, that sometimes you can come across something that eloquently states your feelings, or corroborates your opinion and citing it is the perfect solution. That’s fine. While some may have a different opinion, my preference is to cite a relevant excerpt, link to the entire piece and give credit to the author. I’ve done that many times, both online and in print, and have never had a complaint. It’s a standard means of incorporating someone else’s work into your own, while giving them credit where due.

There’s another very acceptable means of re-presenting someone else’s work online, though, which doesn’t duplicate any part of their work, provided they have a feed established.

While there are a number of ways to accomplish this, one very quick and easy fashion on the WordPress platform is via a plugin called MultiFeedSnap. Install this plugin, and you can then list any feed you like, by simply encapsulating the feed URL in the bracketed feedsnap tags, [ ] and [ /], with “feedsnap” inserted (no quotes). it’s that easy.

For instance, the feedburner URL for my old blog is:
http://mst3.wordpress.com/feed/
so to show it in this fashion, I would just wrap it in the feedsnap tags, and voila!

Since I have it set up to show the last five posts on the feed, that’s what would be displayed. I’m set up to only display the title of the post, so there’s essentially no duplicate content issues raised.

It’s a handy way to share the content of others with your users, while respecting their property… and you can also share some PageRank with them. Since we can assume you wouldn’t be sharing their feed unless you thought it was valuable content, then that seems only fair, right? 😉

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