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Is Syndicating Other People’s Content on Your Blog OK?

Posted By Darren Rowse 10th of May 2008 Reader Questions 0 Comments

ProBlogger-Community-Discussion.jpgThis weekend I’d like to throw open a couple of discussion starters for the ProBlogger community. The questions come from some of my Twitter followers.

flabuless asks the following question to you the ProBlogger community:

“Is syndicating content is kosher or not…ie running someone elses content through rss into ones own blog?”

This is a particularly important question that I see a variety of opinions on in my travels around the blogosphere. Do you syndicate other people’s content? If so, do you have some standards or guidelines around how you do it? What is your reaction to when you see others doing it to your content?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Syndicating… no. If you really like a blogger’s work you can always ask if you can repost something on your own site, but otherwise you should be creating your own content.

    And if you like what someone is saying, quote relevant parts and share your own opinions, giving credit.

    I don’t read blogs that do nothing more than syndicate someone else’s work. I’d rather go to the source.

    I know some blogs will pull work from a lot of blogs on their topic, trying to claim that they’re bringing a lot of resources on that topic together. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done well.

  2. Dan Cole says: 05/10/2008 at 3:46 pm

    Syndicating content could keep it alive in the long run. Often time people shut down their site and content is lost forever.

  3. My blog has a specific focus (as I hope all blogs do) and that is creative moms….I want to be able to maintain that focus and have control over what “ambiance” my posts reside. I’d hate to find they were somewhere undesirable. I wouldn’t approve anyone to syndicate my writing (unless I had some control and they paid very, very well.)

    http://maternalspark.blogspot.com

  4. I’ve seen it happen often to my photography blog. I’m usually rather upset to see this happen because it means that the blogger has not really added any value or context; but usually its the entire blog that has syndicated content.

    It just leaves me more determined to come out on top by having a more recognised blog… on that is popular and that has all original content.

  5. Its ok if you are providing only an excerpt and linking back to the blog. But its just wrong to read a feed and publish the full content.Not only will it lead to a duplicate content penalty the original blogger want get any readers as well.This happened to me recently and I added a RSS signature after that.

  6. Like Stephanie I’d rather go straight to the source – where’s the value add from a blog full of syndicated content?

  7. I think as long as permission is given, it is okay. Problem is, permission is not given a majority of the time.

  8. I have syndicated RSS content on my sites, but only if the publishing party has given me permission, either with a blanket statement on their site or via personal contact.

    If someone is taking another’s content and passing it off as their own, I would be upset. This is a “no go” in by book.

    That said, there is a huge range between these two extremes. I tend to lean more toward the conservative “ask or don’t take” policy, I can see some applications of syndication which would be OK. All of them, though, preserve credit and encourage readers to visit the original source.

  9. If you syndicated our content on your website, we’d be grateful for the extra traffic! lol!

    http://www.coolwebmoms.com

  10. No way, it’s not ok. When a blogger creates content it’s their own original, copyrighted work. If another blogger then takes the original blogger’s RSS feed and reposts that feed on their site/splog – well, that’s just plagiarism.

    Funny how many of these splogs you see running Adsense, too, trying to profit from the hours upon hours of work that other bloggers put into creating their content for their own blogs.

    If a developer creates an RSS feed service that prevents RSS scraping I’d drop Feedburner in a heartbeat – I dare say that there would be one or two fellow bloggers who would do the same.

  11. In a perfect world, everyone would take parts of the post, comment on them (add an editorial discussing what they like or disliked) and then link back to the source. This however is not what always happens and there are those that simply fill their blogs will content 100% from RSS feeds. The problem with that is those blogs (95% of them from what we have seen) tend to really get little to no traffic and as already stated, they offer no real value to anyone.

    Did we answer the question? Nope… so here is our answer.

    Unless specifically stated on the source site that you can not do it, then yes it is OK.

  12. I can’t imagine a lot of situations where this might be appropriate. The only thing I can see that might be appropriate is an RSS feed of headlines generated in a sidebar widget or something, but certainly not the entire content. The headline generator (like the one offered by Feedburner) could be a traffic generator without stealing content outright.

    The only time I’ve seen it done to my own content is splogs that run off of an search term feed, i.e. “NoFactZone has an excellent post about blah blah, ….” At least most of those are only partial.

  13. I have to agree. Syndicated content feels like cheating to me. I think the value of blogging is in the community/conversational aspect of it. I’m all for quoting posts and linking to them, there’s a big wide world out there and we’re bound to miss out on interesting things if people didn’t do that – but just grabbing a feed and publishing it whole (whether with attribution or not) doesn’t have much value to anyone.

  14. I don’t think that it’s ok. It’s clearly done only for the profit of the person syndicating the original authors work.

    Honestly I blame search engines and things like that. When someone that’s stealing another persons work can become more popular due to their internet knowhow than the original author, it’s just not right.

    I suppose that a little snippet from an article, maybe a couple of sentences or a short paragraph; or simply giving their own run down of the content on the other site and then linking to it; either of those would be fine I think. That’s done through all sorts of media. But flat out stealing other peoples content is lame.

  15. Syndicating is a touchy subject. Here’s how I break it down:

    If you syndicate anything, claiming to be the author of it, that is extremely uncool, and you are basically leeching off my content.

    If you syndicate my most recent blogpost titles and perhaps a short excerpt, with a clear link back to my blog, then that’s cool.

    If you syndicate with prior permission, all is good too, and in most other case than the one above, at least asking first seems like the best way to go.

  16. DB Ferguson did bring up a good point – if the only thing that is posted is the headline that links to the original post, then that’s different. You don’t see splogs doing that though, they repost either the entire post from the feed or chunks of it.

    There is a legit site out there that is an RSS aggregator but it only posts headlines and those headlines link directly to the original blog post – alltop.com. I’m NOT objecting to this, but am 100% against the reposting of RSS feeds on splogs, a.k.a. – plagiarism. Just wanted to note that after reading DB’s comment. ;)

    I also highly recommend http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/ for anyone who may be dealing with content theft, and especially http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/dmca-contact-information/ for a full list of DMCA guidelines.

  17. Syndicate headlines with a link to the source. Syndicate full feeds while adding nothing of your own, what’s the point? If all you do is syndicate others content and add nothing, what’s your value proposition?

    And no one should have to say this, but if it goes unsaid someone will take it as implicit permission – syndicating even a headline without a link is an absolute NO.

  18. Direct syndication through an RSS feed without making comment or you’re own editorial on the article is pretty sketchy, I’d be upset if someone was doing it to me.

    However, if someone syndicates a part of the article with a ‘read more’ link and a bit of an opinion on what’s been written is cool, and quite flattering and ok in my opinion.

  19. This isn’t acceptable in my book. Unless of course the person syndicating has permission from the blog owner, but frankly I can’t really see the point. I’ve yet to see a site based largely on syndicating others that is useful!

    Syndicating blog headlines on the other hand seems fine to me, so long as they link back.

    Last month I found another blog re-using mine and several other people’s feeds with no attempt at attribution and no way of politely contacting the blog owner. It was in Blogger so I flagged the blog for them to look at and nothing happened. So I alerted adsense and feedburner who both sent me the Digital Millennium Copyright Act form to fill in, which I would have filled in in due course but was a fair bit of hassle given that it has to be paper mailed to a different country or signed and faxed.

    Anyway, my point is that it’s worth persevering with these things – I flagged the blog again in Blogger in a strop earlier in the week and I’ve just checked back and the blog in question has been taken offline.

  20. It’s like writing a book, and then someone taking your book to another publisher, re-doing the cover, and then selling it again.

    I’m all for quoting others, and then linking to the actual site, but complete syndication seems so not right. It’s an easy way to have an ad-loaded website that you don’t have to keep up at all.

  21. I’ve been struggling with this issue myself. While I get RSS and use it myself to read various blogs. But well, I’m not sure I get how I could use RSS feeds to help supply content for my site.

    In my case, I have permission to run some stuff from from a friend’s newsletter/blog, but I don’t want all of it (since she has stuff posted daily), just something once a week. So my main concern is how to pick and choose which particular posts I might want to run from an RSS feed. Any idea if this is even doable or how I might be able to work that out?

  22. I don’t think that is ethic but some people just want to catch SE traffic and make some $ with ads.

  23. @Matt, “…part of the article with a ‘read more’ link and a bit of an opinion on what’s been written is cool, and quite flattering and ok in my opinion” – that’s not syndication, that’s another blogger who likes what you wrote and is linking to you – and you’re right, it’s a good thing, a very good thing. :)

    And pro bloggers only include a few sentences of your article in their post, a paragraph at most along with their opinion or feedback on what you wrote, always linking to you. ;) Darren does that a lot, but he’s not pulling anyone’s RSS feeds (ok, this just made me crack up, to think that Darren Rowse would ever syndicate someone else’s RSS feed on his blog, can you guys see why I’m laughing over here??) LOL

  24. if its well linked you could have my whole site…usually this is not the case and those rss leeches take my pathetic efforts with no return

  25. Any sort of displaying data in the second blog with out prior permission/mentioning the source of content is not acceptable.

  26. I’ve often wondered if there was such a thing as a syndication infinite loop.

    Someone auto syndicates a post onto their blog. Then, another blog auto syndicates the auto syndicated content. As chance would have it the first blog to auto syndicate the post was also setup to auto syndicate from the second blog. So, the two blogs end up auto syndicating the same post back and forth forever, or until the internet times out and we all go back to our regularly scheduled lives.

  27. I agree with Rasmus – credit where credit is due, and I think a link back is a nice courtesy.

    Also, you shouldn’t syndicate most of your content. If there is one post that is syndicated every now and then, with credit, then it’s OK.

  28. I think it’s ok if you publish an small excerpt or just the title, with the aim to send readers to the blog.

    It’s more important for non-techie topics, with people that don’t use (or don’t want) feeds.

    For example, my blog is half-blog, half-syndicating. And the syndicating part is the main interest for readers. And blogs syndicated receive lot of readers on each update (as we can’t read the post on my blog). Everyone is happy ! (except blogs not syndicated ;))

  29. I am againts RSS syndication without prior permission – it is a theft and it creates only problems with duplicated content.

  30. I am against RSS syndication without prior permission – it is a theft and it creates only problems with duplicated content.

  31. Syndicating other’s content onto our own sites is a huge no-no to me, though there’s a WordPress plugin that tracks the latest entry by another user who had posted a comment on the blog that runs that plugin: CommentLuv.

    Only short excerpts and the link to the comments are captured. It’s not syndicating the entire content so it is still alright.

  32. I syndicate your stuff Darren, but with some limitations.

    10 article titles as links only (no content) via RSS. Also, the 10 links appear only on the blogging category page (my site is heavily modified wordpress).

    Is it ok to do? Well, I didn’t ask because you provide the feed freely.

    Does it help my blog? Probably not, but it helps visitors. ProBlogger is an authority site on blogging so if a reader doesn’t find what they want in my articles… I offer yours too.

    There is no duplicate content issue, the original source gets full credit and full serps love, my site receives none… as it should be.

    Bottom line – is it good for your readers? if so, go for it.

  33. Boult says: 05/10/2008 at 7:35 pm

    You mean like reBlog ( http://www.eyebeam.org/reblog/ ) ?

  34. If someone writes something I think is worth discussing on my blog, I will post a snippet (paragraph or two) with a direct link back to the source, encourage my readers to visit said article on that site, and then write my own views as the content for the rest of my post.

    Haven’t gotten any complaints yet.

    I never syndicate any portion of content without providing direct links back; I think that including a link is simply Internet good manners.

    Data points,

    Barbara

  35. I think it depends on what you “intend” to syndicate..

    For example:
    => I think it’s ok to syndicate blog articles which are “general, news type, sports, soccer, poker..etc”

    => But I don’t think it’s ok to syndicate posts which has a “unique idea and writing style” being conveyed by its author. May be a quote is ok here.

    – Wakish –

  36. As to whether it’s okay in terms of building a good following for your blog, I don’t know. I’m not convinced and there seems to be some negative feeling from the comments above.

    As to whether it’s okay ethically and legally, this I can answer. Unless you have permission from the original creator of the content, then it’s definitely not okay and is, in fact, illegal. Penalties could include being sued for breach of copyright and, if your blog is hosted in the US, having the entire site removed if the hosting company receives a DMCA take-down notice. The creator of the content would not normally give permission unless you were paying them or giving something valuable in return.

    If you are paying them, then it goes back to the first question. Is this a good strategy? If it’s a questionable strategy when it’s free, I can’t imagine it would be a better strategy when it costs you money.

  37. If I see a topic or a post that I think would be interesting to my readers, I much prefer to include a quote or two and discuss the topic from my viewpoint and within the context of my blog’s focus.

    That’s what I think my readers expect. I blog about new urbanism and how we can make community life support our personal and professional goals.

    http://www.newurbanmom.com

    I’ll also include a link to the original post that may have sparked the topic. That to me is the best way to use blogs, serve your audience, and make others aware of good material on other sites.

  38. I feel it’s tasteless. Plain and simple. You should have your own work you created yourself. Like a few people said above, I would rather go to the source. I like providing my own content rather then somene else’s.

  39. It makes sense to syndicate only when there are many sources, and syndicating provides an over-all picture of a field or topic.

    And, it shouldn’t dominate your content.

    And it helps, if you credit your sources in a small intro.

  40. I’ve seen this a lot with my blog. I’m not sure if it’s a part of wordpress or not but I always get these comments on every post [… greg wrote something …] with a link back to them that has what i wrote linking back to me. The comments would appear with in moments of publishing. So after checking them out all i see is either the whole post wrapped with adsense top bottom left and right and some in between. I never approve these comments to keep from linking to them.

  41. Well isn’t it a bit too easy to say that syndicating is tasteless and bad. Isn’t google syndicating your content? Yahoo, Live delicious and about a 100 other sites which most of you are following tactics to be better syndicated by?

  42. I once came across a syndicated post from my personal blog. The site that lifted my material had no email address, though, so I didn’t know what to do about it. Can you do anything in a case like that?

    Also, about quoting, normally I’d say no permission is needed, as long as credit is given. One of my blogs, though, catalogs choice sayings by bloggers (like Bartlett’s just bloggy). Because there are so many quotes, I get written permission to use them.

  43. I have no issues with it as long as credit is given. Anytime I repost something or syndicate it, I ALWAYS give credit back to the original author.

  44. Would seem an odd thing to do unless you just want to create sites for adsense. Would prefer to discuss the piece and refer people to the original blog. I imagine if people did this wholesale then there could be a duplicate content problem. I’ve heard recently that Google credits the account with the most links to a piece with authorship and ignores the others.

  45. I personally think that it’s great when someone posts my stuff on their website and sends a link my way.

    So if amyone ever feels the urge, go right ahead.

    :)

  46. Contarary to most others opinions here, your readers may appreciate you taking the time to pull the info.

    My approach has always been to link to that article and more importantly, give my take on why I agree or disagree with it.

    That is the value that I think I can offer my readers.

    So, completely just reposting an article may not be cool, but quoting certain parts of it adds to your take. I don’t find an issue with that and as long as I am quoting the source (ie. link to original content) think that is good.

    In the long run, it probably helps both sites.

    Just my thoughts.

  47. I think the content should be original, otherwise, what is the point…??

  48. Something I wrote recently attracted a lot of attention via Google, and I was getting many hundreds of hits. Then they vanished. It turned out that my article had mysteriously vanished from Google’s front page for the search-word combination most commonly used, and had been replaced by the same article being reblogged by a feed-stealer. And lo and behold, my article was being proudly listed by the criminal site in question as their No 1 article! There was a note on the copyright violator’s site to the effect that he would remove feeds on request, but that “I do not seek permission to re-publish feed”. There was no email address listed or any other means for contacting this asshole.

    Reblogging is theft. It is cheap laziness, it is capable of wreaking havoc on one’s search-engine rankings, it stinks. I think feed-stealers should be named and shamed (this one is called recycledart.org) and that there should be a means of having them de-listed and barred like purveyors of child porn. There should be prosecutions. Google should ban them. Most importantly, there should be a mechanism (is there one? I haven’t found it) via Feedburner to block access to one’s feed from specified sites.

    Stop theft. Stop copyright violation. Preserve your intellectual property.

  49. I’ve noticed, when typing my blog’s url into Google — a trick learned from reading Pro Bloger — that several websites have published some of my posts. While most of them gave attribution with a link to my site at the end an article, some others sites just published my work with no mention of the author or website they stole it from. And I always have “by Randy Place” under the title of most posts.

    This has led me to put a copywrite and “not to be used without permission” notice at the bottom of my last few posts.

    It’s stealing and a violation of what’s right to just lift an article from another website.

    There! I feel better now.

    randy place

  50. Like Susheel, I’ve had it happen to me, too, but when I sign up for content ezines and give them permission to syndicate, I can’t do too much about it after that. I’m okay with it unless someone doesn’t give me credit. I haven’t syndicated anyone’s content on either of my blogs, not that I won’t, but because I have enough content to fill up my blogs, I haven’t needed to. I think it would be appropriate to add content geared toward your subject when you hit blocks, though. I’d rather syndicate someone else’s content than have my blog go blank for a number of weeks for example. However, if you have a subscriber base and you do this all of a sudden, they’re going to wonder what’s going on. Some blogs (spam blogs for example) exist solely on grabbing content off the Internet and running it, but you don’t want your subscribers to think you’ve turned into one of those, either, unless that’s your main intention from the get go.

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