11.03.2009

on internet parasites

You all know how I feel about the massive proliferation of advertising in our world, cluttering our view, crowding out real discourse, polluting every aspect of modern life. I do realize advertising serves a purpose, especially on the internet, where we all expect everything to materialize for our use at no cost. But the ubiquity of advertising in our lives depresses me, and oppresses me.

And if it's one thing I hate more than advertising, it's when people exploit other people's creativity for their own profit and give nothing in return. When Toyota or Honda uses a song in an ad, they have to ask permission, and they have to pay for it. If someone uses my blog to sell ads - and only to sell ads - they should ask, too. And if I say yes, they should give me something in return - something more than a link.

I wish bloggers didn't sell ad space on their own blogs; I'd like to see blogs, as a medium, be completely advertising-free. I have many reasons for that, which I won't get into here. However, I fully recognize the right of every blogger to conduct her blog as she sees fit.

But no one should use material from someone else's blog for commercial gain without the blogger's permission, and without a revenue-sharing arrangement. No one pays us for blogging. But no one should profit from our blogging, either, unless they share that profit with us.

There are several sites out there purporting to be blog "directories". Here's how they work. A guy compiles a number of blog feeds and puts them all on a page. He sells as much advertising as he possibly can. He pockets the cash. What do the bloggers get? Zippo. Directory Guy claims he's offering a service to bloggers. But what he's actually doing is selling ads around content that he poached.

Many bloggers may agree with Directory Guy. They may believe that anyone who shares their work is doing them a favour by bringing their blog traffic. They may never have written professionally, and perhaps being paid for their efforts is the furthest thing from their minds. But that doesn't mean they're not being exploited.

If a non-commercial site such as Common Dreams or Progressive Bloggers shares your posts, they are providing a service for both readers and bloggers. But if, for example, Salon or Rolling Stone or The New York Times wants to use your work, that's a business arrangement, and you should be paid (and retain your rights to the material). There's a difference between a free, non-commercial site and a profit-making venture.

I write for free, and I write for pay, depending on the situation. If someone else is profiting from my writing, they should be sharing some of that with me. And if Directory Guy needs "content" for his revenue-generating website, because he has no ideas and no ability to write anything of his own, then he should: one, ask permission to use my material, and two, compensate me for my efforts.

8 comments:

James said...

Directory Guy no doubt would argue that he's giving your content exposure to new readers, and that qualifies as a service to you.

It reminds me of an ongoing argument among amateur cartoonists / illustrators I know. The illustrators produce portfolios & comic books to sell at conventions, and get very upset when people start scanning the artwork and posting it online for anyone to download.

The scanners say, "What are you complaining about? It's free advertising! It'll increase your sales!" -- which might be great, if that's were true, but you should really ask if the artist wants free advertising first. And, further, it isn't necessarily true. Unless the artist is in control of what gets released and how, it more often results in sales dying completely.

So, to Mr. Directory Guy: If you want to offer a free promotional service to artists / writers / whatever, that's great. But ask them if they actually want the service first.

redsock said...

That is exactly what he is claiming.

The person/site L is writing about came up in a search I did -- and I saw Joy of Sox posts of mine posted without a link back to the blog. (She has also had issues with this guy going back awhile.)

I emailed this to him:

You are re-posting stuff from my blog and you do not have my permission to do that. Plus you are not including a link back to the original source. Here is an example: [URL]
Please stop this immediately and delete any and all content from my blog. Thank you.

His reply (indeed, the very first words of his email):
"What the hell is your problem? I am doing you a favour and you're complaining?"

redsock said...

I frequently look at my statcounter stats and see where visitors come from. I have never seen his website in that list.

James said...

His reply (indeed, the very first words of his email):
"What the hell is your problem? I am doing you a favour and you're complaining?"


My question would be, "What favour is that, exactly?

"Increased my traffic? No, there was no link to my blog, so no way for readers to get to my site.

"Increased my visibility to the blogosphere? Well, without a link back, that doesn't really mean anything.

"Increased my ad revenues? No, even if I have ads, revenues only come from increased traffic, of which there was none.

"Increased your own ad revenues? You're welcome. Now take me off your site."

L-girl said...

"Increased your own ad revenues? You're welcome. Now take me off your site."

Excellent, James. I like that!

Now, in my case, Directory Guy did provide a link. He has feeds to a dozen or so Canadian bloggers, with links back to their sites. As Allan noted, he does claim to be giving us "free advertising".

When I first found his directory, he had misspelled the name of this blog. When I asked him to change it, he said, "This is what your blog is named on [directory site]. I'm giving you free advertising, don't complain! What the hell is your problem?!"

I am not exaggerating - this is what he said right out of the gate.

I told him he has no right to change the title of my blog, and asked him again to correct it.

He said: "That's it, you're off my site!" - which would have been fine, but he left my blog there, changed the spelling of the title, but *still* got it wrong!!

To my knowledge, the only reader who comes to me through that site is HIM! And the more I thought about it, the less I wanted my blog associated with such an ugly site. (It's just a page full of ads, with some blog feeds in the middle.)

So I asked him again to remove the feed. He yelled at me some more - but finally did it. In every email, he says, "Seems strange that you don't want free advertising!" or "You are very weird for not wanting free advertising!" Strange or not, get me out of there...

Stephanie said...

How about this..."Uhm, nobody here asked for your help, thanks!"

redsock said...

Or:
"When I want your useless assistance, I'll ask for it."

impudent strumpet said...

They fuck up google results too. Whatever I'm looking for, I want the original, not a half-assed ad-infested mirror. They're almost as bad as fake torrent sites that way.