Spamblog October 14, 2008 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Rehosted content sucks. Can we not link to spammy blogspam with stolen pictures?
posted by loquacious to Etiquette/Policy at 11:00 AM (84 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Generally speaking I think that's a good idea but a lot of people don't really know that what they're linking to falls into that category. Do you have more constructive guidance for them besides posting "this sucks" in the thread?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:02 AM on October 14, 2008


Generally speaking I think that's a good idea but a lot of people don't really know that what they're linking to falls into that category. Do you have more constructive guidance for them besides posting "this sucks" in the thread?

Wow, did you actually remove my comment talking about how the post sucked? What the fuck, jessamyn? I'm not attacking the poster or calling them names.

At the moment, no, I don't have anything more constructive because I'm suddenly pissed off at the arbitrary comment deletion and I should probably walk the fuck away from the computer for a little bit before continuing to post. Thanks.
posted by loquacious at 11:13 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's the maverick we all know and love!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:20 AM on October 14, 2008


Whew. I'm glad someone else jumped in first. Thanks, loquacious. May your time away be centering.

I think a general guideline (the one I use when Stumbling and deciding whether or not to thumbsup something or not) is whether or not the site posting provides the following:
1) Source for pics
2) Explanation for what you're seeing
3) Content beyond just re-posting and saying "these are neat pics I found somewhere!"
posted by batmonkey at 11:23 AM on October 14, 2008


I agree, and have said as much about two previous posts to scummy "famous photos" sites.

As for constructive suggestions, I can't think of anything pithy that you could put on the FAQ. On one hand, its not necessarily up to the OP to completely ensure that their links meet some arbitrary standard of net ethics. On the other hand, in this case its pretty damn easy to figure out that this is a sleazy site:

Step 1: Google the first paragraph of the "Road of Death" link.

Step 2: Click on the first result.

Step 3: Observe that the entire content - pictures and text - is lifted from another blog's post from February of this year, with only a generic "via" link to sawse.com.

Step 4: Reconsider sending more traffic tutztutz.com's way.
posted by googly at 11:30 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was surprised that post stayed around, since it seemed like stuff that had been posted here before in it's original form. I think a guideline like "posting re-hosted content is generally frowned upon; try to find original or attributed sources" is all that's necessary.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:47 AM on October 14, 2008


Or maybe that should read "unattributed re-hosted content".
posted by oneirodynia at 11:48 AM on October 14, 2008


Really, does this have to be explained? Is the theft on these sites not as obvious as the nose on your face? There are lots of sites like these. At best they scan in old magazine photo essays. At worst, it's a few mouse clicks and they simply steal from one another. In this case it was a shitty site that spawned a different but somewhat equally shitty discussion about someone loquacious knows which probably made it double-plus-bad for him.

I don't think the post needs to be deleted, but I hope people know better than to post these low-end sites in the future which get more than enough traffic from the digg.com and ebaums of the world. In fairness to cogneuro, I think his heart was in the right place as the photos on the site are interesting, but that particular site sure ain't the best of the web, except by proxy.
posted by GuyZero at 11:55 AM on October 14, 2008


Yes, maybe an exhortation to try to find the "source", or as close as possible to a definitive source on the web as exists, is in order.
posted by Mister_A at 12:08 PM on October 14, 2008


I think these posts do need to be deleted. They're not best of anything, they're just scrapers and aggregators, not real sites with any kind of context or community. It's not even "LOOK AT THIS COOL THING I FOUND" so much as "LOOK AT THIS COOL STUFF I STOLE SO I CAN GET AD REVENUE."

At the VERY LEAST the poster could have mentioned that some of the ads on the page were NSFW. (I have a feeling these are rotating banners, but still. NSFW ads on an otherwise SFW page should scream "scummy site.")
posted by desjardins at 12:25 PM on October 14, 2008




What the fuck, jessamyn?

Way out of line.

I believe the proper format is:

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
JESSAMYN?
posted by ODiV at 12:30 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh dear, I'm at fault in Oh Wowing and then linking/posting to sites with cool pictures taken from other places. I only learned about the wrongness of this in a telephone conversation from a more savvy MeFite.

And I still do it sometimes because those sites can make marvelous collections I would not have seen elsewhere, ie looking through old photographs, ferroequinology, which uses English Russia, and extreme survivors from Dark Roasted, which have just recently learned to give credit to photographers and others' sites. And my worst choice, AmazingFiltered in interesting visuals.

Prior to my telephone conversation with this brighter MeFite, I hadn't heard the term spamblog. It never entered my numbskull the combination of oh wow pictures of interesting things and spam.

cogneuro has only ever posted 7 times in over a couple of years. It's quite possible they don't know about what a spamblog is. I didn't until recently. But even if cogneuro did, they apologized in the OP "OK, it's a little cheesy, maybe MeFark or Believe It or Not Only True"

One of the reasons I didn't think about collecting images on a site being wrong is that on pretty much all the websites online that include images that are not of their own creation, images are taken from elsewhere. Most of the websites that create sets of images do not do so to take credit for the illustrations or photographs, only to make a grouping of a type of image or about a certain event.

There are thousands of Flickr sets with images taken from magazines, advertising, posters, books, articles, other websites. Usually the artists are not credited. They are just "Flickr sets". MeFites do not get livid when a set about book covers from a Flickr set is linked, ephemera or retro anything. Radiographs. How come nobody's furious those X-rays are not credited?

One of the gazillion excellent things about Metafilter is that it can be a rough and tumble cyber learning place. When I've screwed up I have been yelled at for it. ouch. I know that my posts were not brought to the attention by loquacious but I know I'm at fault, way more than cogneuro.

I just didn't know not to link those kinds of "spamblog" sites. (What the hell is a "spamblog"? Had to look it up just now.) How would this TutzTutz site be spamming anybody? Can you please hope me understand that? I'm sorry if linking to any of these spamblog sites offended Mefites, who I love very much.

Not out of mischief but because some of the Russian sites are so incredible at finding cool stuff, I might do it again though :) but will try and be careful in making wiser choices.
posted by nickyskye at 12:31 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Loq still has a comment up in that thread. Was a different one removed?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:32 PM on October 14, 2008


One thing that can practically be done, and I know I've done this myself a couple times in the last year or so, is to replace leech links with original sources when it doesn't somehow break the post. So dropping us a line or mentioning in thread that X was lifted from site Y, here's a link, eh? eh? can be a good way to rectify this stuff after the fact.

There's basically no way to be sure that every poster will understand that (a) there's an issue with their source and that (b) there's an alternative original source for same. Folks are going to not know, and I think it's a sort of fuzzy not-highly-visible issue for most people.

I don't get much out of these posts usually, and so I rarely look in them except when someone brings it to my attention somehow with flagging or a direct mention.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2008


I'm so fucking pissed off !
posted by Damn That Television at 12:36 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The underlying issue is that most of these posts probably come from people just clicking through StumbleUpon pages. Kids, don't make a career out of reposting sites you saw via StumbleUpon to Metafilter.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:41 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


(What the hell is a "spamblog"? Had to look it up just now.) How would this TutzTutz site be spamming anybody? Can you please hope me understand that?

I'm not too concerned about parsing whether or not a particular site qualifies as a "spamblog" or not. My only beef is that a lot of these photoblog sites (see the links in my post above for a couple others) are just crap: they steal content wholesale from other sites; they present them in a format that is designed primarily to maximize ad revenue; and they often contain misleading or incorrect information. As desjardins said, they are hardly the best of the web.
posted by googly at 12:41 PM on October 14, 2008


How would this TutzTutz site be spamming anybody?

It's not (necessarily complicit with) broadcast email spamming; it's folks appropriating, without permission, the content of other people as google-bait to get eyeballs and mouseclicks on the ads hosted at their crappy automatically-constructed sites. A sort of slurp-and-grift routine, more like selling bootleg merch in this context than sending out 409 scams.

We see it with Mefi content sometimes, and any number of mefites can tell you about personal experiences with their own blogs as well -- RSS is a boon to readers and content providers, but it's also a firehose of easy content misappropriation for any jackass who wants to turn your content production into their content provision.

AskMe feed + blog software + shitty graphic design + ads, ads, ads = profit.

Loq still has a comment up in that thread. Was a different one removed?

A different one was removed. I don't want to jump in the middle here or speak for Jessamyn, but we have, following Matt's active lead, been more willing to remove one-liner "this sucks" type comments from threads in the last year, and loq's certainly fit into that general category, at least. Arguing the finer points of the specific deletion is it's own thing, though, and I'm not sure that's what this thread was intended to be about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:42 PM on October 14, 2008


Talking flash ads are scary and make me jump. Not cool!
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:45 PM on October 14, 2008


And to expand on my first comment up there and reiterate what a couple people have touched on already: part of the difficulty here is that it's not always a case where Author A is ripped off byte-per-byte by Leech B. You also see things like a second party collecting stuff from a variety of sources, so there's no real alternative single link to come from; or a second party collating a bunch of stuff from Author A into a single, less-fucking-obnoxious viewing format (think crappy-artsy flash photo galleries, or 50-items-on-25-pages clickfests).

Acquisition without appropriation still sucks, and I find most varieties of that behavior between lame and despicable depending on the context and execution, but that does contribute to folks being willing to go with a maybe-slightly-sketchy looking source instead of a more-legit-but-shitty-to-use alternate.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on October 14, 2008


There's basically no way to be sure that every poster will understand that (a) there's an issue with their source and that (b) there's an alternative original source for same.

I agree with cortex. Mefites are a bunch of stupids.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:47 PM on October 14, 2008


A different one was removed. I don't want to jump in the middle here or speak for Jessamyn, but we have, following Matt's active lead, been more willing to remove one-liner "this sucks" type comments from threads in the last year, and loq's certainly fit into that general category, at least.

That about sums up the deleted comment. Yes, it's a throw-away comment but I've been operating under the assumption that comments don't get deleted unless they're attacking another user directly, outright spam or otherwise lame stunt posts like copy-pastes of the entire Magna Carta or something.

I don't really like this new policy, but I don't like that kind of noise (which I was guilty of), either, so I'm torn. On one hand comments should stand so when people are surly or stupid (as I was) it stands for the public record.

Arguing the finer points of the specific deletion is it's own thing, though, and I'm not sure that's what this thread was intended to be about.

It's not what this thread was intended to be about. The comment was deleted after I made this MetaTalk thread and my response was "Wait, what the fuck?" not because it was a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, but more because my comment was deleted while the poorly researched and/or vetted post wasn't, even though it's technically a double or triple post.


Thanks to the folks that helped define what a spamblog is while I went and had some coffee.

That's the maverick we all know and love!

That's what your mom said.

posted by loquacious at 1:04 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree with cortex. Mefites are a bunch of stupids.

Yes, ha ha, but no. What mefites are is a great big bunch of people who—despite the generally strongly savvy-tending nature of that portion of the regulars and old-schoolers among us who do things like discuss this stuff in metatalk—are pretty broad and diverse in their levels and areas of experience with the web, content appropriation, etc. There are lots of people here who are neither stupid nor particularly savvy about this stuff.

What may seem pretty obvious to some of us is not necessarily obvious at all to the average infrequent poster, so I think it makes sense to explicitly acknowledge that and keep it in mind when trying to figure out to prevent (largely impossible, in my opinion) or mitigate (probably doable, see above!) something like this that is less clear-cut than, say, a post that's nothing but a torrent to an major label album or a camcorder rip of a new movie.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:06 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am, and you can too Sys Rq.
posted by Mister_A at 1:06 PM on October 14, 2008


Whoops. The first paragraph in my last comment should be italics, as I'm quoting cortex and I'm a big fat stupidhead. A different one was removed...
posted by loquacious at 1:06 PM on October 14, 2008


Fixed it. You managed to use the rare <eml> tag.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:08 PM on October 14, 2008


loquacious, I think jessamnyn did you a service in removing your "this sucks" comment, as it may have taken some of the wind from the sails of your more thoughtful and thought-provoking comment that remains in the thread TO THIS VERY DAY.
posted by Mister_A at 1:10 PM on October 14, 2008


Thread sucking machine. Who knew?
posted by everichon at 1:17 PM on October 14, 2008


loquacious, I think jessamnyn did you a service in removing your "this sucks" comment, as it may have taken some of the wind from the sails of your more thoughtful and thought-provoking comment that remains in the thread TO THIS VERY DAY.

Can I waive the protectionist treatment? Some days you just need to shoot yourself in the foot. Reminds you that you're alive. Assuming you bandage it before you bleed out.
posted by loquacious at 1:20 PM on October 14, 2008


Consider it waived, bucko!
posted by Mister_A at 1:36 PM on October 14, 2008


Some days you just need to shoot yourself in the foot. Reminds you that you're alive.

I prefer to just dribble on my foot a little at the urinal. It's not as dramatic a gesture, but it still wakes me up in the morning. And it helps prevent athlete's foot, too!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:38 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


How come nobody's furious those X-rays are not credited?

Because no one's making money off of posting Flickr sets. The poster of the radiograph set (Surfactant) does not receive any money when someone clicks on his/her photos. Spamblogs exist ONLY to get clicks for ad revenue. By linking to those sites, we are giving money to someone who didn't spend any time creating anything (it was done through bots) and is ripping off someone else's content. The Russian sites that "find cool stuff" are "finding" it by using programs to scrape it off of other sites and RSS feeds. The wikipedia article explains this pretty well. I'm not saying some of the content isn't interesting and cool, and I've probably linked to a few of these myself. However, I think the original source should be used whenever possible, and in the case of the vagabond photos, the photographer deserves the credit and the clicks.
posted by desjardins at 1:42 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


You should do that in the shower like civilized people do, Flo.
posted by Mister_A at 1:42 PM on October 14, 2008


Can I waive the protectionist treatment?

I think if you participate in Metafilter you implicitly agree to moderator rules. Asking for special treatment is, well, bratty.
posted by kalessin at 1:48 PM on October 14, 2008


I'm a maverick, Mister_A.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2008


loquacious, maybe you should relax and not be so violent.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:53 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have you guys seen this great site full of kitten pictures!?
posted by nola at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2008


I prefer to just dribble on my foot a little at the urinal. It's not as dramatic a gesture, but it still wakes me up in the morning. And it helps prevent athlete's foot, too!

That wasn't your foot, man. You owe me one black Chuck Taylor.
posted by jonmc at 2:02 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, so why's it gotta be a black shoe?
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:19 PM on October 14, 2008


To make my feet look bigger.
posted by jonmc at 2:23 PM on October 14, 2008


To make my feet look bigger.

Black is slimming.

desjardins, Thank you so much for making sense of the spamblog thing for me. Perhaps because I don't make my living doing anything online, I don't comprehend how money is made online with clicks on links? That side of the web, making money off content with clicks or google or looking for free at a site makes no sense to me at all.

I understand if somebody actually buys something, a record, a download, or book.

But being angry about something that is freely uploaded I don't understand except in not giving the original creator credit. That makes complete sense to me. Why is YouTube okay? Or reposted news photographs without crediting the photographer? Reposting content taken from the tv, movies, animations, playing around with it, mashups? Or all the pirating sites, or web radio?

Can somebody point me to a link so I can learn about this? I've never put my mind to understanding the business, ie money side of the web.

scrape it off of other sites and RSS feeds


What does that mean, scraping off other sites? Taking it by finding it there? Coming across something surfing and then copy-pasting it to somewhere else? Is that scraping?

*hangs head in Luddite shame
posted by nickyskye at 2:30 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


The tall white man with one black shoe.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2008


I was misinformed.
posted by jonmc at 2:32 PM on October 14, 2008


cortex: Do you think it would be feasible to set up a FPP blacklist? Hell, maybe just set it up with domain/admonishment pairs:
  • ("englishrussia.com", "These guys are the ebaumsworld of imageblogs, find the original source and link to that.")
  • ("theonion.com", "Are you 13 years old? Don't make a post about something from The Onion. If it's something contextual from the archives let someone else feel clever by linking to it in a comment")
  • ("boston.com/bigpicture", "Yes, we love it too, but do we need to have posts about it three times a week?")
  • ("boingboing.net", "I hope your head falls off")
To make a post with a link to a blacklisted site you would have to jump through some sort of "this is different!" hoop.
posted by blasdelf at 2:44 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why is YouTube okay?

You have no idea how many uploaded videos are removed from YouTube every day. Really. You think it's that many? It's more.
posted by GuyZero at 2:44 PM on October 14, 2008


I understand if somebody actually buys something, a record, a download, or book.

Some ad networks run CPM ads, or ads that pay based solely on images being displayed, no click necessary. a few hundred thousand page view and you can make from $50-200. It's no different from ads in that newspaper you picked up for free on the subway.
posted by GuyZero at 2:47 PM on October 14, 2008


Thanks for the clarification folks; I was aware of the scraper sites, but for a second was worried that my most recent FPP was going to get the hook since it wasn't hosted on James Gillray's personal site.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:47 PM on October 14, 2008


That side of the web, making money off content with clicks or google or looking for free at a site makes no sense to me at all.

Just advertising. Google ads are loaded from Google servers, Google counts how many ads are loaded, and pays a few cents per thousand ad views. They can also tell how many ads are clicked on and pay more for that.

As Google is evil, to sow confusion they forbid anyone from discussing how much they get paid.

Sites like this are bad because they degrade the internet with additional ads while contributing nothing and in fact generally present the material in an incomplete form.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:54 PM on October 14, 2008


nickyskye: There is a huge difference between infringing stuff on youtube and plagiarized stuff on englishrussia.

Kids uploading appropriated television to youtube don't pretend that they made the source material. These days they're not even 'stealing' from the corporate content owners.

On the other hand EnglishRussia scours russian-language livejournals and forums, copies the images, uses machine-translation for the text, and NEVER links back to the source (or even admit there was one). Their posts are composed as bait for sites like Digg: in list form, with superficial commentary, no sourcing, little context, and as many ads as are allowed. They are the anti-metafilter.
posted by blasdelf at 2:56 PM on October 14, 2008


That side of the web, making money off content with clicks or google or looking for free at a site makes no sense to me at all.

Advertising is a form of gambling. Someone wants visibility, and pays for the privilege. That might mean paying for an ad at the top of a page (which is more of a traditional media advertising notion—more or less equivalent to TV/radio/print advertising in concept), or it might mean paying incrementally for clicks on little text advertisements a la Google AdWords or any of a dozen other similar schemes.

And it's generally that latter sort that spamkids are leveraging, because while the payoff is less certain and generally much less significant, there's also a much lower barrier to entry for someone who wants to make money that way, for two reasons:

1. They don't have to find advertisers. Google and Yahoo et al created the ad network and manage millions of small- (and not-so-small-) scale advertising accounts internally, providing ads on a context-sensitive basis to the ad boxes being run by a millions of sites.

2. They don't have to establish a reputation as being worth advertising on. Google and Yahoo et al automated the placement of ads in clever little javascript widgets, so instead of your spamkid having to convince folks to pay him to run their ads, he just signs up with AdSense and plops some Google-provided javascript on his page and Google's automation does the rest.

That very low threshold crossed, spamkid now gets a few cents every time some guileless surfer does the hop-skip-jump routine of (1) searching for something they want to find, (2) landing on a other-people's-content-rich spamblog chock full of skeezily re-appropriated google-pleasin' relevantish keywords, and finally (3) clicking on an ad link on the page because, honestly, where they landed is not so useful after all as it turns out and maybe they'll find what they're looking for over there.

Why is YouTube okay? Or reposted news photographs without crediting the photographer? Reposting content taken from the tv, movies, animations, playing around with it, mashups? Or all the pirating sites, or web radio?

That's a whole bunch of questions, the answers to each of which vary depending upon who you ask. There are (at least moderately) valid arguments for everything from "It's totally okay" to "it's not okay at all, actually" for each of those.

A general argument that'd cover a lot of the above can be made from the starting point of the idea of Fair Use and the notion of credit where due—the idea that republishing portions of existing work with attribution but without explicit permission, for functionally non-commercial purposes, is one that a lot of folks will get behind. But whether you're a content creator, a content consumer, or a reseller/repackager is going to have a lot of influence on how you personally approach the question, which is part of why there's such a splendor of disagreement on the subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:58 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


nickyskye - in my understanding, the way pay-per-click works is something like this:

Imagine you owned a shop on a not-so-busy street, and no one would find you unless they just so happened to walk by, which is unlikely. So you hire someone to hang out in the park and give your address to anyone he talks to. That person gets $1 for every person that comes into your shop - whether they buy anything or not - because the more people who come to your shop, the more likely you'll get a sale.

But most people won't just talk to random folks on the street, so he needs some way to get people interested. Say he plays some music, or he tells stories, or something else related to your shop. You sell paintbrushes, and he displays art. People come and talk to him about his art, and he tells them about your store. This is like the related text ads that you see on blogs. He creates something, people find something of value in that, and oh by the way here's this related thing for sale.

Let's say your competitor hires someone else to do the same kind of work, and that person steals your guy's music/art/whatever and claims it as his own just to get people interested. They still get a dollar every time they send someone to your competitor's shop, but they haven't really done anything to earn it.

Now if you had a friend, would you tell her to talk to the first guy or the second? Which is more reputable? Which is more deserving of your friend's money?

What if someone took a video of your employee telling stories and posted it on YouTube? What is the gain to the person who posted the video, even if there is no attribution? What is the harm to your employee, or to you? If he complained, it would be taken down, but he may want the publicity it could bring him. Remember this guy? His video has been reposted all over the place, and while I don't know how much he makes, he seems comfortable, has a corporate sponsor, and he's been interviewed in mass media.
posted by desjardins at 3:19 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which is more deserving of your friend's money? should be Which deserves to get paid? (Your friend, in this example, isn't actually giving him any money.)
posted by desjardins at 3:22 PM on October 14, 2008


It's weird—I download music that doesn't belong to me with nary a twinge, but I freak the fuck out when spamblogs harvest images.

Hey Loq, when you gonna visit LA again?
posted by klangklangston at 4:22 PM on October 14, 2008


I download music that doesn't belong to me with nary a twinge

I expect you don't sell it burned on CDs of klangklangston's Greatest Hits.
posted by GuyZero at 4:29 PM on October 14, 2008


It's weird—I download music that doesn't belong to me with nary a twinge, but I freak the fuck out when spamblogs harvest images.

That is weird. I wonder why? Is it because you place little to no value on music, as opposed to visual art? Do you somehow feel that photographers are more deserving of credit, recognition and financial compensation than musicians, for their creative efforts? I'm not trying to put you down or pick a fight, just honestly wondering why.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:30 PM on October 14, 2008


On non-preview, perhaps GuyZero's comment answers my question. Since your downloaded music is only for personal use...?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:32 PM on October 14, 2008


Piracy ≠ Plagarism
posted by blasdelf at 4:32 PM on October 14, 2008


Piracy ≠ Plagarism

Well, it does often plagar musicians.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 PM on October 14, 2008


...and, as a consequence of all these spamblogs, a lot of photographers use Flash to create their websites/portfolios, often with extremely annoying results.

I think. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:42 PM on October 14, 2008


As someone who has photos scooped up and put on website a without credit back it is a bit like having a co-worker take credit for a project you both worked on....They went to the trouble of finding my site and working to "steal" the pics. Hats off...More power and all that.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:12 PM on October 14, 2008


"I expect you don't sell it burned on CDs of klangklangston's Greatest Hits."

No, but I give away mixtapes like crazy.

"That is weird. I wonder why? Is it because you place little to no value on music, as opposed to visual art? Do you somehow feel that photographers are more deserving of credit, recognition and financial compensation than musicians, for their creative efforts? I'm not trying to put you down or pick a fight, just honestly wondering why."

Y'know, I'm not sure. I mean, I want to say that I don't value music less than visual art, because I've definitely spent much, much more (by orders of magnitude) on music than on visual works. But I also download much, much more music than I do photos etc. I'm more used to seeing photos for free than I am hearing music for free.

I think there are a couple of things going on—First, that if I want to pay for the music after I've listened to it, I generally can (though a fair amount of what I download is stuff that I just couldn't buy at all, like OOP vinyl sides and shit). Second, I think there's a value in knowing where stuff came from and who's responsible that still exists with mp3s (the ID3 tags, at least). Most of the music I download, I download as an exploration. I don't expect to like all of it, but if I'm curious about, say, mid-period Manowar, it makes sense to download it for free. The volume that I move at just, at least as far as my finances are concerned, wouldn't be at all sustainable if I had to pay for everything right off the bat. Third, since I don't expect to pay for any images (at least digital images), not having the creator see any benefit kind of irks me, I guess. I wouldn't pay a dollar to look at a digital copy of a painting (or even a dollar to go to an art opening, though I've paid for museums), so I kind of feel like infringing on their right of attribution is even more heinous.

But, it's a soft feeling—I don't mind infringing on, say, the magazine writers who put together some 1959 Popular Mechanics look at the future, if I see that scanned. I'll never even look for a name.

Plus, the spamblogs just seem so, I dunno, goddamned lazy.
posted by klangklangston at 5:39 PM on October 14, 2008


...and, as a consequence of all these spamblogs, a lot of photographers use Flash to create their websites/portfolios, often with extremely annoying results.

I think. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


Well, you're only wrong in that the results are always extremely annoying.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:25 PM on October 14, 2008


blasdelf, English Russia now refers to the sites they took the images from, usually at the bottom of the line of photographs. Not every page but most now. Perhaps this is because they were repeatedly called on not giving credit. I like that they have changed that.

The thing is that I adore many of those interesting images on English Russia and have no way, not speaking or reading Russian, to know how to find them in Russian blogs. Even their machine translated info is better than nothing. I can use what they offer as a base from which to look up other stuff. Prior to English Russia now giving credit to the blogs/photographers I'd tried 1000 times to find those cool Russian blogs without knowing the language but am completely lost. So I really appreciate English Russia's collections. Having wanted to know more about Russia or the former Soviet Republic for decades, they offer wonderful little glimpses into the vastness of those countries I would not have otherwise had access to and I value that.

There is room for improvement on their site and I think, if requested, they might work a bit harder on descriptions. Maybe their English isn't good enough?

cortex
, That is a wonderful, clear and easy to understand explanation. Thank you so much.

the idea that republishing portions of existing work with attribution but without explicit permission, for functionally non-commercial purposes, is one that a lot of folks will get behind. But whether you're a content creator, a content consumer, or a reseller/repackager is going to have a lot of influence on how you personally approach the question, which is part of why there's such a splendor of disagreement on the subject.


Beautifully crafted paragraph. So nice to be able to read this and comprehend. Thank you.

desjardins, thank you again for more clarification.

It's weird—I download music that doesn't belong to me with nary a twinge, but I freak the fuck out when spamblogs harvest images.


Doesn't klang have a good point?

I expect you don't sell it burned on CDs of klangklangston's Greatest Hits.

But the spambloggers are also not taking credit for others' work, they are not selling it as their own work. It appears they are using others' work to attract viewers to their site, using another person's creativity and in doing so to profit in some amount. The original creator of the content is not profiting from what the spamblogger has put up because there is no credit given.

Could the original creator, if given credit, benefit with this advertising of sorts by spambloggers? Is that the one thing that is missing from spamblogs, that they did not say this content is from that creator?

So appreciating the civil tone of those posting. Thank you for the education. I can imagine others who have not understood the spamblog concept before may appreciate it as well.
posted by nickyskye at 6:40 PM on October 14, 2008


In Canada we have a concept in IP law called "moral rights". One of those rights is the right to have your work identified as yours, regardless of who pays or ultimately owns the copyright. Aside from the profit, spamblogs violate this first moral right.
posted by GuyZero at 8:07 PM on October 14, 2008


such a splendor of disagreement

I'd just like to say that I really like that phrase.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:11 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would just like to state for the record that I'm against the idea of deleting comments that say a post sucks. this whole shiny happy people special snowflake thing is pretty much lame as hell.
posted by shmegegge at 12:52 PM on October 15, 2008


....Okay, can I just make sure I understand something? Because even after reading the Wikipedia page, I'm still not 100% sure I understand what a Spamblog is. And the best way for me to be confident I understand something is to explain it in my own words, and then have everyone say "yes, that's it," or "nope, still not got it."

So: a spam blog would be like this. If I wanted to try to get as many people as possible to come to my web site so Google ads would pay me, I could just make a site that was nothing but "tons o'puppy pictures" and then I'd just copy all the cute puppy pictures I could find online, because people like puppies, and in theory that would just make everyone in the world come to look and go "awwwww, puppies!" and then for each person who did that Googleads would give me money which is all I ever wanted in the first place.

....Do I have it right?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:30 PM on October 15, 2008


Yep. You have it right. Just note that "money" is something like a dime for every thousand visitors. But it's not impossible to get a few hundred thousand visitors which starts to turn into real money.
posted by GuyZero at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2008


Just note that "money" is something like a dime for every thousand visitors.

Oh, I figured as much. But just wanted to make sure I understood the basic concept.

Cool. Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:43 PM on October 15, 2008


I'd just copy all the cute puppy pictures I could find online

I don't think this is nearly as insidious as having bots just scrape other people's content wholesale. There is at least some degree of effort and judgment there (which puppies are cute?). If you just ripped off an entire cute puppy site, then yeah.
posted by desjardins at 2:26 PM on October 15, 2008


Ah, so this scraping word means taking the entire content altogether? Not just copy and paste bits of it?
posted by nickyskye at 4:46 PM on October 15, 2008


It can mean either. It's not a particularly precise technical term or anything. I've heard people use it for a spectrum from snagging some stuff to wholesale vacuuming up of everything on a site.

One interesting thing there is that "scraping" in what I think of as the traditional sense—algorithmic downloading of swaths of site content, for purposes good or ill, through a bit of cleverness and a bit of scripting (e.g. writing a unix shell script to fetch every Space Ghost episode ever from the one site hosting them, or writing some Perl to spider through a site to create a mirror of it)—is less necessary now than it was ten or even five years go. Like I said above, RSS as a ubiquitous feature of content-rich sites has more or less obviated the need for custom scraping tools in a lot of cases, because sites do a good job of saying "here is all my stuff, come and get it" already.

But, yeah, scraping might mean that, or it might mean something a little more informal like "ruthless appropriation via copy-paste", or a number of other variations on the same theme, depending on the context. And it can be a component of a non-negative project—folks often will scrape (a portion of) a site for statistical analysis purposes, for example. Mefi has a long history of users doing just that, which is part of why the Infodump exists.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:00 PM on October 15, 2008


Thanks again cortex.

So if the site is not for profit, with no advertising, like Flickr, or a blog with no advertising, it is generally not treated as a big deal, especially if credit is given to the photographer/artist? Is that correct, generally speaking?

A site like TutzTutz, if 5000 MeFites went to look at that site because of a post here, that might make the blog owner about 50 cents? And that is considered "ruthless appropriation via copy-paste"? It seems like a lot of ire for little profit.
posted by nickyskye at 6:45 PM on October 15, 2008


I know I'm not Cortex, but I kind of feel like I would with quotations—you should always make an effort to cite the original source. It's kind of the same reason that I dislike links to wikipedia. So yeah, not as bad, but still not ideal.
posted by klangklangston at 8:48 PM on October 15, 2008


So if the site is not for profit, with no advertising, like Flickr, or a blog with no advertising, it is generally not treated as a big deal, especially if credit is given to the photographer/artist? Is that correct, generally speaking?

Again, depends on who you ask. It's not scummy in the same way, it's a lot more apt to be defensible as fair use, so those are big wins, so I'd say that a larger proportion of people would treat it as not a big deal. But as long as we're talking appropriation without explicit license or permission, there's reasonable grounds from someone to ultimately think it is a big deal. It's really hard to characterize it in generalities other than as a matter of degree, you know?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:16 PM on October 15, 2008


I would just like to state for the record that I'm against the idea of deleting comments that say a post sucks. this whole shiny happy people special snowflake thing is pretty much lame as hell.

Yeah sorry. You're not special enough to avoid having your shit comments deleted.
posted by ODiV at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2008


nickyskye: A site like TutzTutz, if 5000 MeFites went to look at that site because of a post here, that might make the blog owner about 50 cents? ... It seems like a lot of ire for little profit.

Just for numbers: Mefi has 80k users now, & on one chosen-at-random Tuesday early this year, 245k people visited. If they all visited that site (which doesn't happen), that's almost $25. Being anonymous would help with the ire, I imagine.

I don't think all negative comments are being deleted, but driveby

this post suxxx

isn't really adding to the conversation.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:47 PM on October 16, 2008


I don't think all negative comments are being deleted

Not by a very, very long shot, yeah. We're talking about probably a comment or two a day, I'd say, most of which are (a) early in a thread and (b) deeply lazy in execution. FIRST PSOT! is not quality content, and refraining from deleting that stuff is not the thing that's going to keep metafilter metafilter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:03 PM on October 16, 2008


Deeply lazy in execution? Got it. Let me check:
Bad: wow this post suxxx lol
Passable: Man, this post sucks with the intensity of 10000 black holes.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:38 PM on October 16, 2008


A slamdunk would be for the former chief engineer for Hoover, Inc. to show up and contextualize the post in terms of how his innovations in the company's R&D department made it possible, twenty years ago, for lower-middle-class homemakers to afford a machine powerful and efficient enough to make graspable the suckage of the post in question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:42 PM on October 16, 2008


It's kind of the same reason that I dislike links to wikipedia.

Why is that klangklangston? I don't understand. Do they not quote or refer to original sources?

on a random weekday (Tuesday of this past week), 245,000 people visited mefi

whoa.

Reading this thread has been an excellent eye opener. I think part of my blindness to the advertising aspect in sites is that when the whole advertising banners thing started to happen on the web about 8 or so years ago, I trained my mind not to pay attention to anything on the page than what was the gist, the content. Now I look at the advertising, too, lol, just to check if the site is a spamblog. Ironical that.
posted by nickyskye at 4:33 PM on October 16, 2008


"Do they not quote or refer to original sources?"

No, it's exactly because they do refer to original sources—the "no original research" mandate means that they have to aggregate. So, if you see something on Wikipedia, just link to the underlying content instead of linking to the middleman.

Or, yet another similar issue: While there are a few exceptions, I almost always prefer hearing the original version of a song rather than the covers. I get a lot more out of, say, John Cale's version of Hallelujah because I know Leonard Cohen's. I prefer to be able to evaluate a representation after knowing the context of the original—I kind of feel that the context in which something is presented by the original author (or photographer or musician or what have you) is part of the work itself, and by removing that, it takes away a way of analyzing and understanding a work.

Like, quotations don't appear first in Bartlett's. Without the underlying and verifiable citation, it's hard to evaluate the authenticity of a quote (especially with so many fake quotes and erroneous attributions out there). Likewise, and I know it's a much smaller chance, the photo that appears on a spamblog might have been altered or presented out of a larger context in a way that changes its meaning.

I think this, and I'm still spitballing here, trying to articulate an emotional reaction into the language of reason, is why I have more of a problem with this than downloading music. While you can make the argument that many albums were meant to be experienced with their album art and ephemera, I feel like downloading still gets the whole piece of the music—the work exists, pretty much unaltered. The meta-data is there, mostly (and I'm annoyed when it isn't, and work to correct that in my collection). But spamblogs cut off that path to the original intent.
posted by klangklangston at 5:45 PM on October 16, 2008


>on a random weekday (Tuesday of this past week), 245,000 people visited mefi

whoa.


Indeed, it makes me want to put more effort into composing my comments, or at the very least, put some clothes on.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:48 PM on October 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


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