How do they do that? July 18, 2007 11:35 AM   Subscribe

A few hours ago I posted a question at ask.metafilter.com. An hour later nobody's answered so I resume my Googling for an answer. Number three in the list of results is my very question! And it's on a different site! I'm shocked Google updates its index so fast, but, more than that, why is my question on a different site?
posted by deeper red to MetaFilter-Related at 11:35 AM (70 comments total)

The result you're looking for in the Google list is Howu.info; it's third down right now but may well shift:

HowU.info | Questions and Answers
Bonus points if you can provide a link to the original Bach piece (MP3 or Midi), or if you can provide a link to the good quality MP3 of the Juliet Bravo ...
www.howu.info/ - 18 Jul 2007 - Similar pages
posted by deeper red at 11:36 AM on July 18, 2007


It looks like that page is just an aggregator of question forum questions, and a sorta broken one at that. Not the least useful way to get googlebucks I've ever seen. I wonder if the mods have any interest in keeping AskMe content from being co-opted. At least the page links to AskMe.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:46 AM on July 18, 2007


Huh. Looks like someone's reposting the askme RSS feed? And several other question sites as well.

And-- oh look-- they've got google ads!
posted by dersins at 11:48 AM on July 18, 2007


Uh, or what Ambrosia Voyeur said. Stupid not-previewing.
posted by dersins at 11:49 AM on July 18, 2007


Short answer: anybody can get at the rss feed, and the amount of effort that would be required to stop these guys from aggregating our questions is an open question.

It seems like a lame thing to do, certainly, but when they're clocking along at about one comment a week I'm not sure we've got a lot to worry about. Matt may or may not want to get ahold of 'em, I dunno.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2007


How did it get into Google's results so fast?

Back when I built websites, the rule was to submit a page to Google and then keep your fingers crossed because in two weeks you might be in the 20th page of results.

These bozos have my question in the top three, hours after I post it on a different site!
posted by deeper red at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2007


C&DHAMMER BABY! Cyst and decease!
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2007


If all comments are (c) their original authors, and they're making ad revenue off my comments without my permission, can I send them a DMCA takedown notice?
posted by dersins at 11:56 AM on July 18, 2007


How did it get into Google's results so fast?

Luck, probably, but not extraordinary luck. Google happened to hit them with a reindex cycle shortly after you posted your question (and hence shortly after they snapped it up via the feed). I usually see indexed results for my personal blog within 24 hours give or take, and it's certainly nothing special index-attention-wise.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:57 AM on July 18, 2007


Google monitors sites that update with a site feed and adds the results fairly quickly (I'd sometimes see results from my blog added within the day). And now they're moving towards folding all results (images, news, blogsearch, etc.) into one page so it's possible that ordinarily it would have been on a separate tab of results.

What I'm curious about is why www.howu.info is higher than AskMe in the results, since these search results claim that no site links to it.
posted by Tuwa at 12:01 PM on July 18, 2007


can I send them a DMCA takedown notice?

I would pay some money to see that nerdfight.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:01 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


How much?
posted by dersins at 12:03 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


If all comments are (c) their original authors, and they're making ad revenue off my comments without my permission, can I send them a DMCA takedown notice?

Mr. 'Owie says 'yes'....
posted by Tuwa at 12:05 PM on July 18, 2007


Aw man, this kind of sucks. It's just a RSS-to-ping hack to pull in several feeds and just cover them in ads.

I asked them to stop syndicating Ask MeFi, but if they ignore me (and I'm 99% sure they will), I guess I could complain to Google.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:06 PM on July 18, 2007


What's great is you can crap all over their page by answering anonymously -- It's like Mom and Dad went off to Steamboat Springs for the weekend and left us home alone!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:11 PM on July 18, 2007


IANAL but I can't imagine there's not a mefite lawyer out there who would be willing to help put an end to this nefariousity.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:12 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


talking about cease and desist of unauthorised content, I'd appreciate some advice - I track myself in google blog search [whatever ] and suddenly of late my name has been showing up in two porn sites, sent them to my lawyer who said contact Privacyprotect.org cos they've blocked their Whois etc etc ok but now the latest infamy is MY headshot [which is saved as my fullname so it shows up ] is showing up on very nasty ethnic pornsites. I haven't even clicked through I feel so sick just from the words that show up around the search. Is there anything I can do to prevent this happening rather than the constant back and forth with very good lawyer who is better served doing better work than chasing this crap down?

plus is it possible that I've been targetted for this ? As I've never had a problem in the past two years and then boom 4 in one week?
posted by infini at 12:15 PM on July 18, 2007


infini, that's a good AskMe question but just barely relevant here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:18 PM on July 18, 2007


I couldn't resist.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:19 PM on July 18, 2007


I've seen my posts and comments show up in all sorts of weird places, so this kind of thing (whatever it is) is going on much more than we realize...

And, allkindsoftime, nefariousity is my new favorite word.
posted by amyms at 12:25 PM on July 18, 2007


It was kind of weird and disconcerting to click through to that page. It was like watching the neighbors act out the content of my party-line calls.
posted by OmieWise at 12:35 PM on July 18, 2007


Neither could I.
posted by googly at 12:40 PM on July 18, 2007


Ok, that melon humping comment is hilarious. Bravo, whoever.
posted by Tuwa at 12:43 PM on July 18, 2007


Melon humping
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 12:46 PM on July 18, 2007


The Metafilter is leaking!
posted by malocchio at 12:49 PM on July 18, 2007


Anyone live near here? It would be amazing to have a mefite march on over and deliver a cease and desist letter to his house.
posted by jourman2 at 12:50 PM on July 18, 2007


This is fun! No admins = SHITCOCK LOL
posted by Meatbomb at 12:55 PM on July 18, 2007


meatbomb, I answered your question.
posted by dersins at 1:02 PM on July 18, 2007


I can't believe no one has yet to post a link to goatse on there yet.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:02 PM on July 18, 2007


HowU.info is a collection of questions and answers moderated by a vibrant community.

LOL, the recent MF vagrants seem to be pretty fast and loose with the moderation over on the most excellent SHITCOCK LOL HowU.info.

No need to flag it over there, comrades, it's all good stuff!
posted by Meatbomb at 1:10 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm not trying to be devil's advocate here, and I sure have nothing to do with the linked site, but why is the above site awful but this is OK: ask.metafilter copied to another site

What's the line between useful web feed aggregator and "stealing our stuff"?
posted by neustile at 1:11 PM on July 18, 2007


Good to see the Treaty of Westphalia has shown up atleast
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2007


I went the scary route
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2007


See ya later productivity!
posted by Mister_A at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2007


I posted this as an homage to Meatbomb.
posted by Mister_A at 1:14 PM on July 18, 2007


What is up with the cock gobbling cock gobblers, though? Srsly.
posted by taz at 1:16 PM on July 18, 2007


neustile, I think the difference is a matter of intent and transparency. Bloglines (and other feed aggregators) are openly and clearly intended as such, and exist as a tool for users. HowU is pretty clearly scraping for fun and profit rather than aggregating to improve anyone's web experience.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:18 PM on July 18, 2007


What's the line between useful web feed aggregator and "stealing our stuff"?

Probably the line of advertisements that is at the bottom of the page on HowU and isn't on the bloglines page you linked to at all.

Just a guess, though.
posted by dersins at 1:18 PM on July 18, 2007


Jeez we really are a bunch of jerks. I have to go make some work-related phone calls; please pick up the slack for me.
posted by Mister_A at 1:20 PM on July 18, 2007


Hey, how'd you get that whole script in there, Lentrohamsanin? I cut my census data short.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:22 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm sure we can find RSS web readers that have ads. And I consider that "Ask.com" button on the page an ad. That can't be the deciding factor.

Cortex sounds more on point, so if How-u or whatever did a better job on the UI standpoint, and looked less like a spam hut (which I am sure it is -- I don't disagree) it'd be OK?
posted by neustile at 1:23 PM on July 18, 2007


I've finally found a community where I can be me! That place rocks!
posted by Meatbomb at 1:28 PM on July 18, 2007


I wonder if Google found them fast, and rated them high, because they run Google ads?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:36 PM on July 18, 2007


The only question we need to be asking is: can you use the image tag over there?
posted by Durin's Bane at 1:41 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


because they run Google ads?

No, it's the strength of their vibrant moderation community, SCDB.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:43 PM on July 18, 2007


But, seriously, what is the theme tune to Juliet Bravo? It's not a difficult fucking question.
posted by deeper red at 1:44 PM on July 18, 2007

cortex: neustile, I think the difference is a matter of intent and transparency. Bloglines (and other feed aggregators) are openly and clearly intended as such, and exist as a tool for users. HowU is pretty clearly scraping for fun and profit rather than aggregating to improve anyone's web experience.
Okay, so now I feel I should play devil's advocate as well...

Isn't it worth noting that howu.info is including the link to the original post on AskMetafilter in their "View Original Question"- and NOT, apparently, the answers themselves- as well as a link to AskMe and other feeds its using on the bottom of every page? If they were truly craven, they'd make no acknowledgement of AskMe and would likely steal the answers as well, so it looked more like a vibrant community. As it is, it looks just like any other blog aggregator, but focused specifically on Q&A type sites (all of which it includes direct links to in the bottom navbar) as well as its own submitted questions.

I mean, the *Me* suite of sites have ads too, don't they? I guess I'm failing to see the real source of outrage here.
posted by hincandenza at 1:47 PM on July 18, 2007


so if How-u or whatever did a better job on the UI standpoint, and looked less like a spam hut (which I am sure it is -- I don't disagree) it'd be OK?

There's a pretty big grey swamp to wander through there. What I think would most significantly make the site less chafing and lame is this: acknowledge and link back to source sites.

A place that was genuinely—and openly, in good faith—collecting what they saw as particularly good/interesting/noteworthy questions from a variety of sources and putting them in one place for a clear and transparent purpose would be pretty great, even. But these guys are just scumming, badly, the rss feeds of a few sites that they deign to mention in light grey font down at the bottom of the page. It's a really smelly, culpable way to go about repurposing other folks' content.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:48 PM on July 18, 2007


It's a really smelly, culpable way to go about repurposing other folks' content.

It's also fundamentally clueless.

You can post a new question without a captcha or membership. The captchas that you have to enter when posting comments don't work very well, and are often rejected.

They aggregate so fast that their front page churns a zillion questions every hour.

They don't format tags properly.

Piss off people from corporations. That's fine. But don't piss off people from various communities. If you do that they'll come and get you. As people here have proved.
posted by deeper red at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2007


I'm actually fairly close to that address. Should I take a C&D letter, or just a plague of locusts?
posted by fnord at 1:55 PM on July 18, 2007


After playing over there for the last while, the strangest thing is that it would be impossible, by the nature of the site design, to ever build a community there. Any locally generated questions are swamped off the front page by the scraped stuff within seconds.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:55 PM on July 18, 2007


Hey, how'd you get that whole script in there, Lentrohamsanin?

I haven't actually tried to post it yet: I'm just wiggling my fingers like a scary wizard and muttering "you'll be sorry" at this point.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:01 PM on July 18, 2007

cortex: What I think would most significantly make the site less chafing and lame is this: acknowledge and link back to source sites.
Did you not see that on every question page, it has "view original question" with a direct link back to the source site?
posted by hincandenza at 2:06 PM on July 18, 2007


Not that I have been looking, but it is good to know that there is a site that is a source for osamabinladenphilia.
posted by Cranberry at 2:07 PM on July 18, 2007


Life is sweet. I feel good.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:17 PM on July 18, 2007


I should point out, in the con department, that you can't tell from the front page whether the question is organic or the result of a feed. You have to click the question then mouse over the "view original" to get that. On the front page, it even says "posted by anonymous" rather than "via AskMe" or something like that. So, bucket of cocks for that site.
posted by Mister_A at 2:19 PM on July 18, 2007


hincandenza: I didn't, in fact, but I was scrutinizing the front page of the site, where they don't include that. They also don't seem to include the link back for all scraped questions—in fact, the only questions that do seem to have a link back are the AskMe questions, which is a sort of twisted cold comfort.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:21 PM on July 18, 2007


HowU.info is a collection of questions and answers moderated by a vibrant community.

Now technically true, in a "lord of the flies" kind of way.
posted by felix betachat at 2:26 PM on July 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of that time I was digging and suddenly realized I was near a yellow jacket burrow.
posted by Tehanu at 2:39 PM on July 18, 2007


This happens to Music posts as well...I've found mp3s that I have uploaded only to Metafilter on various music aggregators. I don't think that's a big deal, and neither is this. I certainly wouldn't blame Matt for sending a C&D, but unless they have deep pockets it's not worth much of a fuss.
posted by malocchio at 2:54 PM on July 18, 2007


I've found mp3s that I have uploaded only to Metafilter on various music aggregators.

You've found the files themselves have been moved, or is it just links back to MP3s hosted here?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:58 PM on July 18, 2007


...it's not worth much of a fuss.

But, methinks this website will prove hours of entertainment for MeFites who visit this thread! ; )
posted by ericb at 2:59 PM on July 18, 2007


You've found the files themselves have been moved, or is it just links back to MP3s hosted here?

Can't speak for malocchio, but for my part it's always been the latter. I find some of my recordings—posted to Music or my own webspace—referenced in the weirdest, spammiest places, but never the actual mp3s. It's usually either aggregator seepage or some shitty "mp3 directory" link engine.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:05 PM on July 18, 2007


But don't piss off people from various communities. If you do that they'll come and get you. As people here have proved.

Unless I've missed something, all of the people who have gone over there and posted smart-ass comments/questions have actually helped them by pumping up their level of searchable content. How did you "get them" by flooding the site with content?
posted by jbickers at 5:36 PM on July 18, 2007


"How did you "get them" by flooding the site with content?"

Well, now they have that fucking treaty of Westphalia thing stinkin up the joint.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:43 PM on July 18, 2007


Content about pedophilia and melon humping, fer chrissakes. I'm not sure metafilter did them any favors.
posted by Tuwa at 8:06 PM on July 18, 2007


Posted the first book of War and Peace.

That was slightly amusing.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:25 AM on July 19, 2007


Who wants a piece of pi?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:43 AM on July 19, 2007


Jessamyn, I'm not quite sure if they are hosting the files or just leaching bandwidth from Metafilter; I'd probably have to guess the latter, which makes it a bigger deal than I first thought. I'll send you a link to one of them (actually, it is the only one I can find today, these things seem to spring up then disappear.)
posted by malocchio at 8:53 AM on July 19, 2007


And now they're getting spammed (warning: NSFW). I guess that's the problem with grabbing content indiscriminately....
posted by Tuwa at 8:58 PM on July 21, 2007


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