Imagine my surprise when I opened Digg today and saw that an article titled 37 Famously Stupid Celebrity Quotes had been promoted to the front-page of the site. The last time I checked, the story had been submitted and buried at 74 Diggs, about 2 weeks ago!
Upon a closer inspection (i.e. after clicking the link), I found out that someone had scraped the entirety of the original content (including hotlinked images) and duplicated it on his own site, which then got submitted to Digg and reached the front-page. This incidence raises several important concerns:
1. Why was the original submission buried while the latter of the two was promoted to the home-page? Was it buried because of the url, because of the submitter, or simply arbitrarily? Have a look at the presentation of the two posts and tell me which one you would’ve Dugg:
2. Are Digg users incapable of policing the content? The reposted content begins with the statement, “I thought these were pretty funny when I read them HERE, So I decided to post them on my blog :)” In effect the person scraping the content points out where he has stolen the content from and says that he is merely reposting original content from elsewhere to his own blog. Furthermore, you can see that the second submission is a duplicate of another post because its Digg url is appended with a URL_2 at the end. If that wasn’t enough, there have been a multitude of comments on the story pointing out that it is simply stolen content (and therefore shouldn’t be Dugg, rather should be buried) and even point to the original link.
3. With over 70 million blogs in existence, it takes a lot of hard work to write content that distinguishes you from the rest of the blogosphere. If Diggers are incapable of distinguishing between original and unoriginal content, what steps should we as content producers take to protect our content? Content-theft is nothing new, and in fact I have written about it before. The problem becomes even more exacerbated when the scraped content gets submitted to a socially driven site.
Getting on the front-page of Digg can bring your site thousands of visitors in a matter of hours. However, when your content is being scraped, and the scraped content gets submitted to and promoted on Digg, all that attention and traffic is diverted away from the content producer to the site that is merely re-posting content.
As a result, you lose the exposure, you lose the traffic, you lose the links, and you lose money (especially when the content-thief hotlinks images to your site). It only makes sense to bury the stolen content.
**Disclaimer: I am a Netscape Navigator.