Not To Be Trusted With Knives











{February 23, 2008}   Northern Voice – Day #2


Today started with a keynote address by Matt Mullenweg from WordPress1. Unfortunately, while I staked out a good seat for the talk, I neglected to stake out one of the 3 electrical outlets in the room and my laptop battery only lasts for 14.3 minutes, so I didn’t get to take notes while the talk was on. I’ll have to check out all of the other blog postings for more comprehensive notes, but here’s a few things from the keynote that stuck in my brain:

  • “spammers are equivalent of terrorists for the online world”
  • English Wikipedia has 2.1 million entries in total. WordPress users create 4 million pages a month.
  • attention is finite – content can grow, but we only have so many hours in a day and that’s not going to increase, so we need to find ways to filter content

Next, I went to a session on advertising on blogs. A really good discussion about the pros and cons of advertising on your blog. One thing that really stuck out to me, which Miss604 is Twittering about, is that this site2 that scrapes other people’s content off their blogs and then charges $500 a week for ads on their sites. $500 a week for stolen content. That’s just bullshit.

Then I went to the session with the coolest title of all the session – “Fuck Stats, Make Art.” Totally cool.

After that was lunch, which was good because I was starving. The good news: it was a cool make your own wrap thing where they actually had beans (!), the first time I’ve seen any non-cheese vegetarian protein at the conference. The bad news: the beans were gone before I got there. Well, there were beans at the food table that I didn’t go to, but the one I went to was all out. And by the time I got far up enough in the line up to see that, it was too late to go to the other line-up Boo-urns! =(

And now I’m in There Are 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story… a PowerPoint-free presentation that’s dependent on flaky internet. Looks to be interesting.

1Not WordPress. WordPress, not WordPress.
2This is who is scraping content. http://www.peoplevancouver.com/ I didn’t want to give them a link.

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mrglusniffer says:

As the person responsible for catering, I sincerely apologise for the cock-up with food amounts. Long story, but no excuses… Hope your blood sugar holds up.



Nadia says:

In response-
Yes ok… If I charge an obscene amount of money for big companies to advertise.. by then all means WALMART go ahead and pay it out … doesn’t mean that the money isn’t being put towards a good cause!!!! I understand you think that’s bullshit… but we are pretty user centric at peoplevancouver.com and just because we want to make money doesn’t mean it’s not going back to the community. We are a community based website and I think you should think twice before speaking about a subject you slightly know. Had you have researched you probably would have thought differently. All the content on the site is to make people aware of what’s going on in Vancouver … if it be a blog, video, image … it is about community!

-Nadia Aly
nadia@peoplevancouver.com



Kalev says:

I can’t believe some random suck-site employee is actually posting on your blog with her retarded “explanation” of how you purportedly don’t know what you’re talking about!

Make your own content, you fucking thieves! Using other people’s content to generate money for yourselves is STEALING.



Joanna says:

Oh wow, have you guys actually looked at peoplevancouver.com? These “scraping content” allegations are shocking. It is a site where different users post links or embedded content like facebook,com or myspace.com but made up of users/posters. I have yet to see any advertising on the site, but if some appeared I’d expect it to likely be local resources…
Am I missing something.



Tod says:

Wow. “Nadia” from PeopleVancouver.com, who claims to hold the torch for being all about community, spat this out:

“I think you should think twice before speaking about a subject you slightly know.”

Classy.

Nadia, I think you should speak with a modicum of respect before claiming you’re all about community. Being about community is engaging in a respectful dialogue, not diving in with!!! multiple!!! exclamation!!! points!!! yelling at someone who barely mentioned you in her blog.

Incidentally, you said “Just because we want to make money doesn’t mean it’s not going back to the community.”

Would you please clarify how money PeopleVancouver.com generates goes “back to the community”? To which charities are you donating money generated here?

Joanna: Uh, you may have an ad blocker in place, but PeopleVancouver.com does indeed have advertising (Google text ads) — even on its main page. At Northern Voice, someone from PeopleVancouver claimed they were generating revenues of $500 a week. Not a lot of money, granted, but if true (or maybe they were exaggerating to impress people) at least putting in a quick courtesy email to the people whose content they’re scraping would have been polite. In fact, it would have been part of… a community.

Imagine that.



Julie says:

It’s pretty simple… if you don’t want to share your content … don’t have an rss feed for you page.



Tod says:

Julie:

Yours is a fairly common misunderstanding of the law around rights. By your logic, you would also have to say “If you don’t want people to ‘share’ that latest Madonna album, she shouldn’t have put it on a CD.”

It’s a naive argument. Regardless of the medium through which you publish (web site, RSS, book, music CD), you still own the rights to the content you create. Placing it on a RSS feed does not make those rights evaporate.

Indeed, the only difference here is that RSS certainly does make it *EASIER* for people to republish your intellectual property. But just because it is easier to copy material, doesn’t make it right, legal, or ethical to do so.

There are plenty of RSS feeds in which the content is absolutely copyrighted. For instance, were you to be republishing the RSS feeds of, say, Fox News — do you think their lawyers would be okay with that?

However, all that said, it looks like the PeopleVancouver.com folks are simply republishing an abstract with a link to the full article. That is indeed fairly common and most publishers — myself included — have no problem with that, provided the re-publisher puts a link to the original article, which PeopleVancouver.com does, and isn’t making any money from my intellectual property.

PeopleVancouver makes money by using these feeds. They make $500 a week, according to their representative at Northern Voice. The least they could do is send a courtesy email to the author.

My beef isn’t with that, but by the attitude of Nadia from PeopleVancouver who resorted to name-calling in her first comment — then tells everyone how much they’re into building community. A more respectful way of building community might be to be polite, listen, and then if you disagree at least have the courtesy to be respectful.

Tod

P.S. Beth tells me that “Julie” and “Nadia” share the same IP address. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.



John says:

I think it’s all about the context of the republishing. Like Tod mentioned, PeopleVancouver.com is providing linkbacks and some attribution on their site.

What bothers me, aside from the assumption that the authors haven’t been contacted (I don’t know for sure if they haven’t been), is the way the content is showcased on their site – the sidebar for example. It *appears* that the rss feed authors are actually working with PeopleVancouver rather than simply being pulled into the site template. That I have a problem with.

I think the attribution and affiliation should be made more clear so that visitors to that site know that the content is from somewhere else.

My stuff gets stolen all the time and republished on splogs and I hate it but there isn’t much I can do about it unless I want to stop offering a feed (which I don’t want to do). If I add copyright info the beginning of the feed, the scammers find ways to rip it out and even go so far as attributing the content to someone else but it’s definitely my words and in some cases images.

Nadia’s tact (or perhaps lack of) hasn’t been very welcoming but hopefully she will realize they have to properly engage the community if they want to actively participate in it.

Oh and Beth had the best boots at the conference 😉



Nadia says:

Hey guys…

I wasn’t trying to be rude… It was a friendly opinion … I didn’t think that
this would happen… I wasn’t yelling.. how do you yell online?? I don’t know why you guys are so angry? It’s just my opinion

At northern voice I was simply trying to say that selling space on a website is an easier way to make money than relying on google adsense. I have sold space for 500 dollars… but not on a regular basis.

This 500.00 went into contest for the site… I have more than paid for my website..tons of money!

I obviously did not communicate properly to everyone … so I am sorry.

I have put so much effort into peoplevancouver.com … I run it myself… I am 23 and am trying to learn what to do. I am also doing my Masters…

The front page is the only page that has feeds on it… so I have where is the issue?
With what.. they are all feeds that change every day… the content is constantly changing.

WHERE is the problem… with the blog watch Vancouver feed?? It’s a feed that catches a blog written about Vancouver and changes … so help me out …???

Thanks for banning my schools ip by the way

-Nadia



Beth says:

@Nadia,

I think the point that’s being made here is not whether the content is constantly changing or not – but that it’s other people’s content and, as John said, it looks like the content is coming from people who work for peoplevancouver.com. Also, can you clarify whether you send the authors a courtesy email to tell them that their content is on your site?

And I’m not sure why you think I’ve banned your school’s ip, because I haven’t. Did you assume that it was banned because it was mentioned that you and Julie shared the same ip? Or were you unable to comment from your school?

@John – Glad you liked the boots!



Air says:

deep breathes, everyone. in and out.



Tod says:

Hi Nadia,

Thanks for the reply.

> I wasn’t trying to be rude… It was a friendly opinion…

I’m sure we all take you at your word, but just by way of reminder, you wrote:

“I think you should think twice before speaking
about a subject you slightly know. Had you have
researched you probably would have thought differently.”

Pretty snarky, if you ask me.

> I don’t know why you guys are so angry? It’s just my opinion

Nadia, nobody here is angry or upset at your opinion. This is called open dialogue. Some people here and at Northern Voice had issues that you were taking people’s content and putting ads around them that benefit you and you alone, without even asking.

For the record, I’d venture to bet that most people would be fine with what you’re doing, considering it’s not the full article you’re republishing and there’s a link back. But if you’re going to make money off someone else’s content and not provide them with a cut (remember: it IS THEIR content), a courtesy email is a nice thing to do. Do you have to? Of course not. But you talk a lot about how you’re just trying to be part of a community… your initial tactics suggest otherwise. That said, your engagement in this discussion is a good start.

> The front page is the only page that has feeds on it…
> so I have where is the issue? With what.. they are all
> feeds that change every day… the content is constantly changing.

I think I’m not doing a good job at articulating my point.

It’s not about where other people’s content resides on your site or how long it sticks around — it’s that you are making money from other people’s intellectual property. That’s where people in that room got their backs up.

Does that help?

Tod



i just want to thank everyone for trying to be civilized about this.

let’s not forget that in many ways, we’re all trying to learn this stuff as we go. and we’re trying to learn multiple things. how to have/be/promote community online. that in itself is a huge can of worms (or vase of flowers, whichever way you want to look at it). what is community? who is community? what does it mean, what does it look like to participate in it? what does it mean to be community based? it’s not as if we have rules around it, so what can we do but interpret it for ourselves and hopefully negotiate some meaning around it?

the same with advertising on blogs. it’s not as if this is an established practice. yes, people have been doing it for a few years (although most of them only for a few months) but that’s not enough time to have solid agreements in place.

this is all frontier stuff. it’s the wild west. we can shoot each other or we can raise barns together.



Rebecca says:

If an aggregator links and sites the original source, hey, that’s awesome and a lot better than some other aggregators are doing. However, if they are bringing in money by posting someone else’s content, that’s my issue. Also, my good friend had his blog post on the main page “feed” or peoplevancouver.com and didn’t even know about it. I think all aggregators and “communities” should give you the option to sign up – they shouldn’t just scrape your content without you knowing at all.



There is also something to be said about community involving some form of communication. There is content on this site that belongs to people that I know. I’ve spoken to one of them and they were completely unaware of this situation, if not slightly shocked and surprised.

It’s not to say that this method of operating a “community” like this is incorrect as much as you have no, direct permission from the author to aggregate other people’s intellectual property onto a site by which you receive any sort of compensation from while providing none, no matter how big or little, to the original author.

And speaking to the involved individual, they were never made aware that this was being done with their content, nor have they ever been offered or received compensation.

It’s basic copyright. Intellectual property is being abused, and if anything, we are putting up huge warning flags for you now before official, lawyer issued cease and desists are even apart of the picture.



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