It’s not quite stealing…..but…

You know world of wine blogging is expanding when in a short amount of time at least three new Wine Blog Aggregation sites emerge.

eWineCentral
A LA Wine
WineLust

What are these sites? Well, basically they lift posts off of other wine blogs, put the post on their own site and leave it at that. Or, they offer a headline or first paragraph from a post and direct the reader back to the original site. And this makes up the entire content of the site.

I have no problem with the latter example. Seems reasonable and useful. I do get a bit of a twitch though at the sites that run someone’s entire post, then deliver a teeny tiny link back to the post’s origin. It’s not quite stealing. It’s more like reading an entire novel in a bookstore while you sit on one of those uncomfortable stools, rather than just paying the $8 for the paperback.

Twitches aside, the emergence of the wine blog aggregation sites is clearly a response to the large number of wine blogs that are in existence today. Inevitably those people interested in reading independent words on wine will gravitate toward the blogs they like, subscribe to the RSS feeds or to e-mail updates and be done with it for the most part.

However, finding the nugget you want to store takes more and more
looking about. The new aggregation sites, and the likes of
WineBlogWatch, are nearly essential for that search these days.

My own mining of web and print data has resulted in about 60 wine blogs, 14 political blogs, 3 Tech blogs, 3 PR blogs, 13 food blogs and 1 gossip blog in my RSS reader. In addition, I have more than 30 Google alerts that shoot me emails on a regular basis. And my Yahoo Home page has 25 sets of headlines from 18 dailies around the globe. Then there are the periodicals that come to the office at a rate of nearly 25 per month. Plus, the five daily papers I retrieve from my lawn every day.

Sunday is a real workout.

Posted In: Wine Blogs

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11 Responses

  1. Alder - January 17, 2006

    Tom, the first time my content appeared in an aggregator site I had a little twitch as well. However, that is the both the blessing and the curse of RSS feeds. That’s the way life works in the blogosphere.
    HOWEVER.
    That doesn’t mean that you can’t exert some control over it.
    One thing I don’t see that you have done is create a Creative Commons license for your blog (www.creativecommons.org). This allows you to legally specify what rights you are reserving from a copyright perspective and what rights you are not.
    It also provides a basis for insisting that these aggregators use your content in the manner you deem acceptable (e.g. attributing it to you, etc.)

  2. sandy - January 18, 2006

    I think that the no-value-added aggregation sites — on wine or any other topic — are just parasites and deserve to be ignored. I’d rather subscribe to the feeds that I want and set up Technorati watchlists to grab references from new sources.
    I’m an amateur at the wine business and a professional at technology, so I have 35 wine feeds, over 80 technology feeds, 8 news feeds and about 10 just for amusement to break up my day. Although one of my NY resolutions was to trim down that list a bit! I have managed to trim down my paper-based publications, however: only the Economist and Macleans (a Canadian news magazine), plus a couple of technical journals. No Sunday workout on the lawn for me.

  3. Beau - January 18, 2006

    Well, actually, I think posting the entire thing is stealing (with or w/o a CC disclaimer, which I agree with Alder, is a wise idea to add). In fact, I’ll call out eWineCentral & WineLust for posting entire pieces. That’s like a newspaper getting stories from a reporter who aint ever going to get paid. I don’t mind the approach of a la Wine – posting a headline + short excerpt + link. But if you ask me, the folks at the other two ‘blog news sites’ are a little too grabby for my taste.

  4. Lenn - January 18, 2006

    Does anyone know how much legal “clout” the CC disclaimers actually have?

  5. Mike - January 18, 2006

    I don’t really mind the exposure that I get from a la wine and ewinecentral, although I’d prefer the visits be to my site. I’d toyed with the idea of a Creative Commons license some time ago but at that time a lot of what I was posting waslinks to articles that were not mine; I’d just add a comment or two. But now that I’m moving into more original work I guess its time I revisit the Creative Commons idea again.

  6. Alder - January 18, 2006

    Beau,
    As long as you have an RSS feed of your entire article, then an aggregator posting the article on their site is no different than my posting your article on my personal my.yahoo.com homepage. RSS feeds are defacto for public consumption, so anything you put out there is available to the public (subject only to your copyright claims, which is why a Creative Commons license is so important).

  7. Beau - January 18, 2006

    I understand Alder. I’ve vascillated between publishing excerpt RSS feeds and whole post RSS feeds. I’m leaning towards excerpts from now on.
    And I have all my stuff linked to a CC license.
    No these sites aren’t stealing in the legal sense, but if somebody throws up a site, slaps on some google ads and then publishes entire posts from other people in the guise of news – well then that’s stealing on some, gray area level.
    Think about your average surfer – they don’t know much about blogs, let alone RSS feeds. It’s not immediately apparent on these sites where these complete articles are coming from. Just my twopence.

  8. Jathan - January 18, 2006

    Some good points, but a lot of large popular sites are built off of content from varried sources, much of the time the same sources over and over again. These sites, like digg or slashdot, take the all important step of linking to the original work, credit given where it’s due, and traffic driven to that site. Technically speaking, these sites are doing the same thing.
    I hadn’t seen eWinecentral before this, but it appears that the feeds agregated from most wine bloggers are not excerpt feeds. I would say that’s the bloggers fault.
    Alder is right. Time for me to go CC.

  9. St.Vini - January 18, 2006

    I guess I’m looking at this totally differently, but isn’t the point of creating a blog to be heard/read? Isn’t this process accomplishing just that?!? If you’re being economically impacted, then sue for damages but I don’t think anybody here is making any remotely material income off a wine blog, nor are you charging a subscription for people to have access to your writings.
    While I believe in what I post, I certainly don’t think its gospel worthy of charging somebody a subscription for, so as long as you’re providing your content for free (and via RSS no less!) it seems a little odd to be complaining about people collecting it for another blog site. Isn’t that what blog reading sites are for anyway? Does anybody have a problem with Bloglines et.al? Seems like pretty much the same thing to me.
    If however, you feel that they are in fact infringing upon you in some immoral way, I’d suggest a polite email to the site owner, perhaps they aren’t even aware of any discomfort with their setup.
    Also, Beau, is there a “non-legal” type of stealing now? πŸ˜‰
    St.Vini

  10. DL - January 19, 2006

    As a few of you can appreciate this is an important issue to me.
    From my POV I don’t like the idea of syndicating full articles to aggregate sites. For me its not about stealing content, its about hijacking audience. Originators should be rewarded with traffic from their audience and syndicating excepts is, at the moment, one of the only means to route traffic and reap reward (even though traffic fails off every time you force a jump, a new page etc.).
    Beyond the core issue of stealing audience, I think every originator, writer, producer, artist should be paid by their aggregators; first in traffic, then in popularity and finally in cash, trade or equity.
    I think that this open agggregation issue has come about because the technology to do it is so simple on the aggreator side and non existent or difficult on the originator side of the equation. Open aggreagation has its benefits, its enables the network effect but at the moment very poorly.
    Innovation in the form of aggreator sites needs to be tolerated and even incouraged but originators also need to be respected and rewarded for their contribution. I hope to address this issue with a few innovative ideas and maybe some technology so that originators have better dialogue with their audience and create value from their effort.

  11. Andrea Rosso - January 19, 2006

    Folks – I’ve been reading through all these comments. I run eWineCentral and I just wanted to respond to some of the comments posted.
    – The site originated because I wanted to keep up to date with all the blogs and news about wine. I’m not an expert in wine so I don’t have much to contribute but there is so much great info out there posted by every one. I use an RSS reader but I didn’t quite like the way things are formatted, etc. so I decided to use an aggregator in WordPress to format it into a news paper like theme. At some point I thought this might be useful to others. My relatives came to mind… folks who don’t know how to use RSS, Readers, etc., but who can open up a web page and click on links. That I think is the target audience here. So I got the domain and hosting and put the site up.
    – I in no way want to steal anyone’s thunder. The purpose of RSS is to syndicate your posts so others can aggregate them in various ways. In setting up this site I don’t mean to try to drive people to eWineCentral but to have more people hopefully read your posts. It is very much like TV Show syndication, or the AP or Reuters news articles which are re-broadcast or re-printed by various media outlets. The big title of the post links right to the original post. I reference where the post comes from. I’m not sure how else I can highlight where the post comes from but I’m open to suggestions. I certainly am not trying to recast your content as mine.
    – I actually do not want to have the full articles posted. It messes up the formatting. I usually pick the ‘summary’ feed if there is one from your site since it’s makes it easier to control formatting. I’m working on some code to only display the first few paragraphs of the post but this seems to only work for some posts (which end with [Read More]). I don’t find something like A La Wine useful at all as it doesn’t give me enough of the post to decide if I want to keep reading and Wine Blog Watch doesn’t show me the post at all. I wanted some sort of middle ground very much like a news paper which continues the article on other pages but puts a good long enough portion of it on the page to attract interest.
    – This is not a money making venture or anything. I’m trying to cover the costs of hosting with the AdSense ads. The top bar is a bit prominent for my tastes so I’m playing around with the layout to see what I can do. I’m nowhere near covering the costs of the site. πŸ™‚
    – I’m a computer person and not a wine person. So I’m more about the ‘engine’ rather than the content. Aggregating the posts properly and setting everything up right takes quite a bit of time. I certainly did not ‘slap’ it together. The theme is a big pain as each post is different and sometimes messes up the whole layout, and there is quite a lot of extra code I had to add behind the scenes to do things right. What I was thinking of doing next was trying to categorize (automatically) the posts but this proves to be pretty challenging. I’m not sitting still on the site and have several ideas on how to improve it even more.
    – I’m trying to pick the blogs who write about wine and from wineries exclusively. The list of links is on the right hand side at the bottom. I keep on adding to it as I find them. If you don’t want to be on the list then let me know. I think it detracts from what all the wine bloggers are doing to get their word out but I certainly don’t want to anger anyone.
    In setting up this site I’m hoping I’ve contributed something, at least technically, to the wine blogging community. Thanks for listening.


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