I recently discovered my last blog post was spotted on several different splogs. On the one hand, I’m flattered that somebody thinks highly enough of my content to copy it and on the other hand, it’s still theft and it could cost you money.
It’s no secret that Mr. Swan holds splogs in same high regard that the Viacom holds YouTube & Google in right now. In fact, he has even attempted to contact splog owners in order to get them to remove the offending content. (Good luck with that Greg – your gonna love this blog post). Mr. Luther has more enlightened attitude toward the problem. He believed that if someone is stealing your content, that almost always means that you’re writing good stuff!
I used to be closer to Dustin’s feelings than Greg’s. However recent events have caused me to rethink my position on this matter. You see, I recently learned that bandwidth isn’t free. Because of all the MLS image downloading, web page serving, and image transferring my server applications and web sites did last month, my hosting company hit me with a $50 fee because I exceeded my 100 GB/month bandwidth quota. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased to be paying more for hosting (Anybody know of any co-location companies on the Eastside besides Isomedia? If this becomes expensive, I might be going data center shopping again).
Despite this unfortunate event, I did learn that conserving bandwidth does save money and improve site performance (previously the financial aspects of bandwidth conservation never hit home). So, I’ve recently had an enlightened change of heart.
I obviously don’t value my content like Greg value’s his. I see my content as just my semi-interesting rambling that has the nice side effect of creating name recognition for myself, my company, and Rain City Guide. After all, when a splog steals a blog post, they keep the original links and images intact. And since all those links usually refer back to Rain City Guide, it probably helps our Google Rank more than hurts. And it doesn’t cost me anything, if you make a copy.
However, I value my bandwidth. If you hotlink to images on my web site or my blog, you are now costing me money. Although, there are easier ways of avoiding the issue, I decided think like a geek instead of thinking like a real estate blogger.
While you send e-mail to people that may not exist, I just break out the ye old C# compiler and the HTTP documentation and invent an ASP.net HTTP handler that returns a dynamic image and embarrasses the splog host to stop hot-linking to my images.
Anyway, if you’re interested in how easy this trick is to pull off, I’ll post the C# source code for this dynamic image on my blog this weekend, so at least Greg can fight back against sploggers and Greg’s computer genius son can learn a new web trick from an old master… (PS – Although, I’m not a native PHP speaker, I’ll help your son translate it, if he doesn’t get what I did)
If you hosted this image from a web page on your web site, like I did on my blog, you’d see a “[your website] is a splog. Visit raincityguide.com” image. And if you hosted this image on raincityguide.com, you’d get the following image.
Needless, to say, once you understand the technology involved, it opens up all sorts of fun possibilities. For example, you could…
- Create blog posts with invisible images, that turn into giant splog warning images when hosted by a splog
- Create images that display genuine content on your site, but display pornography or other objectionable content on a splogger’s site
- Create images that display genuine content on your site, but turn invisible on a splogger’s site
- Create images that display content on your site, but return HTTP 403 Forbidden codes on a splogger’s site
If you host your own blog, and aren’t quite so geeky and cheap to write code to solve problem, you can use software like Port 80 software’s LinkDeny on Microsoft’s IIS which is by far the most flexible solution to dealing with image leeching problems. If you host a WordPress blog on a LAMP platform, you can probably configure Apache Mod-Security or Mod-Rewrite to pull off similar tricks.