Steal This Blog Post – Friday Fun with Splog Busters!

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 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” image. And if you hosted this image on, 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.

62 thoughts on “Steal This Blog Post – Friday Fun with Splog Busters!

  1. I really hope this post gets splogged. πŸ˜‰ If anybody notices this image on a splog, please let us know in the comments, so we can share a good laugh!

  2. Derek,

    Thanks for pointing out my spilling error πŸ˜‰ On the plus side, it makes it easier to find a splogger…


    Thanks for finding a splogger! I think the best solution is to contact Google and set-up your server so it’s 403s when somebody hotlinks an image they shouldn’t be linking to. However, I don’t take myself so seriously that I can’t have a little fun at a splogger’s expense. πŸ™‚

  3. Jan,

    I’ve reported instances like that to Google in the past… It’s really not hard to do as you just need to click on the words “Ads by Google” under one of the Google Ads and follow the directions to “report a violation”.

    BTW, to see Robbie’s fun in action, check out this post:!

  4. The splogger who pissed me off sent me this nice email:


    I have removed the article posted by the original owner of the blog.
    Sorry about that and at the same time I will contact the original owner to get things cleared.Please let me know if there is any other one written by you and I will remove them asap from the site.”

    I feel so….violated.

  5. In my book, anyone who automates a process to republish every article (in full) from an RSS feed is clearly a splog. When Inman launched this feature, I let them know my opinion and was told I could sign up for an account and “remove” RCG’s feed. Needless to say, I don’t like a system where I have to join in order to correct obvious mistakes in design.

  6. Excuse my simple minded question – I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know much about this subject but I’m intrigued. Isn’t the purpose of RSS to allow syndication/republication of data in real time? I’m not saying splogs are okay, they obviously don’t give credit where they should, but what is the purpose of putting the entire content in a RSS feed anyway? Why not feed only limited content or teasers? Is that possible? Would these splogs be able to exist if there was no RSS feed available?

  7. Here’s my take. Putting the entire content in the RSS feed is a convenience to the reader. Many web sites do have teaser content in their feeds (newspapers seem to do this on a regular basis, blogs less so). Splogs could still exist, though it less popular, because it would be harder to implement.

  8. Jan,

    As Robbie says… The purpose of creating a feed for a site is so that people who use feed readers (like myself) can be updated each time a new post is written. The added functionality of being able to read the content from within a reader is huge for myself as it allows me to follow hundreds of blogs, news items, photo galleries, listings, video sites, news alerts, events, etc. without having to visit the site unless I want to interact on that site.

    The purpose of a splog (or at least the most common reason for setting them up) is to use someone else’s content in order to build up SEO and link juice to a site. The good news is that most splogs don’t last long. The bad news is that there are more of them now then ever before!

  9. Thanks guys! I forgot about a feed reader. That makes sense then. Like spam, it’s just another lazy way to make a few bucks, thanks to Google ads.

  10. Turns out that reporting to Google is somewhat overrated… Google follows up by asking you to submit the complaint via hard copy (i.e. not email!). Here is the response I got this morning from Google after submitting the websites two days ago:

    Thank you for your note.

    It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the text of which can be found at the U.S. Copyright Office website: and other applicable intellectual property laws. In this case, this means that if we receive proper notice of infringement, we will forward that notice to the responsible web site publisher.

    To file a notice of infringement with us, you must provide a written communication (by fax or regular mail, not by email) that sets forth the items specified below. Please note that pursuant to that Act, you may be liable to the alleged infringer for damages (including costs and attorneys’ fees) if you materially misrepresent that you own an item when you in fact do not. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether you have the right to request removal from our service, we suggest that you first contact an attorney.

    To expedite our ability to process your request, please use the following format (including section numbers):

    1. Identify in sufficient detail the copyrighted work that you believe has been infringed upon. For example, “The copyrighted work at issue is the text that appears on”

    2. Identify the material that you claim is infringing upon the copyrighted work listed in item #1 above. You must identify each page that allegedly contains infringing material by providing its URL.

    3. Provide information reasonably sufficient to permit Google to contact you (email address is preferred).

    4. Include the following statement: “I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.”

    5. Include the following statement: “I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.”

    6. Sign the paper.

    7. Send the written communication to the following address:

    Google, Inc.
    Attn: AdSense Support, DMCA complaints
    1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
    Mountain View CA 94043

    OR Fax to:

    (650) 618-8507, Attn: AdSense Support, DMCA complaints

    The Google AdSense Team

  11. “I just found another splogger who was using my name and the name of my company to generate hits, and to also feed people to other blogs. I reported the site to google.”

    Yeah thanks Jillayne Schlicke for reporting my site. You posted 3 comments in 5 minutes on blog posts that didn’t even link to you and then reported my site before I even had a chance to figure out who you were. If you haven’t noticed, the whole internet is about linking to people. Linking to a web site is not splogging. Stealing your content and claiming it is mine is splogging and I certainly didn’t do that.
    My site had a small quote, a link to your site, and even gave you credit for the article. For that you reported me to google?

  12. regarding comment number 23, the splogger is using my name and the name of my company to feed search engine hits to his ad-based blog, where there was a link to another blog. None of this linked back to me.

    Using someone’s name or the name of their company to promote something entirely unrelated, without permission, deserves whatever I can do, when I put on my black spiderman suit.

  13. Hey Robbie,

    I have a splog question. Lately, I’ve been receiving google alerts on my name “Jillayne Schlicke”

    However, when I click through to some of these blogs, my name is nowhere. Some of these blogs are obvious splogs and some are actual blogs.

    Any idea why I’m getting the alert? Are they using my name somehow behind the scenes?

  14. I am having a similar (yet slightly different) issue myself with links showing up in my stats saying they are sending hits to my site but when you click them, there is nothing there. Just a dead end to get me to click the link to see what they wrote so they can get another hit.

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