There’s an interesting discussion going on in the comments of a post at the Instigator Blog (or as I like to call it, Yoskoblog) about a new website called Social Rank which is launching dozens and eventually hundreds of niche blog aggregator websites.
It struck a nerve for me because I’m noticing a lot of automatically-generated “blogs” pinging my posts and upping my Technorati rating. These blogs work by searching the blogosphere for keywords, scraping a quote, adding a link and sending a pingback. The posts are all of the same structure:
[Name (sometimes a random name or literal “unknown”)] wrote an interesting post today about [Title of blog post]. Here’s a quick excerpt: [excerpt from post].
I’m not sure if the business model is to get traffic through pingbacks or if they’re part of some larger splog scheme, but needless to say the pages are filled with Google ads.
I commented that people are going to be turned off by Social Rank’s websites if only because of their similarity to the autoblogs. People want aggregated content, but evaluated in some way by real people (think Fark or Digg).
The other concern is that if these websites become popular, spammers will begin to figure out ways to game the system. I imagine it’ll probably happen accidentally, a side-effect of traditional splogging methods. But once they figure it out, expect it to be exploited.
Ben made an interesting point to my main argument: Is Techmeme a splog? It’s automatically generated, with excerpts from other blogs. It has ads and is trying to make money. But it feels different somehow. It’s like Google News for blogs.
Is there a difference? Is Techmeme bad? Is Social Rank good? What is the real difference between a junk splog and a good automatic aggregation website?