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No, AutoBlogged is not Spammy and Not Copyright Infringement

We recently had a customer ask for some help with an issue he was having with AutoBlogged. We do provide free support, but this customer also tried posting to the WordPress.org forums for an answer. He was surprised by a volunteer moderator’s reply:

Hi auto blogging plugins are not supported here. These plugins and blogs that use them are spammy and infringe on the copy rights and hard work of real bloggers who write posts.

UPDATE: Chris, the moderator, has responded to this and has since acknowledged that he should not have passed judgment on our plugin. He has changed the reason for closing the topic. Thanks Chris!

Continued is our original post because we feel we some of these things still need to be said.

No, autoblogs are not all spammy

Yes there are people who use autoblogging tools such as ours for creating spammy sites, but just because AutoBlogged is a tool that can be abused does not make it inherently a spam tool.  These spammy sites also happen to be running on WordPress, should we label all WordPress users as spammers? Of course not.  There are so many legitimate uses for autoblogging tools that are non-spammy and in fact most of our customers do have legit sites.

Here are some examples of the many legit uses for AutoBlogged:

  1. Content curation and Aggregation – Summarizing content from blogs related to your site’s niche. There are many huge sites such as Gawker.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and even Google News that have built a business on content curation and news aggregation. These sites certainly would not be called spammy.
  2. Blog Aggregation – Many of our customers take a niche they are interested in and have bloggers in that niche submit their feeds to be aggregated on a single web site. The autoblog shows a small excerpt with a link to the original article. Sites like these are a great service not only to readers, but also the bloggers who benefit from the increased traffic.
  3. Company Blog Aggregation – Similar to above, but it aggregates articles from all the bloggers in a specific company or organization.
  4. Media monitoring – Autoblogs are a great way to monitor what other sites are saying about you. A number of large organizations use AutoBlogged internally to monitor media mentions of their brand.
  5. Customer Support – We actually use AutoBlogged to monitor google for AutoBlogged-related error messages and forum mentions. In fact, this is how we were first notified of the wordpress.org forum post.
  6. Lifestreams – Many of our user create autoblogs to bring together all of their vairous social media and blogging streams.
  7. Watching a topic – Setting up a personal autoblog that watches a topic of interest is a great legitimate use of an autoblog. For example, we love exploring new startups so we set up http://1v.cc to aggregate all of the big startup announcement sites.
  8. Local News – Some of our customers have set up news aggregator sites for their community that list any news articles where they are mentioned.
  9. Security monitor – We have set up a site that monitors a number of exploit and vulnerability announcement sites so we are aware of any security issues that might come up with themes or plugins we use. We show the feed from that site right on our WordPress dashboard.
  10. Feedburner Clone – We use AutoBlogged as a much more powerful alternative to FeedBurner.
We could go on and on, in the last four years we have seen thousands of legitimate autoblogs from our customers (which include a number of large companies, educational institutions, and government organizations), not to mention the many ways we use it ourselves internally.

No, autoblogs do not always infringe on copyrights

It is incorrect to assume that all autoblogs infringe copyrights. Many of our customers get proper permissions to reprint content from other blogs or are using content that they already own or have paid for  the rights to use. Furthermore, it has long-been established that quoting a few sentences from an article is well within fair use. By default, AutoBlogged uses short excerpts and links to the original article. As mentioned, Gawker.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and Google News all do this without facing legal

Furthermore, we feel that we have gone out of our way to implement features to ensure that copyrights are respected and original authors are given credit. We have written a number of articles on this topic and we always encourage our customers to respect the work of others. Nevertheless, we cannot control how our customers use our software just as companies who make blank CD’s cannot control what those CD’s will hold. It is important to note that most of those blogs that are blatantly infringing copyrights are also infringing ours as the majority of them are using pirated copies of our software.

It was completely unfair for to label autoblogs as spammy and that they infringe copyrights so discussions of these plugins are not welcomed in the WordPress forums. While we are happy to support our customers, it is wrong to shut these people out and prevent them from getting community support at wordpress.org. While AutoBlogged is a paid plugin, like the many autoblogging plugins in the WordPress directory, it is GPL and we feel we should be able to participate in the community without having to worry about rogue moderators who close comments based on biased and opinionated generalizations.

AutoBlogged is a legitimate and professional content curation and aggregation tool that is well-recognized for it’s ability to seek out and automate the posting of  targeted content. We have implemented features to easily allow sites to opt-out, it respects robot meta tags and have even implemented new tags to specifically block autobloggers, it gives credit to the original authors, and uses the syndication-source meta tag to let Google know where the content originated. Yes it is powerful and like most things has the potential for abuse, but to categorically deny our users access to wordpress.org forums based on what some people do with our software is just wrong.

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