I have now discovered that what I referred to in my recent post about Blog bots are known more commonly known as Made for Adsense or MFA sites. Apparently there is a bit of controvesy over these. Some people consider them creative revenue opportunities; others consider them scum. I lean toward the latter, not for their copyright infringement nature, but because they add no value. If they at least attempted to perform some kind of aggregation function, and cited the original blogs, I might be more supportive.
It’s a funny irony that searching around for MFA information will land you at a number of MFA sites. That’s how bad they pollute the search engines.
Google has apparently taken a negative view of these sites. In the cases where they are using Google Ads, Google gives an option to report these sites. Click on the ‘Ads by Google’ link and on the page that appears, at the bottom of the page, (somewhat hidden) is a link ‘Send Google your thoughts on the ads you just saw’ – click this and you can report the quality of the site. As a result, some of these sites have moved to Yahoo!/Overture or other ad networks. In fact, on some forums I saw people offering to buy sites that had been kicked off Google in order to switch them over to Yahoo! ads. On the other hand, Google makes money from them, so why should they care all that much.
MFA originally referred to mostly static pages. Now there are “bot sites” with apparent content that is really just content taken from other blogs’ RSS feeds. These sites have been called spam blogs, or splogs (see: Google’s Continued Role in Splogs Monetizing Your Blog’s Content or Wikipedia), not to be confused with comment spam. There’s a plugin for WordPress and splog templates to enable the creation of a new splog site in literally a few minutes, with very little technical extertise – no wonder there are so many of them.
Digital Fingerprint and Anti-Leech (both for WordPress) aim not to block scrapers accessing your blog – but instead they identify when a scraper has hit your site and feed it gibberish, just as Paul Westbrook had suggested in a comment to my recent post. I guess that’s what we all have to implement to get this to go away. What a pain. I expect this to become a lot more visible in the next 12-18 months, probably at least as big a hassle as comment spam was.