Lots of trackbacks (or pingbacks) are spam, and I don’t approve them for the comments section. But some pass the first sniff test, and some are interesting enough to warrant a reply. That’s what happened with the post “To be (a brand) or not to be (a brand)”, at a blog called Daily Breaking News Update. I’m not linking to either, because I think I fell here for a splog (a neologism I like, coined by Mark Cuban, for a spam blog).
What got me interested in the piece, naturally, was this paragraph…
It may be that some of the fallout from the Tiger Woods scandal has made the idea of personal branding seem trickier – people are people, after all, not objects and not cattle. As Doc Searls has argued in two recent blog posts, brands are “boring” at best and “bull” at worst.
The post ended, provocatively enough, this way:
Undoubtedly, building trust is fundamental to business success. Maintaining reputation is crucial, whether or not you want your name to be synonymous with a product, a service or a company.
What are your thoughts on personal branding? Has it become impossible? Or has it become ubiquitous?
Doc then spends some time writing out a reply to a post that was simply a copy of someone else’s. These splog sites scrape text off of other sites, add some links and then post them, making it seem like they were the original authors. It is all automated and the hope is that you will come across them, think they are ‘real’ sites and click on some of the advertising. Or that having copies of popular articles will increase their ranking on Google searches.
They are parasitic sites. living off of the works of others, adding no comments or added perspective. Luckily, since the text is automatically scrapped from other sites, it is relatively easy to find the originals using Google.
These spam blogs or splogs have generally been relatively easy to spot if you go to the site and look around. So I don’t link to them or use them in any news aggregators.
But it makes me worry about the style I use for my blog. A lot of my blogging uses short quotes from posts I like or want to comment on. I like to synthesize a lot of information and present it in new ways. I don’t generally create a post where I say simply “Joe Blow comments on the latest controversial development at Apple” with a link. Those are useful blogs for increasing information flow but I want to add my own thoughts and demonstrate why the original post was of interest.
So I include a little bit, with appropriate links to the original. I then add something, either a few words or a longer piece, maybe a figure or two. But the jumping off point for many of my posts is this sort of collaborative effort between me and the original ideas of the first post. I bounce off of why their post holds importance.
And I want to make sure that their original post gets a bigger highlight than a simple link. I want my readers to get an idea of how the original post made its connections with me. So I include a portion – not all; just a taste. I’ve been writing these sorts of blog posts for over 7 years.
But the ubiquity of splogs raises the possibilities that my approach could look splog-like on first approach. Since I usually use snippets of someone else’s post – because I want others to not only see directly what was written, hoping to actually send readers on to the original article rather than just stick with me as some sort of mediator, but I also I want them to get a real sense of why the original post was important to me – it is possible that to some eyes my site could look like a splog.
It is like having to pass a Turing test.
For any who worry, I am a human being. As John Merrick would say ” I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!”