Another problem with and how to benefit from BlogNetNews

Queen of Spain has brought to a head all of the problems with BlogNetNews because they are scraping her content without permission.

Erin has successfully had her feed removed from BNN (good on you for doing it!) but, the more I think about it, the more I can see an opportunity for bloggers to gain from the fact that BlogNetNews is playing the scraping game.

As far as I see it the only problem with BNN syndicating the content is that they are not returning the link love to the original sites because they are passing the title link and the […] (read more) link through a redirect.

Here are the advantages I see for the bloggers currently on the network:

  1. Exposure – Your blog is being promoted to new readers without you having to do any work.
  2. They are only publishing a partial excerpt from the post. If a reader wants to read your content they must click through to your site to read it. Click throughs = traffic.
  3. You can’t comment on BNN. Again readers must click through to your post to leave a comment.
  4. They do not employ rel="nofollow" in on their site. This means that your feed can still be used to send plenty of Page Rank back to your site.

So all you need to do, to make this a win win situation for yourself as a blogger is to customize your RSS feed to include a simple "This post originally appeared on YOURBLOGNAME HERE" as a link at the top of each post which appears in your feed.

That link can point directly to your article. You can even optimize it so it says something like: This post (linked POST TITLE) is originally from (linked BLOG NAME).

Now you can happily let BNN scrap your content, safe if the knowledge that each post scraped will not only be sending you traffic, but also a share of the page rank from BNN.

You can achieve this on most blogging platforms by using a plugin such as "Better Feed" for WordPress or by manually editing your feed template (example is for WordPress).

Sure it may take a little work but it really is worth it to take advantage of the scrapers rather than expending the energy to fight them every step of the way.

Make them work for you.

Now, for my problem with BNN

My biggest problem with BNN is their tagline:

the blogosphere’s front page

How can any site purport to be the "front page" of the blogosphere when it limits itself only to the U.S. market.

Wake up call for you people: The blogosphere and the internet is NOT just the U.S.!

Today, between one service (who shall remain unmentioned until the respond to my email) not letting me sign up because I’m blogging on a ".dk" (Denmark) domain and idiots like this claiming to be the "front page of the blogosphere", I’m really starting to sympathize with the groundswell of resentment felt outside the U.S. towards the way in which many U.S. web sites and services marginalize or exclude people from outside the border.

I’m also starting to really consider what will happen when internet penetration levels increase in places like China and India and suddenly the English speaking world finds that it is in the minority of online users.

The US has almost 70% internet penetration so has not much room for growth, however Chinas has has only around 12.5% penetration and India has around 3.5%.

When India reaches the the same levels of penetration it will account for over 789 million internet users.

So, right now, any U.S. only site that not only manages to piss off it’s U.S. users but also piss off people from outside the U.S. can only be destined for serious trouble.

Pigeon hole yourself and reap the consequences

box I changed the tag line on the blog to “Paul O’Flaherty on Technology, Life and Passions” a few weeks ago.

As the long time readers of O’Flaherty know I’ve been concerned recently about being categorized as just a tech blogger and having to deal with the stereotype that comes with that.

I’m not just a tech blogger. I like to talk about other events and hobbies I have. I want to be able to talk about my passions and share any information whereby I feel I am genuinely adding something to a conversation that other people can benefit from.

Technology is still my main focus, but I wanted to show that I’m more than that. I’m not just a tech blogger.

Knowing how I feel about being stereotyped and how that stereotype changes how companies interact with you, it was with a hint of dismay that I read an otherwise excellent post by Erin Kotecki (The Queen of Spain).

In her post Erin bemoans the treatment of “Mommy Bloggers” as a group (sparked by the recent Johnson & Johnson Baby Camp display of corporate idiocy) and calls essentially for the companies targeting “mommy bloggers” to engage them and not talk “at” them.

It’s a damn shame these companies, marketers, PR flacks and social media opportunists don’t actually READ the blogs of the Moms they target. They would learn an awful lot in a very short period of time if they did.

I hate to say it but this kind of thing happens to every perceived “group” in the blogosphere.

Whether you are a tech blogger, mommy blogger, knitting blogger or sports blogger, there are and will always be corporations and groups who just don’t get that we as bloggers are more than what we just blog about.

Erin’s post really shook me this morning because what she keeps going on about is how corporations are treating mommy bloggers as a demographic and little else.

Yet Erin’s post does little to help “mommy bloggers” out of this sad perception.

Before I go any further, let me stress that I agree with Erin with respect to corporations treatment of bloggers. This is a universal problem and not one isolated to the mommy blogging community.

Yet as I said, Erin’s post does little to help the perception of “mommy bloggers” with respect to corporations or even with respect to other members of the blogosphere.

Bloggers are individuals right? Bloggers make up a community. That community is usually representative of a certain type of demographic.

In this case the community  is called “Mommy Bloggers” and it’s exactly that term that is causing the pigeon holed approach you are seeing from corporations with respect to the community.

Dell wants to talk to tech bloggers because of a perception that so-called tech bloggers know more about technology (it doesn’t matter that other bloggers are equally savvy).

The way we present ourselves and what we call ourselves, tech bloggers or mommy bloggers automatically influences how corporations react to us as the have an instant perception of our field of blogging and supposed field of influence.

If you want to break away from being perceived as being a certain demographic, then stop advertising yourself as being that demo graphic!

Not blogging under your real name is another problem that the “mommysphere” is suffering from badly.

Look at the most successful bloggers out there. They all (with very few exceptions) blog under their real name.

My general impression of “mommy bloggers” is that a large percentage tend to blog under names such as “Queen of Spain” (no offence Erin I like that name ) without giving their real name.

I’m sure their are some perceived reasons for this (don’t want hubby knowing they blog about his constant flatulence or something) but if you’re trying to win the respect of the people holding the corporations purse strings (no pun intended) then you need to step up to the plate and show that you are a real people.

A corporation cannot engage an anonymous entity because that entity could be anybody.

The bloggers who blog under their real names can afford more of the proper corporate attention because their is a perceived safe guard that the blogger in question has his or her face, name, and personal reputation out their for all to see.

Anonymous bloggers are a liability. They can say what they want, then piss off and start another blog tomorrow under another identity. They could even have two blogs, one where they are promoting your product for the potential rewards and one where they are promoting your competitors, both under different names.

That’s not so easy to do when you blog under your real name. You may try it. But if you are found out your personal reputation will be shot to hell.

Who cares about the reputation of an anonymous character?

Oh, don’t get me started about some of the names for the blogs in the “mommysphere”!

If I see another (fictitious blog names but you get the gist) Jens mom, mom of five, lonely mommy, happy mommy or Californian mommy,  blog name I will scream.

Talk about stuffing yourself into a box.

Don’t get me wrong, this happens in other sub divisions of the blogosphere as well, but with respect to the “mommysphere” this (at least to me) is very evident.

If you label yourself as one type of blogger, you’ll get treated as such. It’s a simple as that.

Be original. Show that you are more than a “mommy blogger”. Drop that title. Show that you are a blogger, with multiple interests, with a readership and a sphere of influence.

So here are my tips to the members of the “Mommysphere” and to any bloggers who feel they are cornered into one demographic.

    1. If you don’t want to be categorized as part of a demographic quit advertising yourself a such.
    2. Blog under your real name. Your reputation is what gives your blog value.
    3. Choose a blog name that does not drop you into a demographic.
    4. Show that you have interests in topics outside of the box your trying not to be stuffed into.

    Remember, it doesn’t matter if you’re a mommy, tech or sheep shearing blogger,  you can’t complain about being demographically stereotyped if you propagate the stereotype.