There’s a lot of dark corners on the internet, just as in the real world. (There’s nice places too – many many more than bad, it must be said.)
One interesting area is Search Engine Optimisation, which at the whiter end is often just consultants who help people tweak their sites to get better rankings – and many companies have done this – and at the other end there’s the black art of gaming the search engines, of making your craptastic site come top of the search results when it really should be at the bottom.
You could say that bloggers are the worst for this sort of thing (see my previous posting), but really, we are just playing at it.
What “Brad” and “Seth” seem to be doing is collecting RSS feeds, not just from anyone but from everyone they can find. They divide it up into chunks, index the chunks for keywords and on sell it to people who need good scoring text for their link farms.
They’re collecting mine, because someone slipped up and gave me a referral from their admin tool. They’ll be taking yours too: these guys boast of taking five million articles from one hundred thousand RSS feeds.
So say Bob wants to make his page score well for a specific term, like maybe “Cialis”. He could then buy off “Seth” and “Brad” hundreds of chunks of text using the word “Cialis”, using the text on his page to increase its page rank and therefore make it more likely that someone with a limp dick and too much money will find it and buy some Cialis from him.
Or maybe Bob runs a site whose only purpose is to host Google text advertisements, but he’s a bit short of good content that might throw up some lucrative ads. “Seth” and “Brad” to the rescue!
I can imagine this would also be very handy stuff to use in spam: nice chunks of narrative text seem to be used a lot these days in an attempt to sneak past spam filters.
I don’t mind my words, such as they are, being used by others (see the Creative Commons button on my home page, which sets out the pretty lenient conditions). I just never thought they’d be used in the way that “Brad” and “Seth” seem to be using them. I don’t like it.
So, what does one do? Anything? Nothing? C’est la vie on the web?