A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Mr Hammond. He was cluing me in to a strange link that had appeared on one of posts on my blog. I followed it and…. someone had scraped and copied my blog onto their site. WTF?! Why would someone want to copy my mundane ramblings and claim it as their own? I have a small but respectable following of readers but c’mon… The vast majority are local and come for the restaurant reviews and while I do have a growing number of national readers who come for the infrared grilling stuff (not that I’m an authority, just an early adopter so there isn’t a whole lot of competition) it’s rarely more than 100 a day. Still, what are they trying to accomplish?
The site was odd. A vaguely Middle-Eastern woman with no top and rather revealing panties adorned the background of the site and was always present as you scrolled through. Had I been hijacked by a purveyor of porn? No, other than the ‘lady’ there was nothing else overtly sexual, although as most of the text was in Arabic I could be wrong. Were they using my text (and pictures of Finn!) to sell something? Well, there were movie posters for current movies like Wall-e (with Arabic script underneath) but no active links or offers of sales. The site was a mass of conflicting information. Arabic, English, German, Dutch. I actually wondered if it was some sort of ‘terrorist’ site hiding secret messages underneath the mess of data (Great, next time I fly I’ll find out I’m on some terrorist watch list….) but that seemed a bit far fetched.
The only conclusion I could come to was that it was some sort of trap. Trying to access it ultimately locked up my browser or left residual images as I tried to go to other sites. Shut down, scrub, run virus and spyware programs. Since that seems the most reasonable explanation I am not providing a link to my doppelganger. Google must not care for the site either as you can find it on some searches of my content but it’s very buried.
I went through my blog and broke all the links. Seems they had also created some links to this site on some other blogs. RVA Foodie had one or two, I checked some other friends that I link to but didn’t see any other offending linkages.
Lesson for the day? Watch your blog. Check who’s linking to you every now and then and do Google and other searches based on specific (the more obscure the better) sentences from your content to find any unauthorized copies. Break any links that are suspect on your site so your friends and family don’t end up someplace they really don’t want to go. You can purchase programs that will monitor it for you for 4 or 5 bucks a month. That’s nice but all they do it tell you your being copied. When it comes down to it there really isn’t a whole lot you can do.
Of course, once I had thought I had cleaned everything up… I get another email from a different friend last night. Someone else has copied my site! This one seems pretty harmless though, go, look, you be the judge….