Friday, July 2, 2010

Beware the Auto-Harvesters

Free-form Friday

Last Friday I posted a introduction to a new series of posts on how the principles Dale Carnegie discusses in How to Win Friends and Influence People are relevant to modern writers. Later that day, I received a notice from Google Alerts that a website/blog nominally devoted to Mr. Carnegie's works had posted a paragraph from the middle of my text.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem: the web is fundamentally about references and I have no problem with fair-use quotes. What troubled me is that even though the entry included a link back to my original post, the text they lifted from my piece was attributed to "Peter."

I poked around the site and decided it looked suspiciously like the work of either an auto harvester or a naive Australian blog user. While this minor misappropriation is fairly benign, it's worth pointing out that you should avoid sites built by auto-harvesters. They create the appearance of a portal or an aggregator but add no value. At best, these sites try to attract eyeballs for the adds running. At worst, you may find yourself in a den of mal-ware. Best to simply stay away.

As for the folks in Australia who picked up my post, if they're serious about reselling Dale Carnegie audio books they need to apply the first principle of the Six Ways to Make People Like You, "Become genuinely interested in other people," and take more care to acknowledge both the source and the author of the material they wish to quote.

Image: Photography by BJWOK / FreeDigitalPhotos.net