In the age of the blog, it may well be that republishing is the sincerest form of flattery. The same RSS technology that many of you use to read the blog through wonderful rollers like this one also can be turned to far more nefarious purposes. I'm going to rant a bit about one particular instantiation of this nefariousness.
One of my favorite things about http://blogs.technet.com is that there are no advertisements on the site (other than the Microsoft branding, which it seems to me comes with the territory, since the company sponsors the bandwidth). I'm very proud to work for a company which encourages me to interact with you this way. I've worked at companies where internal communications had to be passed by several committees before they were transmitted. The idea that I can post to the web, freely and unfettered by anything beyond a hopefully well-honed sense of responsibility and the company's admonition to be smart about what I'm doing, is just too cool for words.
For awhile now, I've been aware that there are several sites out there which are reposting the RSS feeds from several Microsoft blogs, including this one, along with advertising which they have sold. I'm not going to post any URLs, because I don't want to drive any traffic in their direction. I have seen no original content on any of these sites.. all I've found is an effort to gain advertising traffic from search engine hits on our content.
That sucks, but it's not something I've felt compelled to speak out about before now. It bothered me, but it didn't make me angry. I only bring it up now so that you'll have context when I say that this week, I heard about another website that has taken this "entrepreneurial spirit" to the next level. This makes me angry.
There's a site out there which is charging people to read this content. Not driving revenue from a free-access site by selling advertising (inventive and perhaps morally ambiguous activity), but ASKING YOU TO PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT MY COMPANY AND I ARE GIVING AWAY!
Of course, I'm not going to post a link to that site either. I'm just going to syndicate this post on all of my most active RSS feeds and hope they're as negligent as they are sleazy. Then perhaps this message will get through to the people who are paying to read the content from this site:
You can get this content for free at http://blogs.technet.com/wardpond!
When you pay to read this content, its authors receive NO compensation.
Please don't encourage or reward this sleazy repackaging of our content. Visit the source and get it for free!
I have no idea how many people this affects, but if just one of you escapes the clutches of these bums, then I feel comfortable spending bandwidth on this message.
Fellow bloggers, do you have any opinions about this issue? Feel free to chime in..