Some Advice for Colin Berry
The reason your Shroud of Turin blog is not getting the traffic you want has little or nothing to do with me. The allegation that I am “pirating” your material and thus costing you hits, responses and search engine ranking is, well, preposterous. You write:
. . . but for Shroudie news aggregation sites, one in particular, there would be far more hits and perhaps responses, here on my own site to my own original content. It’s the copying-and-pasting of most of one’s work – sometimes within minutes of posting – that I object to most. Visitors to those other sites then feel, probably correctly, that they have been supplied with the gist, and then feel no incentive to visit one’s site. This pirating of others’ content (let’s not mince our words – it IS pirating) then impacts unfavourably, disastrously even, on one’s ranking in search engines under general search labels like “shroud of turin” since the inter-site linking and CLICKS that one needs to register with the Google and other algorithms simply does not occur. I see Google has just announced that sites that pirate music etc will now find themselves de-ranked. I sincerely hope the same will apply in due course to ALL sites whose standard MO is the pirating of large chunks of others’ content – often graphics an’ all - with what can only be described as indecent haste.
I suspect that if your looked at the problem “scientifically,” you would discover that things are quite different than you imagine. You might discover that Google has counted 970,218 inbound links for this blog. Your blog has 449 and most of your external inbound links come from here. It took time and perseverance. We could try an experiment. I could ignore you completely: no so-called pirating and no links to you whatsoever. Now, how many hits are you going to get? Will getting a good search engine ranking take longer? I don’t know. Probably.
I have never complained to anyone about pirating my material. And no one has ever complained to me, before. In blogging, we all tend to appreciate quoting and linking to each other even as we disagree on substance. I know, it is frustrating, at times. I understand that. But, the reason your blog is not getting the traffic you want has little or nothing to do with me.
What you call pirating, is how a lot of blogging is done, but it is not called pirating. I actually use tools from Google provided exactly for the purpose that you object to: fair use quoting. And just what is fair use? Check out “Blog It!” in Google Chrome. Read guideline provided by your and my blogging host, WordPress. Go look at most of the political blogs. They quote extensively. Or the sports blogs. Or the religious blogs. Or the science blogs. They all do it. Better yet, go look at the most successful Atheism blog on the internet, “Pharyngula: Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal,” by PZ Myers. PZ does it. Pharyngula is a blog with wonderful science that I enjoy and a perspective on religion that I find primitive — well I would think that, wouldn’t I. As long as one quotes accurately, includes or invites commentary (fair use) and provides links (good netiquette) it is acceptable, ethical blogging. That is the widely accepted model.
Interestingly, just three days ago, PZ put up a posting about how he became successful at blogging. Because I really do want you to be a success with your blog, Colin (you may not believe it), I am shamelessly “pirating” material from PZ and reproducing it here. He writes:
I’ve been at it for about ten years, with my share of controversy, and none of it really contributes to long-term growth: not Expelled, not the cracker, not every little sudden surge from Reddit and Fark and Digg. Those give little bursts of attention from people who weren’t interested in your blog in the first place; they visit to see the source of all the commotion, and then they leave.
What makes a blog grow is 1) regular updates, 2) consistent themes, 3) maintaining the attention of other blogs out there, 4) cultivation of an interactive readership that adds value to your blog, and 5) time (slow steady growth is best, and it can’t by definition happen overnight). Probably also good writing, but I wouldn’t know much about that, and I’ve also seen some gloriously well-written blogs that idle along with light traffic because they ignore my top 5 suggestions.
PZ is right about this. And, by the way, that really is a cartoon of him that I pirated from his blog.
Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” There is some wisdom in that, particularly so when the object of discussion is to arrive at the truth. I really do want to see your blog thrive. The reason your blog is not getting the traffic you want has little or nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with giving it some time and working hard at it. Don’t try to plant link-only comments in my blog, as you did, then accuse me of denying others information. That won’t cut it on my blog or any blog. If you want to accuse me of pirating your work, write to me, directly. Give me the specifics and I will consider removing the content and explaining why.
Take PZ’s advice. Hang in there. In time, you will get the traffic. And if you want to quote me a bit or a lot, go for it, please. Quote me completely. (Actually, you do it quite a bit, hmm.) A link would be nice. You don’t need to refer to me as the “other site,” as you do. My blog has a name and links just as yours, Casting a critical eye at that Shroud of Turin, does.
Also, go to the dashboard settings for your blog. Turn on some of the publicity settings. Make sure you are feeding Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Stumble, etc. The reason your blog is not getting the traffic you want has little or nothing to do with me.