How Content Theft Affects Smaller Sites

We do a lot of great things at Bad Boy Blog. We break stories, we do interviews, we get the truth out. The site is a blast for me. I’m a huge Bad Boy fan and I love writing about the subject. I’ve developed a bunch of contacts and sources and I’ve really embraced the whole journalism thing and working on Bad Boy Blog has been and is a great experience. It’s reminded me that I should make sites that are fun for me because it shows.

But, one thing I have noticed is that… I can’t just write stories. I really need to keep an eye on content thieves. It doesn’t matter how many hours I bust my butt on a major feature or interview (and I have a major, major feature coming up that I’ve spent 15-20 hours on, at least, already and I haven’t even written it!) if I don’t get that traffic. If I don’t get that traffic, I don’t get that money and if I don’t get that money, I can’t spend my life doing this. The same goes for breaking news. Same deal. I’ve noticed trends with certain artists and certain sites. Like, when I do a piece of Jordan McCoy, it gets ripped and posted on Or if I do a piece on B5, it gets ripped and posted on their official forums. To the credit of their moderators, when I report it, it gets taken care of. But, I’m already hurt – I missed that initial traffic surge that comes from people seeing it first.

I get all the traffic I can by reporting it as early as possible (and hoping a moderator gets to it quickly and knows what they are looking at), but I’m still not as good as I should have been. What’s scary is that if I don’t report it – I doubt it would be addressed at all. No one looks out for you but you. That’s not how I run my communities (we actively remove anyone we suspect is violating someone’s copyright), but it’s how a ton of communities are run these days. It’s amazing how many people just rip content and copy and paste an entire article. Even without a source link. I’m a veteran. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m used to it. But, still, it kills me because I spend so much time on these features sometimes so that I can offer my visitors something interesting and unique and get more traffic and it gets ripped without me seeing anything. A lot of people don’t understand (or care) that if they like my writing and they want me to keep writing, I need to get that traffic.

It’s not all bad, of course. The more people quote you, the more people become familiar with you and the more you are looked at as an authority. I want people to quote me. I just don’t want people to post the entire article or post a quote of it without a link to the entry. Big sites can overcome this nonsense because they have their own developed audience. With smaller sites, I think, they are more susceptible to simply being cut off period because if they don’t get the link on that big site, if they instead just get ripped by some random poster, they never see a thing. They don’t have a huge audience. And that makes them quit or puts them out of business because they simply can’t invest the time. I’ve trained myself, now, to check out key forums related to the artists that I cover after I post a big story to wait for someone to rip it because it’s going to happen. It’s only a matter of when.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.


Jonathan Bailey

about 13 years ago

I know that I'm late to this party but I wanted to say great article! Thank you for posting it. It is kind of weird that someone at B5 would do that, but then again, nothing shocks me anymore. At 26 I'm already a bitter old man it seems...



about 13 years ago

Thanks man. It's not someone with B5... just people on their community, fans, etc. I can understand being a bitter old man. heh


Leave a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you would like to comment, I welcome you to do so. Please keep in mind that the atmosphere here is kind, respectful and work appropriate. If you can't disagree without being polite, this probably isn't the best place to comment.

I'm probably more strict as far as advertising goes than other sites you've commented on. If you aren't sure if something is OK, please contact me privately (rather than in the comments) or read the full Comment Guidelines. Participation constitutes acceptance of the guidelines.

This site uses Antispam to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.