Bloglovin’ describes itself as a service to help people follow and find blogs. The website’s tagline is, “Bloglovin’ helps you follow the blogs you read by letting you know when they update.”
It started out seven years ago as a simple RSS feed aggregator to manage links to favourite blogs, but that not what it looks like today—It looks more like a zoo for the capture and display of blogs.
Bloglovin’ is clearly doing something right; they boast over 22 million users and they are apparently the blog management choice among fashion industry types. But might they also be doing something wrong—like taking the content and traffic from the blogs they display? That’s my concern and apparently Yahoo shares that concern.
Update: I've now tested and proved to my satisfaction that Bloglovin’ is passing page views along to the original blogs it captures in its iframes. So it’s not taking my traffic but it is using my content—and it turns out that there’s no way to know how my blog got onto the Bloglovin’ site and more importantly it is virtually impossible to get it off the site.
Tumblr blocks Bloglovin’
On August 7, the Yahoo-owned micro-blogging platform Tumblr blocked users of the Bloglovin’ website from accessing all Tumblr blogs.
The VentureBeat item quotes a Tumblr spokesperson explaining that Bloglovin’ access to Tumblr’s more than 198 million blogs was suspended because the service was,
“unwilling to remove features designed to siphon traffic from Tumblr blogs, including the wholesale reproduction of blog pages.”
The spokesperson also explained that Tumblr bloggers were complaining “regarding unauthorized display of their content”.
At first blush, I’m not very pleased about that either.
Not lovin’ what I’m seeing
On Saturday, I followed a new referrer link in my WordPress blog’s array of daily usage statistics back to the original website and saw my exact blog stuck on the Bloglovin’ website. Everything under their header was my content, my theme—my entire WordPress.com blog.
I poked around a bit trying to figure out what I was seeing. Was it an RSS feed, or a blog reader like the WordPress Reader? Was it stealing my content and/or leaching my traffic? Was it essentially a scraper site?
Whatever they were doing, they were doing for it money. Front and centre on the front page was a link to a commercial service selling Bloglovin’ likes and follows—100 likes for only 15 bucks!
They kidnapped my blog. Will I get a ransom note?
Bloglovin’ used a simple iframe to embed my blog in its entirety on one of their pages.
Clicking a blog title or the “Read more…” link opened the full blog post in the Bloglovin’ iframe.
Only inline links to other posts opened in a new non-Bloglovin’ window/tab, and it would have been a click on one of these inline links that registered as inbound traffic in my stats.
Otherwise, clicking on anything else—on sidebar links to posts or on WordPress’s automatically generated related links—all opened in the Bloglovin’ iframe.
Perhaps Bloglovin’ can explain to me how this is not stealing my original content.
It’s much more than just a riff on reblogging (which not all bloggers are wild about). Bloglovin’ is truly trying to capture my entire blog in a way a reblogging doesn’t and Bloglovin’ is doing it purely to make money.
Yet another Internet business model based entirely on the unauthorized theft of people’s personal information. Don’t gotta love that.
One solution to deterring content scrapers who are using your RSS feed to grab your blog is to truncate your RRS feed. This means readers of the feed have to click the post to go to your blog to read the full post There’s plenty of detailed information about truncating RSS feeds with WordPress.org installs but not for WordPress.com.
However, under the WordPress.com Settings > Reading Settings, There are toggle options for showing articles in a feed. You can choose between “Full text” and “Summary”.
Because a lot of people really do not appreciate truncated feeds I’m leaving mine set to “Full text”. I may not like sites that filch my content to make money, but I do love my followers (aww…soft fluffy ending).