Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Slammed by Scoble

Posted in Blogging,My Blog,Spam by Elliott Back on August 27th, 2006.

Earlier today Robert Scoble wrote a post slamming for being a spammer:

Hey, Google AdSense team: Elliott Back is breaking your rules. He is reprinting my content (and, I’ve come to learn, other people’s content) without permission. He is spamming everyone’s trackbacks (to have my content show up in people’s blogs I link to, which drives traffic over to his Web site). He is causing damage to the Internet. Please remove Google’s ads from his page and remove the incentive to do this kind of stuff. I have NOT given him permission to reprint my stuff in whole. You’ll notice that this is a splog written by Elliott Back and you’re just helping him profit off of this kind of behavior.

You’re causing your advertisers brand damage by including your advertisements on this guy’s page. Thanks for listening!

Please let me know how you are going to handle this guy. A reputable company that says “do no evil” should immediately stop doing business with a slimeball like this. Thanks!

Unfortunately, the blog in question is using a syndication plugin I wrote for WordPress, which as a side-effect includes attribution to my blog under the heading “software by Elliott Back.” It’s unreasonable to believe that someone would be confused as to the authorship by that, or that an internet-guru like Scoble would forget to do a WHOIS lookup. As a result of Scoble’s post, Adsense disabled my ads for part of the day, resulting in lost revenue and who knows what else. You would think they had measures in place to prevent this, but it appears not.

If anything, the lesson to be learned here is twofold: think and do your research before making severe moral or criminal accusations, and that the blogosphere A-list is too powerful. One person shouldn’t be able to bring down someone else’s revenue streams with a wave of their finger.

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 27th, 2006 at 2:52 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

18 Responses to “Slammed by Scoble”

  1. […] Elliott was more pissed that Scoble since he was loosing his blog revenue and earning a bad name for doing no crime. He made a phone call back to clarify things (do a whois) and Scoble did issue an apology note on his blog. Apparently, that splog was using a wordpress plugin written by Eliott giving Scoble an impression that the site itself is owned by Elliott. […]

  2. NT says:

    “We already know Scoble is a big blowhard”

  3. Lars Pace says:


    There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Scoble screwed you for a day, but now you are a top google result for “scoble that idiot.” That’s how I found you. I’m *sure* this has been economically net positive for you. Profit from the scoble wave!

  4. JD on EP says:

    Lots of links…

    Lots of links: Looking for weekend reading material? Here’s some interesting stuff I’ve kept open in my browser since end of August, with a sentence or two of description for each……….

  5. Elliott,

    When the software first came out I said that A) It does have the potential for abuse and B) That only an idiot would use it with so many better targeted splogging applications out there.

    It appears I was right on both accounts.

    I’m not surprised that it was abused, it was only a matter of time, I’m not surprised that he got caught or that things blew up like this. I am surprised that Scoble misdirected his fire, but the rest should have been a foreseeable consequence.

    While I think the idea of a key in an RSS to permit scraping is a good idea, it’s also moot. The cat, as they say, is out of the bag, and anyone who wanted to scrape at will could just use an old version. Even if they did upgrade, removing such a feature out of the plugin would be trivial.

    Personally, I think most sploggers will stick to the higher-end apps that let them produce hug libraries of content at the push of a button. WP-Autoblog isn’t that.

    Still, doesn’t mean more idiots won’t give it a try.

  6. Thilak says:

    I wonder why that guy place your name on his blog?

  7. Karl says:

    Thanks for your comment Duncan, I wasn’t actually calling Elliott a spammer, I was just suggesting that he bares some kind of responsibility for the software that he wrote. Clearly Elliott doesn’t like getting ripped off either: gadgets.elliottback.com/2006/08/27/i-hate-syndicators/ and even has links to Anti plagerism sites in his footer.

    I’m not suggesting there is a simple answer to this, I’m just pointing out that Elliott should bare some responsibility for the software that he wrote. The “Hey, i just wrote the software” does not totally absolve him of responsibility, especially as he gets lots of linkbacks because each post that is syndicated, legitimately or not is attributed to him with a link back.

    I hope that clarifies my argument somewhat,


  8. […] But as Elliott clarifies here…. […]

  9. Duncan says:

    you’ve got to be kidding, Elliot isn’t a spammer and his tool has legitimate purposes. He’s just been slandered by Scoble AND has potentially lost revenue because of it and you want to pick Elliot because some idiot ot there is using a plugin the wrong way…but then again you’re a 9rules member so your comments probably don’t really surprise me all that much either.

    Get a life.

  10. Karl says:

    There is a legitimate use for remote control administration of computers, but when it’s not legitimate it’s called a trojan.

    Why not add a feature that prevents the stealing of peoples content? How about a key/value that can be embeded in the publishers rss feed? If you’ve got an agreement with a publisher you just get them to put a code in their post template that the autoblog can look for when it’s publishing. Don’t let the autoblog scrape a site that doesn’t have a key in it.

  11. Will says:

    Karl, instead of focusing on a case of improper use of the software, here’s a legitimate one. Say I pay you to reprint your content on my site. Shouldn’t I be able to use my own ads and then pay you a cut? Especially if you’re not a big A-lister?

  12. Elliott Back says:

    It’s actually a generic replace feature. I use an adsense ID in the documentation just because it’s an easy example. Imagine running a network of blogs and wanting a metablog for them all, a blog of blogs. Then imagine that each blog in the network said “Part of the BLAH blog network.” Naturally, you’d want to replace that with ”, the empty string, for your meta blog.

  13. Karl says:

    What is the purpose of the adsense ID, Amazon ID auto replacement feature for then? Why is there an option to replace the original author? It seems like an unscrupulous program written for unscrupulous purposes therefore the author deserves some accountability.

  14. Clay Smith says:

    It is unfortunate that a tool such as WP-Autoblog would be used by unscrupulous spammers, but perhaps more unfortunate that the usefulness of the tool itself is doubted. Remember fellas, WP-Autoblog doesn’t spam people, people spam people.

  15. Karl says:

    Hey Elliott,

    that software you wrote is like a virus, and the functions built in to swap out the original sites adsense ID’s and Amazon ID’s, and the ability to strip the authors information make it all the more nefarious.

    I think some of your software is really good, like hashcash, but wp-autoblog so much like a virus in the blogosphere you should think about it.


  16. Elliott Back says:

    I’m not sure when they came back on, but they’re here. It’s just my Google stats are showing like a 60% difference in traffic between what Statcounter and Adsense says, so I assume they’ve been off a big part of the day.

  17. By the way, I just updated my post and issued an apology to you. I’m very sorry about it. Now that this guy is dragging both of us down is there anything we can do about him? After all, he’s gonna start showing up on Google for searches for your name soon due to all the trackback spamming he’s doing.

  18. I’m sorry about that. I’ve been checking your blog every few minutes, though, and I always saw Google ads here. You just called me five minutes ago and there’s Google ads here now. So, how did you get them added back on so fast when you just learned about what I wrote?

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