When is a Blog Not a Blog?

In Chris’ post Can Anyone Make Money From Blogging?, Kim Krause, who runs the excellent Cre8asite Forums says “I don’t consider many blogs to be actual blogs. They are just web sites whose owners found free software and free templates to do their bidding.” which is pretty much spot on I think.

There seems to be an alarming, but probably not entirely surprising rise in junk blogs recently. Not spam blogs, the entirely automated type, but the ones where real people are simply cutting and pasting press releases, parts of other bloggers content and general junk just for the Adsense clicks. The funny thing, if you can find amusement in such stuff, is that these folks think that the fact that they use blogging software like WordPress, means they’re bloggers, and so naturally get a free pass to do whatever the hell they please, ‘cos as we all know, bloggers can do no wrong right?

What’s worse, is that for the most part, they DO get a free pass — We’re all still to enamoured with the whole blog thing to see the woods for the trees I think, but here’s how the landscape looks to me right now:

  • Blogging continues to cross over to mainstream. With that move comes a dillution of “blogging” as many of us think of it.
  • The “Search economy” (publishing for adsense, obsession with Search rankings) continues to drive people to producing shit content for clicks
  • Those people use blog software, call themselves bloggers
  • Real bloggers, if indeed such a beast still exists, start to get tarred with the same brush

It’s not a pretty picture, but it does mean that blogging is maturing, and even outgrowing its boundaries now. I tend to think of blogs less as “blogs” as time goes by, and more as sites with comments and trackback — as web2.0 becomes the norm. With that mainstreaming comes the darker side of the web. Funded by Google, Yahoo and a bunch of others, the Search Economy pushes people to produce crap, and this is nothing new, we’re just seeing it more in blogs these days.

I dont have a solution to this, Im not even sure it’s actually a problem (well, not a huge one..), but think its worthy of a little discussion here dont you?


  • Is blogging for adsense a problem?
  • Are junk blogs a problem in your niche? (please do not post examples)
  • Is Google to blame?
  • Has blogging really gone mainstream?

Tell us what you think…..

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13 thoughts on “When is a Blog Not a Blog?

  1. You know you all sound quite silly with your Google mantra as it was banner ads and affiliates causing the same problems long before AdSense showed up. The underbelly of the internet will always find ways to scrape cash and cleaning up AdSense just forces them to use someone else and then who would you blame?

    IMO, the combination of blog software and scraper scripts are what makes it easier, not AdSense. People don’t even have to build a website, you install a blog script OR sign up for Blogger or one of the other freebies and load it with junk spewed out from another script.

    It’s a no-brainer with no skill required, and lots of ad programs to monetize that junk.

    I’ve gotten a few of these idiots booted out of AdSense and the site was monetized with something new the next day so picking on AdSense because it’s the top dog is too obvious, it’s just linkbait, and AdSense cleaning up their act won’t stop the problem whatsoever.

    Stopping scraping might solve the problem, not fixing AdSense, because without junk content they have nothing to monetize.

  2. balderdash logged online gasp

    thanks to the subjectivists blog means little more than “POV” text online

  3. Ok, i suppose i’d have to actually be earning something to feel guilty! that said, the adsense will be going up over the next week or so. for the last 5 months i’ve been concentrating on quality content & promotion. we will phase in the ads over time.

    in the “car blog” world, there are a large number of “splogs” and they tend to disappear almost as fast as they appear. one large blog started off with a lot of scraped content & had huge growth early on. once other car bloggers caught on to him & called him on it, his content seemed to get more original & dropped from 10 posts a day to 3.
    i think the public is “smart” enough to realize the difference between junk & quality. the junk sites will eventually get weeded out.

  4. Google uis goingto become its own worst enenmy if it continues to create rvenue models that encourages a load of crap to be put up on the internet.

    Then again, maybe that is its game plan – encourage people to post crap under the guise that they will get paid for doing it and then make sure that your search engine is the one thing that will sort the crap from the good.

    Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if they had something in their algorith that weeded out or dramatically marked down all those websites with Adsense on them because they know that any SERIOUS blogger or business wouldn’t include it in their website.

    Just a thought!

  5. Well, sort of. If someone forced me to decide whether I am a writer or a blogger, I’d have to say a writer. I’ve been a storyteller since I was “yea-high to a grasshopper”. I’ve always considered myself a writer (who’s also a computer/ math geek

    But I am guilty of doing some of things Nick says above. It’s not so much that I was gaming for Google juice. (I mean, who ever thinks they’re doing anything wrong, right?) I was getting my blogging hands wet, trying to figure out what I should do with my articles. Blog? Website? Combo?

    While I always write original content, I am guilty of summarizing press releases on occasion. But, and that’s a big but (I like big “buts”?), I always add my own flavour. Always. And I only use/ summarize press releases when I can’t find any other source for the same info.

    But that said, I have a few blogs which really aren’t blogs. (I’ve stopped updating them.) I had good intentions, although the end result is that they’re a bunch of (original) articles slapped together. It’s just so much easier and time-saving to use blogging software.

    Regardless, I’m a writer, and I put a lot of time into most of my articles. But everytime Nick rags on Google, I feel evil for about 5 minutes. I must be scum of the earth. Then I remember that there are real, legitimate bloggers who use AdSense.

    Don’t like AdSense. You don’t have to read my blogs if you don’t want to. But I am a professional writer, and I have to make a living somehow. I’ve been scoping out a variety of adrev options, but AdSense is the simplest for someone like myself whose entire day is taken up with research, writing, and editing. I’m hoping to use Azoogle sometime in the future, but don’t yet have enough pageviews.

    On the other hand, I can’t wait until Nick and the P-Boys have their ad network in place Maybe I won’t need any other option.

  6. Great topic, Nick. I’ve been blogging a little over a year now and I can truly say the secret to blogging is to write about a subject you are passionate about. I think what would make blogging better would be some competing companies to Google’s Adsense. I for one would welcome a business oriented ad company with higher standards and more appropriate ads.

    Since your average blog may have 5 to 10 posts on the front page, Adsense comes up with Mumbo Jumbo half of the time. If you are actually writing from the heart and not placing keywords, adsense is rather poor at ad placement. It seems to me that being able to choose from 3 or 4 categories for ads would be much better.

  7. Theres been a simple (to say) solution to this right from the beginning.

    Google need to stop focusing on putting down the bad, and put more effort into promoting the good. Of course, that would mean financially shooting themselves in the foot, so I shouldn’t expect to see that anytime soon…

  8. That as time goes on those poorly constructed, stolen from other sites, simply driving clicks pages dissappear. This is a maturing form of writing/work/income/whatever you want to think of it as, and right now there’s a lot of cr!p out there. This will hopefully go in time.

    Junk blogs aren’t really a problem in my niche (computer games), as there are some top quality ones out there – that’s more likely the problem! I don’t think blogging is mainstream just yet, though it’s definitely getting there. Maybe part of the problem is that not enough people are discerning enough – or realise the difference between a real blog and an ad. There’s plenty of folk still who don’t even know the difference between natural and sponsored search results so they won’t know with blogs either…

  9. … for mentioning Cre8asite Forums! I just jumped over there to catch an impression and found myself wandering around. Nice page/forum!

    The article about the new design of the site (Taking the Cre8asite Tour) alone gave me and will give me some serious ‘I want that too’ headache (check the BBcode section).

  10. Like every new form in every media people in the ‘blogging world’ started (or still do?) with a typical inside-out perspective. ‘We are new, we are fresh, the world is ours’ and everybody else is old school and lame. If you look at the music industry it’s absolutely the same. Does anybody remember ‘independent’, ‘grunge’ or the bad P-word ‘punk’? Speaking of punk, does somebody remember the appearance and development of Billy Idol (sic!) one of the biggest punks created by the industry (irony!)?

    So what? I have seen this happening over and over. Another example of spamming a little fresh niche? Take a look at the fashion industry or ad photography. All three industries combined the invasion of off-beat streams perfectly in the so called ‘heroin look’. If that context wouldn’t be so serious, this would have been a ‘no words’ type of joke!

    Just my little lunch comment … before I start working on my ‘website CMS which looks like a blog’ again. Sorry Nick for not answering your questions precisely but they are just inspirations for me to bring that inside-out perspective into a wider context.

    PS: In my article about the new LifeType 1.1 I have mentioned two big German mediahouses who have people blogging for them. These people who blog i.e at Freundin never had a blog before … don’t even get money for it (claimed that proudly in comments on other websites) … it’s a real world example for a ‘no words’ type of joke!

  11. I do get frustrated when trying to find new blogs to read and keep coming across the same content, the same press releases, the same junk copied from “free articles” sites, or worse from manufacturers and ecommerce sites. Just this weekend looking for reviews for a certain camera lense the amount of blogs with posts saying “product x123 review” and seeing just the official specs and a list of links to where you can buy it. Using wordpress doesn’t make your site a blog. I do worry blogging is becoming synonymous with “made for adsense” and I do blame Googles lack of quality control.

  12. hehe, i’ve long been on Google’s case about adsense and scraper/junk sites — it’s not something that bothers me that much, but i do like ot poke at them about it….

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