Curated Content vs Automated Blogs: Where to Draw the SPAM line?

Content curators are thriving! It seems the Internet content producers as well as the consumers have accepted content curation as a mechanism to promote and consume the content in a way that make sense to relevant audiences.

New generation curated sites like Paper.li, Storify.com and established (via social sharing means) sites like Digg and Reddit are doing well with the content produced elsewhere but aggregated and presented well.

Now the question is whether curated content is some kind of spam? Why is Google fine with such sites while they are very keen on taking on smaller content creators with minimal duplicate content? Let’s find out.

What’s Curated Content?

As per Wikipedia, Content curation is the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Hence curated content is nothing but some relevant content that’s not produced by the content curator itself (assuming that curator is NOT a human but a software or service).

So why isn’t it spam? The following are some of the possible reasons.

  • Content curation sites are mostly acting as content directories with content pulling done with due permission from the content creator. E.g. Alltop.com
  • Most curated sites do not publish the entire story on their sites but provides a teaser and then link to original content
  • Most content curation sites let their their subscribers customize and optimize the content that they want to see and hence it’s more of a pull at will
  • Good curated content is a mashup of related links, news, infographics and/or relevant offers that the consumer is interested in and hence it saves time for most consumers. In such a case it cannot be spam!
  • Most importantly, proper content curation is an excellent way of taking hyperlinking to the next level in terms of relevancy. Remember it’s the hyperlinking that took Internet to where it’s today!
  • It’s an excellent mechanism for cross businesses to leverage synergies – both internally and externally – and reach out to the relevant audiences

However, content creation can be termed spam if unwanted or irrelevant content is pushed to the subscribers without their consent. It can be spam if the content creator is not giving credit to the original source. And most importantly, as an SEO lover, I would be frustrated and cry ‘foul’ if my original content appears only after the curated content on a Google search. If such as scenario arise, I would call it spam promoted by Google itself!

Further, information overload of curated content is something that will qualify as spam.

How’s Well Curated Content different from Splogs or Auto-blogs?

Splogs or automated blogs are more of copying content and claiming (or make it sound like) as own. It’s an easy way of generating content owned by someone else without giving any credit whatsoever and it usually targets clueless Internet bystander. Often, autoblogs are misleading and can contain invalidated or outdated content.

In fact, there’s a thin line between some of the curated sites and autoblogs. For example, I get a bit of traffic from the blogging section in Alltop. I am fine with that because I opted for a submission of my blog to that blogging directory there. However, there’s this website called Kingged.com which also gives me a bit of traffic but via them scraping my content. Even worse, my original content is appearing very next to the scrapped version for many search phrases on Google. That, for me, is SPAM!

Tools and Software for Curation

There are numerous autoblogging and Content curation software tools available out there (Read about this Autoblogging plugin). But tools are only good enough to pull some content. It’s up to a good curator mind to decide how to cleanse, design, mash up and present customizable content that add value to the consumers. If not, purely curated content can become nothing but spam!

Comments

  1. Interesting points Ajith. I’ve wondered about that Kingged site as well but at least my name is on it so I’ve let them pass. Also, the thing about curated content is that every online news service does it with both their own stuff and that of others, and you’ll find that if you follow certain news stories over time you’ll get bits of new stuff and a rehash of everything else that came before it, often to the point where it stops making sense because the new stuff has disproved it.

    Frankly I think it’s a bit dodgy, but I have no real idea if anything can be done about it.

    • Mitch, somehow I hate Kingged :-) But you are write about news sites. Once they take feed from Reuters or similar services, they curate it the way they want. That’s somehow acceptable for news consumers I think. However, for specific blog content, that may not be the case – of course it needs to be promoted and that part I like as long as it’s through the right social media.

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