Ten unethical blogging practices

At the outset, let me request you not to get into a negative mindset after reading the title of the post. It is not like all bloggers indulge themselves into unethical blogging practices or methods to get fame, visibility or money. However, I have seen a few of them getting into wrong ways of doing things primarily with the intention of making it big in a very short time. I will not cite any examples here in this post to avoid controversies.

Things those are unethical in my view

Unethical blogger#1 Public bashing and defaming: Publicly abusing others – especially the rich and famous people, including bloggers – is a way of getting into shortlived fame via sensational means. In press terms, this is called yellow journalism – not sure if we can term it ‘yellow blogging’ when it happens in the blogosphere.

#2 Stealing content: This is the most commonly found bad act where by people just blindly copy and paste content from others’ blogs. In most cases they conveniently forget to mention the credits where it belongs. If copy and paste is inevitable, the ideal way of doing it is to post an excerpt along with a trackback to original post.

#3 Writing untruthful stuff: It is always better not to write about things that one doesn’t understand thoroughly. For example, in several SEO blogs I have read contents that depict Google as some kind of a mysterious hero at the same time they talk audaciously about even the algorithms that Google uses though none of them is publicly documented.

#4 Writing biased paid reviews: Paid reviews can be excellent moneymakers for bloggers but writing exaggerated or totally biased reviews can affect a blog’s long term goodwill. Writing off topic reviews can hurt the blog and the blogger even more.

#5 Talking about affiliate products without proof: I have seen many MMO blogs promoting certain affiliate products and networks without actually showing any proof of income or statistics on the same. At the time of review or posting, if there’s not enough information available, the blogger should mention that.

#6 Blindly marking others’ comment as spam: I have talked about blog commenting and moderation ethics in the past. There are many bloggers who sometimes blindly mark others comment as spam without thinking enough about the consequences of the same. If it is genuine spam it is okay to mark it as spam but if it is an excusable act, please bail them out because that could cost them their blogosphere life.

#7 Showing fake blog statistics: Now, this one is a widely seen phenomenon – from bigtime bloggers to beginners. Whether it is related to number of visitors or blog income, there is no limit to self praise. Fake blog statistics are mostly supported by fake proofs as well but when it comes to blog income, I have not seen any of those bigtime earners showing PayPal proof etc. (Not forgetting Shoemoney’s famous check)

#8 Click exchanges: This is prevalent mainly among smalltime bloggers who are riding on the inspiring stories of people making money overnight with AdSense etc. Many of them indulge in the click exchange acts that could finally fetch them the ban that could have been avoided through proper learning. I still have a couple of mails in my inbox that go like this.

You have a nice blog. I visited it today and clicked two of your ads. If possible pls return the fav…

Now a lot of people – including yours truly – ask for RSS subscriptions, bookmarking posts etc. But is it okay to ask for ad clicks?

#9 Cheating own advertisers with fake or bot clicks: This used to happen a lot in the pasts until advertisers invented mechanisms to curb this and ban such publishers. This is big offence in the eyes of advertisers and will definitely affect the future of blogger-publishers involving in this act.

#10 Charging readers for reading content or other favors: I talked about the Pay-Per-Read model sometime back. While Pay-Per-Read may not be the worst thing about a blog, asking for readers to pay for removing ‘nofollow’ flags from comments etc can be really bad.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please comment on any other bad practices about blogging that you have noticed around.

Happy blogging!


  1. moserw :

    Good points as always Ajith. Lots of thought put into it. Unfortunately these things happen in this dog eat dog world.

  2. Wesley :

    #11 Automatically redirecting visitors to “Ripe TV” (or other advertisers) in the middle of the article.

  3. Mitch :

    Great post Ajith. The one that irks me the most is #2, as it seems that my stuff is being scraped all the time. I don’t have much problem with #10, at least the first part of it, because only a few people could get away with that, and if someone really wants to read it badly enough to pay for it, then that’s okay with me. The second part, definitely unethical.

    Mitch’s last blog post…Reserve Index

  4. Önder :

    We always have to think about what we are writing. In this list we can see what should we do before posting an article.

    Önder’s last blog post…Dünya Alt? Derece Is?n?rsa Ne Olur?

  5. @Rajiv, yes but god alone knows how far one can push doing all these…

    @Wesley :) thanks for clarifying the issue over the email… I took a detailed look at my scripts and fixed them… I apologize for the redirects and inconvenience caused, hence.

    @Mitch, thanks. You are right – it’s very irritating to see people copy paste without consent from the author. As for #10, there was a time when John Chow wanted to provide no ‘nofollow’ comments at a price :)

    @ Onder, Definitely what we should we do depends on what wrong things we are not supposed to do.

    Cheers to all and your views!

  6. Well, I sort of did #1 in the article about whether a direct message should be personal. Although I did not name the individual (Wesley found him) and he certainly isn’t famous. Though I don’t think it brought me any fame either.

    #2 I can’t stand it when my content is stolen. When you go to the site there is never any contact information. I usually do a whois search on the domain name and get a contact email that way. So far, each time I’ve emailed that way the scraping has stopped.

    #6 is hard. I get a number of questionable comments that Askimet thinks are spam but I’m not sure. I tend to err on the side of allowing the comment.

    Another great article, Ajith.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post… 5 New(ish) WordPress Themes

  7. @Kim, well sometimes we have to show the frustration somehow right? :) In your case, though, I did not think that you bashed that badly.

    Content stealing is very common especially with bloggers that are not very serious about blogging but put something together somehow, to get approved by AdSense. Usually, such a blog does not last longer. But it’s not rare that even pro bloggers write ‘inspired’ contents.

    Thanks for your detailed views…

  8. Mitch :

    There seem to be programs out there that will create multiple sites for people whereby they capture so many words, then link back to your site. To me, that’s still scraping, although those folks say it’s not because it’s giving people attribution for what they’ve written. I disagree because it happens almost immediately after I’ve posted, so it has the potential to take away from me. At least that’s how I feel.

  9. @Mitch, I guess I know what you are talking about. There are these ‘local pages’, ‘seo blog’, ‘hosting blog’ kind of generic wordpress sites (most of them running on stock themes) that keep sending the pingbacks as soon you post something right? Man, I have been suffering from those for a while… Initially I even approved one or two such pingbacks by mistake.

    They sure are pain in the ‘wherever’ 😆

  10. Mitch :

    Yes, exactly, and I always wonder how those sites exist on the platforms they’re on.

    Mitch’s last blog post… The Computer Is Working Again; For Now

  11. Very cool! Good counter point to ethical blogging. They need to go hand in hand: do’s and dont’s. I will subscribe to this post as soon as I finish commenting.
    By the way, I wish you would submit your blog to http://www.squidoo.com/Blogroll-India

    Amitabh’s last blog post… Solve this puzzle

  12. @Amitabh,
    Thanks for your visit and comment. I have added my blog to your squidoo page.


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