Friday, October 4, 2013

Step by Step Directions for dealing with a Splogger

Step by Step Directions for dealing with a Splogger
(Because the system works!)

Splog = “Spam Blog”- a blog which the author uses to promote affiliated websites, to increase the search engine rankings of associated site, or to simply sell links/ads. (from Wikipedia)  A “Splogger” often uses nonsense text or stolen content from other websites. 


I’m going to give you a blow by blow description of how I discovered a splogger and how I got rid of his splog, which was stealing dozens of my blog posts, and also stealing content from dozens of other legitimate bloggers.  Save this because it will happen to you someday.  Sooner or later.  It’s just a question of when it will happen, not if it will happen.

Some website will state that this is a time to take a deep breath and consider it a compliment that someone is stealing your content.   This is baloney.  But no matter how you try to protect your blog with watermarks on photos, metadata in the images, codes for disabling the right click, sploggers and pirates can still steal your content.  It’s time to be prepared with an action plan.

I discovered this thief’s splog when I was googling an ancestor’s name.  A very familiar blog post came up. It was familiar because it was one of my own posts.  I’m sure this has happened to you.  However, this time I did a double take because the background was bright blue.  Look at the blog before you right now.  Is it bright blue?  If it is you are reading stolen material from my website on someone else’s blog!

(I have Google Alerts out on my own name, and for “Nutfield Genealogy”, but this did not catch this particular splogger this time around)

Why do I care?  I care for several reasons
   A. My stories are my personal family history.  I don’t want my family photos and ancestor stories next to questionable advertising, or other content that I have no control over (politics, pornography, religion, etc)
   B.  This person is making money with advertising on my stolen content through advertising.
   C.  If you want to reproduce my content, just ask me first.  Or link back to my original blog website.  Always give the author credit.
   D.   Theft is wrong.

After much wailing and consternation, I went into action. 

Step 1:  Determine who is hosting your stolen content.  In this case it was Google.  Several years ago you could contact Google directly, and problems would be solved quickly (often overnight).  Now you must go through the dreaded FAQs to find the correct form to file. And wait.  And wait. 

Step 2:  Do not click on the splog too many times.  I kept the window open to refer to the splog without constantly re-opening it or clicking through the pages.  Write down the host, the title of the blog, the URL, the author’s name and look at their profile.  In this case, there were five other splogs listed, all with stolen content.  Also write down the all advertisements you see, and who is hosting the ads (Adsense, AdRoll, etc)  This will all come in handy later without you clicking on the splog again.

(The reason why you don’t want to click on the splog is because the pirate/author makes money with every pageview, click.  We don’t want that, do we?)

Step 3:  Check the website.  Under the link “Blog Resources” you can click on “Resources for Blog Copyright and Content Theft”.  Thank you, Thomas MacEntee for putting all these resources in one place.

Step 4: Google other resources for content theft, splogging, “scraper sites”, “blog scraping” to get more ideas on how to fight your pirate. You can even google your pirate’s name to see what other activities they are up to on the internet.

Step 5:  Now you are ready to file some online forms.  You will get no real reply, just a “robot letter” to confirm that your message was received.  It will take some time before you receive any real communication.  Blogger will tell you that you are “in the queue”.   It must be a heck of a long queue.

   A.  Blogger has an online form for complaints about sploggers at this link:

   B.  To report your own stolen content at Blogger use this link:

   C.  File a DMCA complaint (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) using the contacts on this page   Blogger has its own version at its website.

   D.  Contact the advertisers, for example Criteo, Adsense or AdRoll.  I went to these websites and could not find any forms for complaints, but I sent email. 

   E.  Look at your notes to see which individual ads ran on the splog.  I sent email to Progresso, Flip-Pal, Amazon, McCormick, J. Peterman, and several other companies that I had seen.  I received robot replies, and several truly personal replies.  Most said they could do nothing about pulling the advertising since they worked with AdRoll or AdSense.  Flip-Pal was very helpful in telling me that they used AdRoll and directing me to a place for contact.  I’m hoping a few advertisers passed on my complaint about the incident to the companies that produced the monetized popup windows or advertising space on this splog.

   F.  Try to find the authors of other stolen content on the splog.  In this case, the splogger had stolen content from dozens of other authors, but I was only able to identify two.  I contacted them and told them specific instructions on how to file a complaint.

Step 6:  Contact the splog author directly through email or leave a comment right on the blog.  Use the “cease and desist” form letter you can find on the website.  Feel free to adapt it to your own situation.  Be direct, tell them to stop or that you will follow through with legal action.  Be prepared to follow through.

Step 7:  Wait.  This is the hard part.  I did much teeth gnashing and banging my head on the keyboard at this point.  Your spouse will think you are nuts.  Your cat will avoid you.  Hang in there.  I spent this time creatively writing email to the advertisers, asking Thomas MacEntee and other genealogy bloggers for advice, and drawing cartoons of pirates hanging from the gallows.

Step 8:  Don’t expect a congratulatory letter from Google or Blogger.  One day you will wake up and the splog will have disappeared.   You will refresh that splog page that I told you to keep open, and suddenly the words “Blog Deleted” will appear on your screen.

Step 9:  Dance on the table!  Pop champagne!  Wake the neighbors!  The system works!  In my case, my actions took ten days from the day I discovered the splogger, and nine days from my first filed complaint with Blogger. page on resources for content theft:

Since several readers asked for the code to disable the right click (to prevent copying by cut and paste), I will post it below.  In Blogger you need to go into the editor and select "Layout" and add a gadget.  Select "HTML/JavaScript", then insert this code in the gadget.   You might have trouble typing it in because I've enabled the right click disable here, so you won't be able to cut and paste the code into the gadget! (good thing it's not too long to copy!)  As you see, there are pros and cons to adding this code to your blog.

<script src='demo-to-prevent-copy-paste-on-blogger_files/googleapis.js'></script><script type='text/javascript'> if (typeof document.onselectstart!="undefined" ) { document.onselectstart=new Function ("return false" ); } else{ document.onmousedown=new Function ("return false" ); document.onmouseup=new Function ("return true" ); } </script>

Thank you to my Facebook friend True A. Lewis for this code.


The URL for this post is

Copyright © 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. May I copy this John. Just in case

  2. Haha - love that last image. Very apt!
    Great advice, Heather. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm sure we all appreciate this information, it is something I think some of us would like to copy. May I have a copy? Also, I don't want my blogs copied by readers, how do I do that? Please share your secret.

    1. You should be able to print out a copy from a screen shot. I'll post the code that disables the right click, but beware that it only stops casual copying. Serious hackers and sploggers know how to get around this.

  4. I disabled my right click after finding one of my blog posts copied in full on It was uploaded as a "story". Of course no credit was given to the author, which is what really made me mad!

    1. Yes, it would be nice if people would just ask, and then give the proper source and link, wouldn't it? I usually say "yes" when people ask.

  5. Heather,

    This is an excellent article, one of the best I've seen about handling this kind of problem. I'm glad it all worked out, and you didn't gnash your teeth that badly :D

    Janice at Cow Hampshire

  6. Heather, nice post.

    We need more of these detailed descriptions of the very wrong things that we can find on the web. Too, isn't it interesting that one cannot raise a human at Google? But, that's not all bad as I've seen people get into even a worse mess by talking to someone (either the person answering is as adept as one would assume, or the person is following an incomplete script, or the company's representative doesn't really know English - not being aware of our nuances - and more) on the phone. Too, personality comes into play, at that point.

    Now, I wanted to let everyone know that working at the user/menu level is insufficient to protect content. Firstly, using something like Chrome, one can save the page and grab from that context. Yes, that includes all of the formatting, etc. Or, in Tools, there is the means to view source which then is accessible. There are a number of other means.

    In short, nothing is private on the web unless https (or the like) is involved. But, of late, we're hearing that there have been backdoors put in which, we all can appreciate, will be mis-used at some point or another.

    The main adage: do nothing that you wouldn't want your mother to see in noon in the public square on a very sunny day. You see, the Puritans had some (few?) things right.

    1. Correction: the person is [not] as adept as one would assume.

      Oh, the horror stories that have already occurred and will in the future (way beyond Halloween gore as it deals with our ephemeral selves).

      As an aside, I don't understand the motivation for plagiarism (never having had to resort to that). But, the web does offer one, at least, advantage for an author. With text matching, we can always look for reuse (even with changes in the wording). Too, time does go forward. With time stamps everywhere on the web, one would not expect that all time-related bits to be could be mangled into agreement. That is, precedence is a strong argument (baring, of course, that someone knocked the author on the head and then posted the work as theirs, or some such).

      On a related note, Heather's blog is an example of what genealogy needs. Somehow, though, we need to have ratings about believe-ability and more. Perhaps, some overarching framework for these types of blogs so that one can find them easily. For one little research project, I finally got things in the proper order, yet I can point to tens of websites with erroneous information about the matter that were distracting (to say the least) until I figured out what was what.

    2. AJSwtik, you can search the genealogy blogs for any keyword (surnames, ethnic groups, geography, religions, etc) at Also, you can use the search at

  7. Thanks for the detailed instructions, but a word to the wise:

    I hate to disappoint you, but that code to disable the right click functions does nothing to prevent the traditional method of highlighting content, pressing [ctl] + c and usnig [ctl] +v to paste.

  8. Hi Heather-- great post, thank you! I was not aware of "splogs", although I do know that there are people who copy entire blog posts without credit). I certainly don't mind people quoting me, in fact I'm flattered, IF they give me credit. And certainly not if they are reproducing my words just to make money... no way.

  9. Thank you so much for this information. I only recently began blogging again and had no knowledge of this issue. Much appreciated.

  10. Heather,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!