I Like Blog Net News, Yeah, I Said It
First, some background. For those who are not in the know, Blog Net News (BNN) is a site that aggregates blogs by category and by major cities. My blog is listed under Blog Net News–New Orleans. The owner of this site is Dave Mastio. The local editor is Greta Perry.
Now, BNN has been getting spit upon lately by some bloggers. And this made me scratch my head because my experience with BNN has been a very positive one. So I read the rants and have found enough inaccuracies that I decided to write this post if for no other reason than to defend why I have BNN-NO listed in my blogroll.
Let’s look at something I really like: Facts. I am going to take these slowly and in number order so when you bash me later you can easily list which parts you disagree with.
1. There seems to be much loathing for Dave Mastio and much discrediting of him because, they say, he is a Bushie. He did write for the Bush administration, but not for Bush. In fact, he was the former speechwriter for the United States Trade Representative and he worked on the Australia FTA and the Central America FTA. If you can name who the US Trade Rep is (or what the FTAs do, even) without googling it, then you may have a beef. Otherwise, calling him a Bushie without reviewing the content of those speeches is nothing more than propaganda. And it is all irrelevant because BNN lists all blogs, regardless of a blog’s political bias. And, incidentally, more bloggers are liberal than conservative and I’d suspect the blogs on BNN are likewise. Moving on.
2. It is alleged that BNN does not link back to your blog. This is, bluntly, FALSE. It does link back. If you click on the title of your post, it redirects to your site. If you click on the name of your blog, it brings you to another BNN page that shows blurbs of your blog’s most current posts. Click on one and it takes you to your blog.
3. Some say BNN posts bloggers’ entire posts. Again, this is FALSE. Unless your post is really, really short. BNN posts blurbs.
4. It is argued that BNN keeps traffic from your site. I suppose the argument is that why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? In this case, the reason is to read the entire post. I can only speak to my blog, but my stats clearly show traffic coming FROM BNN. And I also know that I use BNN to GO to others’ blogs. It in no way keeps me from visiting another’s blog.
5. BNN makes ad dollars and doesn’t pay the blogs listed. This is TRUE. And this is just like all the other aggregators out there. The remuneration to the bloggers is exposure. The idea is you get more traffic. And hopefully that traffic will click on your ads. I am not the least bit bothered that BNN has ads.
6. It is argued that blogs listed on BNN are being damaged by reduced ad dollars on the actual blogs. I suppose the argument is that due to reduced traffic to your own site (No. 4) and that BNN has its own ads (No. 5), that your blog is making less in ads. Since I don’t believe traffic is reduced (and believe it may actually be increased) nor am I bothered by No. 5, I simply do not believe that blogs listed on BNN are being financially hampered is an accurate conclusion that can be reached.
7. BNN will not remove a blogger not wanting to participate. Again, FALSE. To my knowledge, everyone who has been asked to be removed has been removed in a reasonably short period of time. Of course, when you are pissed off, 24+ hours does not seem “reasonably short.” But it is.
8. Then there’s the pesky “he’s violating my copyright” argument. This is the pet-peeviest of all because it offends the lawyer in me. Let me state a few premises to begin: (a) blogs are on the internet; (b) the internet is by definition a public place; (c) if you have an RSS feed, you are allowing anyone the access to do what BNN is doing–scraping your feeds; (d) prior permission is not need by law, nor is it a violation of your copyright to not get it, to scrape your feeds (if it was, folks would need your prior permission to get your RSS feed, and I would assume for those bloggers that have that bright orange button on their blogs, that this permission is implied); (e) I am an attorney but not an Intellectual Property attorney.
I did more than I suspect many bloggers bashing BNN have done: I talked to an IP attorney about BNN, and I even had her look at the BNN-NO site. She did not do a full review of the legal issue, but her cursory review suggests that there are no violations occurring; that it falls under the fair use exception and buttressed further by a court-created exception relating to items of news. Bottom line, unless you have actually talked to an IP lawyer and have been explained this extremely murky area of sophisticated law, don’t spout the law. If you are an IP attorney, or you play one on TV, please feel free to clarify this point for us.
When you boil it all down, what seems to really be pissing people off is that BNN did not first ask people to be listed. He violated blog etiquette. And folks are really not feeling the love from BNN. If you are really worried about having your feeds scraped (sounds nasty, doesn’t it?), then look into removing the feed button, or adding a request that you be contacted before your feed is linked. It’s not too hard.
And let me close with saying that it was because of BNN-NO that I found many, many NOLA bloggers that I had not known existed, bloggers I have since met in person and really am the better for knowing. Was that worth the value of ad dollars attributed to my blurbs listed on BNN? Without a doubt.