Intelligent Design

The Google Problem

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The reason we have been excluded from Google’s index is several mirror sites that automatically copy and republish our content have sprung up. In the past there was only one such mirror site which is Wesley Elsberry’s at

http://antievolution.org/buud/

To address this I am going to post a copyright message at the bottom of our webpage saying that all content here is copyright and may not be reproduced without permission. I will then explicitely warn Wesley Elsberry and other mirrors that they are in violation of the law and will copy the warning mail to the abuse address of their respective ISPs that I expect the violations to end immediately.

I will also undertake the task of modifying our blog software so that a brief copyright message is included on all articles and all comments so that automatic republishing will also reproduce the copyright notice.

If that doesn’t work I will discuss with Professor Dembski the possibility of prosecution. Since one cannot draw blood from a turnip this may or may not be financially advisable although the thought of bankrupting Wesley Elsberry is appealing enough in its own right so that I may underwrite that personally just for the principle.

As well, I have tentatively prepared the following for a reinclusion request with Google

Several websites not under our control have mirrored our content without our permission. We are a blog with strictly enforced moderation rules for commenters. These other websites are mirroring our content so that they may comment on it without moderation.

This has been going on for some time with the website antievolution.org being the only mirror I knew of at http://antievolution.org/buud/

These sites are using RSS feeds to mirror us.

I was unaware that their abuse of RSS feeds could cause us to be in violation of Google quality guidelines.

I think it’s unfair to our many legitimate users of RSS feeds to disable RSS. I have in the past considered using IP blocks to disable the mirrors but determined that some of the sites have dynamic IPs which would require me to block whole domains which would also include legitimate users of those domains. Also, with antievolution.org were I to IP block it we would no longer be able to use trackbacks with pandasthumb.com because it is on the same server IP as antievolution.org.

Here is what I have now done to comply with Google Quality Guidelines:

1) added IP blocks to known mirror sites
2) disabled rss feeds
3) added explicit copyright messages to all our content and reported violations as abuse to the ISP hosting the mirror sites

It is my hope that once the mirrors have been shut down I will be able to lift the IP blocks and reenable RSS feeds. Once again I wish to stress it is not the fault or intent or wish that uncommondescent’s content be duplicated.

Wesley, I know this will reach you. You are hereby explicitely put on notice that BUUD is illegally republishing our content which is protected by implicit copyright already and your actions have caused substantial real damages to uncommondescent.com, its owners, and content contributors. You will shut down BUUD immediately to ameliorate these damages.

32 Replies to “The Google Problem

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    I filed a reinclusion request with Google and explained the situation to them as follows:

    Several websites are duplicating our content via RSS feeds without our permission. One we are aware of is antievolution.org/buud

    This is in violation of Google Quality guidelines as it duplicates our content in other domains.

    We failed to publish copyright notices on our blog to discourage this practice.

    We have taken the following corrective actions:

    1) Added a prominent copyright notice on our blog header.

    2) Installed a plugin that automatically appends copyright notices to all RSS feeds as follows:

    Copyright © 2006 Uncommon Descent. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact legal@uncommondescent.com so we can take legal action immediately.
    .
    3) Created an email address legal@uncommondescent.com so we may be notified when this happens.

    If the above is not sufficient we are prepared to take additional actions as necessary including but not limited to:

    a) legal action for copyright infringement
    b) IP blocks on the offending websites
    c) disabling RSS feeds
    d) notifying the ISP of the offenders that a client is infringing our copyrights

    Some of the websites are using dynamic IPs that would require us to block whole domains. We wish to not do that as it may block innocents from our blog. We also consider disabling all RSS feeds as a very last resort.

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    Well, that was fast. Wesley has password protected antievolution.org/buud

  3. 3
    doramia says:

    Why is archiving this site a problem? It helps spread the message without costing us any bandwidth.

  4. 4
    mike1962 says:

    “Wesley has password protected antievolution.org/buud”

    Odd that UD is categorized as “anti-evolution” in this poor guy’s mind. Anti-Darwinism, perhaps, but not anti-evolution.

  5. 5
    Tom English says:

    Dave,

    1. I am not an attorney.

    2. The Berne Convention provides for copyrights even when there is no declaration that a work is copyrighted. If you find an image on the web without a copyright notice, it is not yours to copy. Did you know that you hold copyright on your email messages?

    3. I recommend that before you do any more saber rattling you look into the doctrine of “fair use”:

    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    Buud copies only a small fraction of UD content, and always cites the source. This is fair use. And if you spend a bit more time poking around the net, you will find that there are many creationist sites quoting and linking to UD. I doubt that shutting down Buud, even if you could, would eliminate UD’s problem with Google.

  6. 6
    Tom English says:

    And with my last post I see a new reference to “fair use” at the bottom of the page. Well, now it’s time to read the chapter, or the U.S. Copyright Office page I gave above, and then have a look at the Buud pages Google has cached.

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    doramia

    I never had a problem with sites archiving us or even reproducing the content verbatim. I avoided taking any action heretofore as I considered it trivial. The problem is that google.com has dropped us from their index. They have Webmaster Quality guidelines which prohibit reproducing content at other domains in order to boost web presence and/or raise your ranking in search results. No doubt Google has an automated process that detects duplicated content across multiple domains and when a ceiling of some sort is reached they remove you from their index. BUUD alone was evidently not exceeding the limit and/or Google has changed something in how they detect attempts to artificially inflate popularity rankings. I know that at least one or two other sites are doing the same thing Wesley did and these have cropped up recently.

    The number of people that are referred to our site by google searches for keywords such as “intelligent design” is substantial and now those are gone. We have done nothing to artificially boost our web presence but have now been damaged as if we had. That’s why something had to be done about it.

  8. 8
    Michaels7 says:

    Referencing by links or quoting material is part of the Google complex of ranking order. That alone does not lead to banishment from the index and in fact can legitimately give rise to a sites priority.

    What an interesting dilemma. Gooligans: users or webmeisters skilled in the art of googlizing web site priorities. Or maybe more appropriate: Spooligans: spam-linking websites for google priority. Once successful search algorithms now infiltrated by noisy, planned, design are now anticipated by counter-design measures to weed-out false positives.

  9. 9
    Jim Wynne says:

    “All comments become the intellectual property of Uncommon Descent…”

    1) You can’t assign rights to an entity that doesn’t exist.

    2) Published matter is not “intellectual property,” although something it describes might be.

    I think you need ace Internet Quasi-Lawyer L. Fafarman to sort this out for you.

  10. 10
    DaveScot says:

    I removed the intellectual property verbage from the moderation statement. The copyright notice on the header image and copyright notices in RSS feeds are hopefully enough to get Google to forgive us for the appearance of “link farming” (thanks to Wesley for the term “link farming”) and to shut down the sites that are publishing all our RSS feeds. I’d also like to thank Wesley for taking prompt action as I’m sure he did not intend to cause harm. As many bad things as I’ve said about him he does seem to hold some tenuous notions of fair play. I’d post my thanks on one of his websites if I weren’t banned from all of them.

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    What it means to lose Google search hits. We dropped off Google’s radar on the 16th. It looks to be roughly 20% dropoff in traffic. Sorry about the hard to read formatting.

    Day_______Visits_Pages_Hits__Bandwidth
    01 Sep 2006 4453 31744 57866 970.14 MB
    02 Sep 2006 3705 21921 39074 637.19 MB
    03 Sep 2006 3620 21483 37955 606.33 MB
    04 Sep 2006 4203 26002 47521 781.85 MB
    05 Sep 2006 4456 26429 53441 892.14 MB
    06 Sep 2006 4106 26267 47876 782.09 MB
    07 Sep 2006 4540 27127 47398 748.50 MB
    08 Sep 2006 4524 29108 51529 825.63 MB
    09 Sep 2006 3952 27336 44091 780.67 MB
    10 Sep 2006 3630 24209 42303 670.09 MB
    11 Sep 2006 4093 27137 51667 833.49 MB
    12 Sep 2006 4046 25465 48836 774.88 MB
    13 Sep 2006 4032 29879 55510 948.14 MB
    14 Sep 2006 3933 28048 53854 895.96 MB
    15 Sep 2006 3594 23050 43999 822.33 MB
    16 Sep 2006 2715 18180 31452 598.62 MB
    17 Sep 2006 2631 16771 28449 543.21 MB
    18 Sep 2006 3650 23222 42963 761.63 MB
    19 Sep 2006 3646 24412 44100 761.06 MB
    20 Sep 2006 3432 23085 42132 681.85 MB

  12. 12
    DLH says:

    UncommonDescent.com and the web page is at least copyright of William Dembski who established this blog/web site. He at least has common law ownership of this de facto intellectual property.
    With the traffic being developed, the name has value and would be worth registering to protect it.
    Start by adding TM: UncommonDescent^TM on the web site.
    See trademark: Legal Care for your Business and Product Name. Stepehn Elis, Nolo Press, 7th Ed.
    I expect those establishing and operating UncommonDescent.com probably have a common-law contract under which UncommonDescent.com exists as a common-law organization.
    It would probably be prudent to form a limited liability organization as a legal entity. e.g. an LLC. Need to check with cluey lawyer.

  13. 13
    StephenA says:

    Are you sure you didn’t violate an unwitten webmaster guideline that says “Your site must not support ID?” :}

  14. 14
    ScaryFacts says:

    “the thought of bankrupting Wesley Elsberry is appealing enough in its own right so that I may underwrite that personally just for the principle.”

    That type of rhetoric hurts any argument you may want to put forth. Us “regular” people who read UD see this as petty and immature and cause us to question the emotional maturity of the poster.

    You may have a personal vendetta against Wesley. Fine, go beat him up. In the mean time use logical argument supported by facts to support your argument.

    If you want to be taken seriously you have to stop making these types of knee-jerk attacks.

  15. 15
    JGuy says:

    I think you can use http://www.copyscape.com to find any sites that might be duplicating your site.

  16. 16
    lucID says:

    ScaryFacts

    Your reply is more of a knee-jerk reaction than anything Dave wrote. His original line about personally bankrupting ‘ol Wesley was very much tongue in cheek, and not meant to be taken too seriously. Your lack of a sense of humor will put you at a disadvantage here. There certainly is room here for a satirical jest at those who certainly are indeed maniacal in their active distaste of ID here at UD. Methinks you are feeling the jibe a little too close to home since you don’t quite agree with the majority of the commentators here and thus identify somewhat with Wesley yourself. Furthermore the question of the emotional maturity of ‘the poster’ aka Wesley has never been in question – It’s a fact that he ranks somewhere around 3!

    And logical argument supported by facts are used far more around here than anywhere else. Go and tell that to PT and the other Wesley type haunts. They certainly need to hear that more than us… and don’t take yourself too seriously either.

  17. 17
    John A. Davison says:

    Der Fuhrer, Herr Doktor Professor Esley Welsberry (pronounced Velsberry) has never published a word on the subject of organic evolution. He has no credentials whatsoever. He is a living example of his own signature –

    “YOU CAN’T TEACH AN OLD DOGMA NEW TRICKS.”
    Dorothy Parker

    Woof woof.

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  18. 18
    ScaryFacts says:

    lucID,

    OK, tell me–exactly what am I to take seriously here and what am I to dismiss as sarcasm?

    As for my sense of humor…I spend lots of time laughing as I read the posts here.

  19. 19
    DaveScot says:

    dogscata

    The traffic numbers above from AWSTATS are exclusive of bot hits. Aside from that little factoid is that googlebot hits have not declined in number. They simply don’t return any hits from uncommondescent when someone does a search. Interestingly, the Inktomi web crawler is the #1 most frequent. Googlebot is #2. And it definitely is something that Google thinks we did that violates their Webmaster Quality Guidelines that caused the exclusion. They don’t specify exactly what we did wrong but make it clear that it’s *something* in the guidelines. After reading the guidelines the only thing that could remotely apply to us is the appearance of link farming.

  20. 20
    lucID says:

    ScaryFacts

    Not to let this turn into a blood feud. I’m glad you do find some enjoyment from reading the posts here. I certainly do. For the most part ID specific posts (such as involve biological, mathematical subjects etc, etc) should be taken literally and in a *slightly* more serious light. Other subjectsthat are clearly somewhat peripheral to the central issues discussed here (such as running the site etc, etc) may well contain sarcastic elements occasionally. Elsberry is certainly a thorn in the side of UD/ID (albeit somewhat of a small prick) and thus when the hilariously entertaining thought of bankrupting a gutter-snipe such as Elsberry is brought up, tears well up in our eyes and we know it too good to really be true. And as we are not nearly as vindictive as our Darwinian brethren, though the thought be pleasing the action would be beneath us.

    I hope this bring some clarity to the issue. If not – well feel free to rant and we’ll just laugh.

  21. 21
    todd says:

    Test: Does comment submission work okay with the new blog script?

  22. 22
    Douglas says:

    The possibility of bankrupting someone always brings me to tears.

  23. 23
    Bob OH says:

    Douglas –

    You’re a lawyer, aren’t you?

    Bob

  24. 24
    John A. Davison says:

    What happened to the UD format? I see no sidebar and the comments aren’t numbered. Did I do something wrong again?

  25. 25
    DaveScot says:

    Trying out a new format. Bear with us for a week while we git ‘er done.

  26. 26
    Douglas says:

    Bob,

    Very observant, but no.

  27. 27
    John A. Davison says:

    Thanks.

    In the meantime, check out ATBC and Arden Chatfield’s illuminating comments about me.

    More Arden, more! You too Alan. Maybe Chatfield would like to weigh in here or at “brainstorms .” I would love it!

    It is too bad I can’t respond there. Darwimpian cowards are like that don’t you know.

    Sockittome!

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable. “

  28. 28
    John A. Davison says:

    ScaryFacts

    How do you like the way I handle the Fisheries Biologist over at the Bunker? I bet you don’t care for it much do you? Why don’t you join with Alan Fox and copy some of my anti-Darwiniana over at the Slippery Floors Bar and Grill or are you terrified of bannishment too?

    I need all the publicity I can manage to evoke.

    “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!
    Al Jolson

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  29. 29
    todd says:

    SUGGESTION: Make the coment box a little larger – say 60 columns by 15 lines.

  30. 30
    ScaryFacts says:

    John Davison posted:

    “How do you like the way I handle the Fisheries Biologist over at the Bunker?”

    I missed it. Post a link—I wasn’t able to locate it on my own.

    “I bet you don’t care for it much do you? Why don’t you join with Alan Fox and copy some of my anti-Darwiniana over at the Slippery Floors Bar and Grill or are you terrified of bannishment too?”

    I would be happy to read anything you’ve got on the subject and if I can’t make heads or tails of it (I’m a layman) then I would happily post my questions over at AFTB. I typically only post things that are pretty innocuous or are simply questions, so if I get banned for asking tough questions that would certainly be evidence there is “prejudice” in the works at AntiEvo.

    So far I’ve felt pretty well treated at both UD and AE.

  31. 31
    John A. Davison says:

    I am beginning to believe that internet communication is a monumental waste of time. Thank God for the shelves of the libraries of the world.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  32. 32

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