I just stumbled upon a site called Top Ten Sources, and if I’m assessing it correctly, I believe that editors pick a topic and then find ten weblogs they feel are good resources on that topic to comprise their “Top Ten List”. These editors then make a page for that topic (Venture Capital for example), which aggregates the editor’s Top 10 blogs into one page of information. Each page is essentially an aggregator that pulls down the latest content from those chosen blogs, and republishes that content on the Top Ten Sources site.
Now, I think that this service definitely provides value to the reader, however I’m wondering if the sites that are compiled into these Top 10 pages have been asked ahead of time if they could republish their content? The Venture Capital page has republished full text entries from their sources at the bottom, and this trend is continued throughout the site on other Top 10 lists like the Rose Bowl, Pets, and many others.
From what I can gather, if a site in a Top 10 list page has full-text RSS feeds, then their entire entry will be republished, but if they only have excerpts than the excerpt will be shown. Top Ten Sources appears to make no effort to limit the text — I’ve seen some entries in their lists that have 12-15 paragraphs, complete with quotations, code examples, and even images (yes, still linked to their author’s site, also known as “hotlinking”), and even some people have Google AdSense in their feeds, and yup, their AdSense boxes show up on their associated Top 10 page. So basically, Top Ten Sources takes all your information from your RSS feed, republishes it on their site, and then uses it to build traffic. I’m not sure about their revenue model yet, however if it involves running ads against other people’s content then that’s a major no-no.
To be fair, 9rules displays member content in categories as well, however 1) our members gave us permission to do so, and 2) we will never display their full post, regardless of if their RSS feed is full entry or not — the most we display is 3-4 sentences. Plus, we strip out all images to avoid just such a case I pointed out above.
So the question I pose is this: Are the blogs you are republishing consulted ahead of time about this? I looked at the About Page for the site but didn’t find anything that spoke of an agreement or copyright notice. I think this issue definitely needs to be cleared up, because if they’re doing this without consent Top Ten Sources is no better than the 3-4 site scraping bottom-feeders who republish the Business Logs RSS entries everyday, or the thousands more who poach other copyrighted content from around the web.
John Palfrey just responded to this entry (as well as a few others) that talked about Top Ten Sources and copyright. In the article he mentioned this entry and called me a “respected member of the blogosphere”, to which I am deeply honored and flattered. While writing this entry about Top Ten Sources, I knew in the back of my head that they probably sent emails to the included blogs about the aggregation, and I was right:
“As the editor compiles the site, the editor sends out an e-mail to the person who appears to be responsible for the site, or, sometimes, posts a comment to say that the site has been chosen. The site renders a list of those sites offering the feeds as directlinks to the page. The site also subscribes to those feeds and renders them all together on a single page. It is this latter activity that I take to be the concern.” — John Palfrey
Top Ten Sources emails newly included blogs as they are being aggregated, and are given the opportunity to opt-out at anytime. My opinion has now been changed :)