J’accuse! Thief, Pirate, Scraper?? Nope.
Well, we've been up and running for just a couple of days, not even fully launched, and are already taking heat. Is there no such thing as bad publicity? But a little background first. I myself am a full-time digital nomad and travel blogger. When the covid-19 lockdowns began rolling across the world and I found myself locked down, I decided I needed a project, one that would actually provide value to someone. Me! I'd been thinking about the concept for a while, and decided to build a site that could solve a problem I'd seen all too often. Low quality, spammy, and/or unreadable travel/adventure blogs. We'd provide a small excerpt, image, and links to the original content. Who could object? I'd love a little publicity for my own hobby travel blog.
Alas, for every sincere blog created by folks who actually want to share their experiences, there are 5 SEO optimized "influencer" sites. These sites have some common hallmarks: extremely slow load times, pop-ups that rival 1990's porn, and loads of questionable affiliate links. I don't begrudge those who supplement their income via their "How to be a travel blogger" courses, as long as their content is at least decent. Unfortunately, I've seen a lifetime's worth of absolute drivel, meant to be read by Google's crawlers and people with IQs in the low teens.
My goal was to create a feed of sincere, original content that didn't feel like an Amway meeting (be a digital nomad, be an influencer, get rich by dropshipping supplements!). So let's get down to what Ok Roam is designed to do. Our only goal is to provide a mechanism for travel and adventure enthusiasts to find new and relevant content. Period. We provide a small excerpt from the original story as well as a small image from the story, along with plenty of attribution and ample links to the original content. The image is hosted on our server as a courtesy to the original content creator so we aren't costing them hosting fees (we could just as easily display the image hosted from the original site).
All of this is totally kosher under "Fair Use" provisions of the US copyright code (the same that allows Google to crawl pages, store and display content). Once we transform the content through curation, comment, criticism, and attribution we're essentially in the legal clear. In fact, there is no settled case law regarding content aggregation, and Google itself has a history of fighting any such precedent.
Ok, so why am I writing this post? Well... during the process of adding the initial roster of blog content to OkRoam, we reposted content from a blogger named <redacted>. Frankly, her content didn't quite live up to our goal of non-spammy / high quality, but I digress. I'm not sure why she wouldn't want to be featured, but she demanded her content be removed IMMEDIATELY!
I did of course, and in fact, I'm glad to remove any content if the website owner requests it. Ms. <redacted> was also nice enough to lash out on twitter. Doesn't she know that attacking an account with zero followers is like hitting a guy with glasses!? Hopefully, her followers (those that actually possess a pulse) give us a shot to provide high quality, curated, non-spammy travel content. Fake influencers are polluting search results that should be reserved for authentic, sincere creators. We're going to do our best to weed out the fakes and promote real content.
P.S. If you are a blogger who wants your content removed, just click the "Contact Us" button at the top of the page. If you are a blogger or vlogger who wants your content added, please go ahead and do the same.