Friday, March 23, 2007

Be careful out there!

I have been using some of my downtime as an opportunity to catch up on the wider world of BPM. It's easy to get very focussed on one's own products and one's own clients and lose track of what's happening in the wider world.

So, I spent some time this morning browsing Sandy Kemsley's recent posts in my feed reader.

One post caught my attention. It wasn't actually about BPM; it was about blogging. She accused somebody of stealing her blog posts.

What I think was going on was that the guy was aggregating the RSS feeds of lots of relevant bloggers and republishing them on his site. Because Sandy publishes a full feed (which means I don't have to go to ebiqz to read her posts - they're in my reader in their entirety), her full posts were appearing on his blog.

She was upset - and said so.

The guy apologised and took down the posts. Although his blog was done in his own time, his role as a Sales VP for a vendor clearly made him visible: he has resigned from his job.

A reminder to us all of the need to be careful.

And if that were not enough, Dennis brings news of dastardly deeds in the enterprise applications world. Oracle are claiming that a unit of SAP have been engaged in "corporate theft on a grand scale". The alleged behaviour includes the logging on to Oracle's support site and downloading large numbers of documents.  Without expressing an opinion on this matter, it's a timely reminder to the rest of us that even seemingly innocuous acts (like bulk-downloading all information you may conceivably need about a problem) may, in retrospect, look suspicious.


Sandy Kemsley said...

He was aggregating and republishing my feeds, but instead of publishing an excerpt (which he had been doing until a few weeks before), he was republishing the full feeds. There was a small link back to my original post in each case, then a much larger "Posted by [name]" link with his name. Since at least one of my regular readers had added comments to "his" posts, I know that people were not tracking back from his site to mine (I could also see that in my site statistics), so I was losing some amount of my audience to him. This has a direct monetary impact on me: I'm an independent analyst and consultant, and my blog is my primary marketing for my services. Anything that masks my authorship is potentially depriving me of revenue.

I make full feeds available as a convenience to my readers (and because I have a rule of not reading any blogs that don't have full feeds), but if you have my feed in your reader, you know that it's me writing it. If you were reading this person's blog or subscribed to his feed, you might think that it was him writing it.

If you work for a large company and your blog is an outlet for your own ideas but doesn't impact your personal or company revenue, you likely don't care if someone syndicates your content without your permission. If you're an independent like me, however, and it impacts how much money that you take home at the end of the day, you'd likely have the same reaction as I did.

Richard Brown said...

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for the comments.

Let's confirm one thing first: I completely agree with you that republishing somebody else's content without their permission is wrong.

A small number of my posts have been republished in the past (it seems to be based on keywords... an automated system will scan new postings for certain words and republish all those that match on a blog ostensibly about those topics). It's very sneaky and I couldn't figure out who was doing it.

As you say, I did not lose out financially as a result but it's still dispiriting to see somebody pass off one's work as their own.

So, yes - I think you were justified in reacting the way you did but I must admit that I thought the outcome (his losing his job) was rather severe. (Your comment that he had recently changed from publishing an abstract to a full feed was new to me, however, and does change the situation).

Anyway, I enjoy reading what you write - and I do appreciate the full text feed :-)

Sandy Kemsley said...

To put a somewhat finer point on it, republishing full feeds of a BPM blogger when you work for a BPM vendor isn't just wrong, it's stupid -- someone in the industry, if not the blogger, is going to notice it and blow the whistle.

I certainly didn't expect him to lose his job, but his company had to realize that having a salesperson who misappropriated content wasn't going to present the best corporate image. Especially considering that when you Google the company name and BPM, my post is the second search result.

All disparaging comments about salespeople aside, would you really want to deal with a salesperson who is demonstrably both dishonest and dumb?

Sandy Kemsley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandy Kemsley said...

By the way, I've moved my blog to, if you want to update your feed reader and your links.