am i being paranoid or is this dodgy?

I’ve just realised (courtesy of a link in a comment from lindydandy) that this blog has been linked to by http://www.rabbitsandtoasters.com. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand this linking directs traffic to my site. On the other, it directs traffic to my site. I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of raising my profile in the online international swing dancing world so explicitly. There are as many disadvantages as advantages to this, and dancing is my hobby, not my work, so I don’t particularly need my site’s profile lifted. Or my own.

I also have trouble with the fact that the format of the linking site means that they score money from their ads every time someone clicks on their site. I’m assuming their links to other blogs are scoring them points in the google ranking and that this directs people to their site. And, much more importantly, their aggregating a series of feeds (or whatever) and publishing them to their site means that they’re making these scores not through their own work or writing or creation of content, but through the work of other bloggers.

I’m not naive. I know that this is how the internets work. But I’m also aware of the fact that the dance world is quite small – this isn’t some ‘anonymous’ dodginess. It’s the work of people I actually know. Who are gradually increasing their web presence (or rather, their presence in the online dancing world) via range of tools. They have a number of pots on the boil, and it’s this relationship between the pots (dodgy metaphor much?) that’s tingling my spidey sense. It feels particularly dodgy because this linking site appears to be offering a ‘helpful’ guide to swing dancers’ blogs. It also presents this aggregating as ‘syndicating’ a series of blogs. Thing is, unlike a real syndicated column, I’m not getting anything from this besides traffic. Certainly not a share of the advertising $.

It’s also dodgy because they don’t actually provide any ‘real’ biographical information on their site, not even in their ‘about us’ page. So I can’t grab them next time I see them dancing to have a chat, nor can I follow this up with a mutual friend who can clue me in on their intentions. That’s how these things work in a small community – word of mouth is the most valuable commodity we have. I’m be suspicious that the ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’ pages are actually a bit of a tool for harvesting emails for spam, so I’m not really ready to send them an email just yet.

This site also misrepresents its content, suggesting that it is in some way hosting ‘contributors’ and ‘authors’, or that these authors are in some way affiliated with the site ‘syndicated’ in some sort of official sense. The list of articles in the body of the page includes a chunk of writing from the linked sites like this:

This is the dodgy shit. The link from someone else’s blog was the first I’d heard of it – I’ve not been contacted. The site doesn’t quite contravene copyright and I still haven’t figured out how to put my creative commons license onto my site (which tells people how they can use my content). So this site isn’t doing anything wrong, it’s just kind of muddying the water. Which is a bit dodgy in a small community.

For now I’m going to let it lie while I have a think. I’ve been too busy lately to really get onto my site (the styles are shit, I don’t have my blogroll up and it’s not really a fun place to read my massive big posts :( ), so it’s just item number eleventy on a list of twelveteen Things To Do.

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