04 June 2010

Add attribution to a Blogger feed

A couple of days before I read an interesting article – discovered through Louis Gray’s shared items - about the (more or less authorized) reuse of content or, as the author calls it, the “copy-paste society”. I agree that you should take a positive attitude, to continue to create original content rather that spending resources trying to stop such practices. Maybe large companies have the time and money to pursue this goal, but given the huge size of the Internet and it’s growth, it’s unlikely they will succeed in the long run. Even with a small blog like mine, the more popular articles have been reproduced in full on other sites. One of the positive approaches you can take is to make sure that the copied content still has a link back to your site, by adding it to the footer of the RSS feed, for example.

has a built-in feature to add text and/or code to the bottom of a blog post that only shows up in the feed. You can find it in the Dashboard under Settings ► Site Feed ► Post Feed Footer. Although it’s primarily used to display ads in the feed, it can also insert one or more links to your site home page or other relevant pages, like ‘About’, ‘Contact’ or even to the RSS feed. You can write HTML code here like in the post editor, just make sure it’s shorter than 500 characters – that’s the current limit – and you close non self-closing tags (like br or img) with a double slash instead of a single one. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to use dynamic code, so that the text snippet links back to the article it accompanies.Blogger post feed footer

Another solution would be to use a FeedFlare. You can find a large collection of flares on the Google Code site and the first one is designed specifically for attribution. The installation is very easy: copy the URL of the flare, visit the FeedBurner dashboard, go to the ‘Optimize’ tab, open the ‘FeedFlare’ section and paste the address in the text box under ‘Personal FeedFlare’. This flare adds a link to the blog homepage, so it works pretty much like the previous solution from the Blogger settings.

As mentioned in a previous article, you can also build specific flares with a simple URL and some parameters. If you want to link to the article currently displayed in the feed, the following flare does the trick. The text can be customized to your liking, as long as you use a ‘+’-sign to replace spaces.


Apart from these extra steps to insure you get some attribution, the best thing you can probably do as a blogger is to link to other articles in your blog. It’s unlikely a scraper would bother to remove links from your content, so they will help people discover the original source. And it’s links like these that could eventually reveal to the author sites who copy their content; I discovered some of them for example by reading the reports from Google Webmaster Tools.

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