This post was written by Jennifer

So Not On Board With Shyftr

So, the blog post darling of the weekend is likely the whole Shyftr issue. In case you’ve missed it, here’s a little recap, and if you want to learn more background go visit the linked posts. I’m not rehashing it all here.

Shyftr stands for Share Your Feeds Together. They offer all your favorite feeds brought together in one place. Like Problogger? Fine, add that feed. Treehugger? I bet you can find them too. Basically, instead of using your feed service, Shyftr wants you to use them. Not only can you read full blog posts at the Shyftr site but comment as well. What this adds up to is that you never have to visit a blog to read the posts or comment – you can just do it at Shyftr.

Frankly I don’t see how this is legal but let’s see what others think…

On board: Louis Gray; actually this post seems more like a, “careful what you wish for” post or an adaptation than an actual on board, but he is on board.

Seems on board: Scobleizer

Not on board: Tony Hung

Not on board: Me

There are plenty of posts about this topic out there – these three above are linked somewhat so I posted them. Also the comments at each of the posts are interesting, and offer perspectives from both sides, which I like.

The comment issue:

An issue I see with this is comment moderation. Having my comments held elsewhere doesn’t allow me the chance to moderate comments which means my goal of keeping comments related to my work respectful is now out of the picture. From what it looks like, only Shyftr can mod comments, and since they didn’t write my post, and they can’t read my mind, how can they possible mod properly?

For example, let’s look at Tony Hung’s post above. His post at his blog has one set of comments. Now if you go to the Shyftr page with this same blog post, there is a whole other set of comments, one of which says, “Oh, and I”ll up you a “I think Tony Hung is an blow hard”, and say, see if you can moderate it.” Maybe the person is joking, maybe not. Say they’re not – that’s so not cool.

The big issue:

Honestly though, what it all comes down to really is page views. I don’t actually care quite so much about my work being located elsewhere, although, it does irk me if people profit off it. The fact that I can’t mod all comments makes me uncomfortable, but I can live with it. Why I think posting all my content and allowing comments at someplace other than my blog is not because I think I should be the all powerful god of my post, it’s because I’m paid to blog. I’m not only paid to blog, I’m paid for my page views as well.

Shyftr is grabbing content, adding in a comment function, and creating their own little world using other people’s work. Since they’re grabbing feeds I’m not sure that I’d call it stealing except well, no I will call it stealing and here’s why:

Say someone visits a feed to one of my work blogs and likes what they see (or hates what they see) and wants to comment, they then come visit my blog and leave a comment. That’s what I do with my favorite blogs on feed as well. Now, say someone visits Shyftr and reads my whole post there and then also leaves a comment there, without ever visiting my blog. Well, my network or client has no clue that my hard work has paid off do they? I don’t get a page view, I don’t get paid for that page view, even though someone has still benefited in some way from said blog post, and thus it becomes stealing.

I’ve seen many comments around today saying, “So what, the reason you write content is to share it with others, to get your content spread around the web, to help people.” And in part this is true, but as a paid blogger, I also write content to make a living. I hold a contract saying that I’ll be paid per page view and per a certain number of posts a week. If you can get said content at Shyftr, well then maybe Shyftr should pay me too.

This is really no better than content scraper sites in my opinion. Which by the way, is not stood for at my network and client blogs – my clients always shut down scrapers.

Here’s one post that says we shouldn’t care about our page views and here’s one more that seems a little on the fence, although the blogger does point out the negatives – but I do care. It’d be different if I was doing this for kicks alone, or if my utility company took my passion for blogging as payment, but none of that is true. I don’t do this for kicks alone, I do write for money, and that’s why I care about page views.

I know some people want comments on all RSS. I know some people are in love with the whole Shyftr idea. But it’s going to make things harder, not better for paid full-time bloggers, especially if you’re even partially paid by page views.

What do you think?


9 Responses to “So Not On Board With Shyftr”

  1. ProBlogger Blog Tips on April 13th, 2008 7:07 am

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  2. FatB on April 13th, 2008 12:25 pm

    Then put a comment link in your feed. If they alter your feed to take that out then there’s another issue.

    This is just like the debate that happened when RSS first started and people refused to put full content into their feeds, forcing you to click a link to read the whole article. And just like then, you’re trying to tell someone that their prefered way of getting your content is unacceptable. How well did it work out last time?

    It would seem like a simple thing to get Shyftr to report page views and comments and whatnot. If you really think this is an issue try to work it out with them.

  3. Jennifer on April 13th, 2008 1:54 pm

    I like full post RSS feed. I don’t want to force folks to click onto a blog, I just think it’s shady that Shyftr is posting full content plus comments making having your blog somewhere else totally useless. RSS without comments is still useful for both the blogger and reader. The only people Shyftr is useful for is Shyftr and readers who I guess don’t get RSS. I don’t know how easy it would be to have Shyftr report page views and what not and that seems like a lot of work on everyone else’s part just so that Shyftr can continue to post other people’s work.

    If someone’s preferred way to get my content is by Shyftr then Shyftr should pay bloggers, because I’m not under contract with them. I enter into contracts with an understanding that my content will be at so and so blog, with RSS and email subscribe available, I never enter into a contract knowing that my work will be double posted with double comment threads that I have no say over. One of the things bloggers for hire need to consider when taking a gig is the page view value of a blog, Shyftr messes with that consideration.

    Basically, for those of us blogging for others it comes down to what our clients are going to do about issues like this, or it comes down to paid bloggers getting out of network and client gigs and working for themselves and also dealing with Shyftr on their own.

  4. Louis Gray on April 14th, 2008 12:57 am

    While it wasn’t what I would have done, Shyftr did capitulate to pressure, moving discussions to headline/attribution only and not to full feeds. The full feeds are still accessible in the reader, of course, but not where the comments are taking place. It behooves us in the blogging community to be aware of the new places the conversation is going, and catch up. If we don’t, they’ll leave us behind.

  5. Jennifer on April 14th, 2008 2:54 am

    Hey Louis, I’m impressed that Shyftr is listening to everyone, although it’s not perfect for those on your side. I do see the point of following the conversation – that’s why I constantly follow people who link to me, go see what they’re saying, join in at their blog, if they agree or not. I guess the issue I’m still having trouble with is the whole pay factor. I’ve been thinking about it all day, wondering if I didn’t make all my money blogging, if I still did it for just for me, if my mind would be on your side. Maybe it would. Maybe it’s time for clients to quit with the page view pay, find a new system. But that’s a whole other issue. Thanks for the heads up and for commenting.

  6. FatB on April 14th, 2008 8:25 am

    RSS and Shyfter are doing the same thing, giving people the content they want in the form they want. You can’t tell them that the form is wrong and they should ‘get’ RSS(which is weird since all shyftr does is agregate RSS).

    I think the problem is you’re thinking like an employee. “I get paid for X, Y and Z. Hey, that messes with my Z.”

    You’re not, you’re an independent contractor. If what some outside party is doing is affecting your contract, change it.

  7. Dustin on April 14th, 2008 8:53 am

    It seems like the answer to Shyftr is a term of service that is, I think, implicit in how most of us publish feeds anyway. E.g. “RSS feed content is for personal use only.” Most bloggers license their work as either “All rights reserved” traditional copyright or some form of Creative Commons license; one of the rights that can be reserved is the right to reuse content for commercial profit.

    I’m not sure how you differentiate clearly, though, between a feed aggregator service like Shyftr and a feed reader service like Google Reader. Both profit from advertising placed around bloggers’ content. The addition of commenting at Shyftr does seem to change the intent, though. (Then again, there are services that allow third-party commenting on sites that don’t offer comments; how do we feel about that?)

    In the end, copyright allows exactly what FatB objects to — one of the rights is to prevent your content from being used or presented in ways that you object to. A few dozen DMCA notices might well convince Shyftr to change their tune. In the long run, though, this might well be a losing battle, as it’s been for the music industry and TV production. Can small-time content producers (web writers, blog networks, etc.) adapt to the You-Tubization of their content?

  8. Matt on April 16th, 2008 12:57 pm

    @Dustin: You said “…Both profit from advertising placed around bloggers’ content….” without knowing what you were talking about.

    Neither Shyftr nor Google Reader put any advertising around anyone’s content. Any advertising you see at Shfytr is provided by the content producer/blogger as part of the feed. I’ve heard rumors that both services have plans to actually get some revenue generated FOR THE bloggers who want to make some money off of their RSS feeds (Not take proverbial money from the pockets of bloggers)… Maybe next time people should try to get the full story before jumping to conclusions. Just a thought. 😉

  9. Dustin on April 16th, 2008 8:22 pm

    You know what, Matt? You’re kind of right. Google aggregates behavior and serves ads based on that. I was thinking more explicitly of Gmail — as you say, Reader doesn’t have ads. (Yet?) But Google certainly isn’t giving me all that goodness because it warms their hearts to see me happy. Neither is Shyftr; if they don’t have ads now, it’s because they haven’t figured it out. Like you say, they probably will — and maybe they’ll even share revenue. (I doubt they’ll send 100% to the bloggers whose content they’re using — that’s crazy talk, that is!)

    That said, if they send every blogger whose content they used a check for a million dollars, it would *still* not be within their rights to reproduce content from other sites. I think they’ve realized this; from what I’ve seen, they’re going to a “excerpt-only” model, and that seems close enough to fair use not to bug anyone.

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