A month or two ago I decided to be some blog posting software called RSS to Blog. The software promised to automate some of the more mundane tasks of blogging. Having implemented the software and read extensively about it, I would now like to offer my two cents worth on RSS to Blog.
First of all, the program does do what it says it will in terms of automating the blogging process. You can paste in scores of articles in advance, and RSS to Blog will faithfully post them to your blog. This can be done in random intervals, and is done with the help of cron jobs, which are a way of running automatic scripts on a web server. RSS to Blog can also post RSS feeds from other sites into your blog, and rotate things randomly.
The idea of automated blog posting is particularly nice for a blogger who is going on vacation, or has trouble maintaining the daily discipline of blogging. However, there is also a significant amount of abuse associated with this type of software.
Most notably, people are publishing spammy blogs, otherwise known as splogs. Some people are publishing as many as 250 blogs each, all spewing forth spammy content laced with Google Adsense ads. One I read about online claimed to be making $200k per year, a claim that I tend to believe.
The problem is, these cron jobs suck up a lot of server resources. It doesn’t hurt a server if somebody has a cron job automating their blog posts 2-4 times per day. But these people who have 100, 200 or 250 blogs, and who are posting and pinging at a high rate of speed, can take down a server all by themselves. Then when a bunch of people running the same script at the same time all congregate on the same server, this really wreaks havoc. So much so, that some web hosts have kicked RSS to Blog software users from their hosting service.
This is a shame, because when used properly, RSS to Blog really can be a helpful productivity tool. Personally, I like to write in spurts. I would rather write 2-10 pages of content, divide it into original posts, and set them up to run over time, than be driven by a need to blog 2-4 times per day, day in and day out. This doesn’t lessen the quality of my posts, it only makes life easier for a busy person.
This is in contrast to people who are picking certain keywords, generating thousands of pages, and pinging the daylights out of the blogosphere. I don’t hate such people, and if they can earn $200k per year cranking out spam, more power to them. But truth be told, I think the search engines and users are getting smarter and smarter about weeding out spam and splogs.
One spammy splogger noted online that he couldn’t care less how rotten his pages were, in fact his goal was to make people who landed on his pages want to barf so badly that they would click on a Google ad just to get off his lousy page. With all due respect, this doesn’t seem like a very profitable business model for Google or its advertisers.
The sploggers also say that they have to keep building, building, building more and more splogs—because once the search engines find out what they are, their traffic tapers off and drops. This is in contrast to a truly helpful blog with great content, whose value and traffic should continue to spiral upward.
In their defense, I don’t think the developers of RSS to Blog intended for their software to be used in this manner. As a matter of fact, I heard rumblings about limits to be built into newer, more powerful versions. That sounds like a good idea to me. It’s always nice to land on a page with truly meaningful and helpful content.
Since I didn’t want any surprises, and have a good relationship with my web host, I phoned him and told him about the software I was using. He agreed with me that RSS to Blog could be a powerful productivity tool, and that if used rightly (e.g. a reasonable number of random posts) should not diminish his server resources in the least little way. This made me pretty happy, since I plan to use RSS to Blog to help promote my log furniture store.
Cari Haus, CPA and entrepreneur, has been a webmaster and online retailer for more than five years. She sells log furniture through her website, http://www.logcabinrustics.com/