Are The Top Biblioblogs Actually Blogs Or RSS Feeds?

It is becoming more and more popular within the blogging community these days, especially the Bible/Theology blogging community, to masquerade as a blogger while really being little more than an RSS Feed puller. This is quite annoying! I presume that part of the reason for this is due to traffic and stats. There's at least a half a dozen so-called blogs out there whose monthly goal is to be at the top of the Biblioblog rankings (e.g. The Top 50). You will see these blogs that I'm speaking of coming through with 5 or 10 or more postings per day. Yet, in most instances, NONE of those posts are original. I'll get back to this momentarily. Or, if they are original, they might be a paragraph in length, or poll-based or asking some question, etc. In other words, the content can hardly constitute any sort of worthwhile post. Furthermore, the content is rarely meaningful or relevant in any way to biblical studies/theological studies. Now, I'm not saying that posting stuff unrelated to the Bible on a so-called "Bible Blog" is wrong. It is your blog, write what you like! What I am saying is that I think it is annoying that folks are trying to pass this weak stuff off as substantive or meaningful content related to the Bible. Sadly, it is quite like holding a mirror up to many pulpits today!

Now, back to the the point about originality. Some folks out there (you know who you are and so does everyone else), have decided that in place of being able to write their own content, they can also just copy and paste the work of others on their own sites. Once they do this, they slap a title on it and hit "publish" and voila, they have another post, which will drive more traffic to their site. In short, all they've done is turn their so-called blog into an RSS Feed or Aggregator. They have co-opted and sometimes even plagiarized someone else's content so that they can get more hits, which will drive up their ranking on the Biblioblogs site. Some sites have even resorted to having multiple authors so that they can have more than one person scouring the feeds and so that they can both re-post content. Some sites, however, maintain but one author, which makes me wonder if they just sit around checking the Feed Reader all day waiting for whatever's next to come down the pipeline.

My critique here isn't simply a complaint, although it is that in part. There are other issues that, in my opinion, play into this whole issue. One issue is the egoism that many bloggers have. It is as if their whole livelihood is dependent upon traffic and stats and rankings. This leads into another issue: plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty. Hijacking the content of others is simply problematic. Sure, re-posting someone's content every once in a while is fine but multiple times on a daily basis really makes me question the integrity of some folks. If this is being done so out-in-the-open, one has to wonder what the ministries and academic practices of these folks looks like in private! Are they doing the same sorts of things in their sermons, lessons, lectures, papers, etc.? Furthermore, we already have feed aggregates like Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader and the Biblioblogs site, thus, these content-stealing blogs are simply not needed!

So, I guess I am suggesting that for those of you who are daily copying and re-posting the content of others, please quit it. Write your own material! Come up with your own material! There is something ethically problematic about simply copying someone else's work and posting it on your own site in full, even if you do provide a hyperlink somewhere back to the original content. To be clear, I'm not saying that you should never cite anyone's work on your blog. Again, do what you like, it is your blog! But I am suggesting that things should be done here in a way similar to what is done in the professional world: Cite the author, but realize that there is a point when too much citation simply becomes plagiarism and the stealing of intellectual property! There is a reason that the majority of blogs have "comment" features! If you want to interact with someone's post, don't simply copy and re-post it on your own blog. No, go to their blog and interact! And if you want to write response posts, fine but don't co-opt all of the material.

Again, you (and the rest of us) know who you are. Raise your standards and create your own content (if you have the capabilities). Give credit where credit is due. And for goodness' sake, if you're going to try to pass as a Bible or theology blog, write some freakin' stuff on the Bible or theology (that's your own!).

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