Sys-Con status update: a minor victory and next steps
Summary: Sys-Con Media's ulitzer.com was delisted from Google yesterday but their sys-con.com domain (with duplicate content and articles that feature keyword stuffing) is still being indexed. IBM is looking into their relationship with Sys-Con. Google News has stopped syndicating the libelous Sys-Con articles about me.
The campaign to boycott Sys-Con, which started with My Sys-Con Nightmare, won a mini victory yesterday as Sys-Con was dealt a blow by Google: their ulitzer.com domain was delisted from Google Search results (test it out).
Michael Arrington brought the Sys-Con issue to Matt Cutts' attention on Twitter after being alerted himself by Patrick Mandia. Matt Cutts, as many of you know, heads Google's webspam team. Not only that but he was also one of a large number of author/victims of Sys-Con who has had his identity misappropriated by Sys-Con. (Sys-Con removed his author's page this morning, in response to my tweets: here, here, here, and here).
Matt responded to Michael, stating that they (Google) "already took action on that site in April" but that they "can take a fresh look at it".
And a fresh look is exactly what they must have taken since sometime between lunchtime and early evening yesterday, Ulitzer.com disappeared from Google Search results.
Although this is encouraging, it's important to understand that Sys-Con has a full mirror of the content on ulitzer.com on their sys-con.com domain and that that domain is still being indexed by Google. The delisting of the ulitzer.com domain should result in a considerable drop in their traffic but there's still more to be done.
The two-headed hydra: Sys-Con.com = Ulitzer.com
Even though Google removed ulitzer.com from its search results (thank you, Matt, Google), Sys-Con's web presence is a two-headed hydra. All of the sites (and all the duplicate content) that was Ulitzer.com is also on Sys-Con.com.
So, for example, Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice-President at Microsoft, apparently writes for both Ulitzer.com (http://scottguthrie.ulitzer.com/) and Sys-Con.com (http://scottguthrie.sys-con.com/)
Sys-Con.com and duplicate content
In case you find reading the same article at the same URL terribly boring – as Sys-Con apparently assumes you would – you can find hundreds of copies of the article that Scott apparently wrote for Sys-Con at a number of URLs: http://scottguthrie.sys-con.com/node/439215, http://dotnet.sys-con.com/node/439215, http://iphone.sys-con.com/node/439215, http://flex.sys-con.com/node/439215, http://soa.sys-con.com/node/439215, etc., etc., etc.
Just how many subdomains can you find the same, duplicated content on? To find out, I wrote a bit more Python today and – knowing all I know about Sys-Con – even I was shocked: exactly 437 copies on Sys-Con.com alone. Add the Ulitzer.com domain to the mix and the total comes out to double at 872. So the Sys-Con.com domain alone is spamming Google with 437 copies of every article in its system. Read more about how Sys-Con.com is spamming Google with duplicate content here.
Duplicate content is against Googles Terms and Conditions. As such, I hope to see Sys-Con.com also deindexed from Google's search results. This will hopefully mean that by the same reason ulitzer.com was delisted from Google, Sys-Con.com will be also.
Sys-Con.com and keyword stuffing
Beyond duplicate content, Sys-Con also regularly engages in yet another spam practice that is against Google's Terms and Conditions: keyword stuffing.
Check out the following articles for example, stuffed full of lists of names, companies, etc. This one is from way back in 2002: http://dotnet.sys-con.com/node/35588 and, in the seven years since, they've been stuffing those babies full of keywords (here's one from 2009: http://dotnet.sys-con.com/node/993446). To see a whole list of keyword stuffed articles from Sys-Con, see this sample search: http://dotnet.sys-con.com/search?s=conference
So why is Sys-Con.com still on Google?
I'm very happy to see Google take an interest in this. Removing ulitzer.com from their search results was a great first step but a carbon copy mirror of ulitzer.com still exists on the web in the form of sys-con.com. Sys-Con.com blatantly contravenes two major points of Google's terms and conditions, either of which would warrant delisting: it has tons and tons of duplicate content (in fact, the whole system is built to spam Google with duplicate content – content that they don't always have the rights to publish even – and profit from ad revenue), and it has heaps of articles that use keyword stuffing.
I hope one day we'll wake up to see "no results" for a site:sys-con.com search on Google.
In other news, we've gotten word that IBM is looking into its relationship with Sys-Con. Also, Google News has removed the libelous Sys-Con articles about me that they were previously syndicating.
Thank you all again for your support.
Note: All URLs to Sys-Con in this post have rel="nofollow" on them so they're not getting any Google Juice from this. What additional advertising revenue they get from your clicks should be more than compensated for when they eventually get completely delisted from Google.
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