Original post by YOU and software by Elliott Back

March 4th, 2007

If you have a blog you’ve probably seen some of your posts appropriated by splogs and tagged with the line Original post by YOU and software by Elliott Back. Mr. Back has been widely condemned as a splogger, but he’s not. While a student at Cornell he wrote AutoBlog, a syndication plugin for WordPress.

“Have you ever wanted to automatically post to your WordPress blog from an RSS, ATOM, or other XML feed? Have you wanted to preserve categories, give proper author attribution, do find and replace, caching, and publish excerpts or full feeds? If you want to republish or aggregate online feeds, then this plugin is for you.” (source)

Elliott recognized that it was a tool that could be abused as well as used.

“This plugin is potentially dangerous: it converts XML into WordPress posts. It could be used to run an aggregator site, or it might be used by spammers to push high-profit keywords into their blogs. I’m not sure if writing a WordPress plugin to automatically post from RSS will enable spammers a “5-minute” spam blog installation or not.”

It’s particularly attractive for sploggers because a stolen posts often does double duty — the post is added to the splog and also links back to the original post, which can result in a comment or trackback pointing back to the splog.

Searching for posts with the telltale string “software by Elliott Back” yields 422K on Technorati and 194K on Google blog search.

So, a lot of sploggers are probably using this, right? Looking at the frequency of postings, I’d guess that there is one that accounts for about half of the posts. Consider this Blogpulse trend search showing the posts with the string in the last six months.

six months of "software by Elliott Back" posts

The trend is up, but the curve is quite jagged. Looking at the last two months shows a strong cycle with a one week period.

two months of "software by Elliott Back" posts

A possible explanation for this cycle is that there is one splogger with a large splog farm set up to post once a week.