Arianna Huffington's Scuzzy Copying Pisses Off Chicagoans

Arianna Huffington may have raised $25 million last month, but with her traffic tanking post-election, the Huffington Post publisher is clinging to old desperation tactics. Like straight jacking other people's content.

Leading a determined push into local markets is HuffPo's new Chicago edition.

And seeding HuffPo Chicago is a scheme whereby the publication takes some — in many cases all — of the content from another site, with a link back to the original.

The result is quick and easy traffic for the new Chicago edition, since the publication ends up catching some Google searches for keywords contained in the (Chicago-related) articles it takes. HuffPo already has good Google PageRank, so its own version of the content floats to the top of the results, even though it was not the original source.

HuffPo's justification, at least when the publication was pulling this crap with us, taking the entirety of our RSS feeds, was that the reprinted posts were good promotion, since they included (a totally buried) backlink to the original content on our site. Please.

The Chicago Reader — which along with The Onion's Decider and Time Out Chicago is being appropriated by HuffPo — isn't having any of this. It published two posts entitled "Grand Theft HuffPo" railing against the tactics:

They're still taking other people's content, in my non-expert but reasonably well-informed opinion well outside the bounds of fair use—so that they can get more pageviews and SEO advantages for themselves by taking the entirety of other people's work. They're taking all of it. Real people—my colleagues—wrote those.

...You want to do a post that says, "According to Jessica Hopper, Bon Iver rules, check 'em out, go here for the info," fine. But taking an entire concert preview is bush league.

HuffPo continues to do this with non-Chicago publications it's been copying from for some time. Like the Times, for example, where it will take the first several paragraphs, adding no commentary, just a link back to the original.

In the wake of the election, HuffPo has a stronger contributors and better brand cachet than probably at any point in its history. It is respect on the national stage. But it only undermines that reputation by continuing to act like a grubby, Google-spamming AdSense scammer when it copies other people's content — while adding no value — like this.

But then self-defeating behavior seems to have been part of the Huffington Post's DNA from the beginning.