Paraphrasing/Rewriting vs. Aggregation

Simon Dumenco wrote this column for AdAge last month about the Twitter trending popularity of Apple’s WWDC announcements vs. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s weenie-pic scandal. It got picked up by Techmeme, and then by the Huffington Post:

HuffPo’s aggregation, titled “Anthony Weiner vs. Steve Jobs: Who Won On Twitter?”, consisted of basically a short but thorough paraphrasing/rewriting of the Ad Age post — using the same set-up (i.e., pointing out that Apple had the misfortune of presenting its latest round of big announcements on the same day Weiner resigned from Congress) and the bulk of the data presented in the original Ad Age piece. HuffPo closed out its post with “See more stats from Ad Age here” — a disingenuous link, because HuffPo had already cherrypicked all the essential content. HuffPo clearly wanted readers to stay on its site instead of clicking through to AdAge.com.

So what does Google Analytics for AdAge.com tell us? Techmeme drove 746 page views to our original item. HuffPo — which of course is vastly bigger than Techmeme — drove 57 page views.

As Gabe Rivera (the guy behind Techmeme) argues here, Dumenco has an interesting comparison here, and his main point is absolutely spot on: there is no ancillary benefit to having a massive site like Huffington Post rewrite your story, even if they include a link, because almost none of their readers click such links. They’re stealing attention.

But Dumenco shouldn’t be calling what The Huffington Post did (and does, all day, every day) “aggregation”. Paraphrasing/rewriting is not aggregation.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

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