Jun 26, 2009


I have a twitter account. (Twitter.com/lepamplemousse, if you wanted to know.) The other day, I asked this: Anyone have any tips on how to encourage your boyfriend to start drawing a webcomic? We have yet to start ours, and I'm getting frustrated.

Do you see, in that twit, "@answers" anywhere at all? No? Me neither. But apparently Mahalo.com saw that and decided it was time to post my question to its own site... using some kind of bot (scraper, I guess it's called) with my twitter account name, unbeknownst to me, of course. A few days later, I was receiving mysterious tweets from some user called "Answers," all of which included about half a sentence and a link. Upon clicking the link, I discovered what Mahalo had done. I posted another tweet :
@answers What the heck? You took my question and posted it to Mahalo, even going so far as to use my Twitter account name?!?!

Obviously, the same scraper took the question and posted it, thinking it was legit. Some real users answered me, asking if I'd had a problem or what had happened. One even went so far as to say that I shouldn't have posed my original question to @answers if I didn't want them to respond. Apparently, they don't know how this site works.

Anyway, I posted a couple more responses, not even questions, on twitter, all directed to @answers. Moments later, I saw some more @replies. I tried to look at the links, but what do you know, "Page not found." Mahalo noticed me complaining and took MY words off of THEIR site.

I know it seems like a silly thing to get worked up about, but what if it hadn't been just a little tweet? What if it had been this blog entry? Or an essay posted to Turnitin.com? How far are these scraper sites willing to go?

I seriously hope that Mahalo and other sites like it either get taken off the internet or get a total rehaul so that they won't take unsuspecting people's words away from them anymore.

p.s. If you really feel like annoying someone, tweet a million things to @answers, just random stuff. Okay, so it's not very mature, and probably not a good idea, but part of me almost wants to do it anyway. (I probably won't.)

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