Blogger Matt Haughey was flummoxed by an e-mail he received last week, from someone named Alexey Semeney at a site called AtContent. "Hello!" the e-mail cheerily began. "My name is Alex and I'm writing you because your blog covers one of three topics — tech, blogging, or business." Semeney then offered to stock the shelves of Haughey's various web publications with content borrowed from a competitor, the venture-backed Silicon Valley periodical PandoDaily.
"PandoDaily is a finely written blog covering tech, blogging and business topics — the same as you do," Semeney continued. No dice. Relating the correspondence on Twitter, Haughey declared it "a terrible idea."
AtContent enables lazy aggregators to repost others' work via a simple widget. The content mill boasts a staff of eight — two Alexeys, two Dmitriys, and six people whose names end in "v." If they can't enhance your journalism, they'll at least juke your Google ranking.
Yet PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy says she doesn't have, nor want, a distribution deal with AtContent. At her behest, Semeney ceased promising early-bird specials on pilfered articles. But AtContent still has a vast trove of "shared" publications to choose from, mostly penned by authors you've never heard of. And Semeney still promises to grow an audience by 300 percent in 3 months. He also vows to help clients avoid plagiarism.