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  1. #1
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Good?, Bad? or Grey Area?
    A friend and I were having a discussion about whether or not it would be ok for a website to use another websites "description" tag information to describe that website.

    For example.

    Site A is an affiliate for site B.

    Site A places a link to site B and uses site B's meta description to describe site B's website (to provide information about it with the link)

    I don't see the harm in it, and neither did they since that information is placed there for the search engines/robots to query and display so that people know what the site is about.

    I was just curious what other peoples opinions on this might be.
    ~Michelle
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    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  2. #2
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    ~Michelle - Site A places a link to site B and uses site B's meta description to describe site B's website
    IMHO, meta descriptions are hidden text, and should not be used by affiliates for linking or description of a merchant site without his authorization.

    Most of the time, the merchant provides his own description in the network links or on his "about page" or you can come up with your own.

  3. #3
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I use paraphrased info from the about us page also. Or, if I know rthe vendor, I ask them to write their own that fits with the theme of the site I'm publishing it on...
    Kevin Webster
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  4. #4
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Zeus... I see that side of the coin also.

    On one hand, yes, the code is hidden, but it is placed there to be parsed and displayed on other sites. So, technically speaking, is there really a difference between a bot parsing that info and a human parsing that info if they are both using it for basically the same purpose - which is to promote said website on another website?
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  5. #5
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    I understand you, but where's the limit? Meta descriptions are quite often part of a SEO strategy and to have the same description, ... title than others is never too good to rank well.

  6. #6
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    If the other site isn't using it IN their meta tags, only on the page as a description of the said site that wouldn't mess with the said sites SEO much at all though...
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  7. #7
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    It's still the same text even if it's used to describe the site and not as a meta tag. I don't know exactly the effect. Google is so touchy now.

  8. #8
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    Kinda the same thing as scraper sites profiting from stealing our descriptions to their own benifit...

    IMHO....
    Ebudae


  9. #9
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I don't know about what other merchants would think of it. Personally I wouldn't have a problem with it (as a merchant...not talking about the scraper sites here) unless I thought it'd mess with my SEO (and I don't know if it would or not), but...

    Merchants often have lousy meta data, that wouldn't help conversions at all. On GB, for instance, the description is generated by the cart. I checked a page due to this thread, and:

    Quote Originally Posted by GoodBulbs Lilies-section Index Page, meta description tag
    Good Bulbs : Lilies - Garden Flowers by Color Tulips Daffodils Accessories Lilies Bulb Vegetables tulips, bulbs, Holland, Netherlands, flowering, shop, online shopping
    Yeesh Anti-SEO and anticonversionary, too...
    That's its standard dynamically generated taggage. Looks like it just went down my Categories list and then chucked in a few "overall" keywords I must have specified at some earlier time. And yeah, that's what it came up with for the "description" tag!

    So...
    Even if your merchant says you "can" use it, whether you'd WANT to is another story! I wouldn't intentionally put that mashage on a page for all the tea in China!

    Thanks a load. Now I'll be bugged by that until I figure out how to change it...and nothing's easy to change on ZenCart... (I'd been told the metas sucked before, but I hadn't thought they'd be *that* bad...)

    *Checks their forum*
    Shock! *Falls over* An answer appeared--without tons of digging!
    Not quite the one I was looking for, but I should be able to get it as good as a webmerge page, at least, and perhaps without tearing all my hair out.
    Last edited by Leader; March 27th, 2006 at 04:26 PM. Reason: Clarification
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  10. #10
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    I know if I were a merchant I think I would rather people use the description I have provided in my meta tag rather than hodge-podge something together.

    I have checked a lot of my back links and some of the descriptions people write for my site are WAY off. *LOL*

    I agree that some of the merchants own descriptions are pathetic and many don't even use one.

    Trust... ZenCart does the same with the site I set up using it too. It works ok for that site though....
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  11. #11
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Well it's a (C) infringement, that part ain't grey, nor good.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  12. #12
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    You're correct there Haiko, and I did point that out to my friend and they just couldn't seem to wrap their mind around the fact the even though those terms are there for others to use to decribe the website that copyright would apply since it was part of the html code written by them.

    I can see where their confusion comes from though. Basically it is a case of if it is put there for bot's to gather up and display so people know what the site is about prior to going there, then what would be different if they are doing the same thing.

    I just thought this was an interesting topic and I am glad to see the variety of responses.
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  13. #13
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    I wouldn't use any part of another site without written permission from the site owner or other responble party, including meta tags. Otherwise it's infringement - or could be considered to be.

    And no, the meta description tag is in no way hidden text of any kind. In fact, some search engines* will use the meta description, or part of it, on their search results pages.

    *That includes Google, Yahoo and MSN Search.

  14. #14
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    In fact, some search engines will use the meta description, or part of it, on their search results pages.
    Exactly! That is what confused my friend.

    Since they were not trying to divert traffic from the said website, but instead directing traffic to the said website by providing the description along with the link (just like a search engine) they reasoned that it may be covered by fair use and at the least the merchant would have to be crazy to get ticked since it was for their benefit. I gave them a few links to go read up on all of that.

    Their next comment was... "What if I set up the site so it was formatted like a search engine? Would it then be ok?" and "If it isn't copyright infringement for a search engine to display that information, the why IS it for anyone else?"
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  15. #15
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    The difference in "permission" is that we can prevent search engines from fetching our pages by using robots.txt or the robots meta tag but that doesn't work with people. And it would look very tacky if two sites showed up with the identical snippet.

    Besides, nowadays the less any page appears to be a duplicate of any other, the better, to avoid Supplemental hell. They look for "fingerprints" on pages when checking for duplicates and the more that's unique the better, especially at the beginning of the code - like the meta description.

    BTW, when some woman (client from hell who I fired) was swiping text off 2 sites of mine and I complained to her about it, she wrote back saying I was stupid, that putting any web page out there is like standing naked on Hollywood Blvd. and then complaining that people could see my heiny.

  16. #16
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Trust... ZenCart does the same with the site I set up using it too. It works ok for that site though....
    I don't remember changing my screenname to "Trust"...
    That was me complaining about Zen's metatag generation.

  17. #17
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    I don't remember changing my screenname to "Trust"...
    That was me complaining about Zen's metatag generation.

    Whoops! Sorry 'bout that!
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    The difference in "permission" is that we can prevent search engines from fetching our pages by using robots.txt or the robots meta tag but that doesn't work with people. And it would look very tacky if two sites showed up with the identical snippet.
    That is IF the bot uses the robots.txt or robots meta tag and abides with your wishes.

    I am in the middle of a project that deals with this -- in fact I have talked to a few of you. And also in the process of talking to a lawyer.

    My question is, how does Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and other large search engines legally use websites in their search results??? In fact, some site displays a small pic of the page (thought it was Ask - but might be wrong).

    Does it come down to $ -- SE's do not directly profit from the data on the search results ??

  19. #19
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Kend- In essence, we write our meta info FOR the search engines, so there's an "expectation" that the info will be reproduced there. Of course, you can always ask to be delisted
    Kevin Webster
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  20. #20
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    Noth --

    Oh, I understand that but in the strictest sence, how does a search engine company justify what they are doing.

    Now, dont get me wrong -- Im not going to write them and ask to be taken out of there index, hehe But how do they get around the copyright law? This was just something Ive always been curious about.

    Kend

  21. #21
    Just 'N' Affiliate Naffiliate's Avatar
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    friend or no friend, using their meta tags is WRONG!!!! there have been cases filed, and it's just the beginning.

    ANY TIME YOU ARE TRYING TO MANIPULATE- STEAL - DUPE- FRAUD- HIDE- it's wrong, and many times illegal.

    Just because he's your "friend" does that give you the right to stick your hand in his pocket and take money from him? (because you have "permission" to?)

    Use to be that you needed to keep a close eye on your enemies, now friends too...
    Getting There Is Half The Fun! Staying There Is Half The Battle!

  22. #22
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    My question is, how does Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and other large search engines legally use websites in their search results???
    It can be considered fair use, which is acceptable under copyright law. It's a small portion of text, well under 3-4 sentences, and is properly attributed by linking to the source of the text.

    http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyrigh...er9/index.html

  23. #23
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Ummmm... What in the sam hill are you ranting about?

    No one used anything.





    Quote Originally Posted by Naffiliate
    friend or no friend, using their meta tags is WRONG!!!! there have been cases filed, and it's just the beginning.

    ANY TIME YOU ARE TRYING TO MANIPULATE- STEAL - DUPE- FRAUD- HIDE- it's wrong, and many times illegal.

    Just because he's your "friend" does that give you the right to stick your hand in his pocket and take money from him? (because you have "permission" to?)

    Use to be that you needed to keep a close eye on your enemies, now friends too...
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  24. #24
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webworker
    It can be considered fair use, which is acceptable under copyright law. It's a small portion of text, well under 3-4 sentences, and is properly attributed by linking to the source of the text.

    http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyrigh...er9/index.html

    If you use the Four Factors that are used when considering Fair Use, it very well could be considered that.

    1. the purpose and character of your use
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.
    1) The purpose would be to describe the nature of the merchants business in their own words so that a potential customer would be interested and end up at the merchants site & hopefully become a customer.

    2) The nature of the work is factual & published, so those facts/information do benefit the public.

    3) Most meta descriptions are one or 2 sentences in length and are a part of a much larger work. When you apply 'less is more' it is likely those couple of line will fall under fair use.

    4) The effect of the use upon the potential market is IN FAVOR OF THE MERCHANT. The whole point would be to send them potentially new customers by peaking the consumers interest with that snippet of text.

    To make myself more clear, we weren't taking about using the merchants meta tag description as a meta tag description on another webpage. Instead we were talking about using it the meta description taken from the merchants webpage/search engine listings and incorporating that description into the text of another webpage to drive more traffic to that merchant.


    It would be interesting to hear some merchants take on this subject.
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  25. #25
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    I would wonder more on why use theirs? Unless you are scraping it, at least rewrite it so that it is unique.

    And there is no penalty for metadescriptions or metatitles, they are fields that should have data in them.

    Chet

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