HuffPost trims aggregated post after The Verge complains

Miles to go…
The Huffington Post aggregated a Verge enterprise feature on videogame arcades, reproducing the first 239 words of Laura June’s Jan. 16 story and directing readers to it via a prominent link on Jan. 21.

That doesn’t seem to be the point of friction between the two news orgs, if I’m reading this reconstruction of the feud correctly: Verge Editor-in-Chief Joshua Topolsky lays into HuffPost for “its theft of our SEO on title and text.”

Huffington Post Communications Director Rhoades Alderson tells Poynter his news organization calls such posts “linkouts,” and passes along some words he sent to The Verge.

We posted a paragraph from your 7,700 word story in order to encourage our readers to read it at The Verge. There were no SEO efforts made. Since The Verge feels the paragraph was too much of an excerpt, we’re reducing the length as a courtesy.

A spokesperson for Vox Media, which owns The Verge, said the company has “nothing more to add.”

It sometimes seems as though aggregation is a settled issue, especially among digital-native publications like those two. But this flareup is a reminder that this form of journalism is still the Wild West. Over-aggregation: Everyone seems to agree that’s bad, even though there’s no standard for it. Burying credit: No one likes that. Simon Dumenco and Maria Popova proposed standardizing aggregation practices last year, a suggestion that mostly received hoots. HuffPost Executive Tech Editor Bianca Bosker told Topolsky on Twitter that the link was meant to “drive traffic/readers to The Verge.”

I doubt we’ll ever have anything more than tacit standards for this stuff, but casting aggregation as an act of generosity skips over the fact that, over time, sites that do it hope more benefit accrues to aggregator than aggregatee.

Alderson also passed along a link to a Verge post, published today,
that aggregates a long HuffPost story written by…Bianca Bosker.

Previously: Chat: Can we agree about aggregation standards? | The seven steps to a successful aggregation strategy for your news organization

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  • http://www.jimmydaly.com/ Jimmy Daly

    Curation is an important and completely fair way to create web content but I do feel that HuffPo took it a step too far in this case. A key ingredient to tasteful curation is adding context or perspective to the source. As for the SEO, HuffPo could have at least changed the title. They are leveraging their size and power to compete in search. Is it legal? Sure. Is it ethical? Borderline.