When Matt Cutts speaks, people listen. As one of Google’s most influential figures, Cutts has a loyal following that hangs on his every word. Unfortunately for him, this doesn’t always work out so well, as a recent tweet demonstrated.
Cutts took to Twitter yesterday to announce the launch of a new reporting tool designed to make it easier for site and content owners to flag instances when scraped material is ranking higher than the content’s source. For many site owners and content producers, this was welcomed as a step in the right direction. However, for Cutts, the backlash was swift.
Dan Barker was quick to point out that Google’s own Knowledge Graph is the biggest content scraper on the web. To add insult to injury, Barker included an image of a Google Knowledge Graph SERP for the term “scraper site,” complete with two very helpful purple arrows highlighting that the Knowledge Graph definition was scraped directly from Wikipedia.
Barker’s example was extremely “cutting” (sorry, couldn’t resist), as the definition reads, “A scraper site is a spam website that copies all of its content from other websites using web scraping. The purpose of such a site can be to collect advertising revenue…”
The irony was most definitely not lost on the web community. As of this morning, Barker’s response has been retweeted more than 13,000 times and favorited more than 11,000 times. Of course, even though I was the first person to retweet Barker’s biting reply, I can’t take all the credit – but Dan did send me a note this morning thanking me for the retweet. No doubt he’ll take the time to do that for each and every person who retweeted him.
The incident wasn’t limited to the confines of Twitter, either. Predictably, it’s currently the most upvoted story on Inbound.org, and will no doubt continue to embarrass Matt Cutts for the next several days.
What do you think? Was Barker too harsh, or was it all in good fun?