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How do I get my URL out of the wrong hands?
July 18, 2013 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Someone snagged my old Blogger URL and made it live again and is using it to post lousy marketing copy, mostly, it seems, to generate some income for Google ads. The problem is - the URL is my totally unique professional name. So, if someone were to search for my name, they would find my old blog, filled with some else's crap content.

I blogged for six or seven years. My URL was my totally unique (no one else in the world has the same name) and professional writing name, with "dot blogspot dot com" on the end.

For a number of reasons, I deleted my blog last year. So, I no longer have that URL to access at all. A number of bloggers had linked to my blog back when it was up and running, so it had some (so, so minor) ranking. Now I really regret deleting it: someone snagged the URL and made it live again and is using it to post lousy marketing copy. So, if someone were to search for my name, they would find my old blog, filled with some else's crap content and my name in a huge font as the header.

Luckily, the content is signed at the end of each post. I LinkedIn-stalked and Facebook-stalked the current writer and contacted her to tell her she was effectively squatting on my writing identity. My name is in big letters above all of her lousy content and the URL is my name.

She claims to not know how it happened, and she says she did not understand what I was asking when I asked her to delete the URL. I can't tell if she is really clueless or conning me. She said it might be an issue of accidental "cross-indexing" and is now ignoring my emails.

I would like her to delete the blog so I can reclaim it, just to have the URL under my control again. Again, it’s not some marketing company name, it’s MY actual name. Which is not that new person's name. There is no logical reason for any company anywhere to use this URL. So, the whole thing is really weird.

I have filed requests with Google every month since last November, when this started, via their online forms for claims of identity theft, though it’s more like URL squatting. No one has ever gotten back to me. I am at a loss at what to do next. I could contact that woman again and tell her exactly what I want her to do in more detail, but I suspect she's hoping I just go away. I can keep contacting Google, but Blogger is no longer supported much by them and I think I am yelling into an empty room. I can start another URL with just "dot com" on the end, and fill it with my new content – but I hate having this other thing attached to me.

Any suggestions on what to do would be so greatly appreciated! If Google is just never going to help me, what else can I do?
posted by Ink-stained wretch to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
 
Meh.

Register yourname.com, put some basic biography type stuff on it, and link from your LinkedIn profile.

People googling around for you will not put much faith in a .blogspot.com spammy-looking thing.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:18 PM on July 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Serious question: if you log into Blogger, do you have access to the blog? It was my understanding that even if you delete a blog the URL is never available to anyone else (to avoid situations like these, for example), so is it possible that this person somehow gained access to your Google account?
posted by telegraph at 12:24 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Telegraph - no, I do not have access to it and if I try to type it in to claim it or launch it, I am told that the URL is not available [aka, being used by someone else]. So I assume it was grabbed in some defunct blog sweep.

Sparklemotion - thanks. I am doing that, too. You are right. It is just SO galling.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 12:35 PM on July 18, 2013


My former blog also recently came back to life in the hands of spammy marketers, but now it's gone away again. I didn't do anything, but it seems like Google might be having some weirdnesses with their system.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:43 PM on July 18, 2013


She's not really clueless, she's a spammer who is playing dumb to make you go away. You say you've reported her using the forms for "identity theft," do you mean you've used the form that is specifically about impersonation on Blogger? If so, you might also try reporting the blog for spam and encouraging others to do the same, it's possible the spam police are more active (or automated) than the impersonation police.

If it's really important to you and you don't have a big ethical problem with giving money to sleazeballs, you could offer her payment to relinquish the name. She's not making much on what is probably one in a large fleet of spammy crapblogs, so I would make an offer to vacate that is just large enough to be interesting, say $100. I would be civil and not accuse her of identity theft or anything of the sort, and be clear that I was not interested in negotiating a higher price.

"Dear Spammer,

I see that you are the current holder of my old Blogger subdomain at myname.blogspot.com. I'd like to have it back and would be willing to offer you the sum of $100 in exchange for ownership of the account. I will place the money into an escrow account, payable once myname.blogspot.com is back under my control (you will provide me with the password for the account and I will log in and change it.) Please get in touch only if you're willing to do the transaction just as I've described, I'm not interested enough in this to go higher than $100."
posted by contraption at 12:56 PM on July 18, 2013


It was my understanding that even if you delete a blog the URL is never available to anyone else

It was quite a few years ago now, but my blogspot URL was definitely taken over by another user when I deleted my blog there.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:42 PM on July 18, 2013


how sure are you that the person you contacted is actually responsible for the new blog? just because their name appears below the posts means about as much as your name appearing above them in the header.
posted by russm at 2:56 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I contacted her, she responded that we must have our two blogs "cross-indexed," which I do not think can happen, as mine had to be actively reinstated. Someone could have scraped her content into it, which was my first guess, but I have run Copyscape searches and the content is not duplicated anywhere else, aka it's live on only on 'my' blog and not on any of the many other marketing blogs she owns or anywhere else.

I asked her if she or someone else with whom she worked was placing that content under my URL, and she never responded. I don't have to take her silence as an indication of guilt, but that's where I am.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 3:51 PM on July 18, 2013


You said you've filed requests via Google's online forms.
Is that via the "Report Abuse" page?
If you log in to Blogger/Google and go here ...

https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/76315?hl=en&id=812559&url=http://[SUBOUTYOUROLDBLOGURLHERE].blogspot.com/

... there are links to specifically report spam/phishing/malware and impersonation.

Sorry if that's what you're already doing. I like contraption's idea of having all your friends report the blog as spam, but I'm evil that way.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 4:06 PM on July 18, 2013


I have prosecuted cybersquatting claims. I question whether or not you have any sort of legal entitlement. I think the Blogger TOS agreement is going to be key here. You may have relinquished any sort of property rights in the X.blogger.com subdomain name. The argument that you have a right to inkstained.com is much better than the argument that you have a right to inkstained.blogger.com. While I have not read the Blogger TOS on this issue, I suspect that x.blogger.com is their property, not yours. I do see that "Unfortunately, Blogger is not in a position to determine ownership of nicknames, handles, or screen names." I think that is exactly what you want them to determine.

I know you haven't asked about legal issues, but I am just looking ahead to the question of "what do I do if Google keeps ignoring me." The answer might be that they ignore you because they can.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:11 PM on July 18, 2013


IANAL, but if the rest of these suggestions don't work, it seems like you should investigate registering a trade or service mark for the name and then have a lawyer send a cease & desist. Trademark infringement claims are probably going to be harder for the squatter and/or Google to ignore.

This, of course, will likely cost money, so you'll need to decide whether or not it's worth it to you.
posted by Aleyn at 5:13 PM on July 18, 2013


I think the answer here is just to get stuff on search engines that aren't your old blog. I mean, the way to control it was to maintain it as a blank page or redirect to your .com or whatever -- and you relinquished control. That's just the way it works.

I notice that my former .nu blog domain, which I relinquished about ten years ago, still shows up on page 3 of a search for my name (within those results, things related to me are the vast majority). It's pretty easy to establish a basic page on various social media like LinkedIn, Pinterest, and so forth, even if you have little use for them beyond placeholding. Google Plus is an especially useful one because obviously it folds right in to Google search results.

People understand that there is stuff on the web with the same name and isn't related. At least, one would hope that they do.

BTW, it's virtually impossible to enforce a trademark claim on a subdomain, and very difficult if you are using a common phrase (if, as implied, we're talking about "ink stained wretch" here).

I really suggest you just move on. Spammer grab domains and subdomains that had been in use precisely because they show up in search results -- it's how they make money. Either you head them off at the pass, or you work around them, because there's no rolling back the clock.
posted by dhartung at 12:07 AM on July 19, 2013


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