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Meet Ned the Intern

Written by Ryan Ambrose  · March 30, 2009

My blog has a running gag called Ned the Intern. I’ve only made my ficticious intern more prominent lately, as I hope to start making viral videos with “him” next year. However, he started as a very real script. It’s a controversial bit of work called a news aggregator, and despite its less responsible uses, has helped me speed up the addition of content to my blog in a perfectly legitimate way.

Yes, I know that news aggregators like Ned the Intern are commonly used for copyright violations and autoblogging by lazy or unscrupulous people. But you can use them responsibly if you resist the temptation to join the dark side. Here’s how that works.

  • For certain types of sites, like current events, you can get a rapid selection of stories on which you can comment simply by setting up an aggregator and letting it put what it finds into your drafts folder.
  • Find a story you like, then DO NOT use anything your aggregator gives you but the link. The aggregators can only post what they see, which you’ll use as a quick way to review what it finds and nothing more. You are not using your aggregator to steal content, but to rapidly search for comment-worthy stories.
  • Then, you give your opinion of the story, and retain the link. This way, you’ve just written about something of interest to you, and are giving a one-way link to the source of the story. They don’t have their content stolen, and you get a faster blog post.
  • Never use this technique to exclusion. Commenting on the latest and greatest story of the day is great supplemental content, but you’ll have to write something from scratch sooner or later. Who knows, someone might like your stuff and link to you.

Despite their more sordid uses, news aggregators can be used in ways that don’t violate another person’s content copyright. Just don’t decide that because you can use them that way that you will.

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My name is Ryan Ambrose, and I’m one of the co-authors of Can I Make Big Money Online.

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