paper.li on twitter

Are we done with Paper.li yet?

As The Thing would say if he had been a blogger, “It’s complainin’ time.”

For the last year, all of us who use Twitter have seen posts that look like this:

“The CRAP I’M INTO SO YOU MUST BE INTO IT TOO Daily is out! bkt.ly/blahblahblah Top stories by: [Insert hapless Twitter followers who’ve had their content scraped here.]”

If you’ve clicked through on any of these links, you’ve seen a nicely designed page, full of stories credited to some people on Twitter.

The way this all works is, when you create one of these “dailies,” or weeklies or what have you, you tell paper.li to sift through your Twitter followers and post to this pretty page anything they post or tweet relating to a specific subject. If you want to create a “Star Trek” daily, anyone who posts a link with “Star Trek” in the destination, or tweet about “Star Trek,” will be placed in your daily.

Okay – useless explanation done. Onto the problem: Paper.li is a crutch for people who want to post to Twitter regularly, but don’t have enough to say themselves.

I really thought this trend would have burned out by now, as there are SO MANY people posting these things. Paper.li posts don’t provide any new information, and frankly if I really want to know what my friends are posting about Star Trek I’ll do a search to find out.

Some might argue it’s a way to cluster interesting nuggets together in an easily digestible format. I disagree. For one, you have to “luck” into these paper.li dailies when they hit someone’s Twitter feed. Maybe you could probably set up an alert for when they are published, but anyone willing to do that could also set up a Google Alert to find the same information.

No, Paper.li is not about providing useful content – it’s about getting around content. It let’s people abandon their social circle for a few days, but know that the hard work of creating posts is being taken care of by, effectively, a bot that scrapes RSS feeds.

I stop short of calling this¬†plagiarism because Paper.li does credit the original authors. The point with these posts is not to pass off someone else’s content as your own. The real problem is still posting other people’s content so you have something – anything – for your followers to see.

Let’s say I’m a stand-up comic, but I have no jokes. Would it be acceptable for me to perform George Carlin’s, “Ice Box Man” in my act, even if I credited him as the original author? If the Carlin estate went along with it, at least it would be legal. Still, as an audience member, wouldn’t you still feel kind of cheated?

If you’re as tired of this crap as I am, join me in doing something about it: Block paper.li from using your posts to help other people’s laziness, and remove yourself. It is simple to do. Just tweet:

@NewsCrier please stop mentions paper.li/stop-mentions.html

This will get you off of their system, and keep these posts from showing up in your menitons when you’re in one.

“But why would I want to keep from being mentioned?” I can hear you ask.

Well, it’s like #FollowFriday – no one really follows anyone on the basis of a #FollowFriday post. People just do this to let some of their followers know they are loved.

In the same way, mentioning people in a, “The WHO THE HELL CARES Daily is out” doesn’t promote the people mentioned in it. It’s actually designed to get those people who were mentioned to click on the paper.li link itself.

Getting this kind of mention doesn’t help grow your social circle as much as it fools you into giving paper.li – and the user who, again, is riding on the coat tails of whatever interesting stuff you shared – more traffic.

Let us all band together and end this cycle of content rehashing by removing ourselves from the paper.li roles.

And if we can’t all do that, let’s at least agree that these dailies are really pretty lame.