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Feb 7 / King Kaufman

Aggregation: Twitter row highlights the good and the bad

Henry Blodget, editor and CEO of the Business Insider, posted a big ol’ thank you to aggregators on the site yesterday.

“Thank You For Aggregating Us!” reads the headline, with Blodget going on to credit aggregators for helping his site grow to its current healthy size, with more than 23 million unique readers a month.

“We occasionally hear other media organizations speak ill of such ‘aggregation,’ as though it’s some sort of a bad thing,” Blodget writes. “This has always been mystifying to us.”

Blodget didn’t write this in a vacuum, of course. The post comes a day after he got into a little Twitter tiff, though a polite one, with Brian Morrissey, editor-in-chief of Digiday, who had objected to the way the Business Insider had aggregated a Digiday story.

It’s worth reading the Storify of their conversation because it’s clear the two men have very different philosophies about the value of aggregated content, and they each state them a few different times, but I think the conversation can be boiled down thusly:

Back on Blodget’s post, he writes that all aggregation isn’t created equal:

Now, to be clear, there are good and bad forms of aggregation, and we’re certainly not in favor of the latter. If another site completely rewrites one of our stories and doesn’t credit or link to us, we get frustrated. Our policy here is to use others’ work the way we want our own work used–which is usually to say, “provide full credit with our names and a link” or just “direct-link.”

At, Jeff Sonderman, writing about this dustup, argues that “good” aggregation means adding something to the conversation, not just copying and pasting.

Does the aggregation replace the need to read the original piece or stimulate the desire to read the original?

This is the difference between aggregation that’s a straight rip-off of content and SEO juice, versus aggregation that is really more of a “yes, and …” conversation extender.

Healthy aggregation implies to the reader, “go read this original post first, then come back to hear what else I have to say about it.”

At Bleacher Report, we agree with this, and while we’re adamant about attributing everything picked up from another site, we also don’t want B/R writers to simply repeat information, but rather to give opinion and analysis around it, to interpret the news rather than just copy it.

Blodget offered not to write about Digiday stories in the future, but Morrissey is probably’s fighting an uphill battle. Aggregation is a fact of life, and while it’s only become a buzzword and a bone of contention in the last few years, it’s nothing new.