The Malaysiakini Google search blockage is bad for Malaysian bloggers. | Malaysian Sentinel : Malaysia's Politics from a Malaysian Citizen Blogger

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Malaysiakini Google search blockage is bad for Malaysian bloggers.

It is an open secret among Malaysian bloggers that in order to get yourself listed on the Malaysiakini blog list, you have to have a reference to Malaysiakini. Literally, you must have the word "Malaysiakini" listed within your posting in order for it to be listed. Malaysiakini employs a GOOGLE search which spiders through the net, looking for any mention of the word "Malaysiakini" and then when finding one, it creates a link-back to the article.

It is a good thing to be listed on the list whereby a blogger can see his hit counter strike the thousands within a short time-frame. This in turn creates revenue for the blogger either through ADSENSE or NUFFNANG adverts. Not bad, considering Malaysian bloggers are desperately trying to create reach for their article and make a buck along the way. In leans times like the ones we face now, any form of passive income is welcome and what better way to earn money then by writing? Malaysian bloggers need all the help they can get, for the channels for Malaysian bloggers to make a small profit from their blogs are limited, minute even. Malaysiakini has that ability to help and develop Malaysian bloggers who are on par with their fellow brothers/sisters bloggers of the world.

But in recent months, Malaysiakini has started pruning this list, blocking some articles from being listed. Apparently, some bloggers have wised up and added the word "Malaysiakini" in the title of their posting. This is prime area for the GOOGLE spider bot to search and almost guarantees a listing on the list. What you have then, are articles that have content which does not refer to any Malaysiakini article and borders on personal opinion or advert-post. The primary goal of the said blogger is to merely get listed, the content is secondary.

Like the moniker, a bad apple spoils the whole barrel, this has lead to this pruning exercise by the Malaysiakini administration staff. I can understand why the Malaysiakini administrators are doing this, it is mentioned in their advisory where they use the term "lazy blogging" yet I also see the harm that this form of pruning does.

I can think of two areas where Malaysiakini irks me the most.

(1) It goes against the very independent ideals of Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini strives to be an independent news portal for Malaysia. In fact, it is the only one of its kind for Malaysia. Yet, the very people that remain independent (bloggers) are restricted from having their articles appearing on their listing. Independent views constitute independent news even if it may be just an opinion because it can be news for some people.

Malaysiakini should encourage citizen reporting rather then mere referencing their own articles. Citizen Reporters are independent and they are not paid to write about the events happening around them. Their views showcase the actual grass-root feelings the people have towards the situations affecting Malaysia. Malaysiakini should open a channel whereby Malaysian bloggers can submit their RSS feeds and get listed on the Malaysiakini portal. Encourage responsible reporting and highlight bloggers who are contributing well. In time the bad apples will rot away and the good ones will remain fresh in the barrel.

(2) Isn't pruning Censorship?
Malaysiakini screams when the Malaysian government wants to introduce any form of control within the Malaysian blogosphere. Yet they practice a form of censorship on their own portal. By removing bloggers whom they deemed not worthy to be listed, Malaysiakini themselves are applying the very measure of control they so fervently speak against. By this act of pruning, Malaysiakini only allows those postings that are favorable to their own ideals and in turn stifle the only channel most Malaysian bloggers have to air their opinion. This very act by Malaysiakini leaves a bad taste in the mouth of this blogger.

My suggestion for Malaysiakini is simple - Malaysiakini should stop pruning the GOOGLE search results and instead encourage Malaysian bloggers to submit their RSS feeds to the portal.

The very nature of a portal works in this manner yet labeling oneself a portal and being a portal are two different things. If Malaysiakini calls itself a PORTAL than it should act like a portal. Portals collect information from different sources. In this case, Malaysiakini should source out Malaysian bloggers for Malaysian news and views. The only criterium for inclusion into the listing can be set by the administrators and Malaysian bloggers should submit based on the categories set by the Malaysiakini administrators.

We need portals like Malaysiakini in Malaysia where news is stifled and filtered by the current administration. We allow the current BN government to do the censorship and pruning of news but (please) Malaysiakini should not do it themselves. If you advocate freedom of expression then please practice it yourself.


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