Fools and crawlers rush in
We were somewhat startled recently when a friend saw his house advertised for sale for a few hundred pounds the other day on the internet. Not only had he no intention to sell, but he would have been minded to ask for something in the region of three million pounds for his grand country house.
It happened because one of these awful website 'Aggregators' fell upon the F&DLHS website, and came across the newspaper archive, thinking it was a contemporary newspaper. It then proceeded to scoop up all the 'Houses For Sale' items that we put in from the eighteenth or nineteenth century. It then re-advertised them on its own site, thinking they were current. We have put old 'For Sale' items from the past in the newspaper archives because they often contain fascinating descriptions of houses with information that cannot be gleaned elsewhere. We had no intention to embarrass the current owners.
People who are looking for local historical information often type in the name of the parish. If they do this in Google, the first page or so of listings are CyberSquatters who try to pretend that they know the hotels, houses-for-sale, plumbers or Taxis in the area. These sites consist of nothing more than a web crawler, possibly based in a different part of the world that sneaks into other real sites and steals their content. In our case, the site was exposed for what it was, a robber on the information highway. One day, one hopes, Google will find a way of kicking out these nuisance sites and allow their users to go straight to the useful information. The signs are there, as our site is now the first that appears when one types 'Foxearth' into Google's search.