Content_ed - 7:57 pm on Jan 1, 2012 (gmt 0)
your rewritten content can always be copied and duplicated again
Yes, but remember, it never mattered pre-Panda. I think there's a good chance that the duplicate content part of Panda was a one-off, a reset for their approach that tagged a lot of sites they previously considered authoritative as possible copies. The small sites I'm familiar with that really believe offsite copying is what killed them all got hit in Panda 1.0. So rewrites might be a permanent fix. If it's not the case, it still gives me a head start that with DMCA Dashboard, should allow me to control the problem in the future for the pages that proved the most attractive to thieves.
What a terrible waste of time if we're simply rewording things that were scraped
I don't believe simple scraping causes problems, it's the full page thefts with minor changes and the mash-ups using paragraphs on the same subject from different sites with minor tweaks to try to appear original. I think of scrapers as sites that just take two sentences from lots of pages for a couple keywords and include NOFOLLOWED links, I doubt they hurt anything.
Doesn't this mean that it is actually a bad thing to go viral with content, for fear that your material will be found all over the web?
I had a viral experience a couple years ago that did turn out to be bad for my site. So many of the people who get excited about viral stuff link to the sites that make the "find", like Huffington Post or BoingBoing, rather than linking directly to the site that originated the content. After a page on my site that had dominated search for a very general term for six years went viral, it faded away over the next few months for that term, never came back, and lost quite a bit of taffic. So while going viral is great if you're on your way up, I think it hurts in the long run if you're already at the top.