Out here in sunny California we have been enjoying a heatwave. Let me tell you how enjoyable 112 degrees can be. When you are floating on a raft it is actually quite pleasant. During the long weekend I had the good fortune to attend more than one barbecue and swim party. At one such event an acquaintance and I shared a laugh over how our conversations have changed.
We met around twenty years ago. Back then we talked about sports, girls and well sports and girls. Gradually this conversation evolved into what careers we hoped to enter and sports and girls. Slowly it moved from career dreams into actual jobs and sports and girls. Eventually we all got married and it evolved to include family/children, jobs, sports, politics and sometimes even girls. Although the truth is that now that we have daughters some of these conversations have changed radically.
Anyhoo, during this conversation we rambled onto the topic of blogging. He is not a blogger and says that he has never read one. Still he had some pretty strong opinions about it including the title of this post: Bloggers Are Plagiarists.
I surprised him by telling him that I have been blogging for more than three years and that the question of whether bloggers are plagiarists is interesting. I explained that I found it interesting for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was I wondered how he could say this without reading blogs. He didn’t really have an answer and I didn’t see a need to hammer him on this. But it didn’t change my interest in this.
See, I have been wondering about a particular issue for a while. It has to do with attribution and how much content one can use. In my earlier days of blogging I didn’t really think about this at all. I cut and paste as much as I felt like using and went about my business. Since then I have had more than a couple of occasions in which people took my own content and tried to pass it off as their own. It was more than irritating to see the lack of attribution.
When I refer to finding the topic of bloggers being plagiarists it interests me because I think that there are some gray areas. It is not about a hyperlink or deep linking because for me those are areas that have simple answers.
And it is more than just asking for attribution. Attribution is important, perhaps the most important thing. But so is traffic and sometimes attribution is not enough. If you are trying to build traffic to your blog you are always going to be concerned with how to ensure that readers make it to you. Here is an example of how attribution might fall short.
Let’s say that I have a really funny picture on my blog. A blogger might copy the photo and post it on their own blog. Even if they provide attribution to me, it might not matter as people having seen the photo might not come visit my blog. OTOH, one could argue that they might be curious to see if there is other content that is of interest and would visit anyhow.
To be clear, this post isn’t in reference to any particular blog or blogger. I know that I have made many of these mistakes myself. Really what I am trying to do here is determine for myself what sort of personal policy I want.
What do you think? Let me know I am interested in your thoughts.