Give Credit When Credit is Due: Skip The Middle Man

Filed as Features on September 3, 2007 7:05 pm

I often stumbled across some blogs who specialize in handing more blockquotes than original content, which is fine for them and their blogging style because, for the most part, their posts point to valuable and related content.

What incenses me is their credit line:

Story provided by digg.

You can replace Digg with del.icio.us, Tumblr, Technorati, Stumble Upon or any of the other social bookmarking services.

I’d like to point out for the ignorant that social bookmarking services do not provide original content. They do not write articles (except on their blogs) nor generate content. They only provide placeholders for article links and conversations about those article links. If credit is to be given, why not credit the person who originally submitted the recommendation with a hat tip? Then give credit where credit is really deserved – to the original author of the original content.

Why give Digg and the others the credit for what they don’t deserve?

Please, for the sake of all bloggers and writers who work hard on what they have to write, link to the original article.

There are many reasons to do this.

  1. You direct readers directly to the article rather than a two or three click journey through a middle man. Your readers will thank you.
  2. “Hat tips”, acknowledgments to the person or site that tipped you off, is fine, but get your reader to the content you recommend, not the recommendation of the content.
  3. The direct link to the article can generate a trackback in the original article, which appears on their blog, connecting your blog with theirs.
  4. The original author is alerted to your coverage of her article and may visit your site to check it out.
  5. You might pick up a reader or subscriber through the trackback reference. At the least, you might get a thank you.
  6. From that visit, the original author might find something you wrote to be worthy of writing about.
  7. Your trackback is visible to her audience, and readers might visit you based upon what your trackback says (so make it say something better than “Story by”).
  8. A link is made to the original article, giving you credit points in the determination of Google’s Page Rank, which counts outgoing and incoming links, and lending a hand to the original author’s Page Rank as well as yours if the linked content matches your blog’s content.
  9. If you choose to use any of the web page preview gadgets on your blog’s links, the preview will be of the original page not Digg or your middle-man page.
  10. It’s the right thing to do. Give credit where credit is due.

You can arrange your link credit to be something like:

Article by Lorelle on WordPress with hat tip to Digg

But better than that would be a direct link to the article by title, along with another version of a hat tip:

How to Hat Tip Your Sources by Lorelle on WordPress, found via Digg

Make a blogger happy today by letting them know that you care about what she wrote on her blog, and help build your reputation as a blogger with integrity.

Understanding Attribution, Credit, and Citations: The Art of Blockquoting

The Blog Herald’s A Quick Guide to Referencing and Ethics and Blogging Attribution Where Due are must reads for the blogger who cites other bloggers, writers, columnists, blogs, websites, and public speakers.

If you create a reference or comment based upon what someone says or writes, you must include an attribute that implies, “I’m not the original source. This is the original source.” You increase your reader’s trust, and your reputation as a blogger they can trust, when you give credit where credit is due.

The amount you “quote”, commonly called blockquote on blogs, is restricted to that blog or site’s copyright policy and license. Assume that they do not allow copying of their entire content, but only permit Fair Use of their content for reference in accordance with international copyright laws. Check with their copyright policies to make sure. Always assume their content is copyrighted.

“The Basics of Fair Use” by Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today provides more information on Fair Use, and he also has an article on the “Fair Use Visualizer”, a tool from the US Copyright Office to help you estimate Fair Use:

Not only are the issues involved in fair use complicated and difficult to understand, but the answer is never satisfying. Since fair use can only be decided by a judge or jury and is handled on a case-by-case basis, there is no way to offer a definitive answer about what is or is not fair use. One can only determine the probability of the outcome based upon facts of the case.

However, the Copyright Website has a fair use visualizer that can help take some of the guesswork out of determining what is likely and unlikely to be considered fair use.

While the Fair Use Visualizer may help, the biggest problem with Fair Use is that each copyright holder has to set the boundaries for what is “fair”. A growing standard for Fair Use on the web is 400 words or 10%, but you must make it clear in your copyright what your policy is. If you are copying another’s content, play fair and use as little as possible to make your point, and include a credit link to the rest of the content.

Here are some other guides and resources for learning more about attributions and citations for bloggers.

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  1. By aaron posted on September 3, 2007 at 9:27 pm
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    Doesn’t this happen when they blog stories from Digg itself?

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  2. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on September 3, 2007 at 9:48 pm
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    I don’t understand. Do you mean when Digg is the story?

    If Digg is the story, then the source of the story should be linked to, such as the recent use of Digg to spread the DVD unlocking code. Digg played a role, thus it makes sense to link to them.

    But if you find a story idea on Digg, they deserve only a hat tip – the original article featured via Digg should get the credit.

    Reply

  3. By Aaron B. Hockley posted on September 3, 2007 at 10:44 pm
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    Great post. It’s amazing how many folks think that Digg (or another social bookmarking site) is the one that’s out there creating the news or writing the articles. I think part of the confusion is folks see the comments on the Digg story, which often comment on the underlying topic, and the Digg post takes on a life of its own, rather than folks going to the original article to offer their input.

    Reply

  4. By Jonathan Bailey posted on September 4, 2007 at 12:49 am
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    One of the things that you didn’t touch on in this but needs to get more attention all around is that some scrapers are tapping the Technorati watchlists feeds to scrape a lot of keyword rich content from a variety of sites.

    I’ve seen a lot of that lately and it is getting to be a worrisome. Worst off all, Technorati seems to be doing nothing about it.

    Reply

  5. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on September 4, 2007 at 1:35 am
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    Ouch! I assumed this, since scrapers are grabbing content from everywhere they can, and it’s easier to get away with it when grabbing content from indirect sources, but I didn’t realized how bad this had gotten with Technorati.

    Have you written about this lately? We do, indeed, need to turn up the heat and maybe “public opinion” will help sway Technorati and other similar sites. Thanks for letting me know.

    Reply

  6. Linker Barn: Tuesday, September 4September 4, 2007 at 4:27 am
  7. By J. Angelo Racoma posted on September 4, 2007 at 6:44 am
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    I think what Aaron means is when a user uses the automatic blog feature from DIGG – meaning a story is blogged by clicking on that “blog this” link on DIGG. The story link is then usually both to DIGG and the original source (as automatically published on the blog). In my opinion, this is quite a crafty way to get inbound links.

    Reply

  8. 肆无忌惮 - 东二的鬼屋September 4, 2007 at 4:21 pm
  9. Newsletter to Blog: Quoting, Referencing, Citing, and Not Copyright Violating : The Blog HeraldSeptember 18, 2007 at 11:00 am
  10. By aaron posted on September 19, 2007 at 2:58 am
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    Yeah, thanks J. Angelo, that’s exactly what I meant. The automatic blogging feature on Digg adds the link back to Digg automatically. Also, I don’t really understand why digg wouldn’t get some credit. It is most likely the place where you found out about the story. I’d say the story author deserves a link, and Digg deserves at least a nod in your blog.

    Reply

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  13. By Matthew posted on February 27, 2009 at 7:42 am
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    Its like saying the original is better…you should credit the person who really deserves the accolade.Paying attention to who really deserves it…will give back to what credit is due.It will uplift their personality.

    Reply

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