Don't you hate it when someone at work steals an idea from you, then calls it their own? Of course. So why are you stealing from your fellow writers?
Yes, stealing: robbing someone of traffic. Of recognition. Of the conversation which should surround their work. And that's what a lot of people are doing. Maybe not you, but you've seen this sort of lazy writing all around the web.
Last week, after noticing the increase in the number of blogs tweeted that are just shells publishing links to posts written by others, I issued the call to content originality on Twitter.
This is a call for people to only link to the primary authors of blog posts.
So if Blogger Bill posts just a link to a Chris Brogan article with no effort to add his special sauce or original thinking that would make you sit up and notice, you don't link to that: you link to Brogan. Call it your Unblogging Resolution or something: a drive to write and link to more original content, rather than blog-style summaries of other people's material.
We don't need "blogs" like that anymore -- we have search engines which do the same thing, better. We also don't need Twitter accounts that tweet links posted on shell blogs. And most of all, we don't need the indignant attitude of the folks who go on the offensive when called out.
If a blog is but a collection of links to original posts written by others on their blogs, why tweet and - worse - retweet (RT) a link to that blog?
By refusing to tweet or RT a link to a link blog and instead using the link to the actual original post in your RT, you will contribute to cutting down on the level of noise and, frankly, look like you have actually read the post and are recommending it personally. It will boost your own credibility to vet the content you pass on.
To Posterous or not to Posterous?
Posterous accounts merit a special mention. In the past few months, many have clipped entire posts off my blog and reposted them to their Posterous account, then tweeted that. Folks, make no mistake, that is the equivalent to scraping. It's content theft. I don't care if you think it's not. It doesn't change the facts.
You could easily tweet a link to the original post.
Instead, you choose to highlight your action of taking the content and passing on a link to your Posterous account. Take a look at this Twitter account created to tweet many posts written by others and reposted on a Posterous site. [Note: The issue with the Twitter account was cleared as a mistake on both parts. Although I made attempts at figuring out who owned the account and contact them, I probably should have tried one more time before publishing.] Copying is copying - off line, online. Just because it's easier, it doesn't make it right.
If you need to review copyright laws and Creative Commons guidelines, please do. Jonathan Bailey talked about those issues in our conversation on plagiarism today, which is the name of his blog.
So before you make your next tweet, take that extra step to double check the content. Here are some specific suggestions for you to think about:
- Refrain from reblogging other people's ideas without adding value
- Attribute sources and respect their wishes regarding copyright
- Before linking to a piece, ask yourself if its publisher is also its true author
- Strive to produce original content worth other people's links
Consider this advice, and make the signal ratio in your stream stronger and with it your credibility.
© 2006-2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.