On Attribution and Links

As a blogger or site owner, you are keenly aware of the activities of other sites on the internet, especially in your field. In particular, you might notice when other sites properly credit your site for either original news or even finding a particularly unique link. This business, however, can get messy with sites accusing other sites of wrongdoing or simply poor sportsmanship. As a result proper attribution can become a big issue. It comes to my mind now as TheInquisitr wrote an excellent summary of their linking and attribution policy.

In some cases the offense is clear: exclusive content or screenshots that are simply “lifted”, republished and no attribution given to you. Of course, this is the most offensive of actions, and fortunately, it is a relatively rare occurrence. Ironically, this used to be a bigger problem with mainstream news sites. As blogs were just emerging as a news source, I’d frequently see “legitimate” news sites reference emerging news with a wave-of-the-hands “word on the internet is…” and refuse to link to the original sources. Fortunately, this trend has dwindled as the line between blogs and media have blurred.

An equally deceptive, yet growing trend I’ve noticed is one where sites will rewrite original content and even include a link back to the original source, but hide the link in a way that makes it entirely un-obvious that the original site even exists.

Instead of writing “BlogXYZ.com writes…”, they might just report the news “We’ve heard that ABC is going to be great…” and then maybe link one obscure word later in the text back to the original source. While they’ve technically linked back to the source, the end result is the same as the first scenario, taking credit for the information.

I can’t really offer a great solution on this issue. I do know what the end result: you are far less likely to link to them, which, in turn, over time, will result in them being far less likely to link to you. This circle tends to feed on itself.

So, in the end, play nice and attribute properly.

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One Response to On Attribution and Links

  1. Doctor Q says:

    The distinction I look for is easy to summarize: good intentions. A habit of giving credit where credit is due is not only honorable but a sensible way to maintain credibility in the long run.

    There’s momentary glory in breaking a news story, but secondary sources have a chance to reflect, summarize, analyze, and put stories into context, and that’s at least as important. There’s no need to hide that role.

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