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Showing Fangs - How To Avoid The Bite

Venomous Kate is watching you, especially if you are lifting posts from other blogs without attributuion... She's probably watching me also, but that's because we trade geeky tech tips back and forth. In conjunction with her explanation of why link snagging is bad, I would like to offer you some reform tips.

Tip 1: Know The Blogosphere

It is actually harder for me than you may think to keep clear of Kate's stories as experience has taught me that we haunt a lot of the same cesspools of information. Knowing that, I keep tabs on her and others who experience has taught me may at any given moment post a story from someplace like Yahoo News. Just because one of these folks posts a story doesn't mean I won't, but I try to indicate my notice of their story (See Tip #2). Occasionally I loose my enthusiasm for posting the story, especially if the other blogger really nails it. In those cases I either move on to something else or "throw a link". Lest you think you cannot be successful "throwing links", I will offer up InstaPundit as proof that you can do just fine by link throwing. I tend to bunch up my link throwing into one post, but that's just my preference.

Tip2: Use the "Hat Tip"

A practice I picked up from James at OTB and others, is the use the "Hat Tip" method. Often I will see a post at a site that leads me to a news story from a major (or minor) news source. In the course of composing a post I occasionally find that the blog that I first saw the link at doesn't really fit into my take on the story. This is where the "Hat Tip" comes in... You will see it on quite a few stories here as the post contains nothing from the other blogger's post except the link to the story.

This is the defining moment for you the blogger... Do you ignore the fact that you saw this at another blog? Or do you do the right thing and acknowledge the other blog? Hat Tipping is a semi-formalized way of saying "this other blogger turned me on to the story, and here is the link to their post on the topic". Pay close attention to "big name" bloggers and you will see a preponderance of credit giving to others.

Tip 3: Use Block Quotes

If a blog has something I wanted to quote I will quote it with block quote tags. This sets the quotation off in a box or indent depending on your style sheet. This also signifies that they are not my words. Most of the time I use the block quote tags, but occasionally if there's only one sentence or I have to alter the words or sentences then I will use double quotes and note my additions or paraphrasing.

Tip 4: Straighten Up And Fly Right

A last bit of advice; offer up a mea culpa, just as I am about to do. To anyone I've ever forgot to credit I apologize and I will endeavor to not repeat such a grievous error again. Since I'm confident in my sources and methods feel free to call me on anything you think I've not attributed properly. I make frequent use of "Update:" on my posts and will stand corrected when needed.


Comments (7)

That "Update:" thing is gre... (Below threshold)

That "Update:" thing is great: it's the right thing to do and whenever I see that I know that I've not only encountered a blogger who's ethical enough to credit his sources, but ethical enough to note that the credit was unintentionally overlooked but now intentionally added. Like you!

I've been doing the "Hat ti... (Below threshold)

I've been doing the "Hat tip" since I started weblogging. I feel intellectually dishonest if I don't.

Updating and hat tiping con... (Below threshold)

Updating and hat tiping continue and extend the conversation. And I think you would both agree that's what it's all about.

Good points, Kevin. I'm a h... (Below threshold)
jen:

Good points, Kevin. I'm a huge fan of the blockquote (to the point that one blogger complained). I don't use the Hat Tip specifically, but I try to show how I got a link with a "via..." Men tip the hat, not ladies. =)

Good point Jen! I use both ... (Below threshold)

Good point Jen! I use both "Hat Tip" and "Via".

I think that a lot of the l... (Below threshold)

I think that a lot of the link-snagging that goes on is done by bloggers that just don't understand how taboo the action *is* in the b-sphere. They don't do it to be rude, or in an underhanded way...they just don't get the whole linkback concept yet. Hopefully, making a stir about it once in a while will get to the ears that need to hear it...but you know we'll be rehashing this again in a couple of months!

Also, I have a hard-and-fast rule of attribution at my site: if I've seen a story at a blogger's, I link to the story via that blogger. If I've read it on my aggregator or a news outlet page, I link directly to that page. Wherever my eyes first met the story is where the link goes. Any time I have the same thing within moments of someone on my blogroll is just an instance of Great Minds Thinking Alike, and cannot be helped.

Thanks for continuing the discussion over here! This is an issue that a lot of bloggers need to be aware of.

I wish I could be as optimi... (Below threshold)

I wish I could be as optimistic as Kelley. Like I said over at Venomous Kate's site, there are many times I've been suspicious. The problem is, how can you ever prove it? There are so many bloggers out there that stories are going to appear on many sites.

However, when you are pretty sure that no one else is going to have it and then you see it on someone else's site, how can you not get suspicious?

Granted, it's not exactly plagarism but it's no different to me than taking a story you heard from a co-worker or friend and telling it to others as if it was yours. Truly tasteless.




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