Sunday, 4 April 2010

Why Crediting Other Bloggers Matters.

Normally I wouldn't share my thoughts on something like this at PMOI - I use this space to promote artists and to share with my friends the most exciting music & event news I come across.

Yesterday I listened to a panel discussion online called "If I Ruled The Blogosphere, Hip Hop Bloggers & Social Change Panel", held at Busboys and Poets in DC, and I felt it was important to address a point that was part of that discussion. Speakers included Meka Udoh (2 Dope Boyz), Dallas Penn (Dallas Penn & the Internets Celebrities), Jason Reynolds (OkayPlayer), Frank William Miller Junior (FWMJ of rappersiknow.com), Casey Rae-Hunter (Future of Music) and DC native rapper/ producer Oddisee.


Watch live streaming video from webillishus at livestream.com

The question of whether bloggers who take content from other sites and paste it to their own should credit the blog they sourced that information from was roundly dismissed as smaller bloggers being juvenile and petty when bigger bloggers don't link back to them.
I beg to differ for several reasons.

First and foremost I believe that credit where credit is due is an inarguable common courtesy.

The fact that bloggers behave badly and give us all a bad name on a daily basis doesn't give you the right or excuse to be lazy and do the same (but perhaps to a lesser degree in your eyes), no matter how big your blog is. It definitely doesn't give you the right to belittle people who expect you to do the right thing.

The fact that you are busy running your blog is not an excuse - if you have the time to copy and paste someone elses content you have the time to copy and paste their URL and credit them - they've just saved you time researching & writing a post after all.

You have no idea where other bloggers get their information - it could easily have been directly from the artist (for example, my blog is pretty small but if you scroll down to the bottom of the page today I know or have worked with every single artist & venue on the page apart from Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae). Assuming other blogs took their content from another blogger so you don't have to bother crediting their work is pretty arrogant (and lazy).

During the discussion the question of "plagiarism" came up and was shouted down. It is a strong word - perhaps because of the consequences of it when studying or publishing work professionally. However the definition of plagiarism is "the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." Is there a different word for it when it happens online? Until there is one, plagiarism sounds pretty accurate.

For some bloggers the reason for wanting a link is not always numbers as was suggested. It is the question if dilution. When you copy and paste someone elses content on to your larger site, and they had it first, viewers might assume they have copied you which isn't fair to them - it is possible they don't even want to be associated with you and your site, let alone being seen as copying you. They're probably not sitting at home crying about it because it does happen all the time, I'm sure most bloggers don't think about it for more than a couple of seconds because of that, but that still doesn't excuse the fact it's a lazy thing to do.

Some panelists talked about using their blogs to support artists who are on their way up or are independent. The advice was also given to smaller or new blogs to support those artists who are emerging. If your intention to support emerging artists is genuine, surely you would also want support other bloggers who have different audiences to you and are helping to promote those artists, by linking back to them if you use their content? 

Lastly - traffic numbers do matter to an extent. Larger blogs use their content to generate hits and that translates in to advertising money, it doesn't cost them anything to link back to where they got the information which is helping them to generate that money. Smaller blogs can use increased traffic numbers to better support the artists they write about, generate better exclusives, and find advertising sponsors if they choose to, so it does matter.


Personally I support and link to other bloggers all the time because I feel part of a community with them and respect what they do, and I know my readers might enjoy their sites as well.

Don't hide behind the internet - credit where credit is due is just common courtesy.

*Apologies, my comments section seems to be broken - feel free to hit me up on email, Twitter or Facebook if you want to talk to me about this. 

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