Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Teaching New Bloggers How to Attribute

What do you do when you find your writing on someone else’s site without a proper attribute? It’s a hard thing to deal with. Go take a look at this Firefox 101 post from RSS Blog Secrets. It looks a lot like my Firefox 101 post. On one hand I’m glad that people are enjoying what I’m writing enough to read it, nevertheless copy and post it (remember, imitation is the biggest form of flattery). However, you just can’t copy someone’s work without any permission and only include a very hard-to-notice link at the top and a little “Thanks to Noah Brier at noahbriar.com” at the bottom. That’s not even how you spell my website (or my last name, for that matter)!

Peter Caputa had this problem a few weeks ago when someone copied something he had written and then was linked to by other people. (Full disclosure: I copied the title of Pete’s post.) Here’s what Pete wrote in that post (note the proper attribution):

But, this new blogger that doesn’t know how to quote or attribute other people’s original writing. I’ll assume that Dominant Princess is new to blogging and is ignorant of acceptable quoting practices. Consider this a hand slap.

On the other hand, however…. Anyone that has attended grade school should know that what she has done is plagiarism. So, I highly recommend to dominant princess that she learns how to quote people and always attributes people’s original writing with a link to the original post.

I agree with Pete. I’m not so angry as I am disappointed and to RSS Blog Secrets, consider this a hand slap. I don’t mind you keeping a link blog and even posting full text, but you really need to make it clear that those entries your posting are not your own words. I don’t publish under a Creative Commons license (although I probably should be), but when I publish something I expect to be properly attributed. Check out Scoble’s Link Blog for how to keep a proper link blog (although there are plenty who have problems with that).

There are a couple important points for a site that just reposts other people’s work.

1. Make it very clear what you are. Calling yourself a “link blog” is a good example.

2. Include links at the top that make it very clear that this is not your own work.

3. Don’t include any of your own words unless you’re going to make a clear distinction of where your words end and the work your copying begins.

Hope this clears things up a bit and makes known my feelings on proper attribution techniques.

April 6, 2005