Have you ever heard of the term “reblogging?”
I think “reblogging” used to be a “thing”, although it’s something that has been at the back of my mind but never fully explored.
The reason it popped back into my head is that I get a few requests every year to reuse some of my blog content on other people’s websites or to be published in their journals. The way I write for my blog is in my own voice, style and tone – it’s personal and as a result, I know that this form of writing does not align well to the requirements of formal publications. In the past, I have written for different publications and even reported on news stories when I was in the Navy, but this type of writing doesn’t excite me much. I prefer the more personal, informal and reflective tones. It’s the same with what I prefer to read as well.
I’ve noticed that on those rare occasions I write in that formal style, people approach me to reuse that content for their own online publications. In the majority of cases I agree, as long as my name is mentioned and there’s a link directly back to the source (my website). The only time I don’t agree with their request is if they ask me to rewrite my blog post to include a mention of their own product or service (yes, believe it or not this happens regularly). In those cases, unless I have used your product or have some form of partnership or relationship with your product, I will not do this. It’s important that my blog remains my own space and not a free for all for every company to use my writing as their marketing channel.
However, what’s this reblogging?
Some time ago, I was checking out this “Press This” button on some websites and I wondered, “what is that?”
It was quickly followed by, “If I “pressed this” and it magically appeared on my own website, would the originator be pissed off that I did this OR would they be happy? What if I wrote my own “value add” contextualised piece because it still references and alerts the originator to the fact that I’m adding to their work with my own commentary?”
I had downloaded the browser bookmarklet and for some years had it sitting on my Bookmarks Bar but never used it. Yesterday, I hovered over it thinking I should give it a go and wondered what would happen if I reblogged someone else’s content into my own blog.
Would I create bad blood between the originator because I had the audacity to provide my own commentary over theirs?
Is that considered copying?
Or is it considered “value adding, attributing and supporting the work of the originator?”
Something inside me didn’t feel right in using it – so I deleted the bookmarklet and instead, decided to explore the concept of reblogging.
What is Reblogging?
Wikipedia defines Reblogging (or, in Twitter parlance, retweeting) is the mechanism in blogging which allows users to repost the content of another user’s post with an indication that the source of the post is another user.
So this begs the question, is reblogging of value or is it cheating?
If we can retweet tweets and add our own commentary then why can’t we do the same for blogs. Is there some unwritten etiquette rules to follow? Why is one more acceptable (tweets) and the other not (blogs)?
It’s an interesting question.
If I flip it around if someone reblogged this (my) post and offered an alternative view or perspective on the matter, would I get angry or disappointed over it? No, I won’t. If anything I’d be glad that my post spurned them to action to offer their own ideas and perspectives to the topic.
However, if that same person reblogged my post to SELL their own app, tool, product or service they created? Then, yes. I would definitely not want my own work associated with this at all.
So it comes down to intent. (Thanks to Cameron Murray – @cammysutra6 for our conversations around this as he was the first to mention this in light of his work as a content creator)
Now reading some articles online about reblogging, Content Marketers seem to say that this is a good move if you’re interested in building your blog and indeed seem to tout it as a critical strategy as long as you follow some certain rules and etiquette such as this post on The Etiquette of Reblogging. However, it’s rare that I follow the advice of content marketers especially if their focus is all about helping their clients exploit the good work of others OR to use ‘quick fix’ hacks to build their databases and push their crap onto us.
Unfortunately, there’s too many of people and companies like this who believe this is the way to go without putting in the effort to build relationships – so what happens over time? We get tired of the spammers, trollers and the hacks so there’s less trust that our work will be used for the purposes of engagement, creating conversations and building networks.
There’s too many of the former, less of the latter.
It was this thought when I stumbled upon Deb McAlister’s article called Why I Hate WordPress Feature and So Should You which stopped to make me think this week. So much so, that I had a bit of a wander through her website and saw that she explicitly wrote our her No Reblogging, Comments and Copyright Policies. It’s unfortunate that in this day and age we need to do this to save our work but really, I can’t fault this. Too often, people who openly show and share their work and who create works can be and are exploited by others; so we have to resort to putting things in place like this to protect our work.
In the above post, she writes:
Just because technology allows you to do something, does not make it right to do so.
This quote made me think of all the times that technology made it so easy for me to create or share something but I was stopped by something in my gut that told me, “it’s not right” or “check first” or “seek out permission.”
I’m beginning to wonder that if we treat our online interactions with the same etiquette and behaviour that we do when we are with others in person, then this will be our guide.
That’s why I’m determined to make social media more human again because I don’t want these behaviours infiltrating into my work or my work with others because it reduces and subverts opportunities for collaboration and co-operation to happen. Most of all, it breaks down the trust that is needed for us to work together and the respect of the unique knowledge, skills and capabilities that people bring.
So next time technology offers you up a simple and easy hack that helps you but it’s off the back of someone else’s work with the intent of selling your own product or service – please stop and think first.
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