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Do You Credit Your Sources?

Posted By Darren Rowse 24th of February 2005 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

What is your policy on giving credit to sites who pointed you to a link that you post about?

Do you for instance write use a ‘found via (insert blog who pointed you to the post you’ve written about here)’ byline or tag on your blog? (see last post for an example of what I mean).

I do this where ever possible but have noticed recently that fewer and fewer bloggers seem to credit where they get their information from. I think this is just plain bad manners and that its actually a missed opportunity also.

It is a missed opportunity because in linking to the source you found the information from you actually build your reputation and reputation with the person you’re linking to. I know that if someone gives me such a hat tip that I file it away in my mind for future reference. Its like a little deposit of goodwill goes into the bank and down the track I’m more likely to take an interest in their blog, link back or even do them a favor down the track.

I also believe that in including your source you improve your SEO of the post – providing relevant outbound links is something many believe that Search Engines value in working out how relevant your page is. In not doing so you limit your chances of a good page ranking.

In NOT acknowledging your sources you actually run the risk of doing the opposite. I know a number of sites who use my blogs as sources of information – they constantly link to the articles I link to, in the same order that I link to them, a few hours after I do, with very similar comments and reflections. Whilst imitation may be the greatest form of flattery it isn’t good blogging practice without acknowledgment of who is doing the hard work for you. In doing so its not just bad manners, but if you get caught it doesn’t do your reputation much good. Instead of putting a deposit of goodwill into the bank account you’re actually making a withdrawal in this case and run the risk of being ostracized by and even exposed for your actions.

Of course we all inadvertently fail to acknowledge a source from time to time – sometimes I have so many windows open at once that its hard to track back the line of how I found an article – but when it happens systematically and on a regular basis I think its pretty poor form.

I also acknowledge that with the advent of News Aggregators and tools like Google News Alerts that a lot of blogs in the same field come up with the same content – but sometimes the patterns of posting make it pretty obvious that some copying is going on.

What do you think? Do you hat tip your sources? Should you always? What do you do when you suspect other bloggers are riding on your coat tails?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Andre

    This is something i’ve been concerned about for some time. Apart from bad manners and the risk of being ostracized, surely there there is the copyright that needs to be considered as well. I am interested in others opinions whether posting news articles from other sites, credited or not breaks copyright laws.

  • I credit with a [via SITE] when I find something on another site. It really gets to me when I see sites (like you have observed) post stuff consistently after me and never give a link. Not even in their links section.

  • I do credit, but: I also read a lot of blogs. And have had this discussion with someone who wanted credit from me because I took his postings as inspiration – when in fact I am just reading some of the same blogs as he did and found the same things interesting.

    As reading my blogs is time consuming and I don’t read every blog every day, you will sometimes find me posting things way after you and really maybe in the same pattern as you – but this does not mean I am not giving credit but just that persons with an interest in the same topic tend to blog about the same things.

    Also, if a topic comes up on several blogs, I sometimes blog this very ‘late’ – which means some of the blogs I am reading got me so convinced that I want to blog about that too – who is credit to give to? Every instance that blogged about it which I read those days? Every blogger which did not blog about it and got me therefor influenced to do it?

    In such cases I do credit the last one, which got me to blogging about it. And sometimes I blog about something when I read the actual site – because other bloggers before have referred to that site. How to handle such? Go back through all of my 900 blogs and try to come up with the ones which influenced me to post about it?

    You can’t. So my position in crediting is: You get a credit if I got it exclusivly via you and you added some value to it. If I have read this on dozens of blogs, and I read the original blog also, plus I would have blogged about it anyway when reading the original source I do not ‘credit’ anyone either.

    But on the other side, there are _of course_ people who don’t credit you. I know which blogs I am reading and which authors do not read my pattern of blogs. And if they come up with exactly the same postings and often some of my sentences, this is just poor.

    And giving credit to the author of the not giving credit blogger: Of being not nice.

  • Maybe there should have a boggers hall of shame somewhere

  • Steve Gill

    What’s your opinion about the rel=”nofollow” tag and (to a lesser degree) “_blank” tag, Darren?

    In all cases I use the latter tag so the link opens in a new window. That way my visitor can surf around the other site and I’ll still be there when they eventually close that window.

    And it’s the only tag I use if the source site is a blog, but if it’s an online newspaper article (or something of that caliber) I sometimes will add the ‘nofollow’ tag too. That way it’s attributed and viewable by my visitors, but it doesn’t get any “Google juice”. :)

    I had a problem last year where I published a bunch of articles on my niche site, and on the next Google update those very same articles I linked to popped up ahead of my website in the rankings for my primary keyword! Since online newspaper sites already have a high PR, I don’t want to give them any extra help by linking to them in any way that helps their rankings for my KW.

    ..any ethical thoughts about the ‘nofollow’ tag..?