Copying + pasting + blogging = trouble

Copying + pasting + blogging = trouble

Summary: "Copy paste blogging" can lead to errors and even embarrassment for bloggers and their subjects. Is it really worth it? (Take the poll)

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TOPICS: Browser
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A couple of weeks ago Al Krueger over at Comet Branding posted a short yet insightful blog called "Regurgitator or Originator", in which he wrote:

I want to drive original, relevant and meaningful content and not simply offer some sort of regurgitation of other people’s or outlets’ content.

Krueger was addressing the notion of "copy paste blogging" in which the blog author does one of the following:

  • Posts only snippets of another blog with a link to said blog, sometimes posing a question but rarely offering additional ideas
  • Using a blog solely for research and referencing that blog without doing the background work on his or her own

(Note: If I wanted to merely "copy paste blog" myself I would stop here, maybe throw out a question or two, but I have points of my own that I want to illustrate.)

Are these approaches lazy? Depends on your perspective. Some blogs merely aim to start conversations among readers (which, if you ask me, is better served with FriendFeed).

Are these approaches unethical? No, but it does highlight the crevasse that still exists between blogger ethics and old school journalist ethics.

Are these approaches flawed? They can be. They can lead to errors or other kinds of embarrassment for both the blogger him- or herself or the subject of the blog.

Are all bloggers guilty of it? Absolutely, at least once. I did a lighter variation of it just the other day but that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea (I will call out that I spoke with Ryan Naraine, the original blog author, before doing so).

Two specific incidents have recently put this issue top of mind. There are lessons here for corporate and independent bloggers alike.

  1. HD Moore vs. The Blogosphere: HD Moore, creator of Metasploit, gained a lot of attention when he published an attack code for the DNS flaw that's been dominating the news in the security industry over the last month. While many stories were written about this, one in particular by Robert McMillan caused an unnecessary amount of FUD when it misquoted Moore and wrongly claimed this his employer was "owned" by the exploit -- when really the attack was on AT&T Internet Service's servers in Austin. While PC World issued a correction it was too late; those IDG stories spread like wildfire. And while Moore immediately wrote a blog post of his own explaining the truth of the attack, bloggers had already started posting erroneous articles based on the PC World story and using sensationalized headlines, to boot. Though some of the articles have been amended to include pieces of Moore's statement the incorrect headlines -- and in some cases the wrong content -- remain.
  2. Cuil Coverage Not So Cool: The countdown to the Cuil launch created quite a socialsphere frenzy with some bloggers calling the new search engine a "Google killer". People truly wanted to believe that Cuil would live up to the hype that it created but it just didn't. And many of those first blog posts appeared to be written solely off of the writings of other bloggers (versus actual research or actual use of the tool). My own experience at the time of launch was unsatisfactory and I thanked my lucky stars that I hadn't jumped on the pre-Cuil bandwagon. TechCrunch -- which had five headlines about Cuil in three days -- didn't just hit Cuil, it pummeled the company for a perceivably failed launch. But some responsibility lies with the bloggers here. I think, while Cuil deserved criticism, a lot of the bloggers who lashed out at Cuil were embarrassed by letting their own fandom get in the way of research.

While writers who adopt "old school journalism" practices still make their fair share of errors I do think some errors could easily be voided by adhering to those practices:

  • Check your own sources -- Sure, find ideas from other blogs, but go to the source yourself. In the HD Moore case going to the source would've saved a lot of trouble.
  • Add your own angle to the story -- repeating someone else's news doesn't make it news. When I read a blog it's because I like the voice of the writer(s). I want to read what he or she or they have to say on the matter.
  • Don't be oversold by marketing hype -- unless you have experienced it yourself and believe it to be true. Cuil. Need I say more?

[poll id=2]

Have an answer beyond what is offered in the poll? Be sure to Talk Back.

[Update 8-6-2008 8:38 a.m.] Kyle Flaherty posted a great case study about the importance of social media communities and how those communities pulled together during his company's battle last week to set HD Moore's story straight.

Topic: Browser

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20 comments
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  • Agree

    I agree... Too many people talking about the same thing.
    GerryRosso
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    It drives me nuts. The amounts of comments pinged back to my blog are purely regurgitated, as if it's been automatically picked. It's just relaying information from one place to another, offering nothing else.

    Although, with your <a href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/feeds/?p=167">Twitter vulnerability</a> post, you didn't cut-and-paste it, you provided a brief outline explaining why you should follow the link, then provided the link. This allows information to be updated constantly by the person writing it, saves you any trouble if it's wrong by later correction, and provides the original author with the hits or recognition they deserve.

    Cracking post :)
    zackwhittaker
    • Thanks :)

      I don't mind it so much when there's a lot of original thought around it or a new perspective. But parakeet blogging happens way too much. It's what has caused me to unsubscribed from a lot of blogs.
      Jennifer Leggio
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    I encounter too much fluff in the Blogosphere. Quotes are getting bigger and more frequent. It won't change until the practice becomes socially unacceptable, laughed at and ridiculed. This is a good start, thanks.
    kozmcrae
  • reporting the same news infinite times on infinite sites is useless

    reporting the same news infinite times on infinite sites is useless
    qmlscycrajg
    • Incorrect

      Totally untrue. This is the very means by which news gets spread!! It is the lifeblood of print and electronic media as well as the internet. Otherwis... how would the news be spread.

      Doh!
      norm.mcmillan@...
  • Cut & paste

    I use links back to blogs that inspire me but I'd never cut & paste more than 2 sentences, that's enough to highlight the point that I want to cover in my own blog. If it's not my ideas, why bother writing? It's not like my blog is a business, it's a personal blog and if it doesn't reflect me, well, there are plenty (millions!) of other blogs where people can get the information they are seeking.

    Be original or just skip a day until you get your own ideas.
    nwjerseyliz@...
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    I??ll continue to search with www.treehoo.com the green search engine that plants trees for most of the profit. It??s Google powered and good for the environment, so for me it??s perfect.
    Rembrandt22
  • Treehoo

    I'd never heard of that, will have to check it out.
    Jennifer Leggio
  • blogging isn't journalism

    Not to put it down at all, but bloggers aren't journalists, in the sense that most aren't making phone calls, researching truth, or any fact checking more than a cursory Google search.

    Blogging should include references, new ideas from the author, maybe some alternate references to additional data, and maybe form an additional question for readers to think about or discuss.

    Of course there is copy/pasting, which is okay as long as it's referenced to the original post (not to the post that linked to a post that linked to a post that linked to the original).

    I prefer to see similar blog headlines, so I know if I've read it before, somewhere else.
    coffeeshark
    • journalism isn't journalism either

      In the same vein, many journalists are guilty of the same problem. I see the same story reported in the papers and on TV over and over again as well, with few or no additional ideas added by the author.
      squidfishes
      • Yup

        I think TV news is the worst offender there. Especially local network news. It is painful.
        Jennifer Leggio
        • News has lost the NEW part of the name

          I don't watch local news and only peek at the 24 hr news. Another event was the Mars Lander. Comments via the web, NASA says, forced a press conference to defuse speculation.
          fairuse09
    • To some point I agree

      Blogging is not journalism but I personally feel that ANYONE who wields a pen (or keyboard, whatever) has a responsibility to make his or her writings as accurate as possible. While the old methods of journalism may be dying out the ethics should not. /end soapbox

      I burst out laughing when I read "not to the post that linked to a post that linked to a post that linked to the original". I've seen that too many times. It's irksome.
      Jennifer Leggio
    • It is too!

      Or it can be! A journal is a written record, so anyone who makes a written record is a journalist, professionalism notwithstanding. Simply adding an opinion or a different spin to a story certainly doesn't make a "true" journalist. Sometimes it is legally and morally preferable to repeat a story verbatim, (Think BBC in WW II, reporting court judgements, etc).

      A "true" journalist ALWAYS checks the veracity of the story and the source, always keeps an open mind and always reports without fear or favour.
      norm.mcmillan@...
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    I try to do the opposite (just a small blog) - I have dozens of posts in various stages of Prep work - Since I am not an "A-List" type - I try to support my own arguments with other information that can support my position or idea. I just try and show that there are more influential people than I that have supplied material that is probably better than mine.

    Elliot Ross
    elliotross.wordpress.com
    elliotross@...
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    People,
    I think you're taking yourselves a little too seriously here! To state the bleeding obvious, there are Blogs and blogs. The upper case Blogs are generally edited by responsible people with some sort of background in real journalism. They check the facts meticulously , preferably with the original source, before publishing. I would point you to www.groklaw.com for what I consider to be a really good Blog. Cut and paste is essential as PJ often quotes people and publications. Cut and paste avoids potentially litigious mistakes.

    Then there are lowercase blogs. lots of hearsay, plenty of gossip and very little substance. Pointing to one could well cause me grief, so I won't. They abound as we all know.

    Cut and paste, per se is not a bad thing. Failing to verify the source may lead to great sorrow.
    norm.mcmillan@...
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    There isnt anything wrong with copy/pasting other blogs/news. People do it all the time.

    You haven to understand that most bloggers are just regular people, or are sharing their own personal throughts about things. In no way is a blog a perfect news source, it will never be unbiased or anything like that. A blog is simply a blog and should be treated as such.

    There's no need to try to apply the same rules as journalists follow to a blog because it's personal opinion.

    In essence:
    DON'T HATE THE BLOG! HATE THE BLOGGER!
    ZazieLavender
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = SE posion

    My biggest problem with copy paste blogs is when they get ranked in the search engines. You search for a term and find dozens of hits -- all basically the same story referenced by copy - paste sites. Then you have to dig through all the copy stuff to glean some original information.

    I have no problem with some one directing reader's attention to an interesting blog post or article. I've done that myself. When a story or term becomes endlessly repeated in the SE results, however, it makes researching a topic tedious and difficult.

    --Tom Bonner
    http://alphatracks.com
    TBonner
  • RE: Copying pasting blogging = trouble

    "Then you have to dig through all the copy stuff to glean
    some original...."

    if its a popular topic you would have people SAYING the
    same thing over and over. it shouldnt be that difficult
    to dig the the copy stuff to locate analysis.
    sthomper@...