Internet Code of Conduct And The Sourcing Issues

by on March 19, 2012

in consumer

The InternetWhen you visit a website and it has an interesting bit, do you even care where the website got its article from or if they even properly credited their source? For web surfers, I bet most would say no and a few who understand the process, would say yes.

In this day and age, it almost doesn’t matter about the source if a website has mastered the intricacies of Google’s SEO rules, unless you are the source. And with over 150 million public blogs in existence, no wonder you have no clue who or what you’re reading!

But being of the mind that principles are important, I tend to see or have been on the butt end of some downright crappy business practices. And for the time being, there’s usually not much the small fry can do about it except try to make sure you get your content out there first on your Twitter account of Facebook pages so if push came to shove, well, there’s always that.

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The NY Times put out an interesting bit the other day on the digitization of content and with it, a mindset developed in this wild west of a venue where, as they put it, content was “There for the plucking and replication elsewhere.” (AKA, like today’s movie pirates who somehow think it’s OK to steal stuff they don’t pay for.)

The article talks about originators watching their content and audiences slip away to other locations and the article addresses the line between good content and simply rehashing it.

Recently at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, some suggestions were presented regarding this issue. They touched on sourcing where content comes from, as in, if you’ve ever seen the ‘via’ or ‘source’ or [link] reference here. They even made note that even the big guns don’t always adhere to the code of conduct and referenced a flub that The Huffington Post (THP) pulled on a fellow.

They touched on organizing an effort to craft guidelines or common-sense rules to address how some folk glean and accredit their content. They even broached the premise how sometimes it’s difficult to find the real source of some content.

And to be honest, they have good points… I’ve seen it and I’ve been victim to it… but there are various factors involved in how content can be derived and credited. And sadly, because “people will be people,” this subject has to be addressed by a third party.

Here On Brusimm or Cinema Static or NASCAR Bits I’m careful about my sources and I show where I got my info from.

Here’s a trick for finding originating authors:

When I have an interesting article I want to recant, but my “source” is BSing me without links, I do a Google search, sort the results by time until I find what looks like the original source of the material I’m looking at.

It’s not hard to source sources, if you’re reputable. But there’s plenty of sites out there that have interesting practices in how they address their sources.

One of my favorites is they always source themselves, and you never know where they got the content from. So I never give them cred, unless, on the rare occasion, they are the originating site.

There are those that steal your content & images and blow you off unless you call them on it. (If you watermark your images in a way that only you can detect, it’s pretty fun to be able to call people on things… but that becomes a lot of BS work because of a few sad personalities.)

I’ve watched specific IP addresses drop in and go away, and then watch my news, spun differently, show up in different places and no ‘via’ links accredited. Admittedly, not too many places use a ‘via’ link. That’s more for buddies helping each other out and such. I tried the ‘via’ route to be nice about things, but without reciprocation after a year, well, that’s their call.

And it comes down to a two-fold system of blame.

First, the site owners need to be accountable for their staff. If you call someone on something, this “it’s between you two” is sad. It’s like having an issue at Taco Bell and the manager tells you to work it out with the cashier. If you’ve ever called the Post Office with issues about a letter carrier, that’s exactly what they did. His manager put me in touch with the letter carrier.

The other aspect is web SEO.

I can break a story before anyone else. But if a website with a bigger footprint on the web (As far as Google is concerned) picks up my content and runs with it a day or week later, everyone will see their content and I’m lost in the dust. And if they don’t accredit the smaller site, well, there ya be.

And there’s not much you can do about it.

My pet peeve is the web surfer who sees a headline and skips out.. thinking they’ve got the info they need from the headline. Or they hit a headline and go right for the source link and skip your hard work. Yep… I’ve seen it, but that is pretty much the reality of the web.

And yet folks are in a hurry, but Google rewards wordiness. Interesting, conundrum, isn’t it?

Reputable websites quote sources and use honest headlines. Others don’t. Some put up articles that say “Here is the Info You’re Looking For” but when you get there, there’s a little bit of a paragraph that says the info is coming later. Dude, seriously, I want that crap I can go to the National Inquirer. The other day was looking for marathon results and came across that very thing. I’ve seen other sites use this practice regularly. It doesn’t seem right to trick web surfers into coming to a website, but it’s up to you and who you reward with your web hits. Or if you even care.

All one can do is be reputable, weather some of the crap that gets tossed at you, and build an audience of people who know they can trust you. I know there are at least five or six of you out there that like what I touch on and that’s what I appreciate… sharing content with folks that appreciate it.

In the mean time, here’s my source for this inspired tirade:

NY Times: website sourcing guidelines proposed

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