29 January 2010

One-Line and All-Copy-Paste Posts

I've said this in tweets more than once and I'll say it again here:

I really, REALLY dislike one-line blog posts that say nothing, such as "You should read this" - without telling me why; or provide only a link, e.g., "Go." - again without saying why; or are composed entirely of the writing of others, except to introduce it with something like "Jane Doe writes..." Too many posts like that - there are bloggers who 'write' these posts almost exclusively to their blog - and I don't visit that blog again.

It's bad form for so much content to be copy/paste, even if linked. It's no more fair to news organizations to re-use their work in that way than it is to swipe the work of other bloggers to build up your own readership.

Have Daphne and I written one-liners or posts almost entirely of others' work? You betcha.

But that's not our modus operandi on this or our other blogs. Moreover, in the case of virtually a full post of copy/paste, it is done with permission of the original authors. With one-liners, the content makes their brevity self-explanatory.

There's nothing wrong with using excerpts, subject to appropriate acknowledgement such as linking. One of my favourite bloggers uses excerpts extensively, together with connecting-the-dots prose. The latter makes the post the blogger's own and tells a compelling tale.

Perhaps some bloggers are unaware that what they do is annoying and off-putting and in the case of extensive copy/paste, more than likely a violation of copyright laws. However, there are bloggers whose backgrounds suggest they should know better.

NB: On fair dealing in copyright law: "In deciding whether copying is fair dealing, the courts have determined that the relevant factors to be considered include the length of the excerpts used, the relative importance and quality of the excerpts used, and whether a copy is made for academic or commercial purposes. Fair dealing usually involves copying only a reasonable portion of a work."

About three years ago, an academic wrote a book in which huge portions of Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health were used. I'd been advised he'd violated my copyright, despite his acknowledgement of the source. It was particularly galling given the people who were behind the WISE book - 21 women in poverty. This is another case in which ownership matters.

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