Dude, You Stole My Blog Post

In early January, I posted a blog item about a change at a little-known student news outlet, as reported by a little-known professional news outlet.  I’d come across the original news item a month before my posting, saving it for the winter break dead zone when not much is happening in collegemediatopia.


Almost immediately after publishing the item, I came across a dead-on impersonation of my post on another blog.  It recounted the same small change at the same little-known student news outlet, citing the same little-known professional news outlet’s original story.  My blog posting was not mentioned.  I will bet the GDP of Singapore that the other blog’s creators simply saw my posting, considered the news relevant to their own blog, and decided to cut out the middleman (me) who presented them with their first glimpse of this information.  On bigger news, of course, I understand that it’s common for separate bloggers to come across the same news item independent of reading others’ blogs.  But there is simply no way these bloggers happened across this way-too-buried news item from this way-too-little-known professional news outlet almost one month after it first came across the aggregators and simply by fate right after I published something about it.  My first reaction: Dude, you stole my blog post!


But on further reflection, I’ve wondered, is it really stealing?  After all, my post was based on someone else’s story (which I cited), and almost every opinion, reflection, and analysis spouted in the blogosphere was uttered first somewhere else.  But it seems wrong not to at least send a hyperlink shout-out to the originator of your own introduction to a particular piece of news (whether that originator is the true originator of the news to begin with or not).  As Bryan Murley writes in his “9 1/2 Blogging Tips” (which he mentions is inspired by someone else’s list):


If you find something you like on the Internet, link to it. Comment intelligently on other blogs related to your topic. And don’t EVER take an idea without acknowledging where you found it. It’s called the hat tip (aka via, or thanks or inspired by).


Of course, the ethical conundrum doesn’t necessarily stop there: How far should hat tips go?  On bigger news, a quick check of the daily blogs I consider required reading at times yields similar posts.   Should I cite every one?  The one I came across first?  The one whose views or information is most aligned to what I decide to offer?  The one of the highest quality?  And when does news become so big that it bypasses the hat tip, when it’s simply expected that everyone is writing about it or will soon be writing about it?


The most lingering question for me: Do I have any right to be angered by bloggers not attributing their work to a posting of my own about something that was not my own to begin with?  My gut says yes, given that it was not a news item they would have come across any other way.  So to those someones, somewhere in the blogosphere: You owe me a hat tip.

4 Responses to “Dude, You Stole My Blog Post”
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