Crediting the Writer – It’s Just Common Courtesy
Posted on 02 April 2010
Ever since I joined twitter just over a year ago, I’ve noticed a very strange thing: many people tweet to recommend an article or blog posting by someone else, but do not credit the writer of that article or blog posting in their tweet.
I find that odd, unhelpful, unethical and just plain rude. When someone tweets the title of an article, followed by a link, I believe that gives the distinct impression that they’re saying THEY wrote the article themselves (because that’s exactly the way people tweet when they DO want to direct people to an article they wrote themselves). If someone wants to recommend an article written by someone else, why don’t they name the author in their tweet (using the @ symbol to link to that person’s twitter profile page, if the person is on twitter)?
As a writer, I care about the issue of copyright, and about writers getting due credit for their work. But it’s not just about common courtesy and giving credit where it’s due – I’d be more likely to click on a link to an article if I recognise the author’s name (especially if it’s someone famous or someone I respect).
How not to do it
Here’s an example: author Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) tweets frequently in order to direct people to his latest blog posting. Two women that I follow, who also follow Seth, instantly and automatically copy every tweet by Seth, including his shortened URLs, but give absolutely no indication that the original blog posting is by Seth. They don’t even have the courtesy to use the ReTweet button to show that Seth was the originator of the tweet. So it LOOKS like each woman is saying: “Here’s an interesting article that I wrote.”
And here’s another example: I saw a tweet from a woman (let’s call her A) who recommended an article titled “The Bobby McFerrin Plan for Creating a Remarkable Business”. I of course immediately clicked on the link to read the article, and discovered that A was not the author – it was a guest post by Pamela Wilson (@pamelaiwilson) on the blog of Brian Clark (@copyblogger).
So I sent a private direct message to A, saying: “It seems to me that it would have been courteous to credit the source of the article about the Bobby McFerrin concert.”
She replied: “Thanks so much for your input. Brian and I are good friends. If you look at his stream, he tweets articles similarly. We’ve discussed it. Thanks.”
I replied: “Yes, I see lots of ppl do that, and as a writer I don’t think it’s cool not to credit the original source. I know many ppl who agree.”
And A replied to me: “That’s great for you. Thanks for your feedback.”
Then I unfollowed her, and posted this public tweet: “I say it’s polite to credit the writer of an article/blogpost you recommend; some say there’s no need. What say you?”
Three people replied:
@JeremyDBrown “I say Credit them”
@moncarv “…it’s amazing some still think it would be some sort of favor. People should be quoted properly in any media”
@SpiritusShelagh “I agree!” [I clarified that with her, and she said she meant yes, she agreed with me.]
What do you think?
And if you repost someone else’s tweet
Similarly, a twitterer named Mike Johansson (@mikefixs) feels strongly about the issue of people reposting other people’s tweets without crediting the source, and has written a great blog posting titled “Twitter’s ‘Tweet Lifters’ Take Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due”.
Mike wrote: “So taking a tweet and reposting it without crediting the source is no big deal, right? It’s only Twitter. There’s so much stuff flying around who will notice, right? Wrong! People do notice and you will be caught. Your ‘tweet lifting’ (a term my friend @markfrisk coined) will be noted. You may be called on it publicly (the best case scenario as it may make you stop the lifting or whatever you want to call it). Or you may simply suffer a silent, but deadly decline in your reputation.”
I agree with Mike 100 per cent. Ironically, I first read about Mike’s blog posting in a tweet by someone who recommended the blog posting but did not credit Mike as the writer. Unbelievable!