Tracking cut-&-pastes is cool; attribution request too much

By Steve Outing

A while back I installed Tracer on this (WordPress-based) blog, as an experiment to see what people were copying from my blog entries. It’s interesting information, but I regret setting Tracer up so that it would also include a customized link request that shows up whenever someone pastes words copied from my blog.

The idea is that the person excerpting some of your article might keep the attribution line and sends links back to your blog. Fine in theory, but I personally found it annoying when I copied some of my own words and pasted them elsewhere. (I’d have to trim the link request code.)

Also, I’ve noticed a drop in my recent blog entries being picked up by other bloggers. I have no idea whether this Tracer setting discourages people from excerpting my blog content, or if it’s another factor (like getting more link referrals on Twitter and Facebook than other blogs, which seems to be a trend).

Whatever, I turned off the Tracer auto-link generator for cut-and-pastes from this blog, so Tracer is merely monitoring and telling me what content others have copied from my blog, which is fascinating information. No more annoyances.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

3 Responses to "Tracking cut-&-pastes is cool; attribution request too much"

  1. Crosbie Fitch
    Crosbie Fitch 8 years ago .Reply

    I think you’ve got it back to front. You should be providing your readers with a facility to indicate the probabilities of certain passages in your writing having been copied from others, and to trace their provenance and authorship.

    It is not your concern to track down or harrass those who would share and build upon your writing – unless of course you have been infected with the copyright anal retentiveness meme.

    You set the standard. You demonstrate respect and give credit to those you feel deserve it. Let those who feel you deserve credit come to that conclusion of their own accord. You are not owed credit or royalty by those who copy your words.

    Honesty is of course assumed. If another misrepresents your words as their own then perhaps you may ask them to clarify authorship (not necessarily to attribute you, but not to attribute themselves). A lack of the privilege of copyright is not sanction to plagiarise.

  2. Steve Outing
    Steve Outing 8 years ago .Reply

    Crosbie: Personally I installed this tracking feature purely as an experiment. It’s interesting and useful to see what people may copy from what I publish. When you wrote, “Let those who feel you deserve credit come to that conclusion of their own accord. You are not owed credit or royalty by those who copy your words”, that’s why I turned off that feature.

    Now I would be ticked off it someone stole an entire article and took credit, so the Tracer service is handy for alerting me to that. Other systems like Attributor do this as well. How a publisher uses them is open: they can use them intelligently or stupidly.

  3. Crosbie Fitch
    Crosbie Fitch 8 years ago .Reply

    I’m just redressing the contemporary AP-esque undercurrent of ‘headline theft’ or ‘paragraph theft’ (a crime with a long pedigree), not trying to get at you or your motives. I think it would be neat to see where ones words turn up, but only with the curiosity of a craftsman for the peculiar places in which their works end up – not from a collection society’s eager vigilance.

    But, anyway, what would you think of a blog plug-in facility that might shade certain paragraphs or provide hover text suggesting probable provenance? It might even auto-attribute for you.

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