June 13, 2003

Off My Chest

An issue that needs to be addressed.

Cite your resources - We learned in high school that when you get material from other sources and use them in a paper/theory/whatever, you should cite your sources. So why is it that people who write weblogs don't do so. I know of at least 2 weblogs that I read that do this on a regular basis with the material that I post to Library Stuff (it is not a coincidence that some of my material ends up on other weblogs the next day - I have proof that this is actually happening). Sure, I get some of my information from other sources, but at least I have the decency to give credit as to where I got it. For those that "steal" material, you know who you are...

Sorry about the rant. Medication makes one do strange things.

Posted by Steven at June 13, 2003 08:46 AM

A retort or sorts...

>"when you get material from other sources"

I remember the rule as more "when you get original ideas from other sources" (with the exception of library school assignments to look up factual information and cite the page, column, and paragraph where you found it -- and forensics/barristry....). So sure copying your write-ups without attribution would be bad, and is exactly the type of thing the "cite your sources" rule is designed for. But if someone is reading a blog and posts a link they find on their own blog, I don't think the act of spreading the links around constitutes "stealing material."

Where would it end? Are you saying that the bibliographic reference:

Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

should be rewritten as:

Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. [Found from a citation in Searle, J. R. (1992). The rediscovery of the mind. Cambridge: MIT Press. Which was cited in Chalmers, D. J. (1996). The conscious mind: In search of a fundamental theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press....]

I see links posted all the time that go back and forth without citations - they first appear on tech/nerd blogs (say Fark posts a link, and it is copied to a Slashdot story later in the day), then tech news sites (Wired has an article on it the next day, then CNN the next), then if it's a big story it'll go through a few more cycles before I see it on the local news two weeks later. And none of these stories give those kind of source attributions. Permission to pass on a link, or even etiquette suggesting a source attribution is proper doesn't fit well with how the Web works.

The peeps in the library link dissemination to blogs and mailing lists and e-mail a few months ago a good library example. It's interesting to watch links like this spread, as long as your mom doesn't send you the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe again.

I don't think people forwarding links without a source attribution are plagiarizing or anything. That's like complaining that Roger Ebert doesn't give due credit to the movie showtimes page in his movie reviews, because that's the source material of where he got to see the movie. Yes, it's nice to get credit for finding something, but that doesn't mean you own it or have some sort of copyright to complain if others spread the news. Information wants to be free, after all. :)

That's all my opinion. My wife often says I'm a little short on the Miss Manners side. And yes, I'm probably one of the filthy little thievesss Steven is talking about. I run the Library Link of the Day, and although I post a general Information Sources page, I don't include where I found the link for the daily ones.

Posted by: John Hubbard on June 13, 2003 01:49 PM

I think John's point is a valid one, but I also like to give credit and draw attention to the people who ferret out the good stuff for me (on a post by post basis, as Steven is espousing).

What I really wanted to say was that the book John used as an example, Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained, is absolutely amazing and will change the way you view brain functionality. A must read.

Posted by: Greg on June 13, 2003 02:38 PM

I must admit that I've been recently lazy in attributing blog entry sources. I had been writing "via MobyLives" or "via LibraryStuff" and then linking back.

I do wish that trackbacks were available on more Weblogs.

Posted by: Amanda on June 14, 2003 08:17 PM

Geez, if Steven gets like this while on antibiotics, I'd hate to see him on crack!

In high school, they never told me to mention the Reader's Guide after every bibliography reference I found there. And we don't put stickers in our library books to indicate where we heard about them.

I generally don't mention where I found a link (unless I intend to direct readers to the blog or site as well as to the item I found there), and I don't expect others to cite me when they post one of "my" links. I'm just happy that others find value in some of the stuff I toss out there. I was a little pissed when I found out that the Librarian of Congress quoted something I *wrote* without proper attribution, but that's different.

Posted by: Brian on June 16, 2003 09:26 PM

Very nice website

Posted by: Steven on November 29, 2003 07:49 AM

Where can we find more information about this ?

Posted by: Max on December 19, 2003 08:45 AM
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