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Wanted: A WordPress ‘Disable Reblog’ option

I saw my first example of WordPress’s new “Reblog” feature in use today (I hope JW won’t mind if you pop over for a look). Admittedly when the feature was announced, I didn’t pay much attention, but now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m concerned.

My first thought is that it grabs excessively long quotes. A significant chunk of text. Eighty-six words, if I counted correctly. Now, a long quote from a much longer post (as this was) might not seem so bad. And Reblog does include the appropriate link, credit, etc. But what if the post were quite short, or, say a short poem or an aside. Reblog would have grabbed the entire post. That’s not okay.

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While it may sound like I’m nit picking here, I’d remind you of an Associated Press story a few years ago. Their idea of fair use is (or was) four (4) words or less. After that, they charge you. And if you quote the headline or “lede” (first sentence or paragraph) there will be hell to pay, because in a properly constructed news story, the lede is the story. Everything else is just additional detail. Most casual bloggers probably are not professional reporters or headline writers, but Reblog, in grabbing a post’s title and first 85 words, overreaches by quite a bit. Not to mention leaving the impression that doing so is perfectly okay. It’s not.

Reblog also grabs the first image in the post. What if the image is the bulk of the post, the whole point of the post? What if it constitutes the entire post, as on a photo blog? I have real problems with that.

I’ve suggested in a WP forum thread that Reblogs be made much shorter, that they not include images, and that at the very least, administrators be given an option to disable Reblogging of their posts. I think my requests are reasonable, all things considered, but I’m only one person, and WP surely has already run this by some good copyright attorneys. So I’d settle for a “Disable Reblog” option. How my material gets distributed should be my decision, not WP’s.

I like publicity as much as the next writer, but I want readers reading my material here, not on someone else’s blog.

P.S. Oops, I missed an earlier discussion on the WP forums (and more here). Then there was this, more than a year ago. Apparently Reblog is here to stay (and has been for quite a while), without an opt-out option. So I guess you should consider this post just a faint echo of shots fired a long time ago. Sorry to have bothered you …

Correction, May 15, 2013: Reblog grabs all the images in a post. The first image will be displayed full size and the others as thumbnails. It also strips out all the information I’ve attached to the images — title, alternative text, and most importantly, the caption, where image credits are usually posted.

42 thoughts on “Wanted: A WordPress ‘Disable Reblog’ option

  1. Not going to happen. We fought the fight when it was first introduced, and I got a “like it or fuck off” comment directly from WP owner in chief, Matt M. Himself.

    The “opt-out” was not offered because, according to Matt, when you, a WP user, is surfing a WP blog, the grey bar across the top of your screen belongs to you, not them. So they can’t fuck with your bar, and you can’t fuck with theirs when they surf through your blog. So by putting in an opt-out option it nullifies part of their surfing experience.

    They did seem to listen to my argument that the “Like” and “Reblog” features should be separate. And that there should be an “Unlike” option. But those changes could be a coincidence.

    I’m still not comfortable with it (I reported on Internet privacy, security and copyright issues for a bunch of years), but the newest version is much better than the last — from what I remember there was no automatic back link in the first version. This one looks better anyway.

    I kind of get their rationalization, that people are stealing our work anyway, so why not allow fellow WP-ers to reblog a sentence or two, and maybe a photo? Where’s the harm? But, sometimes, a paragraph or a single photo (with a copyright notice) is the entire post. So reblog it, and you’ve taken all of my work to your blog.

    But my main problem is that none of these blog platforms (WP, Google…) are doing anything about keeping our work safe from theft, and, in my view, the reblog just makes things easier for people to take our work — even if it’s just a sentence or two.

    They make a lot of money from our work as ‘free content providers’ for their platforms, I think the least they could do is offer better and faster DMCA results, and maybe something like a free WP version of “Copyscape” should be made available to us.

    One thing I started doing many, many years ago to fight sploggers and content thieves was to add a copyright image at the top of all my posts. So, it turns out, if someone reblogs anything I’ve written the only thing that shows up on their site is my copyright image.

    Now that deserves a… slow… clap. Heh. Heh.

    1. I agree with absolutely everything you said. I’m really pissed that WP would play fast and loose with our copyrights, and institute something that makes it even easier to scrape our blogs. It doesn’t say much for their professional ethics, if you ask me. I got scraped once and at the time the best defense I could come up with was adding a copyright line at the end of every post. That got tiresome after a while, since it had to be inserted manually each time (over on Blogger, as I recall, you could preformat your editing pages and that line could have been included in the basic template. But that was some years ago. The next best thing I’ve come up with is to make sure all my RSS feeds are excerpts only, not full posts. I’m pretty sure that’s how my stuff was picked up. Do WordPress.org blogs have a Reblog feature? Or does WP concede the point because it doesn’t host those blogs? I’ve often thought of making the transition, but I’m too lazy to want to have to wrestle all the code myself. Been there, done that, not fun when something goes wrong. And I have even less patience now than I did back then.

      Why protecting its customers’ copyrights isn’t WP’s top priority is beyond me. It must be that arrogance and hubris that comes with being the big dog on the block. Sad. Giant corporations ignore the little people at their peril. One day they will rise up and bite Matt Himself in the ass. (But probably not in my lifetime.)

      1. Personally I think it’s laziness. Theme developers and designers are easy to find, people who develop actual software that is useful aren’t.

        WP.org blogs are completely separated from the grey bar. But leaving here for there can be a major headache. You’d lose any Page Rank and be practically invisible to any Google searches until you got it back. Plus you’d have to get it hosted and have some idea as to how the whole process works.

        I’m going to test this later, but because the WP reblog feature only picks up the first image, it could work out that if you add a single pixel image at the top of your post the reblogger only gets the pixel. If it works: Slow. Clap.

        1. A single pixel. Never would have thought to try that. Let me know how it works out. Of course, the way you are set up, rebloggers will always get your copyright symbol.

          My son could host my site if I switched to WP.org and help me get it done.
          And there are tons of great, free themes to use. But losing my page rank … that would probably stop me from leaving.

      1. I’m not sure. Were you logged in? Do you mean your admin bar was showing but “Reblog” was not on it?

        I read somewhere once that if you had the CSS upgrade, you could insert some code to keep “Reblog” from appearing, but that WordPress had taken steps to make that impossible.

        1. The admin bar was showing but “reblog” was not on it. Has happened on several sites. Don’t know if it has to do with wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org or some kind of upgrade, but I got no help when I contacted WordPress.

          1. Possibly those website administrators have found another way to disable the Reblog button (with CSS) so it doesn’t show on their sites; the Reblog button is generated — or not — by those websites, not by your website or your admin bar. I’d take it as an indication that they don’ want anyone reblogging their stuff. If I could figure out how to do it too, I would.

          2. WordPress wouldn’t allow it. They want and insist on keeping the Reblog button in effect. It benefits them, not us. (I’m speaking only of WordPress.com. I’ve no idea what the rules might be on WordPress.org.)

  2. I went over there looked at the post and honestly I don’t like it. If you hadn’t told me that it was a reblog, it could be be possible to over look that it was; no quotes, nothing. I thinking simple terms here because I’m not computer savvy like most on the internet. And maybe it’s the theme but it runs together with what he wrote, so it all looks like the whole thing is his work even though there is the Reblogged from…in blue at the top, I’d put it at the bottom and break it up.
    That is why I don’t use that feature, well that and I hardly ever reblog. IF I do reblog something I quote it and add my own link to it to make it more noticeable that I didn’t do that work.
    Now what happens if someone else now reblogs his post, does it take the reblog and essentially give him credit for it? Or both of you?

    1. Good question. I have no idea what would happen, but I can’t imagine it looking good. I much prefer to do my quotes as block quotes within my post, set off with the blockquote code or in some other way, and with obvious link/attribution. That’s closer to book and magazine style and it’s what I’ve always done.

      1. That’s exactly what I do! I also won’t move to .org because of lost of page rank, it’s a lot of work for me to get readers now and to lose what I have already and to have to do that upward climb again well that’s enough to leave me right where I am at.

  3. When I decided to try the new reblog feature I had no idea it would be so controversial. I can see from reading the comments above however how this could be easily abused. I am thinking now to avoid it.

    1. I apologize if I dragged you into something you didn’t want to be involved in.

      I’m glad you tried it or I probably would still be oblivious to Reblog’s existence. Apparently I was one of the last to hear about it, because the earliest discussion of it I found was more than a year old. I gather it was removed for a while and retooled and then put back up a few days ago. But as noted in that article, it does not seem to be widely used on WP. Certainly I’d never seen it before yesterday. I’m not nearly as concerned by a few honest bloggers using it as I am by WP’s utter lack of concern for its potential misuse, as well as their apparent unwillingness to put in an opt-out control (the explanation for this was ridiculously convoluted).

  4. I’m apparently a late bloomer to re blog fraud and was jut recently asked to take down post I’d foolishly re blogged with giving it a second thought. Once I reflected on the ramifications I not only took down the re blog, I trashed it, I also re-posted why and what I had done. I linked it back to the fellow blogger who had requested it, and linked my newer post to her blog as well.

    Had I thought it out, not just acted on an impulsive “one click” I realized the cost this actually is to the artists.Thanks for your sharing. I’m intending on a letter to WP, and I will not be re- blogging my fellow bloggers post’s, and I’ve asked that in return not re -blog me.

    1. I’ve sworn off reblogging too. It’s not that hard to do it the right way. And if I find I’ve been “reblogged,” I’ll be asking the reblogger to take it down.

  5. I have a realtor who is now reblogging all my posts, which is highly annoying! She writes no creative content – just uses my work. She even has had the nerve to post in my comments section asking when new posts were coming out!! Grrrr… and I get no traffic from her either! How do I add a pixel and how many?

    1. I can imagine how infuriating that must be. As far as I know, there’s no way to stop her from doing it. The WordPress people have made it pretty clear they support reblogging. You might try asking explaining your situation in the forums and see if anyone has a suggestion for how to deal with it. If you put a copyright line at the beginning of each of your posts, that would be picked up when she reblogs. Maybe she wouldn’t be smart enough or alert enough to take it out. Some people put an image at the beginning of each post with a conspicuous copyright notice. I think I even read somewhere about how to embed an image in such a way that it only shows up on the reblogger’s website, not yours. Finally, for a small victory, you can at least blacklist her from your comments if you want to.

  6. Hope it’s okay for me to comment on an old post. I absolutely loathe Reblog for certain things, and not for others. To start with I hated it for everything. I had an art blog (that’s now a quasi-website) and got paranoid about people stealing my work so – thanks to an idea from Gabriel (feartheseeds) I put a little warning at the top of all my posts in the form of a small image. Then I closed it as a blog and had a complete break from blogging for a few months (I’d had a different, more popular blog too that I deleted, so I needed a break). In the meantime, I thought about what it was that bugged me and realised that I have no problem with reblogs of material that is there to share, that is free, but not of material that I’m trying to sell.

    Now I have a new blog (the one linked to my name) and it’s for sharing my stuff, providing there’s a link back to the post each image came from, so the reblog feature – should anyone use it, they haven’t yet – will be quite welcome there. My art site is still a no-no for that, though. Ditto on sites such as Pinterest (have you come across that? That’s probably even worse than reblogging as stuff can get out all over the place and you’ll probably never know where.)

    WordPress.com say that their rationale is that people can take things anyway so this way there’s a link back, but personally I think it’s more about money. Auttomatic that runs WordPress.com (and many other things) is a big company that’s getting bigger, and I think there’s little doubt where their interests lie – not in their users, but in their money.

    Or maybe I’m just getting jaded.

    1. None of us doubts for a moment that Reblog is to benefit WordPress, not its users. Reblog is unnecessary since all you have to do is create a link to posts you want to refer to, plus it makes it all too easy for abusers to infringe on others’ copyrights. As I’ve noted elsewhere, I want people to read my stuff on my blog. If a reader thinks I wrote something worthwhile, they can link to it and send their readers here to read it. I don’t write to fill other people’s blogs. They can write their own stuff.

  7. I agree completely that WordPress should disable the ‘reblog’ function (wherever it is!). I do not want my photos reblogged. All I can do, it seems, is put a copyright notice up and ask rebloggers to remove my content.

    1. It’s a button in your administrator’s toolbar. Click it when you’re on someone else’s post and voila! I noted above that it grabs the first image, but I’ve noticed in the last week that when people reblog my post about Gamma Acosta, the reblogs are grabbing two images. Terrific. We’re losing ground.

          1. Of all the reblogs of my Acosta post that were done, not one, according to the Referrers stats, has brought a reader to my blog. So the reblogs benefitted only the rebloggers that grabbed the post. They generated zero traffic back to my post. Another WordPress contention disproved.

          2. How do you contact WordPress these days? I can’t find a link to contact them anywhere. Instead, if they can’t answer a question I pose in problems, they want me to ask the community. Useless!

          3. I just tried to get to support the way I used to, and you’re right. It runs me through the same steps as before, but instead of a “Submit” button, they’ve put in an “Ask the Community for Support” button. That’s lame, punting all questions back to the Forums, although the test I ran did go to the Support section of the Forums. There are some very knowledgeable volunteers working the Forums, but they can’t respond to everything.

            I noticed above the submission form WP says, “We will update this space as we work on bringing back outstanding, free support for everyone.” Sounds like they’ve got a problem. Let’s hope it’s fixed soon (but I’m not holding my breath).

          4. If someone reblogs one of your posts, a notification will appear in your comments for that post. Also, if you go to Dashboard > Settings > Discussion, you can check a box to have an email notification sent to you.

          5. Thanks for your quick response but nothing appears in comments or in notifications! It has been rebloged by one of my new folowers that is how I found out but I have no idea if it is the first and only time one of my post been rebloged. My post are only photos …

          6. If it was an actual reblog, it would have had your avatar at the top and said “Reblogged from Cecilevision.” If it wasn’t labeled like that, then it probably wasn’t a reblog. They probably just copied your images. Photography blogs are particularly vulnerable and abused because Reblog can’t pick up an excerpt or the first 100+ words. It just picks up all the pictures, which is your entire post.

... and that's my two cents