Suggestion: A paid Reblog Opt-Out

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(Updated 2:30 pm, Jan. 13, 2012)

It’s an old but ongoing discussion — WordPress’s Reblog feature. Many of us have complained to WordPress for several years that we don’t like it, that it makes it much too easy for other bloggers to borrow/steal/take our material. I’ve discussed it before, and not much has changed in the year since then. Reblog is still in place and there’s still no option for us to disable it or make it impossible for other bloggers to reblog our content.

I’d given up complaining about it because it was very rare for my posts to be reblogged. Then my “Acosta’s Crayons” post was Freshly Pressed and it seemed the reblogging would never stop. It put me in an uncomfortable position. I’m really opposed to reblogging, but I thought Acosta’s mural deserved the exposure.

The experience left me thinking again about reblogging. WordPress claims it benefits us and drives traffic to our blogs, that others see our posts elsewhere and come to our blogs to see the full post. That was not the case this time, if it ever has been. I was watching closely, and according to the Referrers stats, not one reader came to Pied Type from a reblog. The reblogs were not driving readers to this blog. They were not generating any of the “social” activity that WordPress seems to want.

It’s also been said that WordPress benefits from reblogging because it drives traffic from blog to blog, and “traffic” is what advertisers want to see; it’s what they pay for — eyes on their ads. If that’s the intention, then driving views to a blog with the No Ads upgrade doesn’t benefit any advertisers. So why not include a reblog opt-out in the No Ads upgrade as a bone for at least some WP bloggers. Or, while we’re talking paid upgrades, why not just offer a paid Reblog opt-out. I’d pay a modest sum to keep my posts from being reblogged. And WP would have another way to make money.

I’m even more willing to consider it after exploring the WP support page on reblogging and discovering that the Reblog function now grabs not only the first image in a post but also a thumbnail of every other image in the post. (I’d wondered why the reblogs of my post were showing two images.) I’m pretty sure that in the past, Reblog picked up only the first image. There were some clever workarounds to foil that, but according to the forum discussion I was in the other day, they no longer work; of course they wouldn’t if Reblog now picks up all the images.

I dislike Reblog, now more than ever. And while I might be willing to pay for an opt-out, I still think WordPress should recognize and respect that many of us are here to blog, not to join the “social media” phenomenon. WP blog owners should be able to disable reblogging.

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NOTE: Here’s something else I just noticed: Reblog does not pick up the captions, credits, or any other information on images it grabs. Thus, if someone sees a reblog of my Gamma Acosta post, they do not see that the image is from the Gamma Gallery and do not get the active link to the Gamma Gallery — unless they come to my post on Pied Type. The information on a picture (title, caption, alt text, and description) — particularly credits — should stay with it when the picture is reblogged; it should not be stripped out by Reblog. Ironically, it was WordPress that contacted me and asked that all that information be included before they put the post in Freshly Pressed.



Categories: blogging, copyright, WordPress

24 replies

  1. I will disagree with you on this one, PT. Now, this is what I see on my blog, so can only speak for my experience. But the reblogs of my posts almost always bring traffic. Sometimes just one or two hits, and it may have just been the person that did the reblogging. But some will bring up to 20 visits. This is because when something is reblogged, to read the entire post, the reader must go to the source site. The only exception is when it is very short, such as one image, or just posting a video with very little text.

    Now, on the other end of a reblog, when I’m on someone else’s site and come across a reblog they posted, unless it’s something that really attracts my attention, I don’t click on it simply because I don’t want to have a ton of different tabs and sites open. (I always right click – open new tab).

    And I know you know this, but do remember, when someone else posts to your site, the web crawlers love it and will slowly build up the ranking in search engines.

    • You can’t count the rebloggers, because they come to your post first, then decide to reblog it from there — unless they come back, which should show in the Referrers stats. But yes, there are the web crawlers to consider. I hadn’t thought about that. A reblog would be another link. However, if people did it the proper way, with a small quote and attribution/link, the crawlers would count it as well. It’s not necessary to reblog to accomplish that. If WordPress is just trying to make that easier, fine. They should change Reblog to take only a short quote (shorter than now) and no pictures (or maybe only one thumbnail).

  2. On one point I agree with you, it should be optional but for me the reblogging has worked out in my favour, have seen new viewers popping in from the reblogs which is the way it should work. Shame if it didnt work for you 😦 but in all, if someone reblog a post of mine I feel good about it knowing there are people who has similar taste as me…

  3. I’m sorry–I was one of the ones who re-blogged your post. I thought it deserved more traffic and I had hoped people were going to go browse through your site, as I did when I saw it on Freshly Pressed.

    I get the occasional ping back or re-blog, and haven’t noticed a huge increase in my traffic either. Then again, I am still fairly new to blogging and don’t expect a huge return since my blog is mostly for myself and a handful of friends.

    I think that offering the opt-out of re-blogging option as a Paid feature would be great. I know there are some posts I write (more so in the past) that I would not want re-blogged just because of the personal content. I know, personal content on a public blog is ridiculous, it is out there for the world at large to read. However, if there was something I worked incredibly hard on and it had personal meaning to me, I wouldn’t want just anyone to be able to re-blog it at will and claim it as their own.

    • No need to apologize. I wanted a lot of people to share that mural. But I also wanted to generate a discussion about it, and unless people came to Pied Type to read the full post and see all the comments, they wouldn’t know that.

      That gives me another idea. Reblog should be a per post option. Then we could choose to make each post rebloggable or not. You could protect your personal posts but make everything else rebloggable. I could have allowed reblogging on the Acosta post, but not on anything else. Of course, I don’t know if this is something the WP developers could do, but that would be the ultimate accommodation for everyone.

  4. I have mixed feelings on the reblogging issue PT. On the one hand, I really like the fact that I can use my blog to draw attention to other blogs that I really like, but I admit that it bother me to see how few clicks are made on the links I include back to the original sources. On the other hand, I am very disturbed by the number of blogs out there that seem to consist mostly of reblogs of other people’s work…

    • I’ve no objection to the way you reblog. You feature someone else’s post and you talk about it, how interesting it is or why you like it so much. You add your own opinion and encourage readers to go see the full post.

      Some of the reblogs of my post seemed to be on blogs that consisted almost entirely of reblogs, with no additional comment or input by the owner of that blog. That’s not right. A blog should be more than just a collection of other people’s work. One could argue that it’s up to each blogger to decide if they want to create original material or just go around collecting reblogs, like a public scrapbook of clippings. After all, WP gives them the free blog and the Reblog button to make that possible. So rather than try to decide arbitrarily how much reblogging is too much, give all blog owners the right to control or at least limit the redistribution of their content by enabling an optional Reblog.

      WP talks about reblogging being an aid to blog owners who want to reblog other people’s posts. It is. But that’s a backwards approach. The person who created/originated the post, not the visitor, should have the control.

  5. Your post here on reblogging, PT, causes me to rethink the issue, even though my motivation to post on my own blog has greatly diminished. Why do bloggers blog? Most seem to be motivated by the quantity of views and I must admit that such was attractive to me when I started. It seems akin to other activities intended to attract attention, a universal human craving. The urge to attention is what makes people get tattoos, play their car radios loudly with the windows down, and buy AR-15 assault rifles, but when examined closely I submit that it is an unworthy goal without an element of quality. For me that element of quality is to find people with whom to discourse, people who are willing to share life experiences with an attitude of open-mindedness. In other words, sources of wisdom by mutual exploration of ideas. Personally I’ve found with my own blog that such commenters are fairly rare. I’m therefore inclined to agree with you, PT, about the reblogging issue. Reblogging appears to promote raising the number of readers for the reblogger while being ineffective at attracting more to the original author. Isn’t that the same concept, i.e., ownership of creativity, that copyright laws are meant to protect?

    • People blog for all sorts of reasons. Personally I enjoy writing and I enjoy, just as much, playing with the layout, the look, the presentation. Much of my writing is just for my own enjoyment, to chronicle memories or experiences or my current thinking on something. If that writing is of interest to others, that’s just frosting on the cake. Thoughtful discussion from and among my readers is very gratifying and always hoped for, but if that were my entire purpose, I’d have stopped blogging long ago.

      When we spend time writing, illustrating, and planning how we present a post — when we create — we are entitled to normal copyright protection. We have the right to expect that if our work is quoted or cited in any way, we will be acknowledged and credited in the customary way. Reblog goes far beyond that; it makes it too easy to simply copy a good-sized chunk of someone else’s work with no thought or intention of making it part of a larger discussion. It takes a specific number of words (128, as I recall), regardless of the length of the original, which in the case of a short post may far exceed “fair use.” It now takes all the images in a post, which in the case of a photography blog, might well be the entire post. It teaches people that they can with a single click take almost anything they want from other blogs and use those reblogs to build their own readership, with no thought whatever to what is right and proper under copyright law or Creative Commons conditions/limitations, or of asking permission from the source. Reblog is a one-size-fits-all tool; fair use is a case-by-case thing.

      Sorry, didn’t mean to repeat everything I’ve said before. My entire intent with this post was simply to suggest that perhaps, if WP won’t remove Reblog or make it optional for everyone, they consider making an opt-out a paid option.

  6. NOTE: Here’s something else I just noticed: Reblog does not pick up the captions, credits, or any other information on images it grabs. Thus, if someone sees a reblog of my Gamma Acosta post, they do not see that the image is from the Gamma Gallery and do not get the active link to the Gamma Gallery — unless they come to my post on Pied Type. The information on a picture (title, caption, alt text, and description) — particularly credits — should stay with it when the picture is reblogged; it should not be stripped out by Reblog. Ironically, it was WordPress that contacted me and asked that all that information be included before they put the post in Freshly Pressed.

  7. This is a good idea. However, I will not be purchasing another upgrade. I will only be renewing the ones I have. I was prepared to purchase a No-Ads upgrade for my personal blog too but this tore it all for me > http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/you-might-also-like-pop-up-box/page/2?replies=43#post-1105189

    • Oh that’s just great. I wasn’t aware of said pop-ups. I hope the “beta testing” is over, that none of my readers were misled or offended by such a box, and that WP decides not to pursue it. The algorithm sounds no better than the old “related posts” thing that preceded Zemanta, or the one that drove the ads I paid to get rid of. I’m furious that WP would experiment with a feature like this without telling us it’s happening. I don’t want anything appearing on my blog without my approval. Period.

  8. I just write. Readers are fun, but not the object. I do not really want reblogging. An opt-out feature would be protective of our work. (especially if we could allow some posts to be reblogged when we needed them to be)
    I wish WP would ban those sites that simply collect other’s posts and reblog them – it’s clutter in blogland.
    The only time I know reblogging really added viewers was with the Seargent Rex posts- and we were trying to accomplish something there – so I appreciated people spreading the word.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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