(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.
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.