By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)
Lately I’ve seen some bloggers wondering what the etiquette should be around reblogging (blogging something previously posted on another blog).
Before I get into the tips, let me say that I think re-blogging can be useful.
If you’re being reblogged, it’s an honor that someone found your content worthy of sharing with their followers, and it can extend your reach and bring people back to your site without the effort of guest posting. If you’re the reblogger, it can sometimes be a lifesaver in terms of getting content up on your site when your week has fallen to pieces. Plus, you’re providing your readers a service through vetting material for them and bringing them the best.
If done incorrectly, though, reblogging flirts with the line of plagiarism. You don’t want to flirt with plagiarism. She carries some really nasty diseases.
So how can we reblog in a professional, mutually beneficial way?
Unless you know that the blogger doesn’t mind others reblogging their content, always ask first. (Kristen Lamb, for example, has an open policy on reblogging. If you want to reblog any of her material, all she asks is that you link back to her site and give her proper credit. You don’t need to get permission first.)
With all the social media options available, it’s not that hard to reach a blogger anymore. If I don’t respond to a comment on this blog right away, you can usually catch me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or through email. I know that we’ve entered an age of instant gratification, but patience is still a virtue. I try to answer all requests and emails as promptly as possible, but I have to prioritize my paying work and my life over social media so you might have a delay. If you don’t receive a response after a week, assume my spam file ate it and try again.
You should do more than just ask permission though. Not all reblogging is created equal. Find out the format the original blogger prefers. Are they alright with you copying the entire post onto your site? Or would they prefer you copy only the first couple of paragraphs with a link back to the full article?
Why does the format of the reblogging matter?
Comments – While I can’t speak for every blogger, I like to try to reply to comments on my post. If my post is appearing in full someplace else, chances are good I won’t be able to monitor the comments there as well as on my own site. With a guest post, you’re able to plan in advance. With a reblog, unlike with a regular guest post, I haven’t planned the extra social media time into my day to be able to check and reply to comments on two (or more) sites where my content is appearing.
Site Stats – If you’re a writer who’s blogging as part of building a platform, your site stats matter. They can influence whether you get an agent, whether people take you seriously, and (if you choose) whether you can eventually sell ad space on your site. The click-through rate for a post reblogged in full is much lower than for a partial repost with a link.
Common Courtesy – A good blog posts takes me 1-3 hours to write, depending on the complexity of the topic and the amount of research necessary. While I’m happy to share and to help, I’ve made significant sacrifices to produce my content, and I believe that still gives me the right to decide when and how it’s used.
My personal policy is that people can post the first couple of paragraphs and a link back to the full post without asking. If you want to post the full piece and don’t ask first, and I catch you at it, I will ask you to take my post off your site. If you wouldn’t borrow someone’s clothes or food or chainsaw without asking, why would it be okay to borrow their written content?
Credit the Original Source
If something goes viral and you find it four people down the chain, go back and reblog from the original site. It’s respectful to the owner of the material, and it’s kind to your reader who won’t want to go back through a chain of sites to find the original source to see if they have more excellent content to read.
What if you follow the chain to a dead end? Part of being a responsible writer is doing your research and exercising due diligence. Run a Google search, and see if you can locate the original poster on your own.
Add An Introduction/Conclusion
If you end up reblogging the content in full, add an original introduction or conclusion telling people not only where you found the content but also why you thought it was worthy of reblogging. What’s the point that resonated the most with you? What do you disagree with?
Have you tried reblogging? What other pieces of etiquette do you think should be observed? Do you think reblogging is a great new trend that can benefit everyone or no better than plagiarism?