You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting much, and that most of my recent posts involved movies. Well, I’ve become unenthusiastic with blogging. It’s nothing related to any personal setbacks (well, maybe just a little); it’s actually got more to do with my chosen blogging platform: WordPress.com.
You see, WordPress.com recently launched a new feature for their hosted blogs: The “Like” feature. Accordingly, this feature would make sharing of snippets of your favorite WordPress.com blog posts easier, instead of the standard copying and pasting. Also, you could even share these snippets along with your comments.
Basically, the main function of this feature is “reblogging”—same as the reblog feature of Tumblr and the “retweet (RT)” process of Twitter. In reblogging, you get a number of words from a post from another blog of your choice and publish it quoted, with some text of your own, on your own blog. For WP.com, you first “like” your favorite post by clicking the ‘Like’ button on the administration bar. Once a post is “liked,” you are given the option to reblog it. A second option, to view your “liked posts” also becomes available.
What’s Wrong With It
At first, I thought that this feature would be great, that WordPress.com is finally keeping up with Tumblr and Twitter. Then, I thought of the outcome that this same feature has brought about to blogs that implement this “reblog” feature: Rampant content theft.
Allowing a reblogging feature on a blog only increases its chances of having its posts being plagiarized—either on- or offline. Content could be easily copied and posted on spam and SEO blogs, all to increase these blogs’ traffic. Content could also be easily excerpted and printed out for distribution.
I’ve read some comments on the blog posting of this feature (read them here), stating that in the blogging world, content theft is rampant, that it happens anyway. There were also statements that this feature will actually allow copying of content snippets with proper citation to the original source/author.
I disagree. There are bloggers who research hard and work hard to come up with high quality blog posts/content. These are professional writers who observe proper protocol when it comes to writing. Most people think that writing is putting your thoughts on paper through a pen, or tapping away on your keyboard with a word processor. This is not the case. For pros and hard-core hobby writers, writing involves numerous and painful research, hours and hours of conceptualization, and deep thought on style and presentation. They strive to come up with the best material and put it up for readers to enjoy and think about.
Then suddenly, their written creations become published elsewhere without proper permission. How discouraging indeed. But that is why there are anti-plagiarism programs available on the web (Copyscape and CopyrightSpot).
About the citation aspect, an experiment was initiated by Richard, a blogger about personal experiences and journeys, with the help of timethief, a blogger about building a better blog and blog promotion. Richard used the ‘Like’ feature to reblog a post by timethief. He then reblogged his blog post that contained a snippet of timethief’s blog post. So then, there is a double succession of reblogging on timethief’s blog posts.
The results, to quote from <a title="Thumbs down on WordPress Reblogging <timethief’s blog post on the subject, are as follows:
1. All links to the original article are gone in the second-generation reblog.The read more and site link at the bottom of the second-generation reblog link back to the second blog, NOT to the original.
2. The possibly related posts links to the reblogged post, NOT to the original.
So although citation is indeed observed in the reblogging feature of WP.com, proper identification is not in order. Consider this: A post on blog B contains content that was reblogged from blog A. The post on blog B becomes reblogged on blog C. Now, the post on blog C will cite blog B as the source, when in actuality, the source is blog A. How’s that for plagiarism?
What to Do
According to WordPress.com, there are two ways of preventing your blog posts from being reblogged. First, you can set a specific blog post’s visibility to private, either with or without a password. This is a good option, but certainly not for blogs where all blog posts are treated with utmost importance. It’s like having a visible blog whose blog posts you cannot read because they are all set to private.
For this scenario, we have the second option: Setting the entire blog’s visibility to private. This would mean that the blog won’t be accessible to all readers, i.e.: They will have to register in order to read the blog. Now, this second option has one pro and one con:
Pro: Your blog posts are secure since they aren’t vulnerable to plagiarism.
Con: Your blog readership and visibility is low to non-existent.
Tough choice, I know.
With this dilemma, I have come up with an alternative: Blog without purpose and passion. Keep your blog posts commercial, don’t research for your posts, and don’t regard them as works of art. By doing so, you don’t develop an attachment to your blog and its posts and thus, wouldn’t care if it was plagiarized.
Believe me, I’m mulling over that option.
There is a third choice, actually, but it will require a purchase: The CSS upgrade for WordPress.com. Since the administration bar is part of the WP.com blog, you can use the CSS upgrade to manipulate the CSS coding of your blog to remove the ‘Like’ option on the bar. This is actually what I did, since I purchased the CSS upgrade months ago. Take note that the CSS upgrade subscription will have to be renewed one year after purchase. Failure to do so will disregard the changes you have made to your blog’s CSS coding. 😛
There is, by the way, another option: Delete your blog and move over to other available blogging platforms/service-providers. 😛
Like other serious WordPress.com bloggers, I stand that this feature should have been given as an opt-out option, instead of making it mandatory on all WP blogs. Content security is a very big issue to serious/passionate bloggers mainly because their blog posts were created with utmost consideration.
It’s such a shame. I’ve done some drafts of various blog posts ideas and I was looking forward to posting them on this blog. I’m not so sure now. I’m actually thinking what I will do with this blog once my CSS upgrade expires. Delete? I hate to delete this! I’ve promised myself that I’ll keep it! Go to other platforms? What other blogging service-providers are there that have features, security, and services as efficient as WordPress? Augh! The irony! Keep the blog private? Maybe. I could just open this up to people who I know personally. I could also promote it using Twitter and other social networking services. But until then, maybe I’ll just keep on blogging . . . although I feel drained out and betrayed with the ‘Like’ feature.
How hard is it to provide an opt-out option? It’s just some harmless tweaking of the software that would, in the end, satisfy all WP.com bloggers. Yes, there are those who rejoice at the inclusion of this feature, but there are also others who don’t. WordPress should leave it to their users if they like to use certain features or not. They owe it to their users; without bloggers, WordPress wouldn’t be where they are today.
- Like and Reblog Feature Announcement: We All Like to Reblog—Blog—WordPress.com [http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/we-all-like-to-reblog/]
- Reblogging Experiment of Richard and timethief: <a title="Thumbs down on WordPress Reblogging <Thumbs down on WordPress Reblogging << onecoolsitebloggingtips
- “You like this (1)” with “Reblog this post” and “View all posts I like” options: We All Like to Reblog—Blog—WordPress.com [http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/we-all-like-to-reblog/]