For a over month, some in the WordPress.com community have been raging on the new Reblog feature of the free hosting website. As a matter of full disclosure, all 14 blogs in the Boles Blogs Network are hosted right here on WordPress.com and, frankly, we don’t understand all the fuss over the new Reblogging feature.
Here’s a blurp from the announcement article on WordPress.com:
If you decide that you want to share the post with your own readers, you can click the “Reblog this post” link and you’ll be taken to the new QuickPress tab on the WordPress.com home page. This will auto-fill a snippet of the post text, a link back to the original post, and a link to the blog. If the post includes any images we’ll also automatically add a thumbnail image to the reblog post. Finally you can add your own comments to the reblog post then select which blog you’d like to post it to (if you have more than one).
Some bloggers feel WordPress.com are allowing content theft. Others worry their posts will be used as fodder for Spam farms. Others still don’t like not being in control of their content.
If you’ve spent any time at all over the last decade publishing online, your work is already long ago “reblogged” and stolen/reused/abused/recycled anywhere and everywhere.
Even if you’re vigilant in tracking your stolen work online, you’re still missing 90% of you that’s out there and unattributed.
Google has a copy of everything you wrote. Bing, too. And Yahoo! The Wayback Machine has a copy. Sploggers haver a copy. Anyone who knows anything about Copy and Paste can get a copy from Google without even asking you. RSS scrapers have more backup copies than you have of your work.
Protecting content has always been difficult and extraordinarily hard to prevent, police, and then get removed. The guiltless “Copying Generation” was born with the printing press in 1436 and it’s been downhill ever since for original creators.
I hate it when I see my unattributed content appear elsewhere — and, when I’m in the mood, I get that work removed — but if someone is properly crediting me and not changing my words, I’ve generally learned to live with the propagation of my content against my free will. It’s the real writer’s way of life today.
WordPress.com Reblogging actually protects the original author from people who like what they read but who don’t really know how to mechanically celebrate that inspiration on their blog, and so they turn to what they know best: Copy and Paste. With the advent of the Reblog feature, now all they have to do is click a button and they’re happy and the chain of provenance is pretty much preserved.
One could argue those that re-blog a Reblog are skirting the original intent of the whole Reblogging idea, and while that may be true, you really can’t police the stupid or the criminally intended, you can only try to educate and rehabilitate them by asking them to do the right thing and return to the source material.
The want to “Opt Out” of Reblogging is a futile attempt to stop a solution that is aimed at stanching the unattributed bloody loss of your creation.
The problem, I believe, with some of the rancid reaction to WordPress.com’s Reblogging was the way the rollout was hollowed out. “We All Like to Reblog” was the title of the blog post announcing the new feature, and that sort of untrue, universal, statement left WordPress.com open to, and ripe for, the pedantic puncturing — not based on the idea of Reblogging — but rather on the assumption that WordPress.com is telling us what we like… like it or not.
The second problem with the Reblogging launch was calling the new feature, “Reblogging.” Reblogging is a terrible sounding word — even if that’s the colloquial branding of the behavior — “reblogging” suggests recycling of content and it begs the ordinary.
If WordPress had instead called the new feature, “Promoting Your Inspiration” and used that as the title of the announcement post, fewer people would have reacted so negatively because that’s what “Reblogging” really is all about: Promoting content you enjoy right on your blog.
Sure, there would be a few negative WordPress.com bloggers in the support forums and in the killer clique niche who would still leap up and shout — “‘Promoting Your Inspiration’ only creates enemies!” — but they quickly become the crazy outliers who are always unappeasable and forlorn and angry and they are easier to brush off than those who, more rightly, and semantically, argue to this day, “I don’t like to Reblog.” …and then dismiss the whole idea as a lie.