With so much excellent writing accessible online, it’s easy to find inspiration for new posts from other bloggers, writers, and digital publishers. Yet because internet-based content can feel a bit intangible, it’s difficult to know when and how to cite our sources. But giving credit where credit is due is the best way to help foster an active and respectful blogging community. So what are the general guidelines?
While there isn’t a strict set of guidelines on how to cite your sources, citing is necessary anytime someone else’s work is quoted or published. Fair Use is a general guideline for knowing when you need to cite the work or ask for permission from the author. Very simply speaking, an example of Fair Use would be quoting an article to help prove a point in a critical blog post you’re writing.
Regardless of what’s “required,” it’s also polite to link back to the author’s original work. This makes it clear that you’re not claiming that you created it yourself, while also helping to broaden the audience for the original poster. Linking is the virtual equivalent of a bibliography – it gives credit to the work of the original authors and helps to build the blogging community by creating connections between writers. A good example of how to do this is the reblog feature on WordPress.com, where a short excerpt of the post, a link to the original article, and your own commentary on it is automatically displayed. Not only do you get to share some awesome information on your site, but you get to lend a hand to the original author by properly attributing their work.
Conversely, you may find that someone wants to use one of your blog posts on their site. For your own work, it’s good to add a copyright notice to the bottom of your blog in a text widget. If you’re using your own art, music, or video productions on your site, you may even be interested in alternative licensing options. For example, Creative Commons licensing allows others to use your work, but with some usage and attribution requirements.
Properly attributing work is easy to do, and the right thing to do. By always linking back to your original resources, you’re making sure that someone is getting acknowledged for their hard work and contributing to a respectful blogging etiquette.