How to Source and Credit Content

Online media makes it easier to copy things. As it is the case with so many other activities, however, execution is key. In researching information for this post, for example, I came across a post Lee Odden has written about 5 ways to source content on Twitter.

    He says:

  1. polls — I do mine very informally, usually when I'm researching a story
  2. Twitter chats — in addition to participating, I was the founder, then co-host of #kaizenblog
  3. by crowd sourcing — some use this to learn which topics interest their network
  4. searching for questions — this can also give you ideas of the kinds of information one looks for
  5. searching for tips and smart people — is there a pattern that can be surfaced?

    When quoting an article, we credit by linking, and listing from the post, as I've done here per the terms of the creative commons license. Many don't know this, but the Creative Commons licenses spell out terms and protect the work of creators.

   Creators retain the copyright of their work. The two are not mutually exclusive. The most important part of the license is attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

    In the early days, Conversation Agent used the "non commercial use" option. Every single day some person or another asks me to republish my content — sometimes entire posts or series of posts for their books — in exchange for credit. I'll take the money, thank you very much. No takers on that so far.

    As for the credit, that is tricky. Why is giving credit so hard?

    One of the most often cited reasons is that ideas are free and we should be able to build on each other's. Others fear they won't be looked to as thought leaders if they do. Which is interesting, because none of us is born learned — we all learn somewhere. It is a sign of maturity and professionalism to admit and share where.

    Not crediting is also happening in school term papers, and I imagine that many an author is actually convinced to have come up with an idea or concept when someone else they read in fact did.

    Quoting and crediting is done all the time in university research papers, articles for publication, and books — all publications of a certain tenor and weight list sources and further reading. If you flip to the end notes in a book, or at the end of a paper, you will see the proper style.

Sourcing content can be fun

    My approach to social and to knowledge in general is to make researching topics and information fun. Even though I have different settings in different networks, I like to participate in the communities that form in those networks.

    Since we have a good handle on some ideas for Twitter already, let's look at other networks and tools. Here are a few examples for content ideas on LinkedIn, which is often overlooked by many, yet is rich with activity.

    We also talked about using Delicious and SlideShare for ideas. The latter is a bit more work, yet because so many of us are visual creatures, it can really pay off. Google search, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, and Flickr are other potential sources, as are books, movies, stories, and experiences of any kind.

Thinking small

    By definition, when I hit publish on this post, I am still pushing content out there. However, you may comment, link to it, quote it, build on it, etc. In marketing, we still call all the times you come in contact with content from a company or a brand touch points.

    A phone conversation and a customer support call are still content.

    What digital is allowing us to do, is to shift from orchestrated touch points to voluntary micro interactions. In other words, when I put my content out here, I do not necessarily know or can predict within a certain degree of accuracy how much you will interact with it.

    However, the mere fact that I am exposing new ideas and stories to your reactions and engaging in interactions with you, allows us to build context together. These interactions form the fodder for further blog posts or conversation — online and offline.

    The key is how and when you and your customers want the information and when they need to use it. Content at the point of use? We've been talking about the knowledge flow and the power of pull, which a respectable content strategy would address. Noah Brier asks what the tool or technology to manage bits of content would look like.

    How do you go about sourcing content? What are the stumbling blocks on crediting those sources?


0 responses to “How to Source and Credit Content”

  1. Whenever I research for a post (even if “research” is a big word in my case) I note down the links and a quick note in my Evernote entry relative to that blog post (funny ’cause I wrote about this just yesterday), and within the post I usually just link to the content from a relevant anchor text.
    In case, instead, I cite chunks of text, I provide more information and provide anyway a link to the source.
    I use a CC license for my blog as I do agree with what you say about it.
    In the end, I am aware there’s a lot of confusion about crediting sources especially over the Internet, where people believe everything is public domain, and I try to do things right. Sometimes I screw up, it’s normal, like in this case (last post), but I am up to learn and adapt, that’s the main thing in my opinion.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to consolidate how to source. It is an important and ever evolving topic. As someone with products both in print and on the web, we are amazed at how our work is being used and reused. When in doubt ASK / SPEAK with the author.

  3. This is a great article because I understand the work and time you invest in writing and researching your posts. Something I do along with your helpful suggestions is provide an author a heads-up via Twitter to let him/her know I’ve cited or referenced his/her content in my post (especially if I’ve quoted word-for-word chunks of content). A quick tweet like @ConversationAge I’ve cited you in “title of the post” I think is a good thing. I’ve been on the other end where some bloggers have reblogged my content word-for-word and I was given no credit even though my Creative Commons Attribution License is clearly displayed on my blog. It’s disappointing and frustrating when you work hard to create insightful content and others try to pass it off as their own.

  4. I think on most occasions ideas pop up when reading posts and I by the time I figure out how to build upon it I end up not writing anything.
    I did not understand the Creative Commons License that well. The link you included was very helpful and will help me in those occasions I mentioned previously.
    Thanks for the post and it will surely help me make much needed changes.

  5. It’s Sunday evening. I don’t have a story for Monday yet. OMG. ONOEZ.
    Last minute panic is that adrenaline shot in the heart seen in the movies. Inspiration striking under these conditions is like riding a lightning bolt. Great, great things can happen, but past performance is no guarantee of future results. People can and do lose money, I mean, miss deadlines.
    I’m not really interested in sourcing content. I’d rather source sources. And provide value. And dust off my collection of Calvin and Hobbes books.

  6. @Gabriele – you can insert links, use and just out the link in the post. I spend so much time on researching content (and doing work) that I have not had the chance to figure out the commenting options with TypePad. Although I’m not holding my breath ๐Ÿ˜‰ As for crediting, getting a seat at the conversation table involves being responsible and accountable for what one does. Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.
    @Lael – why I have very handy DMCA resources and templates ๐Ÿ˜‰
    @Tony – I wrote a post a few months ago titled “be a blogger, not a thief” which got some nice comments going pro and cons. The cons, well, they benefit from taking the content of others, don’t they? Then again, it is those who do who get ahead and eventually just scraping doesn’t really do much. The other thought is that of course the Web is allowing everyone on, so you get a bit of everything there, including people who just don’t know/don’t have enough education and information to make smart decisions, in addition to those who just don’t care.
    @Raul – many overlook the benefits of a Creative Commons license. Glad the post was helpful.
    @Brian – aren’t Calvin and Hobbes terrific? The subtle irony of some of the cartoons really hits my sweet spot.
    @Jeff – I think I tweeted one of the posts about that. I wrote this before seeing it on the strength of how many try to rip me off constantly ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of course, none of them are me, which makes it really hard on them.

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