I've been thinking about writing an article. I want to get back into the groove of daily publishing. Really, it's just about me. I like the discipline. I did it for 14 years. I've taken a year off. I miss it.

I was going to call the article "Monster Baiters".

I wanted to point out the fact that some widely read bloggers seem to make an enormous amount of hay at Monster's expense. It turns out that the harshest critics are deeply supported by Monster's competition. It's hard to find an independent voice that actually cares about Monster's service. The motivation behind most monster baiting is strictly commercial.

The high volume of negativity comes from a few sources. They all benefit economically from making the criticism. That's Monster Baiting (or at least mental monster baiting).

(That's funny because it's a play on words. It's not a mispelling. One of the toughest things about the web is that word play is hard to notice in a sea of bad grammar and terrible spelling. The tsunami of content generated by new publishing methods seems to be driving the common denominator to new lows.)

Recently, I've been talking with a lot of people about literary rights, web publishing, expectations and how to assess quality.

There is no shortage of noise online. The interesting thing about the legal system is that it protects crap exqactly the same way it protects genius. One idiot's self-flagellation is accorded the same merit as the pure insight that drives fortunes. Copyright law protects authors, regardless of their worth.

There's an unstated assumption that all content is equal around the web as well. The theory seems to be that traffic is the determing factor. All things are equal to start. Attention is how you tell the great from the mediocre.

There's a lot of this simplemindedness going around. People who can't seem to rent a good idea whine incessantly about violations of their rights. What's weird is that you have to protect them in order to protect the stuff that's actually worth protecting.

The reality is pretty simple. If you take someone's materiaL, YOU HAVE TO HAVE THEIR PERMISSION. Quoting a few lines can be okay, if you provide a link back to the source. Since it's the writing that is protected, rewriting the material is the best way to steal it. Ideas are not protected, their expression is.

I'm always tickled by people who pretend not to understand this principle. They went to that high school where plagairism was okay, I guess. I enjoy being grumpy with them. I have the hardest time understanding rationalized sloth. Often, the folks who can't generate ideas are quick to abscond with one they find lying around.

The relentless requirement for fresh content on blogs adds to the problem. I've had too many conversations with idiot savants (okay they weren't really savants) who say something like "I liked your piece so much that I put it on my website. Hey, I even gave you full credit." The pressure to keep the blog current drives some odd behavior. While it's understandable, it's still theft.

 

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"mental monster baiting" Not to worry John - I caught it RIGHT AWAY! Hilarious!

To your point:
If it weren't for all the stuff lying around I'd be able to do about 10% of the posting I do - that 10% being the original stuff I generate as a result of reading all the other stuff. I do try religiously to tease/link back to the original on this 90% of the stuff I put up that is not original (after being chastised mightily long ago for doing it incorrectly) and I get a kick out of adding pics and emphasis to the chosen lines I quote/post. I look at my posting pages as kind of an art form - and maybe that's part of the problem. Or is it?

The theme here that is being ignored is Inspiration. Although it takes a lot of Perspiration to do all that posting, I find relevance in the activity because it gets me juiced. It gets me to think. It allows me to signal to the world my bent and I enjoy the partial insights into the other person's psyche that their chosen quote/links reflects. It allows me to "know" them a little better and it also propels me to read/pay attention a little more closely/faster to what they say when they DO say something original.

And THIS is what gets squashed when all the howling starts. As in telephone sourcing, there's a very simple and polite way to ask someone to do something:
"Hey, I see you posted my blog post in its entirety on your site. I appreciate the attention you've accorded me/but I'm not happy/I'm embarrassed by my own behavior/I'm uncomfortable/my feelings are hurt with you doing this - would you mind taking it down/cutting it to a few paragraphs with a link back to my original? Thanks so much!"
Try that first before calling it out publicly something other than it is (a simple mistake) and making a stink about inviolable "rights". Try to get along with each other - as I recall my Kindergarten report card (my beloved mother saved ALL my report cards and believe me, I go through them at least once a year for guidance) has a box that says "Gets along with others." What would your mark be for this?

We're all playing in the same sandbox and this wonderful community that is being built at dizzying speed is a result of the confluence of many fine minds exhorted on by the light speed of communication today. Don't mess it up by bullying, by whining, by scarifying, by taking everything so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. Pretty soon the world will be laughing with you.
John, there are sites out there that are set up as cash grabs. what I mean by this is that there are sites that are driven exclusively by rss feeds that have google ads on the side. I am not a fan of these sites. but googs ad words coupled with the ease of set up by blogger allow for this and it will not stop. too much money involved for google.

However, RSS plays a real big part in the blog and web 2.0 world. RSS allows you to display the content by title only or by detailed view. Most people including myself cannot customize feeds to a greater degree than this so we are limited to what is offered.

I know that this post is not in reference to the 20 comment post put out about how the Recruiting Animal took what was on the chat here on Recruitingblogs and put it on his site. ( he was clear as to where the content came from) I know that you have been thinking abut this a long time and we even discussed it as it pertained to the videos we do from the road show.

Maybe it is a very clear thing but in the world of social media, the way I see it, it is all about pointing and linking and borrowing.

The RecruitFeed link I set up is an example. If it were just a stand alone site created to pull content from bloggers in order to have a site full of content so it could then be monetized, it would be an example of how web 2.0 tools can be used to steal for gain. However, it is a piece of a bigger system so in this case, I think it is ok.

I personally feel it is wrong and it pisses me off the most when I see someone take an entire post from somewhere and put it on their site and then give the link at the bottom where it appeared originally. The idea is to give a little bit and then drive the reader to that site.

I liked this post. I hope you start writing daily again.
John - Nice post as given the volume of trash out there I have become a skimmer in the last year and this one drew me in with something fresh. I think people that take others content seem to fall into four distinct groups:

Patron Saint Regurgitators - Their actions are pure, they genuinely think and believe that they are spreading the gospel of good ideas.

Stupid Traffic Disseminating Bloggers (make up your own acronyms here) - They really have nothing to say and just want to be an aggregator of others thoughts so they can drive traffic to their site so they can sell something (be it advertising or personal brand)

SPAM bloggers (or Sploggers) - They don’t care about the content at all and use it as an excuse to just push something else under readers noses so they can remain top of mind to promote their wares (like SPAM marketing)

EDB’s (Evil Doer Bloggers) - Their actions are sinister with the intent to twist, mislead, mis-communicate (be it for financial or personal gain)

Regardless if there are only four or forty-four reasons why people do what they do, I think the fundamental challenge that we all face is still weeding through volumes of sites, feeds and posts to get to the things that are fresh, thought provoking and inspiring. Given original thought is the visible minority here in the equation, and the world has been this way for a long long time, I have resigned myself (yes, self defeatist response) that this is the price of entry in today’s social online media playground

Rob
Interesting post and thought provoking too.... sharing articles of interest is the heart of social networking, giving credit for the thoughts to the person who wrote them is the right thing to do, inferring they are your thoughts is wrong.... but Im just an honest kind of guy :-)
Everyone has been so eloquent on the issues that it was well worth just sitting back and enjoying the discussion. Rob made an excellent point, we are bombarded with mindless repetition of material and to make this worse we make the excuse that since everyone is doing it it is okay. It is not okay to take conversations or any material for that matter without consent just for the purpose of driving traffic or directing opinion even if has become standard practice.

There are two issues that been talked about the primary one being privacy but the other one, though alluded to, has yet to be defined and that is plagiarism. Webster defines plagiarism as "to use (another's production) without crediting the source". Rob called it regurtitating material, but call regurtitating, content scraping or whatever you will, taking someone elses material without consent it is plagiarism. Content used without permission undermines the credibility of the perpetrator and that which our industry is trying to build.
This reminds me a little bit of your post about the vertical job search engines stealing job postings from job boards. It's true there is a certain amount of abuse, for example, job boards that scrape jobs from all around the web and then sell access to those postings to jobseekers. But in most cases, we publishers want our material used as long as attribution is made (links).

I have read about a lot of irate webmasters complaining that Google often ranks the "borrowed content" higher than the original. I would love to see that problem solved, but so far I have not been much affected by it. I'm probably too obscure.

Your post is very interesting and yet it would be oh so much better with names and specific examples, lol.
What a great conversation.

Jason reminds me that I need to publically disclose something.

I am the secret president of the Recruiting Animal fan club. In my eyes, he is the heart and soul of the Recruit-O-Sphere. He is the very model of intentional "pointing and linking and borrowing." Suggesting that he is an evildoer is like suggesting that Mother Theresa had her hand in the collection plate.

Of course, some people see evil wherever they look. It's good in a way. With so much recycling of material in the social network world, isn't it refreshing to hear the moans and wails of the downtrodden? Isn't it interesting to see conspiracies forming where the perpetual victim projects it to be? That's part of the refreshing magic of that type of content creation. Fiction becomes reality.

We get the privelege of watching this miracle. People really do create the realities they inhabit. We get to see self-fulfilling prophesies fulfill themselves. Right in front of our eyes.

Rob's great (and really funny) list of four content recyclers (above) left out two important categories:

- Charlie Brown bloggers. It's a self-absorbed endless loop featuirng bad guys who are always "picking on me". What's permanently repeated is the underlying story of violation and injustice.

- Actual Writers The Animal is the best example of this category that I know. He has been developing his craft as a writer by rewriting and reinterpreting the material of others. He doesn't copy, he edits and improves. Sources are properly cited. The idea is to make it better, stronger, simpler and more effective.

Maureen Sharib (another from the Actual Writers group) was right on target. To build community, we need to be very slow to accuse and very quick to forgive. It's a lesson I'm familiar with.

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