Arrogance on the Internet: Crediting sources, self promotion and respect

I’m angry at a number of specific people as well as a genre, shall we say, of Internet users for the continuing arrogance and abuse of content, authors rights, and people in general. It seems that with the use of the Internet something is forgotten, common decency, respect, the following of conventions, rules and even laws set in the real world.

There are three things that are particularly highlighted when writing on the Internet.

  • Crediting sources when writing content found from or through another site
  • Self promotion through commenting on other peoples sites
  • Common decency and respect when participating in Internet discussions

First up is the practice of people writing stories on their sites and not properly crediting the sources through which the original content was found, or not providing any credit at all. This is particularly annoying when you’re the one who had the story early on your site, and is something that’s really sprung to life since I started my own site Filmstalker.


Crediting sources:

When I write stories on my site I’m almost always referring to where I found the content, that is unless I received the information directly or the source does not specifically want credited. So what that means is there is always a link directly to the source of the story, and just about always a link to where I found the story through and\or a credit to a person who sent me the story.

To find these stories I’m searching through a huge amount of sites daily, and these sites tend to be the main ones in the film and movie site genre. So it’s easy to see when a story gains a life and begins to spread across all these sites, sometimes it’s really interesting to see happen, and your goal as a writer of a site in this genre is to get hold of that story as the source, or to highlight it to the rest of the audience. What you ultimately want is to attract more readers to your site either by having them find your story first, or by selecting link through’s from other sites.

So when you find a story on a site, select a link and read the original, what should you do when you either quote or use the content to write a story of your own and publish it for all to read? In the real world writers quote their sources, unless they wish to remain anonymous, but even then they will attribute correctly. They don’t just read someone else’s content then republish it, well, not the more reputable ones.

Now I’ve noticed that most sites in the film and movie genre do give you proper credit, but there are a few that don’t and unfortunately it’s a very difficult thing to prove.

After a time of writing you’ll get a feel for how the group of sites that you work in operate, so you’ll see a story which you know to be outside that group and publish it with your own comments, then you’ll find that some sites might pick it up and reference you while one or two select just credit the source, and amazingly after you’ve published it.

Sometimes it’s very noticeable, for example you’ll start to get to know some of the other writers on other sites and become familiar with their writing style, so when they start doing something like posting lots of stories with no credit when they’ve always posted credits, it looks suspicious. Particularly when those stories are all on your site and your site has not long gone live!

It’s something that in the real world no self respecting writer would even consider doing. It’s also linked to the last issue, that of common decency and respect. However, for now lets look at my next item on the list that has started to annoy me since I began the site.

Self promotion:

Obviously when you start a site you are out to drive visitors to it, you get addicted to it, never mind if you’re advertising or not. More visitors can mean more profit, and they can also mean a more interesting and engaging environment – it makes it much more enjoyable to write and have people interact with your writing.

However on a new site you are struggling to get visitors, and your content is the main pulling factor, so imagine how it feels when someone comes along and tries to steal your visitors when you’re just starting?

Now I don’t mind people from other sites commenting on the posts, in fact I love it and actively encourage it. I enjoy talking and working with the other writers in the field, and when people comment (whoever they may be) there is a field for them to put in their site link, and this displays over their name on the comment. Simply click the name and you’re off to their site. Sure that’s slightly annoying, but it’s also perfectly acceptable.

However I’ve noticed this practice of people leaving a comment that’s barely adding anything to the post, sort of along the lines of “great post, really liked it”, and occasionally you might find they’ve even misquoted the story! Within that comment they’ve added a signature like “Fred of fredbloggs.com” and even used it as their name field. So suddenly, within the one comment they have three separate references to their site and the comment is barely relevant or even valid.

That’s blatantly trying to ride on the back of someone else’s visitor traffic, and I think that’s pretty unfair.

Personally, I use the fields provided and add my site name when I leave a relevant and valid comment. If the case is that the site does not allow you to leave a site name, I may add it under my name, but to be frank I’ve only done this practice twice ever. Anything else is just showing no respect for the fact that the site is someone else’s hard work and struggling hobby or job, they’re just seeing it as a stream of possible visitors.

Common decency and respect:

With that, here is the last annoyance, that of treating people around you with common decency and respect. This covers the other two points above, but also a topic I have written about before entitled “Political Correctness gone mad“, where readers from the site I used to write on verbally attack you for no real reason.

There are a few examples of this, but the best one was when I was called a racist for saying that I didn’t think Chris Rock was suited to host the Oscars. Rather than read the story and understand that it was because I was commenting on his style of comedy against the style and reverence of the Oscars, they decided to choose the fact that Chris Rock is black as the point. Two or three commentators then assumed that I was white and a racist. Turns out I am white, but not a racist.

This type of thing has happened a few times now, and I’ve been called everything from single and an American liberal all the way up to Racist and sexist, all in the same circumstances where those stating these facts haven’t read the article I wrote correctly.

Discussing the issue in an adult and educated manner is pointless, for these people tend to use shorthand mobile phone text speak, stamp their keyboards in capitals and just continue to make assumptions and accusations.

At one point while I was writing for the other site I seriously considered packing it all in over these people, because they managed to get to me and it was playing on my mind. However, I decided to focus on the positive comments, and with the more friendly part of the Internet (which by the way is the overwhelming majority) I kept going.

Lucky I did too, for I have to say those I’ve met so far at Filmstalker are superb, and I’m starting to see regulars there who make writing really interactive and enjoyable. What I find more than anything now is that I want to bring good stories that will make people debate and discuss.

However, it’s the three practices I’ve highlighted above that some days really do make me angry or exasperated. Right now the crediting stories part is really starting to annoy me and make me feel as though someone is taking advantage of my hard work. However what can I do? There is only one thing, keep going, and either make a strong enough case to take to them, or let it go and let my content speak for itself.

So far I’ve done the latter, but sometimes I just need to rant…thanks for listening.

4 comments on “Arrogance on the Internet: Crediting sources, self promotion and respect”

  1. Patrick Hadfield Reply

    …great post, really liked it…

    No, just joking!

    Worthwhile and thought provoking, as expected. Since you screen comments (don’t you?), can you not put a stop to some of the more exceptional abuses you describe? I appreciate that this may not be in the spirit of freedom and sharing you may want to promote, but at least it brings a certain control back to you.

  2. Richard Reply

    Hey Patrick. I screen comments on my own site, but not on Filmstalker. I want that to remain open to everyone, There are word checkers and spam filters there which do a great job though.

    I guess I have to make clear that most of this is about the minority, and at times a very small minority. Having just received a concerned email from an Editor on another Film site, I can say that it is a minority. Most people are common and decent.

    It’s difficult because I really wanted to write this, but I didn’t want to start pointing fingers, and by not pointing fingers I seem to have made some good people worry that it might be aimed at them. It’s a difficult one to get round and one I’m not going to try to. If you’re worried, drop me a note.

    I will have a follow up to this article soon…

  3. Richard Reply

    Let me also just add something on the self promotion side. I don’t mind that, sure it’s annoying that someone is commenting with a link off to their site, but I do that on other sites too. To place your link in the appropriate URL section of the comment is not a big deal. I was talking about the specific example in the text there, where multiple mentions are placed through a comment with little to say on the article. That’s annoying.

  4. Richard Reply

    Well interesting that I just posted a story I found from a very obscure source on the Internet, and within a couple of hours it appeared on Bits of News and Film Ick. One had the attribute to the original source and the other had no source mentioned at all.

    Sure they could have both seen the source I did, but then again…you do wonder.

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