Republish and Reblog: 2 of the Greatest Sins of Blogging

Sins of blogging - Winged Devil by muratortasil cc0 Public Domain from Pixabay

I recall being told by a writer “I Blog because I enjoy it. and don’t real­ly care whether peo­ple read my work or not.” That is unusu­al, most writ­ers get hooked by the act of writ­ing. Hooked by the thrill of hav­ing oth­ers read their work. They the do every­thing they can to bring in the traf­fic and it is then they com­mit the great­est sins of blog­ging, to repub­lish or to reblog.

Many blog­gers don’t con­cern them­selves with SEO, or for that mat­ter the law. Yet they should pay close atten­tion to both. To repub­lish and reblog demands we pay atten­tion to both.

2 Deadly Sins of Blogging

Devil by Openclipart-Vectors CC0 Public DomainIn “Web-based Arti­cles: Make Your Writ­ing Time­less” I stat­ed “one thing you should NEVER, EVER, do is repub­lish an arti­cle you have pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished.” This warn­ing comes with good rea­son. Writ­ers are always look­ing for shortcuts.
Not being reli­gious I do not invoke images of the dev­il eas­i­ly, but do so here with good reason.
Top­ics trend to wane, then become pop­u­lar again. This means there are times when the top­ic of an arti­cle you have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten sud­den­ly becomes very pop­u­lar. The first reac­tion is to com­mit one of the sins of blog­ging, to repub­lish the piece, the aim being to have a short­cut, or quick method, of bring­ing peo­ple inter­est­ed in the now trendy top­ic to your blog. Writ­ers believe it easy to dig out an arti­cle they post­ed either ear­li­er and re-post it.

Republishing/Reblogging

Repub­lish­ing is the worst pos­si­ble thing you can do. There are some excep­tions of course and we shall dis­cuss these lat­er, but on the whole, repub­lish­ing is some­thing to avoid.
The sec­ond dead­ly temp­ta­tion is see­ing some­thing some­one else has writ­ten and reblog it. At first glance reblog­ging seems like a form of flat­tery, a way of applaud­ing the orig­i­nal writer and show off their work. Why do peo­ple like reblog­ging? Word­Press pro­vides a but­ton at the bot­tom of each pub­lished page, along­side the “Like” but­ton that says “Reblog”. If you own a blog, you hould turn this fea­ture off, to dis­cour­age oth­ers from reblog­ging your work.
If Word­Press pro­vides the option then, sure­ly, there is noth­ing wrong with re-blog­ging. I shall look at the rea­sons why reblog­ging is a very bad idea.

Republishing: The Worst Thing you can do?

Printer fire by Clker-Free-Vector Images CC0 Public DomainIt is true that, because of the struc­ture of blogs, once posts leave the first page, they can leave your vis­i­tors’ radar too. Hence the temp­ta­tion to re-pub­lish when the top­ic becomes pop­u­lar again. There are two rea­sons you should nev­er repub­lish a post you have writ­ten ear­li­er:
  1. Peo­ple want orig­i­nal mate­r­i­al to read, and
  2. Search engines will down­grade your work.
Most of the mate­r­i­al you write is ‘ever­green’ con­tent and rel­e­vant to read­ers many years from now. Gain­ing read­ers depends upon either a good Google rank­ing or how you pub­li­cise your work via Social sites. When a top­ic becomes pop­u­lar again there is no rea­son why you can­not pub­li­cise your old­er page, as if you had just writ­ten it.

Sheer Laziness?

When a writer repro­duces their own work, with­out any mod­i­fi­ca­tion, it is sheer lazi­ness. There is not nor­mal­ly any prob­lem about copy­right, but it still leads to prob­lems of unique­ness, the ene­my of Google. This is one of the rea­sons for stat­ing that repub­lish­ing is one of the sins of blogging.
Copy the first three sen­tences of the work you intend to repub­lish into Google and Bing then per­form a search. There will almost cer­tain­ly be some results. That old page may still show up in the results even though it is no longer active. Search engines have a long mem­o­ry, one of the rea­sons that changes are nec­es­sary. Don’t be lazy, edit it and update it, remove the out­dat­ed clichés and include more recent exam­ples.

Exception 1: The Original Site no Longer Exists

404 error by Geralt CC0 Public DomainTruth is your mate­r­i­al has rel­e­vance that lasts longer than the site it was first pub­lished on. Sites close — it is a fact.
When a site clos­es, it should dis­ap­pear from the inter­net, yet there are still shad­ows of the mate­r­i­al all around the web, includ­ing many web archives. Search engines are also very slow to remove old index­es from search results. The first assump­tion a search engine makes when a page can­not be found is that the prob­lem is tem­po­rary — nor­mal­ly it is, the serv­er crashed and the next time the search engine encoun­ters the page every­thing is fine. Google receives no offi­cial noti­fi­ca­tion that a site no longer exists, so its index­es are only mod­i­fied (and pages removed) after repeat­ed fail­ures.
They say noth­ing is ever tru­ly delet­ed from the inter­net. If a site clos­es then, even­tu­al­ly, it is delet­ed. There are web archives, but index­ing works dif­fer­ent­ly for these pages. If the orig­i­nal site is dead, that arti­cle you wrote more than 5 years ago may be viable again. Think about pub­lish­ing it again on your new blog.
My sug­ges­tion — copy the first para­graph into a search engine and search for it. It should return no direct match­es. If this is the case you can go ahead and pub­lish after you have updat­ed and mod­ernised the piece. Anoth­er thing you can do is copy the entire arti­cle into a pla­gia­rism check­er to see where it exists.

Exception 2: The Piece is Re-written

Know­ing the there is an SEO impact, the writer re-writes their post. Although it con­tains many of the same sen­ti­ments, is essen­tial­ly new mate­r­i­al. Writ­ing, based on your orig­i­nal notes, not the pub­lished piece. Do not copy any para­graphs or sen­tences. Write them afresh and extend them when new ideas enter your mind.
One great thing about the Eng­lish lan­guage is that there are dozens of ways to express your­self. There are many alter­na­tive words avail­able to say the same thing. Use them.
Temp­ta­tions exist to use an arti­cle re-writ­ing tool. One of the advan­tages they offer is to auto­mat­i­cal­ly restate your idea in dif­fer­ent words. But they oper­ate on the prin­ci­ple of direct sub­sti­tu­tion, replac­ing words, not restruc­tur­ing sen­tences. The prob­lem of arti­cle spin­ners is that result­ing sen­tences fail to make sense, unless you re-edit them. This min­imis­es the effec­tive­ness of the spin. Arti­cle spin­ners do pro­vide a short cut to re-writ­ing, but that is all it is. I have used arti­cle spin­ners in the past, but have found they require much work from a writer.
As a writer you have a duty to ensure the new arti­cle makes sense. When restat­ing con­cepts, the struc­ture of the sen­tence may need to change, not mere­ly the words. Writ­ers must still proof-read and edit the piece to ensure it makes sense. Often a good human writer or edi­tor is bet­ter rewrit­ing some­thing than a com­put­er pro­gram. Read each sen­tence, then re-write it based on what you now know, do not leave it as your knowl­edge was when you authored the orig­i­nal. By re-writ­ing you are avoid­ing one of the sins of blogging.

The Sin of Reblogging

Re Blog By Peter GiblettAs men­tioned before reblog­ging, at first glance looks like a form of flat­tery. I have stat­ed before that the rea­son for re-blog­ging comes from the fact that “most writ­ers are avid read­ers… and every once in a while come across a piece, where the imme­di­ate thought is ‘damn, I wish I’d writ­ten that’, the writer has expert­ly writ­ten about a top­ic that is close to your heart.”
The pur­pose seems a noble one: to share the knowl­edge anoth­er writer has to offer. This is the pur­pose — share web pages we get excit­ed about. The thought is one that, at first glance, seems it should be applaud­ed. The nor­mal chan­nel to share such things is through social media. Share the post. No one has a prob­lem with social shar­ing. The prob­lem is reblog­ging, which is one step too far, one of the sins of blogging.
A singer may sing the anoth­er singer’s song. Before they do so they must obtain per­mis­sion, which is rarely denied pro­vid­ed the orig­i­nal rights con­tin­ue being recog­nised. There­in lies the crux of the prob­lem. Writ­ing is not singing. It is fair use to copy a sen­tence or two, per­haps at most a para­graph. Any more is a breach of copy­right. Reblog­ging nor­mal­ly copies the first 100 to 150 words into the new post you cre­ate then pro­vides a link to the oth­er person’s post. Not only is it a breach of copy­right, but it has a neg­a­tive SEO impact on the orig­i­nal article.

Exception 1 — Introducing the Article Yourself

On this site you may have come across the cat­e­go­ry called Web Explored. Here I explore arti­cles that I believe read­ers would be inter­est­ed in see­ing. They are often a set of loose­ly asso­ci­at­ed mate­r­i­al that I have either encoun­tered while research­ing mate­r­i­al, or were of inter­est as gen­er­al read­ing mate­r­i­al. Some of the fea­tured pieces are from sites that I like and read from time to time. Sites like award win­ner Two Drops of Ink, to which I also con­tribute, are fre­quent con­trib­u­tors.
The point about Web explored is that this con­tent will quote oth­er writer’s pages, but doing so con­sid­er­ing the rules of copy­right and the needs of search engines. One of the things Search engines love are links to fol­low. By cre­at­ing a piece with many off-site links you are help­ing index the web. One side effect it that it improves your stand­ing with the search engines. The more links you include the greater your stand­ing with the search engines.
What you are doing here is intro­duce the arti­cle your­self, using your own words. telling your read­ers why they should read it, what they will get out of it. This way the link is not about repeat­ing the oth­er writer’s words, but using your own.

Exception 2: Critiquing the Work

Critiquing a problemAnoth­er way to show­case some­one else’s work is to cri­tique it. Here you use your own words to high­light the good, the bad and the ugly parts of the oth­er person’s mate­r­i­al.
You can show­case where your argu­ments, align, per­haps by quot­ing your own work, along­side their work. Demon­strate sim­i­lar­i­ties. High­light the dif­fer­ences in much the same way. Fur­ther you can explain the dif­fer­ences in your own words, show­cas­ing the dif­fer­ent approach­es and why that may be impor­tant to the read­er. Per­haps argu­ing why one approach is bet­ter than anoth­er. You can also iden­ti­fy their defi­cien­cies and show the steps to take to address them.
Remem­ber cri­tiques are often longer that the orig­i­nal because of the analy­sis involved. When cri­tiquing you are not per­mit­ted to repub­lish mas­sive sec­tions of another’s work, but you should high­light spe­cif­ic sen­tences or ideas which should then be opened up for dis­cus­sion, using your own words. In my view few mod­ern writ­ers are adept at this form of writ­ing, a spe­cial­i­ty of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Need for Unique Material

Remem­ber search engines, like Google, include a desire for unique­ness, one rea­son the dis­like these sins of blog­ging. They reflect a human desire to see unique and rel­e­vant mate­r­i­al every time we Google any­thing. Repub­lish­ing and reblog­ging dilute the pool of orig­i­nal mate­r­i­al unless these rules are fol­lowed. If you are writ­ing you should think about pro­vid­ing some­thing orig­i­nal at all times.

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Make a dona­tion to the upkeep of Gob­blede­Goox as a way to thank Peter Giblett for explor­ing the sins of reblog­ging and repub­lish­ing. If you have some­thing to con­tribute, then please leave a com­ment. The images here were either cre­at­ed or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a pub­lic domain loca­tion, such as Pixabay.
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