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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