A recent parody post by George Snell III on his blog High Talk got me thinking about the etiquette of online curating. In the post, “The Greatest Most Accurate Predictions About Social Media Ever Made”, he included a section on content curation:
Content curators are forced to share revenue with the actual content creators
- Supreme Court laughs like hyenas after hearing the argument that “curation is an art form”
- Curation officially made a synonym of “thievery”
- Ariana Huffington breaks down weeping on “The View”
Snell’s snarky comments about content curators struck a chord with me as I would consider myself a content curator on Twitter. Many of us mine links and stories from social media to pass on to our followers. But it can be a Catch 22 of sorts. There are a number of curators on Twitter that have a habit of “stealing without citing”, something that not only is ethically wrong, but is blatantly obvious to many.
I have a feeling this is what is irking Snell—the number of people on social media (and digital media) who make a living or build a reputation on the backs of others. There’s always a bit of disappointment that wells up within you when you see something on social media that you know started with you, but the tweeter makes it look like their own. But such is the media, folks. I always believe that what goes around comes around—it will bite them in the end. Or not.
Curators might do well to consider three immutable laws. To me, these are the behaviors of leaders. There are always excuses not to follow them, but if you truly want to be respected in the space, “think on these things.”
- Cite the source. If you saw the link or idea in someone else’s Twitter feed, Facebook post, or blog, give them credit. I’ve talked to people that think this is just a pain in the behind given the constraint of 140 characters. But smart tweeters know how to do it within the limitations. I think of Jason Falls as a great example of a succinct tweeter. If a citation puts you over the 120 characters you are aiming for to get the RT, then so be it. I guarantee that citing the source will lift you up in the eyes of the social media community. Nobody really believes you are finding all that material on your own anyway. Maybe use one less hashtag?
- Occasionally RT instead of repurpose. Some think that a retweet is lazy. After all, it’s just a click of the mouse. You don’t have to repurpose a tweet to make it your own. I’m not talking about adding a comment at the front of a RT—that’s why many people leave 20 or more characters of room in tweets. But honestly, if you see a tweet from someone that you know your followers would like, just retweet occasionally. Don’t make a habit of repurposing tweets to make them look like you were the originator of the information.
- Use the same rules on every platform. If you blog and use somebody’s thoughts, cite them. The highest form of dap is to include a link back to the article you got the information from. If you’re on Facebook, you have no excuse not to cite—many more characters to use. No matter where you use other people’s material, cite it. And don’t forget photos–something I need to remember.
I know many of you may be rolling your eyes. That’s okay. Within a sector, I know we’re mostly reading the same blogs, following the same people, and mining the same information. But adding value to others is the highest form of reputation-building. Use it to your advantage. What are your thoughts? Start a conversation in the comments.cartoon from saveandconquer.com