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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blogs And Hat Tip Links

Blogging is often a mixture of things, especially for myself. Sometimes you're just rambling on about nothing in particular and sometimes you're trying to link to interesting news for others to read. Cathode Tan works pretty oddly, actually, because there's a pretty small audience who actually pays attention to the former but a much larger crowd (especially thanks to this thing called Google) who stumble through looking for information about one thing or another.

Sometimes they intersect. Like when I complain about a section of a game, I find people will get to that post trying to figure out how to handle the same section at times. Because of this I've changed some of my habits, like always trying to include tips or solutions to help those gamers out.

But I digress.

When it comes to the latter - sometimes you don't find that blog-worthy article or snippet, someone else did. You want to blog about the info, but also acknowledge how you found it. I resolve this usually by including a "via" link somewhere in the post, as I did with the gaming simile one.

Radio Free Blogistan notes this by the slightly more common name, "hat tip", and wonders if it shouldn't be more standardized:

There's another kind of link, however, that I think most of us have been overlooking, although its presence in the blog world is nerly ubiquitous, under a numer of different names. What I'm talking back is a link that credits the source of an item. Like many people in the blogosphere, I consider it good netiquette to include a link to the source of an item, particularly when the resource isn't at the time generally available from many sources. Radio, for example, automatically captures that link when you post from its aggregator.

I think this "via link" or "hat tip" should be acknowledged as a well understood, if optional / conditional (only if there is a key source) field in the weblog data model. Not only is it "nice," it would actually make it easier to trace the spread of ideas, a kind of reverse tracking-back.
-- Should there be a standard way to give credit in a weblog entry? @ Radio Free Blogistan

The tradition follows the concept of a meme, or as Nova puts it a GoMeme, although as Richard Chappel describes it as nearly the exact same thing:

There already exists a natural precursor to GoMemes within the blogging culture: the practice of hat-tipping. Suppose you find an interesting article from reading Joe's blog. If you then link to that same article, you might acknowledge Joe as your source, by appending something like "Hat-tip: Joe" or "(via Joe's bloggs)" to your post. [But with real links, of course.]The only significant difference with GoMemes is that they (ideally) include a full path-list of all previous sources. That is, you don't just link to Joe, but also whoever Joe found the link from, and so forth. To achieve this functionality, Spivak's experimental memes required tedious instructions (see this example) to be appended to the meme-post.
-- GoMemes as Extended Hat-tip

I'm sure I've failed to do it sometimes, although when I did use digg as a source I even tried to maintain the links there so that the article could be further "dugg" as it were.

I use a sneaky piece of javascript to help form most of my quotes and their corresponding links. I think I might need to look at some kind of ultra-temporary bookmark functionality to help keep track of the "meme path" as it were, although it's less frequent.

Just a metapost about blogging in general. As an aside, I would think that if one were a professional blog actually paid to collect and distribute such information - I'd think hat tip and via links as a hard and fast rule would be of the benefit of everyone.


Patrick said...

So... it was good that I hat tipped you earlier today? ;)

Tony said...

When I first started blogging, this is something I thought was just assumed as proper "blogger etiquette." I've noticed that as certain sites got bigger, the "hat tips" went away. It's not just the top video-game bloggers, either. It happens quite a bit.

A little credit now and then always feels good.

Josh said...

Ah yes, thanks Patrick for the timely example :)

I can't tell if some of the larger, professional, sites neglect the hat tip because they're just being lazy or if they just don't want to share the traffic with multiple little guys. I like to think the former.

Since most large blogs get a decent amount of their information by feedreading smaller sites, I'd think that hat tipping is the only ethical rule for them, though. Otherwise it gives the impression that the large sites are the valid source of information.

Thomas said...

I thought this was what Trackbacks were supposed to do, to some extent?

Not that I'll ever know, since I'm using the ugly stepchild of content management.

Josh said...

Trackbacks are a method of mirroring the link structure thing, I'd say. I link to you, and that generates a link back to me. So when I see trackbacks on C's blog, I know who else is reading him and might go visit them.

Hat Tips simply maintain the link path. So if Kotaku finds an article from here, they link to both which would support both the original information and the discovery.