Quoteblogs vs. Linkblogs

A few days ago, Jonathan Greene asked about ‘quoting’ as a standard practice. I don’t like the practice of quoting entire posts in a weblog, because it turns the original author’s post into someone else’s post, without any work or effort.

Quoteblogs = Theft

I consider full post quoting without quotes tantamount to theft. Weblogs that do this henceforth shall be knows as Quoteblogs.

I first encountered full post quoting on Don Strickland’s weblog a long time ago (can’t find a good old reference post though). My first reaction to the full quote of one of my posts was thinking that DWS stole my post… lock, stock and barrel. I didn’t know much about weblogging then, and still don’t know Don through more than a few emails (though we both live in Austin and should meet up somewhere down the road). I don’t consider Don a thief, but, in general do feel as if quoting entire articles or posts on the web, even with attribution, is somewhat analogous to theft.

I feel like whole post quoting without commenting is theft because, the original author is potentially left with less readers, and for people new to reading weblogs, they’re left with a sense of ‘who wrote this’.

To be fair to Don, he doesn’t normally lift posts in full, but he does do it. Every once and a while he does the more responsible thing and quotes a small portion of a weblog post and points the reader back to the original source.

Robert Scoble has a quoteblog where he normally lifts entire posts from other weblogs and emails he’s received. The problem with this practice is that the reader might miss the connection between what’s being posted on Scoble’s quoteblog and the original author. Also, Scoble is not giving the original author the benefit of sending readers to the original weblog (or commercial website for that matter).

Could you see me posting a full quote of great articles like this one from decafinated or this article from the NYTimes on my weblog without commenting on them and only with a small attribution at the bottom as a responsible thing to do?

Scoble’s has pointed out before that we should link to people, not to steal from people. Quoting on a ‘aggregator blog’ as Scoble calls his Quoteblog is a good practice for indivudals and teams as a knowledge management feature, but should not be publicly accessible, if that’s what it’s used for, as the end effect is theft.

Responsible Quoting

Doug, over at the SBB, commented on my last post that he sees a place for quoting in weblogs, and I completely agree with him. I quote things all the time, but, I always try to keep my quoting as minimal as possible, and to comment on the thing I’m writing about, so as to add my perspective to the thing I’m quoting and linking to for my audience.

Doug does quoting well on his weblog. This, to me is the best practice to follow, when webloggers want to quote and point to another post or article that they feel should be read by the blogger’s audience.

I feel like established webloggers have a responsibility to set the ‘best practices’ for others that will surely follow in the weblogging world. In that respect, I think Scoble and Don have failed, at times, in the past to responsibly quote posts.


Linkblogs are the responsible way to point readers to interesting things to read, and are what I’d like to see become the way that responsible bloggers start sending traffic to other writers, especially when they want to link to things, but don’t have time to write full posts, or think of snarky comments to add to something they’d like to quote.

I’ve started my own linkblog, as an example, and am using Movable Type to do it. It’s just another weblog on my standard MT install. I’ve set up the body entry to hold the URL of what I’m linking to, and the Excerpt entry to by my snarky comment on that URL, if I have one. As usual, I’m providing my linkblog templates for free to anyone that wants to steal this idea and the templates.

A real benefit (in my mind) to my readers is that my linkblog is searchable, just like my weblog: search inluminent for ‘coloring’.

In Review

Public Quoteblogs are bad. Examples: Scoble’s Quoteblog

Responsible quoting is good. Example: Small Business Blog, Paul Beard.

Linkblogs are great instead of Quoteblogs. Examples:

Mark’s b-links
Jeremy Zawodny’s linkblog
Here’s a good one from Erik.
And lastly, del.icio.us, is nothing but linkblogs.


Angie McKaig solves her need to link to others for her readers with her “Assorted Sweets” posts [example].
Decafbad does this with his Quicklinks posts.

13 Responses to “Quoteblogs vs. Linkblogs”

  • Robert,

    Thanks for responding, and I’ve left you a few comments on your post.

    Wanted to point out to my readers a few things:

    a) I know you aren’t being malicious with your experimental quoteblog.

    b) I also know Don Strickland isn’t being malicious

    c) I’m just trying to point out a few best practices.

    d) Hopefully a few tools will get developed that’ll help all of us follow best practices and still keep the workload to a minimum when we want to send people off to another site to read.

  • I just posted a rant over at Roberts comments regarding this. I want first to say it was passionate, however, nothing said was meant to impune you or your opinion.

    After stopping and reading your article, which unfortunately, I read after posting at Roberts blog, you have valid points.

    One quick question, at a couple of the companies I worked for, they had a clipping service to gather information in the public domain about the company and their products. How does that differ from them using Kunal Das’s software to “clip” articles for internal use? As long as it is attributable, which it is by the linkage back, isn’t that a valid use?

    Again, I am not trying to be contrarian, or even annoying. I am just trying to figure out how the fair use of information in today’s society will be defined. And, how it will be in the distant future, as in 6 months hence… {grin}



    PS I will now add your blog(s) to my growing reading list.

  • Tom,

    Glad you read through to my original post…

    I’m not against keeping a blog that’s a full quoteblog as a privately searchable weblog is wrong at all… but I am against stealing full posts publicly.

    I also know that your comments weren’t meant as a personal attack… no worries there, mate.

    And, I support clipping services. They make attributes and they’re for private use… and generally send people to the source, if they’re so inclined to check sources… Offline that’s a pain in the ass sometimes, but online, it’s sooo easy, I think it’s a travesty if people don’t attribute their sources (Robery and Don both do this wuote well, by the way, but because we’re online, they shouldn’t quote entire posts… it’s not needed to distribute the information).

  • I personally love clipping services and subscribe to many when doing research or trying to aggregate knowledge for work…

    The issue here is that the main blog we started pointing at DWS, has done this in a public context and due to the nature of the posting style (no quote style) it is very hard to initially figure he did not actually write the post. When you directly post a full piece from someone else and it starts written in the first person, it’s hard to see it that way.

    I use quotes on my site often and quote, link and reference as best as I can. There are only rare (and brief post) instances where utilizing the full piece from someone else is done.

    It’s part personal choice on your own site, but more that that it’s common courtesy. It’s be nice to get recognized with the traffic your post deserves rather than having it directed it to someone elses site.

  • <blush> Thanks for the mention.

    I have always been a little conflicted about how to use quotations from other (often far better) webloggers or writers. I try to set them off and provide a link, since I generally try to minimize the amount quoted while giving the reader the option to see the quotation in context.

    I think this is a good issue to bring up: good manners never go out of style.

  • A lot of weblogs actually encourage full quoting by licensing their posts under the Creative Commons. For example, my weblog is licensed under the BY-SA license, which says that you can copy my post as long as you give me credit and license your post under BY-SA. If a post is licensed under an NC license, you’re free to copy as long as you aren’t making any money (turn off AdSense).

    I’m not arguing with your post, I agree that people generally shouldn’t copy complete text of someone else’s work into their own weblog, unless that person grants them permission. The Creative Commons tag is just granting permission for those people, and I hope that quoteblog authors would stick to quoting posts that give them permission.

  • I guess I wouldn’t consider what you’re describing a “quoteblog”… I’ve got a quoteblog (quoteblog.megacity.org), that’s literally “quotes”, not just “mindless reposts of something”.

  • Yeah, John, calling Scoble’s thing a “quoteblog” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a “reprint-blog.” As someone who just had a blog entry (and photo!) republished by a competitor last week, I really am sensitive to this. Quoting someone or summarizing their argument is great. But just reprinting? That’s just terrible.

  • It seems as if you’ve ignored the relatively important issues of copyright in these types of situations.

    Copying and pasting a full article which is not copyrighted explicitly for such republishing (under a CC license, or something similar) would be considered, I believe, a violation of United States copyright laws, even if it is properly attributed.

    “Fair Use” under copyright laws usually requires an amount equal to approximately 10% of the work for use in a critique. Anything more than that, and you need explicit permission from the author of the content.

    People seem to forget that just because you can copy paste text and put it somewhere new doesn’t mean that you’re legally allowed to.

    (Feel free to correct me on any of the points of law I’ve quoted – I’m working from best recollection, and things I say may be wrong.)

  • One exception to the point you make (which is a good point) is the desire of the blog author to ensure the linked material is actually available to the reader. Links break, websites move, articles get deleted. Quoting sidesteps these occurrences. As long as an article containing a quote is being read, the contents of the quote will be available to read, also.

  • How should attribution be applied when quoting responses from various’first-name’only listed, i.e. (response by Debbie) or without names at all, i.e. (Trouble in Texas) or (anonymous for a reason), whom comment about real problems they are having? Do you refer to the web site and the submittal date of the comments? What would be most proper? It seems guidelines are scarce.

  • Legally, quoting an etire piece is theft, no way around that.

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