Attribution in Blogging

By Deane Barker on August 9, 2003

Are there any hard-and-fast rules about attribution in blogging? Blogs are essentially just links to other content sources, so if you find something via someone else’s blog, do you link to the link, or link to the target? Put another way, if you follow the link all the way back to the target, do you give credit to the blog whereby you found the first link? Or do you just link to the target and call it good?

I subscribe to a lot of blogs (thanks NewsGator), and via those subscriptions, I find a lot of stuff that ends up here. What do I “owe” the blogs that led me to the content?

The other day, I added a “via Anil Dash” link to one of my entries for no particular reason, and it got me thinking about it. If the content is A, and Anil Dash’s entry that links to it is B, then should I link to Anil as C? Or should I follow Anil’s link to the target and become a B? If I become a B via Anil’s link, do I need to add attributation to his B?

I found an item the other day that I thought was good, so I followed the link in it…to another blog entry, then another, then another. It took about five links to get back to the source (so, the original item I found was, like, a G or something). Do I provide attributation to G? F? Which one? Now, each link in the chain back to this item had commentary, so they all added value, but still, that’s a long way to go. It becomes a usability issue.

It’s much cleaner just to link to the target (especially if the link doesn’t really add anything to it), but is that fair? Should you give credit to the blog that led you there?

What Links Here


  1. Credit should be given to the source upon which you are commenting. If your comments are regarding the original content, then link to the original source. If your comments are an add-on or discussion of another’s analysis of the original content, then source that person’s site.

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