Reblogging, round 2
A few weeks ago, WP introduced “reblogging”. Some users liked it; others didn’t, said so, and suggested that there should be an option to disable reblogging from one’s blog.
In connection with this feature, Matt wrote: “The original vision of WordPress (and WP.com) wasn’t to freeze blogging at a moment in time and never evolve and listen to our customers, it was to constantly iterate and adapt based on features our users ask for, or we like.” And Mark wrote: “Fair Use does exist as do many posts and bloggers who deserve a way to get wider exposure. And that’s what it is all about.”
A few days later, the forum thread on reblogging was closed by Matt, the comments on the wp.com blog announcement were also closed, and sonofbruce’s CSS suggestion for hiding the Like button was removed, with the notice that “modifying your admin bar like this is grounds for suspension”.
So WP seems to be saying: We listen to you, and we’re dedicated to providing what you ask for and what you deserve. But if some of you don’t like what we say you must like, we stop the dialog. And if you try to get rid of a feature you don’t like, we suspend your blog. How nice.
(By the way, there’s nothing in the TOS against modifying the admin bar. On the contrary, the TOS say: “our service is designed to give you as much control and ownership over what goes on your site as possible”.)
Anyway, Matt wrote that in two weeks he would be “happy to have a discussion with everyone”. So: more than three weeks have passed. Some of us didn’t like the feature, and still don’t – not because of “misinformation”, not because of “confusion”, not because we hadn’t “used and comprehended the feature” (in fact, some of us had done so more than some staff members), but because it “takes the thinking out of blogging”, as thesacredpath put it. Some of us would like an opt-out option. So far WP has ignored this request, and has provided no explanation why.
a) Confusing, annoying, utterly unacceptable, terrible, horrible? And then Matt accuses us of seeing aliens and the blogapocalypse?
b) “Could I like a post on every site powered by WP.com except yours?” Rephrase to: “Could I reblog from a site powered by WP.com except if the admin of the site doesn’t want that?” No longer so strange, is it? (Compare with: can I read a blog or a post except if it’s private or password-protected? Or with: can I click a thumbnail for the fullsize image except if the blogger has disabled that? Etc. etc. Why aren’t those confusing but suddenly no reblogging in particular would be confusing and all the rest?)
c) Ever seen the alert “embedding disabled by request” on Youtube? That’s all it would take for an opt-out to work with no confusion and no terror and no horror: an alert that would pop up if you tried to reblog from a blog that doesn’t allow it.
I became aware of the fact, via a visitor comment at onecoolsitebloggingtips.com, that if you try to reblog an older article on the Time newsfeed VIP blog, your reblog will always get redirected to the latest entry no matter what you do.
Interestingly this does not seem to be an issue with any of the other VIP blogs that I checked, only at Time. Is it a bug or did Time raise a stink and get to modify things so that people were only allowed to reblog what Time wanted them to reblog?
embedding disabled by request
Update on my Reblog experiment.
I setup a blog specifically for reblogging, on June 4. It takes literally few seconds to reblog a post. I tried to make consistent reblogged posts daily, all from the Freshly Pressed page of WP.com
So far I have made 50 reblogged posts.
Total views received 223
Total comments received 2
Weekly graph bar is on the upwards.
This is just an experiment to see what happens with the page views, links, search terms etc. Although I received no search term referrals, but I see several outside referrers coming in, though most of the referrers are original blog post links.
I don’t really know what all this means, but I think if someone creates a genuine blog for sharing stories/news/links that he/she finds interesting, and then mix those up with the reblogged posts of popular blog posts, than you have a good chance of building a blog identity with less efforts.
If the intention of WP is to multiply content, than I think they will succeed.
@tsp: Confirmed. I tried reblogging several posts; no matter which post I tried, I got the latest post instead. I guess it’s a bug.
(After all, WP said we all like reblogging; Time cannot possibly have a different opinion.)
@phoxis: I wish I could say the same for some of WP’s points…
The feature is not going away, and is going to continue evolving. If you don’t like that, perhaps consider an alternative blogging service or hosting your own WordPress.
@matt, can you tell us why we cannot reblog older posts from the Time newsfeed? Why does it always redirect and reblog the latest post in the newsfeed?
It’s probably a bug — or sometimes some of the Time blogs delete old posts which would redirect you to the homepage if the post wasn’t there anymore. If you provide an exact link it would be easier to track down. There are no exceptions, including VIPs, to the admin bar rule.
No, the old posts are there. You can get links and find out more here: http://photographworks.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/wordpress-com-reblogging-blogged-the-wrong-post/ .
Here’s a thought experiment for you.
Blogger A posts thoughts daily, and each post is less than 50 words. The blogger has a full copyright statement with all rights reserved.
An enterprising wordpress.COM blogger, (re)blogger B, reblogs a number of selected posts – or even just one – from blogger A on his own blog using the like/reblog feature. Since the posts blogger A publishes are under 50 words, the reblogging feature actually posts the entire content of the blog posts from blog A.
The number of words is within the general fuzzy area of Fair Use (there isn’t an actual number of words specified in copyright law though), but yet blogger B has reblogged the entire post. Does this fall under Fair Use, and the (re)blogger is in his rights, or does this fall outside Fair Use since blogger B has reblogged the entire content of the post?
From: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html (my emphasis)
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.
I’ve not researched any case law on this (and don’t plan on it), but I do know there are some out there that at lease allude to a number of words, but the number of words suggestion falls apart when the original content is less than that number of words.
@matt: We didn’t ask for the feature to go away, we asked for the addition of an opt-out option – which does fall under “evolving”. And since you had written “I’m not sure how or why opt-out would work”, I suggested a way in my point c above.
Once again, no reply to that (or to the rest I wrote)… As feartheseeds remarked in the original thread, this is bizarre.
@tsp: Since we’ve been urged to use and comprehend the feature first, could you please tell me exactly how you would reblogg a deleted post?
Does anyone know what benefit WP derive from this egregious feature (apologies if it’s been covered and I’ve missed it)? The way Matt is being so absurdly obdurate about it suggests WP must be getting something out of it. It can’t just be pure, pointless, stubbornness.
WOW what a very telling reply you offer.
“The feature is not going away, and is going to continue evolving. If you don’t like that, perhaps consider an alternative blogging service or hosting your own WordPress.”
Perhaps you should go back and read the ORIGINAL request. Nothing was said about REMOVING this feature just allowing those who do not want it to OPT-OUT. As it was pointed out this would be an “EVOLUTION” for this function and one easily accomplished.
I do however (as a fairly new blogger here) find you petuculant little boy reply over the top. One of the reasons I chose WordPress in the first place was because of the ability I had to control my blog and what was done with it. Now you see fit to remove that function with no explination and then point the finger at those who make your site what it is. That makes me wonder a great deal about the OVERALL SECURITY of your site now.
Because of your attitude with this situation, I have posted on my site here that ANYONE reblogging ANY PART of my blog without my consent WILL be subject to legal remedy and yes I do have the means to track them.
So now the question remains…When are you going to hold up to YOUR statement that if after 2 weeks people were still unhappy you would engage in an open conversation about this?
Or is Ronsrealm correct that WP IS getting some hidden benifit on the back of those who blog here? Maybe monitary which would smack of all kinds of illegal actions.
@tfockler60, notwithstanding your argument, but how in the world could you take any legal action when the platform is the one providing this reblog feature? Your blog here is in a gated-community. You do not own your own house outside.
Copyright protections are outside of wordpress. If wordpress did something that aided others in violating our copyright, then wordpress MIGHT have to share liability for an infringement (they provided a convenient tool requiring only a few clicks). Notice that I said “MIGHT.” What a bunch of silk Suits would do with all that in a court is anyone’s guess.
Fair Use is as one website put it:
…better described as a shadowy territory whose boundaries are disputed, more so now that it includes cyberspace than ever before. In a way, it’s like a no-man’s land. Enter at your own risk.
WordPress is apparently pulling about 75 words with their reblogging feature. For any original post over say 500 words, the 75 MIGHT BE deemed to fall within Fair Use (15% usage).
If the post is only 300 words, then that 75 word reblog is 25% of the original post and #3 I mentioned in my post above MIGHT say not Fair Use. It all depends on what the court would consider the cutoff line, and that could also depend on the type of content, its value, etc.
If 75 words are pulled from a 150 word post (50% usage), then I can’t help but believe that would not be ruled Fair Use.
Think about this: Someone writes and posts Haiku poetry or other short poems or prose under 75 words on their blog (under full copyright protection – not CC). Bloggers start reblogging the poems and since the reblog feature will pull everything up to 75 words, each reblog done on those poetry posts constitutes 100% of the original content. That is NOT Fair Use as I see it.
Now, to defend the other side (ducks for cover behind stone wall): In some cases, the reblog feature could end up making things more legal since it automatically links back to the original and also to the blog it came from. Those are good things. The other thing is, it increases your incoming links, and that will build page rank for your blog and should place you higher in search results (I know not a priority for everyone). This of course means wordpress.COM is also going to benefit from each reblog.
Possible evidence: I’ve reblogged one post from Timethief’s blog as a test, and another from my own blog to see what happened when I reblogged something under 75 words. Both of those reblogs ended up getting picked up and posted on other blogs as “possibly related posts (automatically generated).”
Here’s something from the TOS http://en.wordpress.com/tos/ that I believe we wordpress.com bloggers were unaware of until justjennifer pointed to it.
“By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog.”
@ron: No, what WP is getting out of this feature hasn’t been covered, so if it isn’t pure stubbornness it certainly appears as if it is. But of course WP derives benefit – which would be fine with me if they just said so and stopped gilding it with how WP listens and what we deserve etc. etc.
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