Sourcing & Attribution & Credit

John Gruber has a terrific post on Attribution and Credit hat really struck a chord. Go give it a read, and meet me back here in 5 minutes.

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Way back in the bad ole early days of blogging, I used to find my stuff, my market/economic related blog posts “used” in the financial press — unsourced, unquoted and unlinked — all the time.

At first, I chalked it up to mere coincidence. Hey, lots of people must be looking at X, and then drawing similar conclusions. Whatever factors pushed me from X towards Y conclusion must also have had been seen by others looking at the same thing as well. I just happened to consistently get there first — chalk it up to the speed of blogging. But a journalist friend (DG) laughed at that, and said I was becoming an uncredited muse to MSM writers. After that, I started watching to see if it was more than mere speedy publishing.

A turning point came after this July 20th, 2004 post Radio’s Wounded Business Model. It was a pet theory I had been nursing for years, and I finally published it. About a month and half later (August 30, 2004), Barron’s published a cover story, titled Losing the Signal. Coincidentally (or not), it tagged many remarkably similar themes and ideas.

So I started publishing series of “Read it here firsts” — a comparison of my blog post vs MSM columns, noting the “surprising” similarities. (Read it here first: Losing the Signal was the first of the series).

At first, it was little more than crowing about beating the MSM to an idea. But as I found more and more egregious borrowings, it evolved into a form of public shaming. Then I started emailing the post and the “coincidentally” similar MSM columns to both author and with a cc to their editor.

Can you guess what happened?

No more unsourced, unquoted and unlinked work anymore. The pieces started getting cited, quoted, and linked to. Makes me suspect those early MSM articles were not just coincidences after all. 

Anyway, Gruber’s piece really resonated with me, and I wanted to mention (and link to) it.

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