WorPress allows the sharing and reblogging of posts between users. On the face of it, it sounds like a good thing, giving bloggers some free publicity and allowing readers to share what they find interesting.
Indeed, in the early days, I encouraged people to share my posts. Why, at one time, I even imagined my following would grow, and grow, and grow as people spread the word about photos, fiction, and opinions from a regular guy with milquetoasty offerings.
Alas, it was not to be . . . but, more importantly, I realize that my idea about sharing was at odds with how it was implemented by WordPress.
You see, ‘sharing’ to me meant providing a link to my content, my post.
To WordPress, ‘sharing’ means taking your content, copying it, and allowing other people to showcase it on their blog. In fact, there are bloggers whose blogs consists of mostly sharing other people’s work.
So, for instance, a few days ago I had this photo as the first photo in a post . . .
That happens to be a favorite photo of mine.
. . . imagine my surprise when I saw it prominently displayed on someone else’s blog!
But, they did nothing wrong . . . they just shared my post. WordPress did the rest.
What did they do?
- They copied the original file (which is in SmugMug – the above is embedded from SmugMug) and the file is now part of the Jetpack Content Delivery Network library (I presume it’s a physical copy of my file because it’s hot-linked).
- They copied some of my text.
- They conveniently arranged both the photo and text as a new post for the blogger.
Understand, I don’t have reblogging enabled on my site, and the sharing option I had enabled only shared a link (I’ve since removed that option as well – anyone wanting to share my posts can do so by copying the link from their browser’s header . . . not that anyone shares my posts unless claiming them for themselves).
However, WordPress ignores my wishes and automatically enables shares on my post when someone is perusing them using the Reader . . . like people who scan the reader to grab posts for their site thus avoiding having to create any original content; they get lots of traffic while robbing the content creators of said traffic.
Now, WordPress will — and does — argue that this is perfectly fine because the thief . . . er . . . blogger is “crediting” the author by providing a link back to the original post. Here’s the wording from Automattic Trust & Safety department.
Since the site uses only a portion of your post and gives you credit as the original author by linking back to your site, this republication of your content is specifically licensed by our Terms of Service, and doesn’t constitute copyright infringement. You can see the full version of our Terms here: https://en.wordpress.com/tos/
PLEASE! I can see referrers to my blog, and I can tell you I don’t get any of that traffic. That’s because the number of people who follow links is small (practically zero).
How do I know? You just have to go to the blogs of these thieves, and read the comments . . . they are the ones getting the accolades and kudos and praise for the beautiful photos they share. Photos that, again, they stole. And, they acknowledge the praise without mentioning it’s not their work.
As far as I can tell, this is the logic according to WordPress in the form of an analogy . . .
- I steal your car.
- You call the cops.
- They look at the car and they tell you they can’t do anything because I acknowledge it’s your car; I say so with a sign right on the car.
- Thus, I get to keep your car.
I know, it’s not a perfect analogy because the car is a physical object, but I’m trying to illustrate a point; work with me here!
Now, in all fairness, by using WordPress, I agree to share my work. But, that’s misleading because ‘sharing’ is not defined. Here is the applicable portion of the TOS:
License. By uploading or sharing Content, you grant us a worldwide, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, distribute, adapt, publicly display, and publish the Content solely for the purpose of providing and improving our products and Services and promoting your website. This license also allows us to make any publicly-posted Content available to select third parties (through Firehose, for example) so that these third parties can analyze and distribute (but not publicly display) the Content through their services. You also give other WordPress.com users permission to share your Content on other WordPress.com websites and add their own Content to it (aka to “reblog” your Content), so long as they use only a portion of your post and they give you credit as the original author by linking back to your website, which the reblogging function on WordPress.com does automatically.
Again, all WordPress Bloggers agree to this . . . without realizing how it will be implemented.
The key wording is “publicly-posted Content“.
So, one option is to take my blog private.
Let’s face it . . . any idea I might have had of a healthy community of readers frequenting my blog has been replaced by the reality that in twelve years of blogging I managed to secure — at most — about ten regular readers (actually, less).
Plus, I’m older . . . when I say I’m happy writing just for myself (and a few others), I mean it because the vast majority of people fall in the “Nope!” category. Plus, I don’t have the time to interact with a crapload of people.
No, I’m not taking the blog private yet . . . but it’s a consideration.
Meanwhile, this post is to see what gets shared after I’ve made a few adjustments.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it’s copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intentions, like attracting you to a malware-infested website. Could be they also torture small mammals.
Note 2: it’s perfectly OK to share a link that points back here.