The blogosphere is generally considered to be one big conversation. If a blogger agrees or disagrees with someone, the accepted practice is to provide an excerpt from the post in question and then link to it so readers can find out more and make their own judgments. But lately I've noticed a lot of bloggers are refusing to "dignify" those with whom they disagree. When someone rants about another blogger but doesn't link, the unwritten message is clear: "I hate that person and I'm not going to send her any traffic."
Seems pretty childish to me. And I can't think it's wise for bloggers to slam those doors on their readers' curiosity and prevent them from investigating issues. If I give you my opinion about what somebody else has written, I believe I owe you a link so you can check it out and check me out. Maybe I missed something important. Maybe I misunderstood and then misrepresented somebody's words. I count on you people to call me on that stuff.
It's not outside of the realm of possibility that I might be wrong sometimes, or that I might make a snap judgment about something and rethink it later. I don't always express myself well, either, and that can lead to misunderstandings. So I like it when you talk back to my blog posts. That's what keeps things real around here.
I read widely in the blogosphere, and several times in the past couple of months I've seen my own words on other blogs and found they had not been attributed to me; neither had the bloggers linked to my site. Friends, there's a name for that kind of thing, and it's copyright infringement. It's one thing to quote and then critiicize someone's words. Copyright law provides for that under the "fair use" doctrine so we can review articles and books and such. But when words are quoted and not attributed, that's not a bona-fide review.
Oh, don't worry -- I'm not bothered enough to yank anybody into court over this. But bloggers who pull stunts like that are taking enormous risks. Even when you agree with a blogger, you should never use her material without attribution. That's still copyright infringement, even when kindly meant.
Today I came across this blog post quoting several paragraphs from my July 18 post without ever mentioning my name, my blog's name, or even providing a link. It was a flagrant violation of my copyright, but apart from the legal issue, it was a breach of internet etiquette. In the blogosphere, if you're going to talk about another blogger, you link to her. If you can't bear the idea of "promoting" her that way, you should still do it for the sake of your readers. Surely they deserve access to the whole story, not just those portions you have filtered for your own purposes.
Now, about that blog I linked to in the previous paragraph. I tried to post a comment there but was unable to do so because I'm not registered at the site. Here's what I would have posted:
". . . I mean, hey, I think I can understand the sentiment, but the logic of this, coming from an author, escapes me completely."
Well, I'm not sure why you're looking for logic in that, as I stated quite clearly that it was a quirk of my personality. And you have erroneously labelled me a member of the "anti-Harry Potter crowd." Read my post again: I did not dismiss the books as trash. I merely said I am not sufficiently curious to read them. Also, the tone of my post was tongue-in-cheek. You appear to have missed that entirely.
You patted yourself on the back for being "fair" to me, but after quoting extensively from my post without attribution, you went on to interpret my words without even linking to my blog so your readers could see my entire post and judge for themselves whether you had correctly summarized my views. In fact, I was not bashing Harry Potter books or ridiculing the people who read them. I simply stated that I was tired of seeing so many news stories about a subject that interests me not at all. (I suppose you will now accuse me of advocating censorship.)
As for you giving me "the benefit of the doubt" by proposing to read one of my books, I thank you, but that's not necessary. My romance novels (the first of which is out of print; the second will be released in March) are written specifically for people who share my Christian worldview; others are likely to find them heavy-handed. I'm not greatly talented and I have no expectations of stardom, but I love writing and I'm gratified that many on my home team apparently found a lot to like in my first book.