Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Splogging, copyrighting and watermarking

As someone quite new to blogging I was surprised to learn about splogging. The word splogging is not even in dictionary books or on the on-line dictionary, so I had to scrawl the internet to find out what it was. Basically it is weblog plagiarism. I had previously thought that plagiarism occurred only at High schools, colleges and universities, but not on the internet, but I guess with new technology comes new forms of abuse for example, cyber-bullying and credit card frauds. The term 'splog' is a combination of “spam” and “blog. It works in two ways: by creating fake blogs, sploggers use automated tools to hijack a blog or contents from that blog for financial gain; or sploggers may choose to steal contents from another persons blog to increase the number of hits on their fake blog. How interesting and how sad that some people must feel that they have to steal other peoples material (and lifestyles) to fuel their interests and inflate their very small egos.

My web blog is primarily about my growing ventures at the allotment, and what I concoct in my home kitchen with some of my plot grown herbs, fruit and vegetables, with the occasional recipe thrown in for good balance. Peoples experiences of growing fruit and vegetables will be very different, so some of my visitors will be other growers who will perhaps visit for comparison, share experiences of ‘tried and tested’ tips from germination, planting, recycling and so on. Also as I am not the most articulate of people speaking or in my writing, my blog entries will normally be short and to the point. I am not a very good story teller, and I am even more appalling when I attempt to tell a joke. So not much interest in the way of splogging I think, but it is a very different ball game when it comes to food writing and creative recipes.

Some very good food bloggers have had their work 'scraped' by sploggers and this is both wrong and a great shame. However, I do have other thoughts related to this area, in particular when it comes to recipes. I personally am always a little sceptic about when I come across food blogs that do not acknowledge the source or inspiration for any of their creative recipes. For example, there is absolutely no acknowledgement of the recipe as having come from a cookbook, the internet, a cooking show or whether it has simply been inspired or influenced by someone or other. Some food bloggers wrongly I think, leave the reader to assume that this aesthetically pleasing dish is of their own personal creation. Undeniably some are, but in this day and age, everything stems from somewhere, listen to all that music, recycled, look at the fashion, recycled, even celebrated and renowned chefs put twists on classic recipes or borrow from each other. These days rarely, very rarely do you get a glimpse of genius and originality. Everyone, including myself is influenced and inspired consciously or sub-consciously. So I remain a little doubtful of origin of some food bloggers unacknowledged recipes, but good on them for being able to (re-)create this sophisticated and creative dish in their home and Thank you so much for showing it to us to wow and drool over.

I have made a conscious and informed decision to acknowledge all my recipes whether inspired by personal life experiences, adapted from a book, influenced by a cookery show; or by a fellow blogger. I would simply expect the same courtesy in return.

The other thing that struck me was the number of fellow food bloggers watermarking their food photographs, to the point the watermark ruins the picture. By the way, this phenomenon is not limited to food photography. I thought what are they being so precious about? Do they really think someone wants that photo?

After reading some bloggers experiences of having their work scraped and splogged. I can partly understand why some fellow bloggers have chosen to copyright their work whether its food writing or foodie related images. For some it has been a very steep learning curve. But I have a question. Does copywriting your work or images on your blog really protect your material from being exploited by sploggers? I mean how would you know, unless it came into the hands of a large organisation and was published, publicised or promoted in the mainstream, how would you know that your work had been splogged and how would you be able to prove it?

One final thing, often I will read a fellow bloggers entry and think oh that’s good I could write something similar about that and relate it to my own experience. I think that is what good blogs should be about: inspiring others to try different things whether it is cooking, baking, growing, photography, art and so on. Not this, oh it was my idea and s/he copied it; or am a genius or what? Please don’t become so infatuated with your own self marketing. I really don’t want to offend or upset anyone, as ultimately blogs are personal, but please do remember that these blogs are in the public domain, so are not entirely private spaces, as they serve as ‘virtual community spaces’, essentially to inspire others I hope, but also for sharing information, sharing new techniques, sharing similar interests and experiences. So if it is so precious to you then maybe the blog is not the right domain for you.

A personal weblog is a good outlet, but a weblog must not distract you from your real life in the real world, where loved ones and living beings really reside.

3 comments:

  1. "... a weblog must not distract you from your real life in the real world, where loved ones and living beings really reside."

    Oh, no! You mean this isn't the real world?

    Anyway, I enjoy your blog.

    And the pictures are great.

    With or without watermarks.

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  2. Thank you so much Jim. I really appreciate your comments, they made me smile.

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  3. I am not having a dig at anyones blog whether it was in relation to food photography or recipe creation. I am only sharing my observations as a new blogger. I do hope I haven't upset some bloggers, as that was not my intention.

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