For the comic in my Facebook / Twitter post, I came across it on Swiss Miss, which had a note that it was from BrownChickenBrownCow. It’s pretty standard in blogging that you include a link to where you found something / who created something (usually the same place) when you include an excerpt from someone else’s work. This leads me immediately to why I hate Tumblr. On Tumblr, people just link to where they found something, which is usually another Tumblr blog, which in turn links to another, and another, and so on, with no note whatsoever along the way of where it originally came from. For example, for this comic, the chain went:
- Swiss Miss, posted that it was from BrownChickenBrownCow
- Who posted that it was from mikehudack
- Who said it was from pberntsen
- Who got it from bethtucker
- Now, Beth Tucker doesn’t say where she found it from explicitly, but if you click on the picture, it takes you to ReadWriteWeb (and if you look at the url, she apparently found that through her google reader feed)
- Now, strange thing here, if you go to the ReadWriteWeb page, you notice something different about the image – it has where it came from (Noise To Signal) *in the picture*. Which means before it got into the Tumblr ecosystem (read – cesspool), the image had as a part of the image where it came from clearly noted. Someone along the way didn’t just copy the image and repost it without noting where it originally came from (laziness), they saved it, opened it in a photo editing tool, cropped it to remove the attribution of who actually made it, and then posted it to their Tumblr blog (purposefully stripping the source). All the blogs in that chain point back to Beth, so I would assume that’s where the change came, but that the glory of Tumblr – everything is reposted without credit (stolen), so who knows where she stole it from without accrediting it?
*Note – Updates and clarification on what actually happened here in the comments below, which includes facts and sensible / rational explanations rather than ranty speculation like the above. *
Someone else may have cropped it to remove the attribution, and then she took it from their site and didn’t attribute them. Who knows? And, as icing on the cake, who is this Beth Tucker? Well, if you read her “About Beth” page, she apparently used to be a lawyer. Gee, wonder why that didn’t work out. Oh yeah, and she talks about herself in the third person, because that’s sane.
* Update – sorry, cheap jab. I’m a dick when I get on a humor/rant roll. I think it tends to be more amusing if you know me / if it’s in person and you get a bit of the George Carlin-esque-ness of it, which doesn’t always translate well to written form. I’m working on a new blog theme/skin that should highlight this a little more.*
- Now, if you did click on the image on Beth’s Tumblr blog, and got to the ReadWriteWeb page, there is both the water mark on the image for where it came from, and a link to the creator’s site, but not to the specific comic. I’ve seen lots of people argue either way for if you should link to the specific piece of content or to the site as a whole. I tend to favor linking to the specific piece of content (left over from documenting page numbers for research papers), but really either way works, as long as you actually give credit to who made it. So, we’ve finally made our way back to some sort of accreditation.
- ReadWriteWeb links us to Noise To Signal, who actually made the cartoon, and we can do a quick search, and, about 7 steps from where we started (you could link this cartoon to Kevin Bacon quicker), we find (trumpets sound) the actual original cartoon. Now, here’s the part that makes all of the above even more ridiculous (and I would say even tops the lawyer part) – the original comic has the following right under it:
Post this cartoon on your site:
Copy and paste this embed code…
That’s right, on the original comic’s page, there’s code you can just copy and paste to put it right in your site, without having to download it, crop the credit off of it, and re-upload it. Simple as can be, ctrl-c, ctrl-v, publish button, done.
And it’s not just that the four or five Tumblr blogs above reposted this cartoon without noting where it was from, if you look at the bottom of each, it has a list of other Tumblr blogs that have reblogged it since then (or liked it), which on the first two is 530 additional people.
Now you may say, “One comic that made the rounds, big deal.” But, the thing is I come across this all the damn time with Tumblr. Someone posts something cool on a site that usually accredits things well and it leads back to Tumblr, where there’s no clear attribution of where it came from, so people give up and just say it was from there.
The above is actually one of the only times where a chain of accreditation went into Tumblr and I was able to find the way out back out. Most of the time you can’t even search for where it originally came from (even with tineye, which is awesome), because it has been so heavily reposted on Tumblr without notes on where it came from, that the search engines just show you a hundred Tumblr links. There’s been a ton of things I’ve come across and would love to post here, but won’t, because due to the glories of Tumblr, I don’t know who actually did the work to make it, and probably never will.
The reason this really pisses me off is because the whole web is based on sharing and copying (in case you didn’t know, everything that you’ve ever looked at on the web, including this, has gotten copied to your computer before you ever saw it – that, at a technical level – making copies – is how the web works). But people share things on the web with at least the slight hope that they’ll get some form of credit for it. At least a link back. For a fairly poor metaphor – bands let their music get played on the radio for free so people will hear it and want to hear more of their music, and, ideally, buy a CD or some mp3’s or come to a show. The internet and the world of blogging works a lot the same way. But, in my mind, Tumblr is the equivalent of a band playing the song American Pie and either claiming they wrote it, or that it’s by Madonna. Or, more accurately, a band lip syncing to the original recording of American Pie, and then claiming they wrote it, or Madonna did. Unless you’re Don McLean, you can’t claim you wrote American Pie, and you can’t claim the person singing it in the original was you.
This is why I hate Tumblr.