Random Thoughts On Reposts

While I don’t think we suffer from information overload, I actually think we suffer from a more sinister problem. Curator overload.

Not good curators like Robert Scoble or Jason Kottke. Those guys are worth their weight in gold, in fact we need more curators like them: they uncover unique, useful and obscure things before everyone else. And if they do repost they always add something.

I’m talking about curator overload in the form of people taking popular content (usually images, but not exclusively) surfaced on sites like Google+, Reddit, or Stumble and reposting again (as if  it is new and / or they originally discovered it) on a different network or blog, without bothering to credit the original sharer.

I understand that sometimes it is difficult to credit, especially when digging for content on your own. But it is painfully obvious when you belong to multiple networks and see someone basically copy-pasting content someone else has surfaced recently. In essence, it’s different when you’re sharing something you searched for / found, vs. something you’re specifically taking from another.

The alternative repost problem is sharing a piece of content the web already passed around last month or last year (without any new context).

Sure neither of these two cases is always intentional. But I get the sense there are a group of web users who may be new to social sharing and need some ground rules to follow.

For them, following are some thoughts to keep in mind:

1. If you find something via another site or user, credit them

Here’s a quick example. I found an image I thought was clever the other week on Reddit, and decided to share it on Google+. But I noted in my G+ thread that hey, I discovered this via Reddit. So now my network in Google+ who does use Reddit clearly sees I’m noting where I discovered the image and that I’m not simply ripping off the Reddit community and portraying myself as the one who discovered the image.

I get the feeling so few credit because they think it makes them appear less original. But if you think this way, you’re wrong. Crediting is a positive and is always respected, your network will appreciate it – always try to link to / share the canonical version.

2. Don’t just throw images / links into a community, get up to speed

Good web communities have been together awhile. Potentially years, some more than a decade. Yes, there are naturally going to be some reposts but if you post something again that your community shared last week, you’re not really improving that community. You actually only succeed in losing credibility with them.

3. Perhaps stop the curation and consider creation?

Everyone wants to be a curator these days. Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and new sites like Pinterest all support this model by design. Yet, the reasons you should blog, create original web comics or produce your own video continue to increase. This is because the social web has become to some extent a problem in search of a solution. Even today participation inequality holds true: few are creating, far more curating and way more lurking. Insane value in being the one who creates (the solution) for the rest of the web to point at.

4. Media: equally guilty of reposts 

Don’t think this issue is isolated to those curating viral content like images. Media are equally guilty of reposting news that’s already out there. I understand why this is the case, it’s easy to do for pageviews (and sometimes glaring if a media outlet doesn’t cover an issue). Do run the news, but add context and additional insight instead of reposting in a way that’s just differently worded.

5. Repurpose, recycle, remix, aggregate – but don’t repost

You can get creative with old content to make it new again. This is a lot of fun and what the social web is all about.  You don’t always need to be inventing, breathe life into old content creatively.

Why follow these at all? If you’re a perpetual reposter, it becomes apparent very quickly and you’re going to hurt your digital reputation. And that’s worth far more than a few extra likes, +1’s and ReTweets: reputation is difficult to build, easy to destroy.

And for your moment of zen:

images via: quickmeme