Yours or theirs?
When talking about content of your blog, it doesn’t really matter whether you are an expert or not. After all you will become one if you keep on blogging about a certain topic. This is provided you come up with new stuff and not ‘borrow’ from others.
One of my readers commented on this and asked if I had an answer to him finding ‘his’ stuff being used by others under the pretence that it was theirs. An interesting topic and worthwhile exploring. The answer seems logical but nevertheless it is a controversial topic as it can be hard to trace where information comes from.
When to ask for permission!
Going back to basics we all know that it is not common practice to go into our neighbour’s garden and borrow their lawn mower without asking for permission. Neither are we allowed to pick the luscious mangoes that we can just reach when hanging over the fence. We just don’t do that, right? Then why do we think it is allowed to use text or pictures we find on someone else’s web pages. I dare say the same principles apply!
I don’t know if you have ever been asked by someone whether they could use something you produced. I can tell you that it feels good and I was more than happy to let someone else shine with my picture of a beautiful sky. Especially when I saw my name mentioned under it!
If you feel you like to use someone else’s content, ask for their permission. It is not difficult as most bloggers leave their contact details available to their readers. Ask for their permission, wait for a reply and then reward them with a link back to their blog.
What are the rules when blogging?
When blogging there are rules to abide by. It is allowed to refer to work that others have published however you must tell your readers where that information came from. Just as you reference when you are writing an essay or report, you name the author, the source and link back to their website or blog.
There is a term called ’fair use’. Fair use is a grey area and it may be hard to know exactly what to do when citing someone else. It is complex but in a nutshell if you use someone else’s material for ‘the purpose of research, teaching, to criticise, to comment or to report news’ you may not have to ask for permission. Personally I would ‘rather be safe than sorry’ and it may be better to get permission if you want to use more than a couple of words or phrases. Reverse the roles and imagine how you would feel if someone asks you for permission to use your material.
Last but not least use your common sense. Your blog is in the public domain and it is there for the whole world to see. Your reader may have a different culture or religion and it is not necessary to offend others. So write your blog with this in mind!