Curators, attribution, and the contemporary world of blogging

Curators, attribution, and the contemporary world of blogging

The last couple of weeks have been quite interesting in the world of blogging. It all started with Maria Popova’s release of the Curator’s Code, a set of guidelines and icons which allows bloggers to properly cite their sources. To say the creation of this idea was controversial would be an understatement. You had people chiming in from all different sects of the Internet, mostly being quiet critical of what Maria suggested. I thought the idea was really well thought out, though perhaps too complicated. The idea suggests that you add odd characters into your stories to suggest attribution or a hat tip was difficult, and enforcing that your audience understand what they mean, even more so. Even so, her heart was in the right place and I completely understand why she put the effort into the Curator’s Code.

What ended up being most interesting though was how my own mind was changed during the past two weeks. I bookmarked the posts of two bloggers that affected me most. The first was Marco Arment’s I’m not a “curator”, the second was Matt Langer’s Stop Calling it Curation. You should read both of their articles and then come back here.

So what I realized was a couple of things. When Maria created the Curator’s Code she did so for the creative side of blogging, not the tech side. As someone who tends to straddle the edge of both, I saw most of the criticism about the Curator’s Code coming from tech bloggers. The thing is, there isn’t a whole lot of undiscovered talent in the tech world, especially compared to the world of art, design, fashion, food, etc. There is an endless stream of new designers and illustrators out there just waiting for their work to be seen, and you tend to feel like an explorer when you find new talent. To be something special in a world of app makers and start-ups you probably have a high profile angel investor backing you who’s already talking you up to Tech Crunch. I think there’s a huge difference between the two fields, but that may be a post for another time.

The other thing I learned was that we’re not doing anything wrong. Since the start of this blog I’ve always tried to put an effort into sourcing where I found my posts. It’s a simple courtesy to the blogs I respect, and it takes me no time at all to do it. I don’t need a fancy symbol to do what I do.

I also realized that I don’t care if people “steal” from us or not. There are blogs like and Booooooom that do a shitty job of saying where they found their posts, either not mentioned at all or their links are completely buried. Even if they did do a good job of sourcing their content, would it matter? Would it drive thousands of new people to my own site? Would my pageviews go up so much that I could have my own Scrooge McDuck-esque Money Bin to swim around in? Probably not. After 5 years of running this site I’m not even sure I’d want it. The success of TFIB has been a slow burn of people who come back to the site to read what we do, in our own way and our own voice.

In the grand scheme of things, after 5 years of blogging, I couldn’t be happier with where we’re at. My goal has always been to showcase the talents of creative people, and I can happily say that we’ve done a damn good job at it. And that’s what we’ll continue to do. We know we have a unique voice on the web, and we’re going to continue to use it in the only way we know how.

Honestly I can’t wait to share the redesigned site with you all. It’s going to be a lot different, but in ways that I think are much better. I’ll be sharing a lot more links throughout the day, but more as passing thoughts, with features scattered throughout and in-between. It’ll be different, but I think it’ll be for the better.

March 19, 2012 / By