It's no secret: I like Pinterest. A lot. It's gorgeous, smart, fast and easy. What's not to like? But here's the thing: I love Pinterest the way you love someone who isn't living up to their full potential. Pinterest is a gorgeous site that let's you visually organize a collection of visual thoughts - that in itself is amazing. Brilliant. Beautiful. BUT WE ARE AT A CRUX. A tipping point. Where the users have multiplied, the game has changed, and things are dangerously close to becoming out of control. I feel a sense of panic. On behalf of everyone who makes stuff. Sharing is great, but respecting how we do this is integral to making it work.
We need to stop and think. To slow down. TO STAND UP AND DO BETTER. Everyone one. The users. And Pinterest.
what's so good about it?
Pinterest is an easy way to create a collection of your favourite things. Much the same as you would bookmark the sites in your browser... but it is a visual layout based on photos that you 'pin' (read: borrow) from the sites that have created them. Hmmmm.
what's so bad about it?
There are far too many pins going unlinked or uncredited. Granted - this is not entirely Pinterests fault. They've made it possible to maintain original source links. And they've made it easy. It's USERS who are not informed or not sure or not thinking. Oh yes, an uncredited source is pretty annoying if you've just-gotta-have those brown leather boots and you can't find the retail link. BUT an uncredited source is INFURIATING if you're the artist/photographer/illustrator/writer of something that has been pinned over and over and over again without a credit. Or even worse - WITH THE WRONG CREDIT. Or even worse than that - when it has been licensed to someone else and should not be pinned at all.
My sunny side thinks it's the speed of the internet + lack of education. Maybe people aren't aware of how intellectual property should be handled online? Maybe people just aren't thinking? Maybe the world just moves too fast? Maybe it will all be fixed overnight? That's the happy part of my brain. The realistic side knows that what makes Pinterest so appealing - compiling visual collections of images - is what also makes it so dangerous. The faster we move - the less thought, care + kindness we put into just where the visual goodness was found. OH, and DO NOT EVEN SUGGEST that if something doesn't have a credit - WE DO NOT PIN IT. Because we really, really, really NEED that photo of a girl by the ocean. Or the green velvet cupcake recipe. Or the most ridiculous quotes of the day. Hey. By pinning it - we are giving the credit-less, miscredited and credit-altered image a free ticket to go viral.
for the pinners:
- please understand there is a person behind every piece of art, photography, illustration, writing, poetry, recipe, etc and that person owns the work you are about to take into your care.
- ONLY pin from the SOURCE. That means: if you're pinning a photograph you love - pin from the photographer's specific URL with the image NOT from places like fffffound or google or places it has been featured. PIN FROM THE ORIGINAL SOURCE.
- Be careful to PIN FROM THE SPECIFIC URL and not just the site/blog's home page
- if can't find the source? DON'T PIN IT. That sounds harsh but pinning something without a link - EVEN JUST ONE LONELY PIN - sets that image free to the world of the internet.
- REPINNING is perfectly okay AS LONG AS the original pin links to the correct original source. Confusing? Not really. If a pin has been done correctly in the first place with a link to the creator - then REPINNING is okay.
- UPDATE OFTEN. Go through your links to see what's still current. Sites change. The internet is an fluid ocean of data. Go through your boards to see how many pins are linked correctly. It may surprise you. (It surprised me and I'm supposedly pretty good at this. I deleted pins that do not link to the correct source.)
- IF YOU WANT TO FEATURE THE IMAGE on your site or need more information - JUST ASK. People are generally very nice. If it has been pinned correctly you will be able to easily find the person behind the image and make the connection.
- NEVER ALTER IMAGES. Do not crop or remove signatures or watermarks.
- DO NOT PRINT, SELL OR REDISTRIBUTE THE WORK IN ANY WAY. That seems like a ridiculous thing to add but it happens. ALL. THE. TIME.
for the bloggers/photographers/artists/etc:
- MAKE YOUR IMAGES INTERNET FRIENDLY. Have your name, signature or site right on the graphic. CLEARLY. Yeah, it's ugly. Yeah, it's time consuming. Yeah, it's kind of demeaning. It's about a sexy as a bike helmet... but it's safer. At some point in time your stuff will end up on Pinterest and you can help keep it classy.
- MAKE IT EASY TO PIN FROM YOUR SITE/blog. Use the code generator here or an otherwise smarty-pants widget that collects the exact post URL information to have a precise credit and link back.
- PIN YOUR OWN STUFF. My argument is this: I'm going to pin my own stuff so that when it shows up on Pinterest I know the links are solid and it's not being 'borrowed' from a vague, junky Tumblr site with no link to the source.
- REACH OUT TO ADJUST CREDITS. It's been my experience that a short + sweet email or proper credit link in the comment section works well. Friendliness is the key and many mis-credited pins are simple oversights that can be adjusted and a good relationship established.
- DELETE pins without links to the original source. Set an precedent.
- DELETE pins from Tumblr (the largest leading cause of uncredited, unlinked pins) and 'Google image search' images.
- HELP CREATE A TOOL or a superpower or a creditless board that we can post images we love but can't track down the credit. They will in turn be seen and perhaps identified... Maybe something like Pinterest Purgatory where images cannot be officially pinned until they are released by receiving a proper credit? Or maybe use the hashtag # unLINKEDbutLOVED to help. It's an idea...
- Oh, I know there's no one from Pinterest reading this. But, if there is: BE THE CHANGE. Please. Protect the inspiration you are encouraging people to share. And if I could speak from my heart: please, please take this enormous amount of power you have generated by creating something that speaks to people AND USE YOUR POWERS FOR GOOD. Be better than Facebook. Be better than Tumblr. Be great. We believe you can be. You have the strength to change the way people think about sharing.
oh, and for the idea snatchers:
- if you've 'seen it on Pinterest' - consider yourself gifted with inspiration... Do not in any way consider it a license to copy for your own profit. Oh, and seeing the exact DIY done by a bunch of different people just shows a lack of creativity. Use your gifts to make something different, better, bigger. It is in this way that Pinterest will do intellectual property more good.
And less harm.
I hope this helps to foster more conversation. I'm doing my best to fight for what I think is right. I know that doesn't make me popular (I've even been called a bully), but I believe we can do better. We can spread the word. LINKwithlove.org is based on the ideas of common sense and love + respect. 'If it's not yours - be careful how you handle it.' Here's an INCREDIBLE article by Amy Locurto about more Pinterest details that are fascinating. And the follow up to that. This is interesting, too.
Today: visit LINKwithlove.org and pin the graphic to help us send a message to Pinterest and their users. SPREAD the love. SPREAD the word. Thanks, thanks, thanks.
Happy love day.