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Pinterest: Good or Bad for Bloggers?

I’m a huge fan of Pinterest. In fact, its co-head cheese, Ben Silbermann, is a Des Moines, Iowa native – so I’m always rooting for the local guy. And in the 2011 whirlwind growth pattern that Pinterest experienced, it catapulted itself as my #1 referrer by such a margin that the #2, #3 and #4 referrers combined still don’t equal the number of hits I get from Pinterest.

If you’re not sharing content and receiving traffic from Pinterest, you are missing a huge viral opportunity.

Pinterest_LogoBut in its rapid growth, there are some issues Pinterest has failed to address.

Can Pinterest continue to allow free reign in over-sharing?

The answer is no. Since the general public is blissfully ignorant about what constitutes intellectual property copyright infringement, who should be responsible for policing such errant behavior and what kind of counter action can bloggers take who have had entire posts pinned?

Here’s the problem:

Blogger, let’s call her Jane, writes a post. She photographs the content and publishes her post. She does so either as a professional blogger to support her family, or as writer to reach, entertain, educate, etc her readership. The blog’s success relies on traffic that finds her, delights in her hard work, subscribes, and keeps coming back. Bloggers rely on visitors, subscribers and readers to click ads to remain profitable.

Pinning her content is a wonderful way to help propagate her efforts. Pinterest, by definition, is meant to be a pin board – a visual collective of inspiring and beautiful ideas. By pinning her article, you give her a boost of traffic and tell others you love her work.

But what’s happening more and more isn’t a simple share. Pinners are copying and pasting entire recipes, entire how-to posts, whole articles. Pinterest users then have no reason to click back to find Jane’s blog because the work in its entirety is already provided.



The above pins are wonderful examples of crediting the content owners, summarizing, or sharing just enough to encourage click-through. (**edit** Since they are hard to read, they are credited to, in order: Centsational Girl, Peanut Butter Browneye Cupcakes, @improvephoto, and Adolph Sutro.)



In each of the above examples, pinners over-shared or didn’t credit. No need to click these pins. (**edit: Since they are hard to read, they are credited to: google.com and “uploaded by user”. The photo of the girl is mine, although I didn’t pin it. It took a little research {phew!} but the second image should be credited to: Preschool Alphabet. If you’re the rightful owner of the other two, let me know.)

The result is sabotage of the original owner’s work and infringement on her intellectual property. She actually receives very little traffic back and soon credit for the work is so buried in pins she isn’t even acknowledged for the content she created.

And even though the pinner probably meant to share the blog post with well-meaning intent, a pinner who does this is hurting, not helping, the blogger. The long-term possible result? The blogger sees less traffic, finds her blog isn’t profitable, and closes shop. By over-sharing, we are sabotaging the bloggers we love most!

Until pinterest can put some limits in place, we can police ourselves by using some basic good manners.

Some Pinterest etiquette:

  1. Always share the permalink. Make sure you are on the individual post NOT the main URL or scrolled page number when you pin. Otherwise, by the time the pin propagates, the post is no longer at the top, and the content cannot be found.
  2. Share only the post title or a summary statement about the post. Pinterest is only a visual inspiration board. It is NOT a re-blogging machine.
  3. Don’t pin from Google images. Google doesn’t own those, click back to content owner.
  4. Credit the original content creator whenever possible. Name the blogger, the photographer, or rightful owner.

Should Pinterest be accountable for copyright infringement? Should over-sharing pinners be held responsible for stealing content?

How do YOU think this issue should be addressed? Discuss.

**update! Readers have spoken! I made a graphic summarizing the post to pin on Pinterest.

Pinterest_Netiquette | my3boybarians.com

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  1. Hi,
    I’m sure there can be a better way to ensure things are pinned
    Appropriately. Maybe, use something similar to how you report people on FB. But
    I do want to assure you that as a pin viewer, I go to the blogs, websites, etc to get more info about whatever I find Pinteresting! As a matter of fact I have recently joined several blogs because of Pinterest, including yours!!! I think we as a people are to Nosey, so we will always click to get more info…just my 2 cents!

  2. Wonderful post! Would you be willing to make an “image” of your 4 points of Pinterest Etiquette? That way we could PIN IT to raise awareness. 🙂 Just an idea.

    • I too tried to ‘pin’ your 4 points of etiquette as I think it needs to be seen on the Pinterest site

  3. great post. i completely agree with you. i just started using pinterest a few weeks ago and already was worried about the lack of attribution.

    btw HELLO!! I haven’t been here in a hundred years and I finally just found you on Twitter (I thought I would!) Yay!

  4. This is a wonderful post Darcy–so I’ve actually pinned it. 😉 I discovered your blog through Pinterest and have been following along ever since. I appreciate you discussing this topic as I hate the idea of Pinterest morphing into a re-blogging mechanism. One thing that I’ve noticed since Pinterest has become hot is the number of blogs who are using other blogger’s pictures to show inspiration but aren’t linking back to the original post. I feel that linking to something you (universal you) pinned and the original post are two different things. My blog is very different in nature than the photography and crafting types, but I wish more bloggers were conscientious about proper crediting. Again, thanks for bringing this up!

  5. You are so right on. Pinterest is definitely one of those bitter-sweet parts of the blog world. And this is really just one of the problems among several others that Pinterest presents for the blogging and hand-made business community. It’s definitely a great thing, but somehow, needs to be honed in a little more.

    Also, just realized you are a Des Moinian (?)!!! I’m from Memphis, TN (we say Memphian) and we moved to Des Moines last fall. I always love when I read blogs and find locals. I subscribed to your blog some time ago, not sure why I’m just now catching this:)

    Great post… and nice to meet you ~ Melissa

  6. Thanks for a great post Darcy!!………..and I’ve skimmed thru most of the comments, and left a reply to one.

    I’m certain that most of the pin that are sharing too much in their pins, and not crediting properly are just people who have no clue………..and this is exactly why private pin boards would be a good idea.

    I rarely repin, I most always check out the source and pin with my own comment, I tweet most of my pins, so I always check to see if the source is on twitter, and include their twitter handle (I don’t bother with pinterest handles)

    The other thing that bothers me almost more, are the bloggers who use photos in blog posts and only credit the source as their pin board! or maybe they will credit their pin board AND the original source, but what’s the point in that?

    Any way……..it’s like someone flipped a light on, on Jan 1. Pinterest has been the topic everywhere all of the suddenlol……..I’ve known it’s been a fabulous referral source for me for quite some time. I just hope it doesn’t become a source to spam and pimp out ones own work too much…….I love the diversity of what I find there!

    • I love the idea of private pins, too.

      Although I read a statement from Pinterest, or what appeared to be a statement from Pinterest, that it goes against the spirit of why Pinterest was created, I wish I could find the article again. I’ve been googling. It basically said something like Pinterest was created to be a visual way to share the content people love. By making it hidden, it goes against the nature of the site.

      I wonder though -how is Pinterest making money? It obviously requires enormous resources. How is it being funded? I predict we’ll see sponsored pins (like twitter does with sponsored tweets) and pins that are non-scrolling paid pins in the near future. Otherwise, I can’t figure out how they can fund the site with no income.

      • Pinterest is funded via investors (called venture capitalists, or VCs) – like a lot of start-ups. They will either have to sell or advertise to generate income.

  7. I’m not a blogger but have had the same thoughts as you. I always try to pin correctly and give credit where it is due. I hope I have brought some bloggers a lot of traffic that way. I am guilty of pinning a few things from Google images. I will have to study closer how to give credit back to owner in doing that. I love Pinterest and hope it can continue. Hopefully Pinterest will make it better for us all and still keep it user friendly. I guess if certain bloggers are seeing too many of these issues, maybe they can make their items where they can’t be pinned. Seems I’ve run into that on a few things I’ve tried to pin. Great post. Hope it does open eyes of all involved. Thanks.

    • Instead of just pinning from Google images, click through to the website the image is from and pin it from there.

    • Whenever I see something that goes back to Google Images (or websites like Pinterest that don’t credit) I try to click through and find the real source. Sometimes that doesn’t work, so I will then just try to Google for general things. For example, I found a recipe for some little deep-dish pizzas you make in muffin cups and they just had a general “uploaded by user” tag. I googled for it and found multiple recipes for the same thing, including the one the original person pinned. Then, obviously, I pinned from a “good” source. It took me literally two minutes and helped preserve the true credit.

      I also always try to comment on people’s pins with the real source if people don’t have it. Maybe that makes me annoying, but I think it’s really important to give credit where it is due, even on “silly” things like the internet.

  8. I liked your article so much I pinned it. And gave you credit. =) Really love your work!

  9. Absolutely wonderful and important words. I pinned it (the right way!!!) and said it is a MUST READ! Most pinners probably don’t even realize the consequences of pinning the “wrong” way. Your post certainly made me think, and will hopefully raise awareness as it makes the rounds on Pinterest. 🙂

  10. Pinterest is going to have to limit the amount of characters in the descriptions to avoid over use of information.

  11. I have really been doing some Pinterest thinking lately. I love Pinterest and I love seeing what other people are pinning. It frustrates me to see a whole recipe or blog post in the comments too. Not only is this not good for the blogger but it is just visually unappealing. I recently started a board of stuff from my own blog. I know that is controversial too. My thoughts are I pin gobs and gobs of stuff from lots of other blogs and sources. I have only pinned 2 of my things in 2 weeks. Also unfollowing a board is pretty simple and people can unfollow that board if they want, right? I really want it for my own private use but I remember reading an article from Pinterest saying that thwy weren’t planning on offering private boards. I wouldn’t want to make everything private but I think it might be beneficial to have the option.

  12. What a great post! Especially for people who aren’t bloggers or those who don’t really understand copyright/intellectual property, etc. This is a very concise and simple list.

    As a blogger who values her work, I was already doing these things. Going so far as to search out the original link on a few pins so that I could give proper credit. Also, when I repin (if the original source is linked) I’ve even been deleting the huge amount of text others put in their links in an effort to try to get the original poster more credit!

    Also, **I think** I saw a tweet a few days ago from someone at Pinterest that they’re working on a character limit for pins to help alleviate this problem.

  13. I just pinned your graphic (which I love) to see just how is shows on my board when I use the Pin It button installed in my browser. Part of what I love is that I can quickly pin things and move on without too much fuss. It shows Pinned via pinmarklet – http://pinterest.com/pin/25403185367846019/ – but I’m not sure if that falls in the good or bad. However, when you click on the image it does go to your blog. So thats good. Right?

  14. Maybe its just me but I think the amout of people who don’t actually click through to the actual pinned article is very slim. Even myself click through to read the whole post and not just the quick snip it how to. Most people want to read reviews or comments other people have left. So even I there is too much information most people click through to the post. The person posting might loose a small amount of traffic but nothing worth mentioning if they are a good blogger!

    Clearly my opinion only. I guess there are so many other things to concentrate on..

    • There are quite a few admitted “at-a-glance” pinterest users.

      And you’re right of course – this isn’t world hunger or abject poverty we’re talking here. But if you can’t change the world, change 1 thing at a time, right? 🙂

  15. Okey doke – you have spoken!

    The graphic was added so now the suggested Pinterest netiquette can be pinned.

    Thanks for the suggestions. 🙂

  16. i think a ton of people who are using pinterest are not bloggers and have no clue what they are doing and whether or not it even makes a difference. my mom uses pinterest and half the time she doesn’t even know how to turn on her ipad.

  17. This is an excellent and thought provoking post! I just pinned your graphic to pass it along. Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. I’m so glad you blogged about this. I noticed this a while back too and you were much more gracious than I would have been. I have a concern with how people use Pinterest as an image source, and the original photographer has no idea how many times their photo is appearing elsewhere or how it’s appearing.

  19. 1st. Caveat Emptor
    2nd Don’t Use It
    3rd New Habits, Rapid Growth only happens when there aren’t rules.

    You raise issues that need to and can only be fixed on the server side, outside moderation verification services need to be implemented, if there are limits, there will just be a service that arises that doesn’t have them, and then, booey hooey new traffic you lose. Essentially, the caveat emptor thing is the thing, you think your bigger than the music industry, hollywood and every other content industry that doesn’t realize the internet is ONLY good for copying, it’s up to you to incentivize, i’m sure a lot of etiquette concepts will be adapted, however, the moment you rely on the internet to regularly provide is a problem. it’s amorphous shape guarantees that todays standards and scarcities are tomorrow’s surpluses, the standards become irrelevant to larger unseen issues, rear view mirrors.

    ultimately, and this is the last ultimatum in this post, unless there is a reason for people to give a “F” about crediting anything, whether it’s your stolen POV via a camera of the world you find yourself in, a recipe stolen from your mom’s friend’s sister, or some other thing that another person has the illusion of owning and not mimicking via technology,

    the only way people who pin will care, is if there is a reward for doing so accurately, outside of that, no one, once it isn’t a little closed neat community of evolved users, there has to be incentivized reasons to bother, in the same way that all people can type their opinions, share their sh*t etc, this is the double edged side of the ease of publishing content online.

    incoherent rant over, marinations on it will cost you, however if you just credit me for making you understand, that’s fine. i’ll let you know when i get a pinterest account.

    • I’m laughing. I wonder if you speak this way to people face-to-face?

      “… this is the double-edged side of the ease of publishing content online.”

      Indeed. This is.

      Comments that express opposing opinions are welcome here. Verbally aggressive, disrespectful comments say much more about your character than mine.

  20. I never repin pins that are from Tumblr for this reason. They don’t give credit, and they don’t share anything besides a pretty picture.

  21. Thanks for this ~ I also find the pins with lots of information annoying! They take up too much space when I’m looking through pins. And I actually created an image that says to make sure you are pinning from the permanent link, because there are too many that don’t & it’s really frustrating when you want more information and then can’t find it!

  22. Thank you for this!!! I repinned you and credited you!!!

  23. Oh the irony. I saw your graphic about Pinterest over on Cottage Instincts and pinned from there. And then I saw it was yours but it was already being repinned. I took my pin down, came here and pinned yours…..Phew!


    • Hi Dixie –

      I think repinning is good and useful when the original pin was done correctly. Repinning a well-linked pin is perfectly good way to use Pinterest, in my opinion. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Wow ! I have made some mistakes, this post saves me !
    I’m sorry I made a lot of re blogging and damaging the useful blogs I followed.
    I’m sorry. I will be a better reader !
    Thanks for writing this !

  25. Great post. Eye-opening as well! Thank you for the graphic….I “pinned it” and will be practicing the good manners it encourages!

  26. Hi my names is Maureen and I am a Pinterest addict.

    I only started a few weeks ago, although I’d got my invite, set up a couple of boards and repinned a few things months earlier. I was having a problem with the “Pin It” pin so I asked a question on a network I am involved in. As an aside I mentioned a discussion about copyright. A person who fancies herself a social media expert in addition to claims to be an SEO expert jumped on that. She wrote a blog post that there was a controversy, she characterized me as says “is that breaking the law?” “that” being Pinterest.

    I am pretty careful about what I pin. Re-pinning it takes a lot of the fun out of it to have to go back and check if the image is not just being pinned from Google images, or trying to determine if the image’s owner meant for it to be shared. I have shared images from my sites which are commercial. People have pinned things from my sites which are images that I shared there because the owner licensed the images creative commons. I wish there was a way to correct their links to the original on Flickr, etc. which would credit the rightful owner.

  27. Even if I’m featured and that is pinned, I’m okay with it, just because it does link back to me at the feature site. Plus, if I allow myself to be featured, I have to acknowledge that I could be pinned. Unfortunately or fortunately (however you want to look at it), that is the nature of Pinterest.

    Plus, Pinterest etiquette is great, but non-bloggers don’t understand, and that is the majority of people on Pinterest. We are diligent about going to the sources and giving credit, but we are bloggers. Most people don’t care (they aren’t being mean, they just don’t know).

    One thing that Pinterest could do is limit the character field. But besides that, I believe there is no way with the current structure that things will always go to the original site. Not that I’m taking away from your article – I think the more people that know the better – but ultimately, the way we see things now is likely the way it’s going to remain unless Pinterest makes some changes.

  28. Thanks for this great post. You made some points that I had not thought of before… Even as a blogger, I didn’t really notice over-sharing or realize its negative impact. I’m sure that some of my re-pins contain this and it’s something that I’ll have to go through and correct. I have always tried to pin from the original source. It’s definitely very frustrating when you’re looking for more information on a pin and find a dead end. I’m not sure how these sorts of things can be addressed, other than making people aware through posts like yours. I’ve just pinned your graphic and tweeted about your post… thanks again!

  29. Whew! So glad I’m not alone in this- I just got through looking at what was being pinned from my blog (after noticing a huge spike) and saw a couple of recipes and a tutorial pinned with the entire posts. So I googled to see if this was happening to others and if we could do anything and found you. Ugh. Wish there was a way to “unpin” them. In the meantime, I’m pinning your graphic. 🙂

    Fingers crossed that Pinterest starts limiting the characters- and soon! Btw, I can’t believe it’s still in beta mode- what’s it gonna be like when you don’t need an invitation? It’ll be like, “facebook? What’s that?” 🙂

  30. I’d like to add, if you don’t like it, don’t comment on it, and don’t re-pin it. You hurt people’s blogs that way too.

  31. This is a great post! I am also concerned about the legality of Pinterest, so I wrote my own post, and linked to this one regarding etiquette! Thanks for helping make Pinterest a better place!

  32. Thank you for this! It’s very helpful to read! It can be so frustrating when you find the perfect thing on Pinterest and it links back to google or something unhelpful. If I like it I want to go to the site it originally came from! They most likely would have other things that interest me 🙂 I think re-pinning contributes to this a lot. Someone sees the picture, looks cool and they re-pin, not knowing that it doesn’t give proper credit! I always try to click and check out the link before I repin something.

  33. I am not a blogger but I am so sorry I have not paid attention and not always gotten to the original blogger. I will certainly be more aware from now on. So glad I read this so I can give credit where credit is due. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  34. Great article! I pinned it but made sure to tell people to also come and read because your graphic sums the whole article up and I am afraid some will not come and read the entire article. I pin onto boards based on my ChristmasOrganizing.com website and do a tip of the day through email and facebook and then I try to find a pin to go along with the tip to give some extra inspiration to everyone. I try to always click through and I hate finding one that is pinned to a whole blog and the one I want is on page 249! I hope I have not missed any (but I could have). Thanks for the simple way to let others know about the things to do!


  35. Thank you so much for sharing this article! One of the things people need to take into consideration when they pin something is to open the pin and check its content. I hate going to a pin only to have no information because someone has a blog full of pin posts. I also fix the info area, take out the material, trying to give credit. I have been slowly going back and cleaning up my old pins.

  36. Thank you Jennie for the work done here and allowing us to share it. I linked this to my site at http://redletterquilts.blogspot.com/ , and copied the guidelines there as well!