The following is a guest article by Lauren Bailey. Content curation has been a popular topic lately. Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to doing it!
In this world of constant access to information through the internet, most web users have become used to the constant sourcing and re-sourcing of popular content. By the time one news story breaks, multiple other sites will have copied the story and re-produced it on their own site. The way this reproduction should be done and the way it is attributed to the original source is still up for grabs in current web discourse.
For the most part, websites will spin the story in a new way, with any major facts linked to the original article. In fact, many blog networks make millions doing little more than curating content from other sources. This is how cash cow Huffington Post became popular. And content aggregation is now becoming the model for all web properties looking to remain relevant and make money.
But how do we know when content curation has gone too far and begins to border on plagiarism? Is there a right and wrong way to copy or cite other writers’ work online? While the answers to these questions lie in mounds of regulations that may apply to one web property, but not to another, there are some general rules that everyone should follow to make sure they are not blurring the lines.
First, what is plagiarism?
Plaigarism is, for the most part, taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. An example would be completely copying the work of another writer and posting it to your own website without linking back to the original source, or even citing it. Most websites will make an effort to cite others’ work, but sometimes shady tactics are used where the citation is so small it is unnoticeable, or the reproduction fails to include a link back.
While this may seem cut and dry, the umbrella of plagiarism actually extends beyond simple copying and pasting. For example, if you completely re-word another writer’s work, along with their sources and facts, and fail to attribute that knowledge to the source you found it from, that is also definitely considered plagiarism and is simply bad form.
So, what is curation, then, exactly?
The term curation comes from the art world. Curators are the people who choose pieces of art to place together in a particular show. So, when someone is “curating” online, they are carefully selecting content that they want to be shown together, within their space, possibly in a different light.
Curating content respectfully includes complete transparency. It should obviously state that the content was taken from an outside source. It should italicize or quote anything that is copied directly. It should also include a link back to wherever the information was found.
Although there are plenty of fine lines when it comes to plagiarism online, the best bet is, when in doubt, cite and link back. Even if you’ve written a completely original piece, there is nothing wrong with shedding light onto where you found the information you’re working with and any other writing that helped form your opinion along the way. That is the most honest way to go about web writing, and it’s also the most respectful way to go about content curation.