Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind

by Paris B on · 23 comments

in Discussions,Simple Blogging Tips (for beauty bloggers),Tips

Here’s the great thing about being online, and having a blog – no rules. No one to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, and no one to cramp your style. Hurrah!

Yet, there are some unwritten rules that I think is basic common courtesy and ethics that makes sense to be adopted or borne in mind, as bloggers, we plot our journey through the ever-changing digital landscape. I don’t like preaching things like this and coming off sounding holier than thou but I do believe that in the challenging and now, competitive world of blogging and online media some basic common courtesies and ethics get lost or overlooked.

online courtesy Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind

I’d like to just remind you of 5 today. This was prompted by a rather unpleasant episode that happened to me last weekend, of image copyright infringement, so yeah, guess I’m preaching to the choir, since those who did piss me off probably won’t read this icon razz Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind

If you blog, then you will be able to resonate with these I’m sure. Perhaps it sounds like I’m stepping on your toes icon razz Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind If you don’t and are a regular blog reader, perhaps this might give you an insight into putting your trust in a blogger, especially a review blogger who may influence decisions you make on what to buy or use. Feel free to add any other tips or reminders in the comment box icon smile Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind

1. Give proper attribution to sources using backlinks and proper URL references

If you were inspired by someone, or want to make reference to something found on another website or blog, there is nothing wrong with linking to them. It helps people read the source article for themselves and form their own judgments, and tells a fair story, or just helps people discover new sites and ideas. If inspired, there’s no harm in saying you were inspired by ABC blogger and linking to ABC Blogger because ABC blogger would likely be honoured at the mention and thankful for the link love, and you may even gain a new friend.

Also, if for reasons unknown you choose not to link to a particular website then use the full citation e.g. mywomenstuff.com because mywomenstuff means nothing in the internet. If a person’s URL is my-women-stuff.com then be sure to cite accordingly. It’s only polite and courteous, like getting someone’s name right when speaking to them.

2. Do not remove watermarks of images that you use from another website unless by consent 

Well first off all, don’t steal images. As bloggers who take our own images, we feel terribly affronted to see our images being used willy nilly on webstores (especially when we don’t get paid anything for prompting a sale!) and even worse, to discover that someone has not only used your image without permission, but chopped off your watermark.

Make your blood boil? Yeah, made mine boil.

I don’t claim to take such great photos that warrant them being stolen but however crappy my photos can be, they are mine. If permission is asked, I usually allow the use of my photos on other sites provided there is a backlink and proper attribution. Most people comply, and when they do so, I expect the full photograph to be used, not part of it chopped off, and especially not when I have watermarked my photos. I have contemplated not watermarking them but I just prefer to.

I recently found my image being used on another site and it had been resized so my watermark was removed. There was a mention at the end of the post that the image was “Courtesy of mywomenstuff” but I had never been asked, no link was provided, there was no proper attribution and my image had been edited and my watermark had been removed. This isn’t polite nor courteous nor ethical. To their credit, when I asked, they removed the image but the damage was done.

3. Disclose, disclose, disclose

This one is an area that is a little grey since there are no rules nor laws that require blogs or online media to disclose if a product featured is a complimentary sample or sponsored or paid for or an advertorial. Well, in the USA there are FTC rules and guidelines, but these generally apply to bloggers based in the USA. Outside, we are subject to the laws of individual countries and I haven’t come across other countries implementing similar laws yet.

While disclosure isn’t therefore legally necessary, I think it only ethical and courteous to disclose things like free samples and payment. It helps readers decide on the weight they give a blog post, in particular when researching product reviews. Blog advertorials are big things once companies and ad networks worked out the influence wielded by popular and “celebrity bloggers” who receive payment in exchange for a rave review.

Not disclosing sponsored posts and advertorials is what sets my teeth on edge as it basically dupes people out there into buying into a commercial. I’m less fussed when it’s about cosmetics but I do give the side-eye when it’s for expensive beauty supplements or aesthetic treatments.

4. Don’t stoke fires of hate or incite drama

I believe that as bloggers, on your own platform you can say and do anything you want, but I also believe that we have a social responsibility to not promote hatred or incite drama. We don’t have to be friends with everyone. After all, how many of us can claim to get along with everyone we meet? Not many.

Sure if something pisses you off, you have every right to write about it. It’s your blog. But I also think discretion is the better part of valour and drama is unnecessary. I’ve seen and talked to bloggers who told me that they’ve left the blogging scene because they were unwittingly drawn into a drama and forced to take sides in an internet war. Influential or popular bloggers have an even bigger responsibility I feel, to not promote this sort of drama. When power and influence can be used for good, why promote hate? Life is far too short and the impressions go deep.

I’ve also seen these dramatic posts deleted from the blogs in question after they go on to be popular. Those who have seen it or have been affected by it will remember and impressions last.

5. Be honest

Honesty is the best policy, especially if you’re building up your reputation in a review niche for anything, be it beauty, food, household gadgets etc. You don’t have to like everything, but you also don’t have to be horribly mean about it. Justify why you think it’s bad or why you don’t think it worth the money and go about it rationally.

Honesty lies in your thoughts on the product, disclosure on whether you were paid to blog about it, and in your photographs.

If you show a before/after shot of your face to show results from a treatment or product use, honesty dictates that your photograph not be doctored. Editing brightness, or contrast is acceptable and in many ways, helpful. (See some of Tine’s tips here) But I’ve seen people photoshop in forehead lines in a before shot and then blur out their forehead in the after shot, to show how efficient a serum is. I’ve seen before pictures of someone’s face and an after picture that was quite obviously photoshopped to be smooth, clear, bright and poreless to show how efficient an aesthetic treatment or product is. It’s a lie and you know it and if you have poor photoshop skills, your readers know it too. Where’s your credibility then?

I have nothing against people who do apply filters to their photos but I do look askance if it is used to enhance their glowing review of a skincare product, treatment or a foundation. Few people are lucky enough to have that sort of poreless, ethereal glow to their bare skin after using any product. I’m less critical about other colour cosmetics because those come down to individual preference as opposed to efficacy of product which I feel differs from person to person and therefore should be taken a little more seriously.

Right, I better step off my soapbox now before I self combust icon razz Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind

Have you other online courtesies and ethics you’d like to add, that you think online media/bloggers should employ?

Above all, be nice, be polite and be pleasant. No one ever complained that someone was too nice icon razz Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind Oh and after all this I just realised that today’s Valentine’s Day so erm… Happy Valentine’s Day everyone icon razz Simple Blogging Tips: 5 Simple online courtesy and ethics to bear in mind *rappels down from soapbox tower*

Paris B

Simple Blogging Tips are some simple tips I have for fellow bloggers, based on my own experiences. I’m no ‘guru’ but I hope they will help you. You may read up on previous Simple Blogging Tips here or please feel free to ask your question in the comment box or in email.

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[ 23 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

Tine
Twitter:
February 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

I for one am happy to have rules. I may be part of the minority but I strongly believe that bloggers should have a proper code of ethics like journalists do. It doesn’t have to be exactly like journos’ but nevertheless there should be rules that every blogger has to follow. This weeds out the dodgy ones because hey, you’re not just breaking a rule, you’re breaking the law.

I’ve seen big multi-million dollar brands steal bloggers’ images, remove watermarks and post those images on their social media pages. The funny thing is, some of the swatches aren’t even the brand’s products! It’s either done by a clueless intern or the brand thinks so highly of themselves that the blogger should be proud that her images are being used (even though there was no credit to the blogger).

I don’t understand the point of inciting hate and drama. High school, is it? Mean Girls, is it? Don’t they get enough politics at work? Must the hate and negativity flow into something which is supposed to be fun?

As for overly edited photos, hah, tell me about it. Just today I saw a poorly edited one where the background is so blur but the subject’s so clear. Trust me, it wasn’t the camera’s depth of field. It’s poorly done editing. Just a few days ago I saw another picture of blurred skin, which isn’t the results of the skincare, it’s Photoshop. For the love of all that’s holy … WHY?

Right, off the soapbox I go. I can go on till the cows come home on this one. :P
Tine recently blogged…Nailing It: Napoleon Perdis Nail Polish in Gold FinchMy Profile

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Ting February 21, 2014 at 11:07 am

On big brands stealing blogger’s images to put on social media… that’s really unprofessional. Stupid, even.

So far from the blogs I follow, I’ve never seen any photoshopped faces. I suppose it would make me really angry if blogger tries to push sales by faking it. :(

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Haha you and me both, Tine! I do think bloggers should have a code of ethics but even if we don’t, there are basic manners and courtesies that we should already be practising. Things like not being rude or not stealing for example, are things we’d not do in everyday life, so why do it just because we’re online? That part I don’t get >.< I also see companies using blogger’s images (those that aren’t watermarked) on their Facebook pages and put “Source: Google” and I think that is so rude!

Seeing people fake good skin after 1 week of trying a product really gets my goat. Yet, people believe it and for that, I have nothing to say :P

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Juan
Twitter:
February 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

haha I almost huffed and puffed the entire way from start to finish. can understand all the concerns.
Juan recently blogged…Beauty tips for beautiful skin could just mean keeping it simple.My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Haha such basic manners and no one gets them right. What is society coming to, I ask!

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Fiona February 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

I encounter a blog post last year and one of the picture is similar to yours. No credit, no link back, no nothing. It took me a while trying to recall where I’ve seen a similar picture because her posted photo was a cropped version of yours. Just when I was about to email you, I double check again and she put a credit back to you. But on a cropped photo. They should not put “picture coutersy of …”. It sounded as if you handed the photo to them for free use. It should have been “picture credited to …”

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Sigh, thanks for letting me know, Fiona. It sucks when that happens and I’d never know about it unless people tell me! I don’t understand why people think it’s alright to steal when they’re online when they won’t steal in real life. Or maybe they do. Oh well :(

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Lily
Twitter:
February 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

Agreed with all the above. I read a blog where the blogger actually fought with her readers – on her blog and on her Instagram. She’s quite a famous local fashion blogger too! That kinda cracked me up. Either way, I’m glad to say that all the blogs I read and comment on are awesome! Those I can’t click with, I just don’t click on :-P
Lily recently blogged…Review: Bobbi Brown Twilight Pink Lip And Eye PaletteMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm

You know, I actually read somewhere that some of these drama queens get into fights to generate more interest, hype and traffic! Not that I understand it, but I guess for them, being controversial works >.<

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Cynthia February 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Chap Goh Mei! I really loathe people who steals images. I’ve also seen those overly edited photos lot of times. It doesn’t make sense how someone just use photoshop to show us that the products work extremely good. But well, some just doesn’t know the unwritten rules.
Cynthia recently blogged…The Collector: I’m a Blush FiendMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Isn’t it sad that people actually think they have to photoshop an image to show how well a product is working? Are they afraid that if they don’t, they’ll never get another freebie? Whatever happened to pure, simple honesty?! *sigh*

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Marina(Makeup4all) February 14, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I personally think that sponsored activity must be disclosed. And, I also agree about linking back.
Marina(Makeup4all) recently blogged…Happy Valentine’s Day and Makeup4all Turns 5!My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Absolutely agree with you on both points, Marina! I’m sure you’d have experienced a lot of theft yourself too!

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Nicci February 14, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I totally agree with everything you’ve said here! Disclosure is so important. Fortunately I’ve only had one circumstance where I found one of my images used on another blog, but the author did credit me and link back to the original post so I wasn’t bothered by it.
Nicci recently blogged…Beauty Tag: Colors of the RainbowMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Hi Nicci, it’s good to know you haven’t had these unpleasant encounters happen to you – I don’t wish them on anyone LOL! But yes, a simple link back credit is the least the other site can do and yet, these basic courtesies seem to be the exception rather than the norm.

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Tracey Snell February 15, 2014 at 3:54 am

I trained as a journalist and from very early on the laws on copyright are drummed in to you. Most of it is obvious and you really don’t need text books or lectures to teach you the basics. It should be obvious to all that lifting bloggers’ pics (or anyone elses for that matter is wrong). A grey area I guess is lifting say a pic of a yet-to-be released product from a brand’s site for a story you are writing about that product. Technically it is still copyright theft but in reality chances are the brand won’t mind as it’s promotion for them. The safest approach is to contact the brand for permission. That way you may also end up securing yourself an industry contact in the process.

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Hi Tracy, I fully agree with you about these things being obvious. You’d think no one had to tell you that stealing is wrong, yet people do it online all the time and it boggles my mind why they think it ok to do so! It looks like common courtesies aren’t as common as we’d like to think :)

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lyn
Twitter:
February 15, 2014 at 10:17 am

I’ve had quite a few images stolen from my flickr in the past but I have to say it is very difficult to track down when your images have been stolen. I also can’t stand heavily photoshopped images especially of one’s face (this is why I don’t use PS). I will brighten and maybe enhance the colours of my photos but I won’t do the pimple or wrinkle remover nonsense. Trying to keep it real, ya know.

I recently put up some form of disclosure (very generic) when I started adding affiliate marketing ads on my blog. Truth be told, I’m adding them mainly to “decorate” my blog otherwise there’s too much white space :-P
lyn recently blogged…Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm: The Glossy Cousin Is Here In TownMy Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

You’re right about it being hard to track stolen images. I rely on people telling me or if I stumble across my picture. I think it’s possible to search Google Images though, so you can see where a certain picture comes from but it’s quite a bother unless you really want to catch people (and really, I’m not that free LOL!) I don’t get the whole photoshop thing either. Why make a product look more effective than it really is?! Unless you’re getting paid to say so of course :P

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Mirifique Beauty February 16, 2014 at 5:59 am

I coudn’t agree more with everything you have written. I pride myself on writing an honest blog with real pictures too and god help anyone who steals my pics (not that they look professional, because they are not) but they are my hard work.
I also agree with you about not getting into altercations with any one who makes offensive comments or tries to incite hate. Luckily, i only had one follower who did this and to save the heart ache i just unfollowed her blog knowing that would get rid of her. I just don’t have the time to get into it and it doesn’t look good when potential PR’s look at your blog either. Most of the nasty comments and luckily not many, come from sad internet trolls who have no life and i just don’t even comment or let the nastiness through to my blog in the first place. Thank god for comment moderation! They ultimately only waste their own time in the end. Great post as usual from yourself and thanks for sharing x
Mirifique Beauty recently blogged…Valentines Day………………………A Diva With Pearly Whites!My Profile

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Absolutely agree with you about images. I don’t care if my pictures look crap, they’re MY crap LOL! :D I don’t understand trolls either. Don’t these people have anything better to do with their time than go round being mean and picking fights? When I do come across unpleasant comments, I just either ignore, delete or kill them with kindness. Thanks for reading! :)

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Ting February 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

Oh dear… cyberspace plagiarism is so easy but still so wrong!! Back in uni, we were very seriously warned about plagiarism. In fact, warning signs of it were put around the university and lecture halls. So it has left me a deep impression that stealing other people’s work is very wrong.

If the person using your copyright materials remove the image upon your request, or put a link in, that’s still not tackling the fundamental problem of stealing. What if you didn’t know about it, and so never request for image to be removed? That means he or she continues to openly use your image without any guilt? urrrggghhh

Actually, how do you find out about your images being stole? Have you managed to catch every blogs that illegally uses your images or content? I understand your anger about it. Again, plagiarism is VERY WRONG!!! :p

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Paris B
Twitter:
February 21, 2014 at 7:00 pm

I have been told once or twice by people who see my images used on other sites and sometimes I stumble on them. There’s a way of using Google Images to check but it’s too much of a hassle running every photo through it. Not so free :P And you’re right – I don’t understand why people think copying is fine. It’s not! Whatever happened to basic simple manners and courtesy eh?

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