Pinetiquette – On Photos

Pinterest is something people keep asking me about, and as a social media tool used by both bloggers and non-bloggers alike, I think it’s a great example of social media in need of rules for all. This isn’t finger pointing at bloggers. Everyone on Pinterest, myself included, is probably doing it wrong.

(If you’d like a Pinterest 101 tutorial, Lindsay created this one for her readers and has given me permission to share here.)

I love Pinterest, and find it an incredible tool for organizing, research and inspiration. But what is pinned and how it’s done is something we need to change. I’m not talking about content in terms of taste (though you can report anything questionable) but rather in terms of things like copyright**, attribution and basic respect.

RULE: When you pin something on Pinterest, only do so from a page with a proper source. Ideally, if it’s a painting, it’s from the artist’s site or a gallery or museum. If it’s a sofa, it links to a showroom or the designer’s blog. At the very least, make sure the blog you’ve decided to pin from has credited it properly. Permalinks are best. Otherwise, don’t do it.

Another issue that many overlook, and by many I mean ME, is that I repin with abandon. I don’t often think before I repin, and very often these pins are poorly sourced.

Newsflash: Cecil Beaton died in 1980. He doesn’t have a Flickr account. But I find Beaton images sourced to a Flickr photostream, where someone has had the audacity to place © All Rights Reserved on the Cecil Beaton image in their photostream.

If this were in print, and not online, this would be considered a serious offense. It is a serious offense. But here no one seems to care. Why?

RULE: Use common sense. If the image looks professional or editorial, or bears the watermark of a major photo agency (sigh) chances are the person is committing copyright infringement. Don’t repeat the cycle.

I spent a few hours today beginning to clean out my boards of content that didn’t have legit credits. I began with a small photo board – it went from 41 images to 8. That’s just about 20% remaining. Barely.

I know that I re-pin more than I pin original content to Pinterest. The site is full of great things. If I were to add more original pins and follow people who only sourced properly, I wouldn’t have this mess. I wouldn’t have cringed at every pin I removed that had been repined after me. I am perpetuating the problem.

Hey, cyber village? Today, I’m your idiot.

I’m going to go through all of my boards and cleanhouse – I’ll let you know what percentage of pins were lacking in proper credit in the end. If you decide to Spring Clean your boards too, I’d love to know how yours add up. You don’t have to do it, but you kind of should. If you love a pin that isn’t sourced properly, google and find it. Then pin it properly.

If we’re looking for places to begin making changes, this is an easy one.

Here’s a great post by photographer Tara Bradford on her experiences with misuse of her images on Pinterest. Sometimes to best understand why we need rules, you need to step into the shoes of those whose work is taken advantage of. A few clicks of a mouse may seem harmless enough.

I’m making a site badge for anyone else who wants that says they pin with respect for others. It’ll be ready later this week. xo a.

** Disclaimer: Any discussion of copyright is based my experiences as a writer, editor and photographer. I’m not an attorney.


5 thoughts on “Pinetiquette – On Photos

  1. Claire (thehalfheartedhousewife)

    I wish there was a way (and maybe there is and I just don’t know it) to make my pinterest boards private. It kind of sucks because I just want it to be what it began as- a virtual inspiration board. If I rip a photo out of a magazine and pin it to an actual board in my house, I don’t have to worry about who shot or styled the photo or the source (not that these things aren’t important but just that for my use they aren’t necessarily essential for display). Pinterest is a great tool for collecting ideas and inspiration for oneself and I am definitely not using it with the intention of sharing the boards as content I created. But that is kind of what it’s become, I guess, so I am also going to make sure that I attribute things properly from now on (when pinning something I have always tried to make sure it was properly attributed, but when repinning things I haven’t been so careful).

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I think the idea of private boards is a good one. I think they need to implement a feature to disable comments. I find the threads where people talk about how ugly they feel a pair of shoes some else pinned ridiculous. What exactly is the point?

  2. Pingback: Pinetiquette – On Descriptions | alexandrawrote

  3. Lauren

    We just had a “discussion” about this on a photography forum I belong to, in regards to pinning photographs. We’re doing a “pin” exchange from each others’ sites and blogs, but just like you said, saying, “OMG cute!” doesn’t guide others to your site in searches. Using the photographers name (or pinning directly from their site or a sourced site) and something like, “portrait inspiration” does. I feel somewhat torn about this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying that people should copy or not credit others’ work; I just wish there were an easier way to say, cyberly, “I’m inspired by this!” without all sorts of hoops to jump through and red tape. 😦

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I think I could handle unsearchable descriptions if the items pinned were done appropriately. Especially when it comes to photos. I took down most of my photo boards after realizing that most of the images were not really meant to be online. The sources were unclear.


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