Pinterest info on the web generally falls into two camps: the how-to’s that encourage pinning with abandon and the anti-Pinterest campaigns that encourage people to boycott the site completely.

I don’t like those extremes. They lack opportunity for dialogue. Opportunity for education. Opportunity for change.

This time last weekend, I was looking over my notes for my BlogHer session and trying to condense everything I wanted to share into about 15 minutes. Inconceivable. Hopefully, I was able to lay a foundation for bloggers as to how they can use Pinterest and use it well.

What I aim for is a reasonable and well-informed middle ground: educating people as to how to use Pinterest well so that they can pin with un-reckless abandon, creating boards that respect online content.

Pinterest, like Tumblr or Facebook, or any other social sharing site, plays by the same rules. You can’t post what you don’t have the rights to.

In March, as I debated whether to continue using Pinterest, my concern was whether to keep using a platform that was hurting a lot of people by misattribution and IP theft. Here was the crux of the post:

If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. – Desmond Tutu

Rather than walk away, and say this is unfixable, I’d love the chance to try fixing it. I’m not good at quitting things when I know they could get better.

Looking away when someone is hurt and saying you don’t want to get involved is getting involved.

I decided to keep my boards. To believe that we, the users, the mighty mice, could make Pinterest better.

I think we can, and we are.

Once upon a time, I had almost a thousand pins. I hadn’t read the fine print. Many weren’t mine to pin in the first place. Others had old and broken links.

The value of your boards isn’t in the number of pins. Broken links aren’t valuable.

As I said at BlogHer, the great thing about Pinterest is that your ability to drive traffic isn’t inherently based on the number of followers you have. More followers mean more exposure, but the quality of a pin will lead to repins, which leads to more repins and more repins. Quality has the potential to create quantity.

Safety pinning: When is it pinnable?

Pinterest controversy surrounds the issue of copyright – users agree in the TOS to only use images they own the copyright to or have permission to use.

As a writer and photographer, and in my editing work, I take this very seriously. As bloggers we should, too. No, not just as bloggers. Everyone should do it because it’s exactly what they agree to when they join Pinterest. And also, karma.

On a serious note, I know people who’ve had their livelihoods negatively impacted via improper pins. So pin with care because people need to put food on the table. That’s reason enough, isn’t it?


The best part? It’s really easy.

Pin your ORIGINAL site content. If you drew it, wrote it, photographed it – pin it.

Pin from sites, from blogs to brand sites, with a visible Pin It button – be it embedded or via a Safety Pin. If they don’t clearly state “pin me” you can always email and ask someone. It’s fast and easy and people are generally awesome with a quick response. (Please offer the same respect to someone who says, “Please, pin away,” as someone who says, “Thanks, but not thanks.” One is no better than the other.)

Before you repin, always be sure the link goes to the original source and it has the OK to be pinned in the first place (ex. curated content sites can include images that go to another site, or perhaps the right site but not the permalink for the post.)

Pinning from a brand board? Only repin the content coming from their own sites. For example, a Martha Stewart board pin is safe IF the pin came from the Martha Stewart site. Always check URLs. Always.

Let’s respect copyright while making fabulous pin boards. Let’s make Pinterest a dialogue where we contribute original content, comment and like others content, and repin when we know it’s kosher.

As Jen, whose boards are an organizational work of art, says, “Don’t pin the ugly.” Both aesthetically and ethically, I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

For more info on copyright and intellectual property, here’s my all-ages primer.

Help make this place fabulous. One pin at a time.

I’m going to follow up this post with another on Monday about some questions about pins that sit in murky territory. If you have any questions, I’d love to try and answer them. Feel free to email me (contact info top right of site) or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to include answers that can help you!

Also, if you couldn’t make the conference or stayed out too late at Sparklecorn to make the first sessions of the morning, the VirtualCon from BlogHer ’12 should be up shortly, and I’ll be sure to add the link here.

Also, also…my fabulous co-panelist, photographer Heather Durdil, will be doing a series of Instagram posts on her site in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned.


2 thoughts on “On Pinterest, BlogHer and Knowing What’s OK to Pin

    1. alexandra Post author

      Yes, please do! In my site FINE PRINT I do say that pinning original content from my site is allowed. I just prefer not to embed code to make the whole site pinnable.


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