Special Snowflakes of The Internet

The other day I saw a comment on Twitter that said something like “Before you post a craft tutorial or idea on your blog, always Google to make sure someone else hasn’t already posted one.”

And then my head exploded.

To be clear, the tweet wasn’t directed at me. Crafting is only a teeny tiny part of my blog and definitely not my area of expertise. I have never gotten a nasty email or comment about the originality of my projects. And I try very, very hard to keep it that way. There is no reason at all I should have taken the kind of offense to the remark that caused my brains to splatter all over the wall behind me.

I understand that people copying each others work is a big problem in blog land. There was the cooking magazine that reprinted a blogger’s post without her permission and then told her “Well the internet is free, so technically we can print anything we want! Plus, we edited your crappy writing so much, YOU should really pay US!” (No, really, this just happened.) And just this week Jill found her recent craft tutorial on a site that claims it “collects” posts from across the internet and republishes them – without giving her byline. But they’re doing it to help you! You’ll get tons of traffic! From this site no one has ever heard of and has no valid contact info!

I also know stealing someone’s design/craft can be a huge problem for handmade businesses, since there’s really no way to copyright something like a ruffle or a rosette. That’s not cool. Don’t rip off creative people you admire – SUPPORT them.

BUT. Posting a recipe for, say, zucchini bread even though there are already a zillion recipes online for zucchini bread is not plagiarism. Neither is posting a how-to on a ribbon mobile or felt flowers or using an empty frame as a whiteboard, although if you Google any of those you get dozens and dozens (hundreds)(sometimes thousands) of responses. Demanding no one ever use an idea someone else has had is like saying “OK, Mommy bloggers, since I’ve already read posts about cloth diapers, potty training, making your own baby food, pooping while giving birth and cute kids, ALL THOSE THINGS are off limits.” If we limited the internet to only 100% original thoughts it probably wouldn’t exist. Neither would most books, movies, art, music, etc. Have you ever read the New Testament? Some of those dudes totally tell the same stories, even though they were told before!!

How about instead of assuming you are such a special snowflake all YOUR ideas are one-of-a-kind and it’s everyone else who’s stealing we agree to some rules for polite blogging?

1. If you are “inspired” by someone else’s idea, link to them in your post.
2. If you flat out USE someone else’s tutorial, link to them in your post, and maybe stick to just posting pictures instead of your own “how-to”.
3. Changing the NAME of a recipe is not the same as inventing a new recipe. You have to actually modify the ingredients/instructions to make it new.
4. Use common sense – don’t be a douchecanoe. When in doubt, link link link.

But for the record, the internet is a really huge place. I promise there is more than enough room for everyone’s yarn wreath tutorials (coming soon to bebehblog!)

Like I said, I didn’t really need to get so pissed off about this – I’m just having a pissed off sort of day and angry blogging is the pregnant woman’s equivalent of drinking a bottle of wine.

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17 Responses to “Special Snowflakes of The Internet”

  1. Amy says:

    I know we’ve already talked about it, but to me, it’s like saying, “My son’s bedroom is jungle-themed,” and me expecting anyone else with a son to check with me to make sure it’s OK if they use the same thing. There are very few ideas that haven’t been done before. That’s what “inspiration” is for. I’m not talking about blatant plagiarism, but ZOMG, I made egg carton-menorahs during my time in Jewish nursery school. Should people have to ask me before making theirs? Methinks not.

  2. I created a food blog because I INVENTED SOUP.

  3. Joanna says:

    Dude. AMEN.

    If someone wants to post something verbatim from my blog… you better sure as hell ask and/or link back to me. But umm, if they found something on there, did it themselves and shared that with their readers. Then great. I’m all about giving credit where credit is due, but lets be serious here. I’m sure someone makes the same banana pudding recipe that I do. I didn’t get it from a cookbook or online but I have posted it before and if I found it again I’d never be like “ZOMG THAT IS MINE.”

    It’s so hard because a lot of people’s crafts are the same. Rosettes, ruffles, diaper cakes, necklaces, earrings. Being inspired, doing your own thing and having it be similar to someone else is not stealing :)

  4. molly says:

    Wow, someone really tweeted that. Um, that is just strange.

    I used someone’s idea for baby monthiversary onesies and never thought twice about linking to the person’s blog post that inspired my project. It’s only fair.

    Then you have to remember that life’s not fair. And douchecanoes (hehe) do exists. There will always be someone stealing something. In real life and virtually.

    Lesson is just make sure you give credit where credit is DUE, people.

  5. sarrible says:

    And it’s worth remembering that you can’t copyright a recipe. You can copyright the name (like Derby Pie) and you can try your damnedest to keep the ingredients a secret (like Coca-Cola and KFC do), but the US Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t issue copyrights for lists of ingredients and instructions.

    Says someone who works with recipes and rights every day. Also, stealing is wrong.

  6. The title of this post is making me smiles for some reason. And, you know it;s hard because I totally feel like our “collective consciousness” has us all on the same wavelength a lot of the times but jeez of someone inspired you to do something then they deserve credit/ a link.

  7. I am not crafy in the least, but I do like a good word…so I may use douchecanoe (cause that word makes me smile!). Rest assured, I’ll give you a shout out when I do, cause I am NOT a special snowflake, but want to give credit to those who are!
    You are so right–total common sense. I’m new to blogging, and even I know that. What douchecanoes…hehehe…

  8. so i tried to comment on this yesterday on my phone and things didn’t go so well. here’s what i wanted to say:

    “i had this really insightful comment planned out. then Amy up there said she invented soup and I snorted coffee out my nose.

    So Basically, I think that there it basically depends on what you plan to do with someone else’s idea. For example, I wouldn’t be too happy if i found out that someone had taken one of my ideas and then created an exact replica and sold it for profit. ESPECIALLY if it was an idea that I had for sale in my shop. THAT is a big no-no. only douchecanoes do things like that. BUT the whole purpose of putting a tutorial out there is so that other people can do it (DUH).I think its only fair that you link back if you try out someone’s tutorial. its like the rules of the interwebs.

    I also think its important to point out that I am not the only person in the world that makes picture frames. or flower pins. or aprons. i just try to put my own little twist on them.”

  9. AmyLee says:

    completely agree. i love reading me some common sense. so refreshing :)

  10. Swistle says:

    I could not agree more. NO, IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE.

    Also, it sounds like they weren’t even talking about giving credit for inspiration (as the comment section seems to be leaning toward interpreting it), they were saying that if you thought of something yourself, make sure no one else thought of it or posted on it EVER. Not just “Don’t share someone’s zucchini recipe without linking” but “Don’t share your OWN zucchini recipe if anyone else has ever—unbenownst to you until you Googled it—posted that recipe.”

    Furthermore, several times I have posted on topics and had someone leave me a comment saying, “Um, I wrote about that” with a link. And I mean for a topic such as “Wondering if we should have another child” or “Worrying about expenses”—and yet someone clearly thinks that since they wrote about it, I MUST BE COPYING THEM.

  11. brigidkeely says:

    Ah geeze I can’t believe this. HELLO DUH INTERNETS STFU.

    People are kinda clueless sometimes.

  12. andrea says:

    There is a big difference between inspiration and plagarism and I think you explain it very well. I am all about credit (when possible) and I think that makes a big difference although sometimes (JUST sometimes), you can’t really link to the other 100,000 zucchini bread recipies, right? Having said that, “stealing” other people’s stuff and claiming it’s yours says a lot about who you are as a person and a blogger. You (by you I mean, everyone) need to be careful and remember that just because you are not having “face-to-face” interaction through blogging, that does not mean there are not people (who work hard, spend a lot of time blogging and have feelings) behind blogs. Great post! xxo

  13. Danielle says:

    And I love reading several tutorials on things I want to make because I pick up different hints and tips on how to do it from each perspective. Sometimes I combine more than one tute into my final project too.

    I love your post and your terminology. Special snowflake and Douchecanoe are awesome! Love it!

  14. […] and we owe it to our readers to be original. Or something. But then I giggled, because we are NOT special snowflakes of the internet. I had already taken pictures of the process, the bread was in the oven…why the hell […]

  15. […] for the VERY SAME THING back in 1997 when it was ACTUALLY an original idea because WHATEVER DUDE. We are not special snowflakes so just let me have this one, OK? I spend an embarrassing amount of time looking at things on […]

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