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Emailers, Please Cite Your Sources!

June 22nd, 2007

This is simply a reminder for those of you who are emailing me with various stories and articles for me to consider covering on this blog. Recently I have been receiving many emails that have potentially usable content but no indication of its original source. For example, a few days ago I received the following bit of text under the title, “The New Vista”:

V - Virus
I - Instability
S - Spyware/Spybots
T - Trojans
A - Adware

This was the entire email- there was no other accompanying text, nor was there any kind of URL or source notation at the bottom. Now this was a pretty funny acronym for Vista, and it seemed like just the kind of thing that I might want to post under the “Humor” category. But because I wasn’t sure about where it really came from, I had to balk at it until I could do my own investigation. Since I happen to know the sender personally, I figured that this was not very likely to be an original composition, although it was still possible, in which case I would need to credit the sender as the original author upon publication here.

On the other hand, if I just publish something like this “as is” with no documentation at all, then I’m risking the possibility of the original author thinking that I am plagiarizing and promptly going ballistic, possibly leading to lots of future problems and headaches. Of course, I could also publish it and then explain that someone sent it to me by email, which is actually what the sender suggested that I do regarding a similar email that consisted of nothing more than two images stuck together. However, this does not seem like very good journalistic practice. To illustrate what I mean by this, consider what people might think if a major newspaper publication (or even a smaller local paper) took two seemingly random images out of nowhere, stuck them together and placed them in between two articles on the front page with a caption under it, “We have absolutely no clue where these pictures actually came from, nor do we know whether or not they depict any historically accurate event, but one of our reporters saw this in his email and thought it was pretty funny, so there you go.”

I know that many people do not consider bloggers to be in the same category as mainstream journalists, but we really need to follow similar kinds of publishing guidelines if we expect to be taken seriously and (hopefully) treated as legitimate news sources. It is also important for me to have some kind of information about sources because as a blogger, I must consider duplicate content issues. If you send me something that is actually your own writing and has not already been published on the Internet, then this gives me much more leeway in posting it directly without lots of accompanying text. I will include a byline giving you credit as the author, however, and will also give you a link back to your site if you have one that you would like to promote here as I described in my other article about hosted content.

Fortunately in this case, after going through several Google searches, I have found what appears to be the original source: What Vista Really Stands For. There was also another post right above it titled “Funny Vista Acronyms” that had several other acronyms that were quite funny and also very appropriate, considering the actual experiences of Vista users.


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