The (Boring) Problem of Attribution

Non-bloggy types, move along. Nothing to see here.

The rest of you, here’s a minor conundrum. In the previous entry, I credited The Mobile Technology Weblog for the find. But actually I found it via Engadget, who credited MTW, who pointed to the Reuters article. This is often the case, with multiple layers of attribution between me and the source. What’s the protocol?

Generally, I just choose the site closest to the source, and credit them. That probably doesn’t make sense, as I should be credit the source where I found them. Or is it important to show the entire ‘chain of evidence’? Ultimately, who really cares?


  1. I’ve run into that same problem myself. Generally speaking, I choose to credit the site that most entertained or informed me. If I totally rewrite the post, I may credit the original absolutely.

  2. i cite the site i found it on; give credit where it’s due and all that. of course, i’ve never pretended my site is an authoritative publication bound by protocol.

  3. Yup, ultimately who cares. And if everyone is linking to it, it doesn’t really matter that you credit where you saw it first — it’s your take on it that’s interesting.

    I tend to credit the place where I saw it — unless of course I am quoting something that was in turn quoted — just go to the source, and add a (via) or (hat tip) to the site where you saw it

  4. usually, far too lazy to do anything other than credit the most convenient. 🙂 Like, if peechie posts a meme she got from Bob, I’m gonna credit peechie, not Bob.

  5. I usually just credit where I saw it first, just out of courtesy. If someone asked me for some information, and if I knew that the answer was a cool tidbit came to me just recently from ‘Bob’, that would be sort of uncool to tell them, ‘and i heard it from Jackie.’

  6. I credit the person who I think is most interesting or provides the most interesting content. Of course, sometimes I switch that around and try to give some recognition to the underdog… In the end I don’t think many people care so I just make a judgement as to who “deserves” the link more.

  7. I actually worry about that kind of thing too. I usually credit the place I found it, and that leaves the chain of attribution intact, since the site I cite cites the next citation or an original site.

  8. Hi

    Well, writing as the subject of the link (The Mobile Weblog) I’m pleased that you opted for my credit, rather than Engadget, as I need to traffic more than them 🙂

    But I think there is a serious point of protocol here – only if you’re a blogger, as you point out. If you’re a newbie (or relatively new), practically the only way to get noticed is to get other, bigger sites to link to you.

    If these bigger sites ignore where they saw the info and just quote the original source, you’re going to be for ever lost in the outer reaches of the Blogosphere.

    So that’s why it’s important to credit where you saw it and an intermediary, if there was one. But it’s then where you draw the line.

    I frequently credit where I saw it, where they saw it and the source, for that reason. More than that seems over the top.


  9. I agree with Russell. I credit the site I found the article and if there is more interesting information beyond that I’ll add more links.

  10. In academia, you’d cite the original source. You of course found it via other means, probably several, because that’s what research is all about.

    But in the the blogworld, I usually try to cite the original and how I found it, with a “via” attribute.

    It gets a little awkward when several of the sites I read are all pointing to the article, which isn’t too uncommon if its a hot, or particularly relevant, topic.

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