Blogging is hard work; no wonder almost 90% of the blogs that are created never go beyond the ‘Hello World’ post and 99% of the blogs aren’t updated more than once a month. Yet those 1-10% of blogs still number in the millions giving rise to popularity of content aggregation or meta-filtering like Digg, Reditt, Boing Boing or dare I admit it, DesiPundit. As with any ‘western’ fad that gets any traction in the U.S., it ultimately finds its way to India where every media network goes buzzword-crazy and attempts to cash in on the fad-wagon. Channel[V] is doing the same with respect to blogging. But even with a reputation of having a feel of the pulse of India’s youth, seemingly hip media networks are still caught in the traditional old media mentality and haven’t been able to wrap their heads around new social media.
Case in point, their blogging site smartly named My India Report (not gonna comment on that annoying pop-up). I noticed a comment on Vikas’s ‘Sizzling Economy…Moral Pygmy’ post hinting that it was posted on [V]‘s blog. I hopped over to check it out and was surprised to see the entire post cut-pasted albeit with a link to the original blog. The post was posted under ‘guest post’ so naturally I asked Vikas if they had his permission which he confirmed they didn’t. I checked out other ‘guest posts’ and saw posts by Nitin, Krish Ashok, Amrita, among others cut-pasted entirely. I left a comment pointing out their folly and reminded them of fair use practices in the blogosphere i.e. excerpts of 100 words or less with a link to the original blog in order to read the full post. E.g. as Boing Boing, Life Hacker, or even we at DesiPundit would do. Heck, Krish Ashok’s Facebook Mahabharat image was copied entirely making a visit to his blog entirely redundant.
I guess my comment and other blogger contacts to higher-ups at Channel[V] had its effect and I saw a ‘Thank You’ post today. But the blog ‘admin’ still didn’t get it and gave the impression that the bloggers whose posts were ripped ought to feel privileged to be feature on their site. Bloggers who may think that way must remember that duplicate content is frowned up by Google and your blog may be marked as spam for ripping off content instead of vice versa. Or worse, such site may slap on some Adsense ad blocks and start monetizing off your content. Also, I’m told the ‘reporters’ and ‘bloggers’ for My India Report are being paid; no problem; everyone’s time has value but in the same spirit, shouldn’t the ‘guest bloggers’ be paid as well.
Anyway, I reiterated my ‘fair use’ and ‘blogging etiquette’ points again. This time, it seemed to have hit the mark and all posts were subsequently converted to excerpts. But if you are one of those bloggers who fiercely protects their content and expect proper credit, I suggest you keep an eye on My India Report. But for now, they seemed to have made a honest mistake and have rectified it.
I hope those in charge of My India Report have paid attention to this faux pas and take measures to avoid it in the future. The site seems like a worthwhile experiment and Blog-to-TV crossover may help in popularizing blogging. But for that to happen, Channel [V] definitely needs blogging advice. Especially since reputations on the blogosphere do not take time to shatter which we all know can be quite hard to recover from. Plagiarism doesn’t receive similar denouncement as it does elsewhere and hence practices which otherwise are considered blatant plagiarism may even be encouraged in India. I remember a colleague doing his ‘research’ on the Internet and citing Altavista (Google wasn’t big back then) as a reference. I guess research for him meant search again and again. I hope Channel [V] doesn’t encourage such behavior from its ‘bloggers’