One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

March 9, 2012

Relevant to My Pinterests

So Pinterest is super-trendy right now; and is apparently the second-fastest growing social-media website having reached over 10 million users in under two years despite being invite only.

I guess I’ve been on Pinterest for about 5 months now. And I’m not, by far, a very prolific or well-followed pinner, but I do love Pinterest and find it both addictive and satisfying to my right brain (also, to that special part of my brain, the medulla procrastinatora).

There are a couple of thoughts about Pinterest etiquette and Pinterest’s long-term place in the social media forum that have been bubbling around in my head and I feel like I’m ready now to share my suggestions for elevating your participation on media-curation websites to a level that considers the well-being of the site, its other users, the original content providers and even, to some extent, the internet’s “sharingness”.

Poor Form Pins We Should Quit Perpetuating

1. Pins that link to a generic page of a regularly updated site.
Example: the home page of a blog or Page 3 of someone’s tumblr stream or the home page of a news site.
Why it sucks: By all accounts, even after you pin this particular page, time will continue to pass and if your pin is going to be found or read by anyone, that will happen sometime in the future. During that time, it is likely that more content will be added and the original post will be bumped into archives. If a lot of time has passed or this particular stream is prolific, the post that visitors are looking for might be buried so far down as to be virtually unfindable.
How to prevent it: If you’re on a page that has more than one post, you can bet this page will change. Usually you can click on the title of the post to get to a page that will contain only that post and will do so permanently. If that doesn’t work, look for anything marked “Permalink” and click through to that before you pin.

2. Pinning from other “Stuff I like” sites.
Example: Tumblr, We Heart It, “inspiration” blogs that are just a round-up of unattributed images
Why it sucks: When I click through, I don’t just want to see the original picture or other pictures that are similar, I want more information about THAT picture – an explanation, a tutorial, where to buy, etc. It sucks because the click-through doesn’t give me any more pertinent information. And partly it sucks because of the attribution issues. Pinterest is already morally sketchy with regards to copyright because all its content is copied. If Pinterest is going to be respected as a curatorial tool for collecting resources and eventually driving traffic and not just as a tool for content-theft then the click-through traffic it generates needs to be valuable and actually go to the source.
How to prevent it: This is actually going to take a bit of work from you. If you want to pin something that you know isn’t the source, you’re going to have to give a moment of your life to at least cursorily attempting to track down the source so you can pin from that page instead (image sourcing tips below).

3. Small images
Example: anything less than 250 pixels wide or tall.
Why it sucks: It’s the same as clicking through to a site but not getting any more information. Clicking on a thumbnail just to get a lightbox with the same sized image in it is irritating.
How to prevent it: If you use the ‘Pin It’ bookmarklet, it works using a javascript that finds all the images on your current page. It can only process the page as it appears when you click the ‘Pin It’ button. So if you are on a gallery page that uses lightboxes, you might have to click on the thumbnail of the image you like to make sure that the bigger image is open before you click ‘Pin It’. That way the bookmarklet script will actually find the bigger image for you to pin. If this doesn’t work, please take a moment and see if you can find a better source for the image (again, image sourcing tips below).

4. One character/One word captions
Example: / ? . want, love, need, etc…
Why it sucks: Okay, I’m guilty of this one. Sometimes there’s nothing more to say about an image. Sometimes all you can articulate is “waaaant” And so on. But remember that in addition to serving as your own inspiration board, Pinterest is a social tool and a powerful tool for discovering new things. And for content creators, it can be a powerful marketing or traffic-driving tool. But nobody is going to find your pin by searching for ‘/’.
How to prevent it: Even if you don’t have anything profound to say, a quick description of the pin’s contents or even its category will make it that much more searchable and when it’s searchable, more people will be able to find it through the Pinterest search and through google search. And that will make Pinterest, as a tool, stronger and more valuable to the online community, so it’s really just good online citizenship to help the content you curate be as indexable and searchable as possible.

5. Repinning a pin with any of the above issues with no attempt to fix them
It’s everyone’s responsibility to improve the state of things. Enough said.

Sourcing Your Images

I used to use TinEye, a reverse image search tool, to track down other instances of an image online. You might still have luck with them. However, google’s image search now has a very similar tool, and I find that google often comes up with more results – I think they may just have the resources to have a more full and up-to-date index of internet images.

So, say you’re about to re-pin something, but first you click the pin and notice that it doesn’t go anywhere helpful, or say you’re on a blog that just has a round-up of “prettiest beach cottages evah” and you want to pin one of the images. To attempt to trace the image back to its source, first right-click on the image and select “copy image location” – this will copy the image address to your clipboard. Alternatively, click “View Image” so your browser will navigate to viewing only the image and then copy the image address from your browser’s address bar (I do this on sites like Flickr so I can make sure I’m getting the address for the right image because Flickr likes to think that the only possible reason to right-click on an image is because you’re going to download it).

Next go to Click on the camera image in the search box to search by image. Paste your image address into the resulting search form and search. On the results page, toward the bottom, you can scroll through a list of web pages that include that image and see if you immediately spot something that seems like the original source.

If nothing pops out at you from the web page list, come back to the top of your results page where it shows you the image you just searched on. Next to that image, click the link that says “All Sizes”. That results page will just show you a list of all the versions of that image that are online – sorted biggest to smallest. Since most image edits result in reduced size and quality, you can start your search at the top, reasoning that the original poster probably has the largest, highest quality image. This won’t always be the case, sometimes someone sizes an image up, even though that will make the quality poorer, but this is a good start.

And while we’re on the topic, a thousand blessings on the round-up bloggers who do link to their sources, making finding the source just a matter of clicking an extra link instead of an image search.

It’s not what I typically blog, but it reminds me that I do have some old posts to go back and fix up so they link to the right places. Which brings me to another point: it’s never too late to fix your content. On pinterest, if you edit a pin, the only thing you can’t change is the image. So, admittedly, if you’ve pinned a small or poor quality image, your only option is to find a better one and re-pin. But if you’ve pinned something that doesn’t give credit or link to the right source, there’s nothing stopping you from fixing up your pins’ links.

Finally, I know that the joy of Pinterest is how easy it is to like and add things. It’s like twitter for your right-brain. Or like having the Facebook ‘Like’ button all over the internet. You don’t even have to think of what to say, you can just click “Pin It”, “Like” and “Re-Pin” all day and that makes you a big-wig contributor. I’m not trying to diminish that joy by over-complicating a simple pleasure, but we are talking about intellectual property etiquette and that stuff matters on the internet. Mostly these tips are about making sure you attribute properly wherever you can and making sure that when you reproduce content, it is with the intention of helping a wider audience reach its source not just to show a wider audience what great taste you have.


** Update:

I found a bookmarklet for searching google by Image. How convenient.

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6 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Alison

     /  2012-03-09

    I think you might have just ruined pinterest for me.

  2. Deborah

     /  2012-03-09

    If I’m in a pinning and a repinning mood, I try to go look at sites rather than just repinning other people’s pins, which seems, well, kind of inbred.

    Also, Google Chrome should get it through its head that repinning is a word.

  3. Deborah

     /  2012-03-09

    Sorry. What I meant to say was ‘go look at other sites for original content rather than just repinning’ etc.

    Been renovating all evening (all week, actually) and my brain is toast.

  4. Megan

     /  2012-03-09

    I don’t want to nerd it up too much, but I enjoy the image searching. If you’re looking for a particular image, a quick glance at three or four sites that have used that image ends up being as much of a visual feast as pinterest is.

    But anyhow, Alison, I don’t know which point ruined it for you, but I’m not trying to hand out edicts for people to double their pinterest time with research. I really just want the people who pin things in the first place to just click through to the source or the permalink first. Just 2 or 3 seconds and then their pin is actually useful and polite.

  5. Deborah

     /  2012-03-10

    Using Google image search can be a visual feast. I was looking for red transferware on google image search, which led me to that flickr account (I posted the link on the forum) which had endless gorgeous pictures of transferware. I just never had really thought of looking at images on the internet in concentrated form until pinterest came along. Also, I like the random mix, and the visual of what other people are looking at which pinterest gives me.

  6. Alison

     /  2012-03-10

    It probably has to do with how I use the internet. I don’t surf. I don’t go looking for stuff to browse through. I have about 5 pages that I can flick through in under a minute to see if there is anything new on them. I use it as a mini-break from work. To re-pin something in my pinterest stream takes only a couple of clicks and a couple of seconds. If it’s a recipe or craft I will often check to make sure it points to a useful link, but if it is just a pretty picture I just re-pin it. Clicking through on each one and then making sure it has a useful caption when I pin it, literally turns pinterest from a pleasure into a chore for me. I get all the reasons why and I know it’s only a few seconds and all, but it’s not a few seconds that I have extra.


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