Monday, 30 June 2008

How To Quote On Message-Boards

Following the flurry of responses* that followed my post yesterday, I thought it would be useful to give examples of what is considered to be good and bad message-board quoting etiquette.

The first post in this thread is an excellent example of how to do it right. The poster indicates who wrote the original piece; gives a short summary of what is discussed in that original piece; gives her view of it; provides two brief quotes to illustrate her point; and invites further discussion. Fabulous.

Here’s a not-so-excellent example. You need to scroll down to read post number 13, and then scroll down a little further to read post 17 in the same thread. As I understand it, post number 13 included the entire text of an article from the Times website, but did not provide any link or real attribution to the piece. Consequently, a moderator of the board had to edit that post to cut some of the text and to add a link to the original piece.

Why was this not left to stand? Because in its original form it not only breached copyright laws, it also showed a blatant disrespect for the work of original writer. And while it’s unlikely that the Times would have happened across it, if they had, they would have been perfectly within their rights to demand that it was either taken down or that the host site acquired a license to reproduce such material.

(* Eight comments might not be much elsewhere, but it is a flurry for me. Thank you, all, for taking the time. Do carry on.)


Mary B said...

Well said, Jane!

~your favorite soccer mom

Anonymous said...

I've just found your blog, it looks very helpful to a very new writer.
I've noticed that one or two writing sites ask writers to post work for comment. I'm very shy about showing anyone what I've written but have wondered about this. Do you think it would be a good idea?

Thank you,

Jane Smith said...

Why, MaryB, how nice to see you here! I just wish Esopha would come visit, and bask in a little of her own glory.

Lila, there are many, many writers' sites out there. You do have to be careful which ones you visit, though (and I think I might have blogged about this: check the labels on the front page and see what you can find). If you find a good one then putting your work up for criticism is a very useful thing to do--so long as you feel strong enough to read honest comments about your writing.

It can stop some people from writing all together, though, so do tread carefully. When I took my MA I found the whole workshopping experience wonderful, but a few other students were wounded by it all. I'll have a think, and blog about this in a week or two.

Meanwhile, tiptoe into Absolute Write (there's a link on my front page) and consider posting there. It's very useful, and if you're worried you can always ask for people to be gentle. They're a kind lot, on the whole.

Anonymous said...


You could try I know other authors who have had success with this site.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your advice, How Publishing Really Works. I don't think I'm brave enough to post any of my work anywhere yet.

Thank you, Anonymous, for your suggestion. I looked at that site but wondered about the connection with a vanity press, so I think I'll keep away for now as I read an article about paying to have your work published and do not like the idea.


Lane Mathias said...

Found you via Jenn Ashworth. Great blog.

Interesting. Surely providing a link is enough anyway, without quoting a whole piece too?
I don't envy the moderators on some boards:-)

Jane Smith said...

Lila, I've just scheduled a new piece about good places to share your work: it should appear on 5 July, if I've done everything right.

Anonymous, I share Lila's reservations about YouWriteOn. I don't like the vanity publishing angle of the site at all. It makes me suspicious of everything else that YWO offers.

You might do well to check the links I provided in my original post, too. It's amazing what you might discover there.

And Lane, it's good to see you here, and thanks for the compliment. I'll pop over to your place later, and have a look around.