Daily Archives: January 1, 2009

Credit where credit is due

Here’s an interesting dilemma for those of you engaged in reading and writing about history online.  How should one go about attributing sources in a blog post, if at all?

In many cases, of course, historical bloggers are referencing another post, a website, or an online news story.  In these cases the sensible thing to do is provide a link within the text itself, which seems (to me, anyway) to make any kind of citation a little redundant.

Sometimes, though, one wishes to deal with a book or other published source.  Usually, when I’m talking about a book in general terms, I’ll just link to the title on a publisher’s or a seller’s page as a simple convenience for those readers who are interested in it, as I did here.

At other times, though, I’ll want to include a quote or other specific material, which would seem to require some kind of attribution.  When posting about a specific book, I once used simple in-text, parenthetical methods to reference a quote.  On another occasion, since I didn’t mention the book itself in the text of the post, I was at a loss as to how to credit the quote.  I finally fell back on the trusty and venerable footnote, but I probably just ended up looking like a pedantic jerk.

Does any of this even matter?  Should we try to employ the same scruples in blogging that we use in other types of historical writing, or is this medium too inherently informal?  Are there already standard blogging reference rules that I don’t know about?  The floor’s open for audience participation.


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