Proper Attribution Tips for Healthcare Bloggers

A few words about making the best of a networked world where attribution is the simplest, easiest and cheapest way to build community and presence.

Those of you who follow this blog know that Healthcare has been slow to adopt emerging media. That’s been changing though. It’s important that the people who are in the learning stage understand the cultural ramifications of what happens online.

Blogging is ancient sport these days. It may be new to many hospitals and nurses and doctors – and even healthcare marketers and agencies! – but that doesn’t mean a kind reminder of attributing sources and inspiration properly isn’t in order.

So here’s a video with a reminding appeal to healthcare bloggers to consider linking back to the posts you read that may have influenced your thinking (or view it here):

It’s not just about being ethical (although I would argue that healthcare professionals and marketers should hold themselves to higher standards in their communications than certain other industries).

It’s actually a benefit to link out. Why? Because the economy of blogging is made of hyperlinks. That’s a big part of how Google works. That’s a big part of how people find you, spread news of your existence and expand your horizons.

It can take years to ramp up a blog.

So enjoy the ride by shooting out those thready spindles to the very people who just might help to catch you when your blog takes a dive into a snare because you thought it was all about you.

And if you’re worried about “competition”, you clearly don’t understand how this social media stuff works.

I’ve said it before: If you can’t Retweet your competition, you just don’t have what it takes to succeed in this business. Quit now and do something better with your time.

Link. Or sink.

UPDATE: Bryan Vartabedian had a great riff today over on 33charts. He’s 100% right about how much of blogging over the years became about the mechanics of search engine optimization, etc. It’s still a huge problem today. He’s also right about the narcissism involved in link-love, and that blogging is about the reader, not the blogger.

Bryan has extremely valid points and they stand alone. But that’s not the issue in this post.

The concern in this post is primarily about two completely different things.

First, it’s about being mindful of crediting back to a source that a blogger knowingly uses (not inadvertently being influenced). This is consistent with the spirit of ethical behavior and thinking (note: I wouldn’t say it’s unethical not to courteously attribute, only the kind of thinking involved in trying to appear original).

Second, linking is one of the simplest ways of helping readers. It’s a benefit to readers if it’s done elegantly – and not overdone.

Linking-out isn’t a pat on the back to the original author. It’s a finger telling the reader where you’ve been travelling in the hope that they’ll find new land.

@PhilBaumann –       @HealthIsSocial

0 Replies to “Proper Attribution Tips for Healthcare Bloggers”

    1. There’s not much to think about, if it’s clear the idea came from someone else. It’s a simple matter of courtesy.

      Really, this isn’t a complex idea, Bryan.

      It’s an old issue, but for those new to it in healthcare this is just a simple reminder.

      What it comes down to is this: some people have courtesy, some don’t. Some people know when to properly attribute, and some don’t.

      Simple as that.

  1. Attribution is really important. Thanks for the reminder. I have spotted this (or lack of it) so thanks for the collective pull up of the boot laces. I have also noticed a trait of some bloggers to simply repeat (even with attribution) what others have already said – and as you say suddenly that blog looses all credibility.

    I think it is really important that as more people take part in conversation online that is remains rich in etiquette and that digital communication doesn’t become a rude shortcut and therefore a second rate alternative to face-to-face (or voice-to-voice).

    1. Hi Neil,

      Yes, it’s pretty straightforward. Not to mention, it actually helps extend ties. I reason: the Web makes connections, so you might as well make the best of them.

  2. Excellent points, Phil. I too, have noticed the increased lack of courtesy and attribution – it’s rank bad manners in my book.

    We all come across an interesting blog post by someone else every single day, especially with the rise of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed where content is aggregated and shared.

    I find the easiest way to deal with this is to give props to the people/bloggers concerned… “So and so wrote an interesting post on X, and I agree/disagree/would like to explore this idea further… ” or some such language.

    It’s not about link narcissism, but good old fashioned manners and respect for others.

    1. Thank you, Sally.

      Agree: It’s not about narcissism. It’s no different to claim it’s narcissism than it would be for a robber to complain about the victim being “greedy”. 😉

      Certainly we know there are a lot of bloggers who are in it for the narcissism and traffic – we both know this.

      But blogging has always been about building upon thoughts in a communal way.

      Readers are cheated when bloggers cheat. Simple as that.


  3. Nice points here Phil – both from a community building point of view, and an SEO stand point, proper attribution makes a lot of sense. By linking to other sites, you are also showing that your site is engaging with other high quality sites and if done properly can enhance your reputation too.

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