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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Am Inept at Netiquette

posted by on October 7 at 16:10 PM

Earlier today, I put up a post about Obama and bookselling and terrorism. The post linked to a LiveJournal post. This came up in the comments:

Why are you sloggers always so bad about internet ettiquite? Why am I the one who told her that she’d been linked at The Slog and not you? Posted by dee in sf | October 7, 2008 12:51 PM

I was forwarded the link to the LiveJournal post by someone named Christin, and Christin promptly came to my defense:

@8: I asked her if it was okay before sending it to Paul. But yes, it’s always good in general to let people know that you’re linking others to them. Posted by Christin | October 7, 2008 1:16 PM

And dee in sf wrote back:

Cristin- I just got a reply from her that you did tell her and was coming back here to post an apology. Sorry about the mistake.

However, I do remember the LJ-er whp wrote about Wall-E who was linked here and I was the person who told her, in the comments, about that linking.

Posted by dee in sf | October 7, 2008 1:24 PM

Which leads me to inquire: are you supposed to let someone know if you link to them? I’ve never heard of such a thing. It seems absurd to me; postings on the internet are public, and as long as you’re attributing and not plagiarizing, linking to any public site seems absolutely fine to me.

I really can’t see myself posting a comment in every blog I link to saying “I linked to this post on Slog” or something like thatócan non-LiveJournallers leave comments on LiveJournal posts, anyway? If someone is curious about where their hits are coming from, it seems as though a simple Google search would uncover the culprit. Some people I’ve asked think that alerting people to an upcoming link may be a longstanding rule of LiveJournal etiquette. If this is the case, I would like to say here, as a disclaimer, that I think LiveJournal etiquette is a huge waste of time.

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For livejournal posts, I don't think it's a big deal-- though a note would be thoughtful, so that they can clean up for visitors if necessary.

But if you link to small, privately hosted sites, you should let them know in case the increased traffic might bring them down.

Posted by V | October 7, 2008 4:15 PM

Yeah, totally silly.

Attention Internet Site Owners/Users: I may have linked to you at some point. I may do it again. This will be your only notice.

I'm done.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | October 7, 2008 4:17 PM

My only problem was that you linked to a LiveJournal.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 7, 2008 4:20 PM

Fuck no, Paul.

Posted by w7ngman | October 7, 2008 4:23 PM

dee in sf has WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much time on her hands and needs a lot of attention very badly, it seems.

This "I've been on the Internet when people still thought pc's were science fiction" crowd drives me nuts. The early days of the Internet are dead and buried. We're not playing by rules you made up when it was you and twelve strangers typing at each other.

It's the Internet. Once it's on the screen, it's out of your hands. Deal with it.

Posted by whatevernevermind | October 7, 2008 4:24 PM

Like I said in the original thread


Posted by Non | October 7, 2008 4:25 PM

@1: I agree wholeheartedly with your second point, but with regards to your first: it seems that anyone putting their thoughts out into the internet through Livejournal or any sort of blogging or whatever should already be prepared for "visitors."

Posted by eustaceia | October 7, 2008 4:27 PM

Well, I can't say this wasn't unexpected....

There are different KINDS of blogs out there. Political Blogs, Lit Blogs, Movie Blogs, Journalism Blogs and the like don't need to be given a friendly "hello, I'm linking you" note because they are meant to be widely distributed on a public stage. Then, there are Personal Blogs like the one linked here and the Wall-E one linked before that the person put out there, yes publicly, but with the idea that it would be read mostly by their friends. Personal blogs come with an assumption that you ask permission to link and/or inform them that you did link to their content.
This practice (called QWP - Quoting With Permission) is a longstanding LJ ettiquite rule of thumb. This is mostly because LJ is primarially a Personal Blog hosting site.

You do not need to be a member of LJ if the owner allows "guest" or "anonymous" posting at their LJ.

Also, "Netiquite" is a shitty word.

Posted by dee in sf | October 7, 2008 4:27 PM

Paul, you've just been hit by a LiveJournal "community" - their rules are not our rules.

Posted by Soupytwist | October 7, 2008 4:27 PM

I've been on the internet since PC's were science fiction, and I've never once heard the rule that you need to notify people before you link to them. If they post any information in a public forum (e.g., not password blocked), then they have no claim to privacy. Absolutely ridiculous, if they think otherwise.

Posted by MonkeyNose | October 7, 2008 4:29 PM

@8 - I can't even begin to understand how to think about making fun of what you just commented.

Posted by Soupytwist | October 7, 2008 4:30 PM

As someone who has maintained a weblog for more than eight years, I can unequivocally state that this supposed lapse in netiquette is absurd.

If a person has posted publically-accessible information on the Internet, you need neither ask them permission to link to them NOR notify them once you have linked to them. Linking is how the Internet works, for fuck's sake.

There are no fewer than 100 tracking/logging services available to a site owner who is interested in seeing where their visitors come from, and the onus for implementing such logging is on the site owner.

Posted by Dan | October 7, 2008 4:30 PM

If people only expected their friends to read their site, they can often adjust privacy settings for approved parties only. I'm pretty sure LJ has this feature.

"Netiquite" is more "mangled" than "shitty." But yes, it's also a shitty word, when spelled as intended.

Posted by Gloria | October 7, 2008 4:32 PM

"Personal blogs come with an assumption that you ask permission to link and/or inform them that you did link to their content."

No, they don't. Clueless people with personal blogs may hold this mistaken belief, but that doesn't make it true.

It's the Internet. If you put it on the screen, it can be viewed, linked to, manipulated, you name it, by the entire WORLD. That's reality.

Want to keep something personal? DON'T PUT IT ON THE FREAKING INTERNET. If you're an adult, you're expected to understand that. If you don't, that's not anyone else's problem.

Posted by whatevernevermind | October 7, 2008 4:34 PM

I've had a LiveJournal for seven years.

This supposed "rule" is bullshit.

It's the internet. It's public. Get over it.

Posted by stresskitten | October 7, 2008 4:35 PM

Oh, fuck off LJ. I can't take this seriously.

Posted by Tiktok | October 7, 2008 4:38 PM

I didn't know LJ still existed.

Posted by jackie treehorn | October 7, 2008 4:40 PM

Dear Rick Astley,

I am a longtime user of the internet and would like to inform you that I will be linking some friends to your classic video for the song "Never Gonna Give You Up". I'm hoping to catch some lulz and pwn some n00bs.

Just thought i'd give you the heads up!

Take care!

Posted by brian | October 7, 2008 4:44 PM

When a person posts something they believe is private or restricted, only to have it made public as a result of some technical fuck-up or act of ineptitude, then I would say it's good form to politely let them know that their slip is showing, rather than to point and laugh. Except in the case of political figures, of course.

But beyond that, public access means public access. All you delicate flowers take note.

Posted by Eric Arrr | October 7, 2008 4:45 PM

whenever I visit LJ (via some link), I'm always amazed at the billions of people there chatting away. For a while I get envious and sad and befuddled. But then I eat a cookie and move on with my life.

Posted by stinkbug | October 7, 2008 4:46 PM

eustaceia @ 7: You are right. They should certainly already be aware that their writing is public, but most personal livejournals are so minimally trafficked that some posters may not be fully prepared for the onslaught of the internet's denizens. The heads-up might be considered polite (though I'm not sure the "get over it" crowd is really trying for etiquette). I'm not saying it's necessary, especially if you don't particularly like the person, but if you do like them it could be helpful.

A personal story: I searched my full name on Google Blog Search not too long ago and a 2004 entry by a former classmate came up. It seems she wrote on her livejournal (using my first, middle, AND last name) about how she didn't like that I was better at biochem than she was and thus hated me.

Obviously, if her blog was linked to by a popular site, she might want to go through and remove last names, references to places, or some stories for her own privacy. Having a "public" but minor livejournal and having a popular blog are very different games.

Posted by V | October 7, 2008 4:48 PM

I have no idea what netiquette really is, but slog is a well-read blog. If you linked to my personal journal, I wouldn't be offended if you quoted me without asking, but I would be thrilled if you acknowledged me personally.

Posted by two cents | October 7, 2008 4:50 PM

As in real life, there's only one real valid netiquette rule:

Don't be a douche.

If you can manage to conform to that rule on a day to day basis, you're probably doing okay.

And yeah, telling someone before you link to their page might be nice for the linked-to party, but in no way is it required. As a matter of fact, weren't there some legal cases in which content providers tried to sue people who were linking to their sites, claiming copyright infringement or something? I'm pretty sure they lost.

Now, deep linking to some 8 gig file on someone else's server might be a douchey thing to do (Guess who eats the server costs? See above rule.), but I believe that's also technically legal.

Posted by bearseatbeats | October 7, 2008 4:56 PM

Been on LJ since 2001. Been active in communities. (Friends with Christin.) Never seen any rule, whether written down or conventional, that says you should tell somebody you're linking their post.

It's generally considered polite to ask first, but... honestly, if it's out there in public, it's out there in public. And Rachel was asked before the post was linked.

I suggest, politely, that the commenter up in arms about this is suffering from somebody is wrong on the internet syndrome.

Posted by Sweeney Agonistes | October 7, 2008 5:05 PM

@22: Quoting without acknowledgment is known in general society as theft or plagiarism -- a matter of ethics rather than normal etiquette -- so yes, you should be offended in such a case. This is nothing like that.

I'm not sure you meant acknowledgment anyway. Nobody needs to quote with permission, except in cases where you're taking an enormous chunk of text or content. But you sure need to name your source.

Posted by Gloria | October 7, 2008 5:07 PM

Most if not all people on LJ are fat, ugly, self-absorbed, banal whiners. Anybody who is anybody moved on from LiveJournal about 4-5 years ago.

Don't feel too bad about yourself, 20.

Posted by Non | October 7, 2008 5:12 PM

Oh for crying out loud. Look, it's not like this is some privately-hosted blog. It's LiveJournal, where you pay fuck-all for hosting and have pretty liberal limits on bandwidth.

The author may not be prepared to have his or her shit-talking of some other local person aired on a local alt-weekly blog, in which case it would be nice to let them know they were linked to, but there is no internet Miss Manners out there handing out engraved cards of hyperlink etiquette.

Posted by Greg | October 7, 2008 5:15 PM

I think a lot of commenters are confusing "legal", "permissible", and "polite". Alerting the blog owner to the traffic might be a generally nice thing to do. Of course it's not required, or even expected.

23 has the rule down: Just don't be a douche. It's clear that Paul isn't guilty of anything here.

Posted by V | October 7, 2008 5:18 PM

"itís always good in general to let people know that youíre linking others to them."

That's the stupidest thing I've read all day

Posted by Corneilus J. Hetzendorf | October 7, 2008 5:20 PM

@12 livejournal doesn't really have tracking/logging tools.
while you can customize the html and css of the pages, you can't add javascript.

yet i don't think you need to tell anyone that you linked a public post.

Posted by but | October 7, 2008 5:24 PM

Other people have said it, but I'll say it again:

The only time Party A should notify Party B that they are being linked to is if a) Party A has a lot of traffic (way more than Slog) AND b) Party B normally receives and order of magnitude less traffic AND c) Party B pays for hosting themselves.

Notifying someone on livejournal that you're linking to them? Abso-fucking-lutely stupid nonsense. They aren't paying for traffic, you're not going to cause a ddos to livejournal, and you shouldn't be linking to livejournal anyhow.

Posted by worth saying again | October 7, 2008 5:25 PM

Aren't you aware of all Internet traditions?

Posted by Sirkowski | October 7, 2008 5:28 PM

It's just general courtesy. There are a lot of things that are public but generally only known to a small circle and linking in this way can direct alot of unwanted attention in someone's direction when they least expect it. Especially when there's no shortage of trolls and conservatards willing to make someone's life hell on-line at the drop of a hat.

It's like being openly gay in college and then some whackjob posts on the bulletin board a page from the student directory with your dorm room circled with the note "FAG".

But hey! It's okay, "everyone already knew" you were gay and where you live, right?

Posted by whatwhat | October 7, 2008 5:28 PM

Fuck, who cares? If it's on the internet, it's fair game.

Posted by kerri harrop | October 7, 2008 5:29 PM

@34: Would you be okay if people routinely posted your home address and phone number?

Hey, it's out there on the internet, fair game!

Posted by whatwhat | October 7, 2008 5:36 PM

I would say if its blog that does not generally get traffic other than a person's friends, e.g. most people live journals, than a heads up is polite. Not required but polite.

Posted by Giffy | October 7, 2008 5:36 PM

Nope. I blog elsewhere, and we never notify people we've done them the courtesy of driving traffic to their sites.

Posted by Mom | October 7, 2008 5:36 PM

@Gloria #25

Quoting without *asking* (not quoting without acknowledgment): "I read on Two Cents' LJ that blah blah something relevant/clever/interesting." To me, that's not plagiarizing, but to be fair, I didn't make that clear in my comment.

Personally acknowledging, or thanking: "Dear Two Cents, Hey, thanks for sharing that story. It's now up on The Big Blog if you want to check it out." This has nothing to do with asking for permission to quote from my blog.

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Posted by two cents | October 7, 2008 5:37 PM

@38: No problem. I was wondering.

Posted by Gloria | October 7, 2008 5:47 PM

@33/35 Yes, the Internet is just like living in a dorm. Except, you know, it isn't. At all. Unless your dorm covered THE ENTIRE WORLD.

I don't have a clue what you think you were saying with that "openly gay" thing, but if your point was supposed to be that there are mean people in the world? Then, yes, there are. So? If you want to avoid them, you'll not want to post on the Internet, then.

But this:

"Would you be okay if people routinely posted your home address and phone number?"

It better be okay with YOU, because that's what's happening every single second of every day. Your home address and phone number are ALREADY on the Internet. Do you seriously not know that?

Posted by whatevernevermind | October 7, 2008 5:48 PM

40, that was his point: Most people aren't bothered by inclusion in such listings, but if high-traffic blogs were linking to them it might cause some personal distress. Even though that information is already publicly available, the whole internets looking at it is a different scenario.

You may need to brush up on your reading comprehension.

Posted by V | October 7, 2008 5:59 PM

It better be okay with YOU, because that's what's happening every single second of every day. Your home address and phone number are ALREADY on the Internet. Do you seriously not know that?

Yes, I do know that. That's what I mean by "out there on the internet."

There's a difference between something being out there in the open and someone with a large audience shining a spotlight on it.

Illegal? No. Dickish? Yes.

A lot of people on the Internet like to be dicks just because they can.

Posted by whatwhat | October 7, 2008 6:03 PM

I technically still have an LJ address. But I abandoned it long ago when it became too cumbersome. Now I blog on Wordpress, where tracking tools come included, and I know if somebody linked to me because it shows up in a pingback. And I know that for some reason, the other day a lot of people looked at the picture of Mt.St.Helens on my photo blog. No clue why. Do I really expect folks to tell me they are linking to me? Ridiculous. And my address and phone number are not on the internet in any way, shape or form.

Posted by Silverstar98121 | October 7, 2008 6:23 PM

Paul, you did nothing wrong. The egregious sin is when someone on LJ embeds an image (Ie, not just posting a URL, or downloading the image) from a site not set up for that (ie, not flickr, not LJ, but the site of someone paying for their own hosting) and it sucks your bandwidth every time one of their LJ friends loads their friends page. that's the only time I can think you'd want to warn someone "oh, BTW I may be responsible for 90% of your bandwidth today".

If this doesn't make sense, this should explain it:

Posted by Justin Case | October 7, 2008 7:26 PM

I don't blog and know pretty much nothing about "netiquette", but it does seem like it might be polite if you are a popular blog, linking to someone's personal blog that's intended for friends and family. Not required or necessary, but polite.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 7, 2008 8:30 PM

I agree with commenter #1 - notification would be a courtesy (to explain the sudden increase in the number of strange commenters) but isn't necessary. And I'm a regular LJ'er.

Posted by Zil | October 7, 2008 8:53 PM

see also: pingback

Posted by hyperlinker | October 7, 2008 11:55 PM

I've been a livejournal user for about 5 years and I have to say, yeah, you should've left a comment to let her know you were linking to her entry. Although many journals aren't locked on LJ, 99% of the time, random people who aren't on our friends lists aren't going to come across our entries and link to them from popular blogs. These are personal journals with personal thoughts, not necessarily intended for the eyes of others.

It's not against the rules to link without commenting, it's just a matter of politeness. Whenever a community links to some sort of meta that a LJ user might've written, the community will usually comment to the entry to let that user know.

Posted by phaballa | October 8, 2008 8:38 AM

About the only time it seems important to tell someone you are linking to them is when you are posting to slashdot or boingboing and the site is a self-hosted site that could go under from the traffic. Then it's nice to tell em or your link is kind of pointless since it will point to a site down message. Otherwise, fuck em.

Posted by King Rat | October 8, 2008 12:25 PM

"fuck em" is fine, but it's never good etiquette.

Posted by eyeroll | October 8, 2008 1:17 PM

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