Not giving credit where credit is due?

Warning: This is another in what’s likely to be a very long set of posts, over several months, related to the project I’m currently calling But Still They Post: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009. If you don’t give a damn about liblogs (blogs by library people) or blogging in general, you can stop reading now.

Background

Yesterday, I did a “secondary metric” pass on the 521 liblogs in the study (I finished the primary metrics pass a little while back, and am slightly procrastinating on starting up the long, drawn-out analysis and commentary portion of the project).

The secondary pass involved accessing each blog and determining two things:

  1. Currency of the most recent post, rounded up to specific week limits (for ease of graphing, interpretation and, frankly, recording).
  2. Blogging software used for the blog, if obvious or readily knowable.

I’ll probably talk about the first in a later post. So far, I haven’t even looked at the overall results (but I have results for 519 of the 521–two of them now seem unavailable, although they were available when I was doing the detailed metrics earlier in September).

This post is about the second item.

Foreground

On the first pass, I recorded only five one-letter values:

  • b for Blogger–that is, any blogs with .blogspot.com as part of their address and any others with either the “B” favicon or the “I power Blogger” graphic–or, for that matter, the Blogger toolbar at the top of the blog.
  • l for LiveJournal–and those are always obvious.
  • t for TypePad and MovableType (that could be s for SixApart, but never mind…), either because .typepad.com is part of the address or because MovableType is mentioned somewhere.
  • w for WordPress, which usually shows up either as a favicon or in a direct credit and/or link on the page (of course, blogs hosted at wordpress.com are also obvious).
  • u for Unknown, which actually meant “everybody else.”

At the end of that pass, setting aside the two blogs that seem to have gone into hiding, I had 65 “u” cases. I decided to spend another hour (actually, less than an hour) investigating these a little further–by looking at the page source.

In a few cases, “u” literally stood for “other”–blogs that are explicitly, on the home page, based on some other software (square-space, blog-city, serendipity, etc.).  In 54 cases, you really did need to go to the page-source view to see what was being used (and in 17 of those, I left the value as “u”).

Anyone care to raise a hand as to the most prominent software used that wasn’t identifiable on the home page?

That’s right, you in the second row: WordPress.

In fact, 29 of the 54–or 29 of 50, if you leave out four Library Journal/School Library Journal blogs–use WordPress software but don’t say so on the blog home page itself. (I won’t ask the architect of the LJ/SLJ blog software to come forward…some things are better left anonymous, although if the goal is to maximize the number of clicks and page exposures for a given amount of actual blog reading, it’s brilliantly successful software.)

I wonder about that result. Seems to me you have to go to some modest effort to expunge all direct evidence of WordPress from most of the templates (although some of them might already do that for you).

WordPress is open source software. It’s damn good open source software (I am so happy to be back on WordPress after a few months using MovableType…). It’s good enough that it’s been used as the basis for a contemporary online catalog interface. It’s free…

Seems to me that, given all that, it’s reasonable to leave a credit line in the blog. I guess I don’t really know why people would go to the effort of removing credit. (Maybe commenters can explain.)

Not a big deal. Not to give away figures, but more than 85% of liblogs using WordPress software do include explicit credit lines or favicons or the like. But I do wonder…

(The actual breakdown? Later, certainly in the book–if there is one–and probably in a post and/or C&I article. Maybe soon.)


For anyone who pays attention to categories (I would say “both of you” but that may overestimate), I’m tagging some of the posts for the new project with Liblog Landscape, which recognizes that it is, to some extent, a sequel to the current book.


Update 10/2: When I say “I wonder…” I should clarify that this is mostly idle curiosity.

Idle enough that I didn’t save the list of 29–as soon as I’d gotten that count, I resorted the spreadsheet, and the only way I could restore that list of 29 would be to recheck several hundred blogs.

A couple of people gave me perfectly acceptable reasons that their blogs don’t credit WP on the home page (but do elsewhere). I don’t wish to pursue the matter with all 29 bloggers (and have no desire or ability to even name them!)–and I suspect any attempt to pursue the matter would feel like “blame” to at least some of those bloggers, a blame that would not be intended.

Comments I get here will satisfy the idle curiosity.

10 Responses to “Not giving credit where credit is due?”

  1. jessamyn Says:

    Are you counting cases where people mention the software on their About page? My theme doesn’t say wordpress anywhere on the main page, but it’s readily apparent if you look at the source, look at the URL structure or look at the About page. I guess I’ve never seen any reason to put a credit line on the main page.

  2. Steve Lawson Says:

    [Comment removed only because it's a duplicate, thanks to apparent spam-catching problems]

  3. Steve Lawson Says:

    I would also find it odd if someone took an existing theme and removed only the WordPress credit line. I’m wondering if most of the examples you found are handmade themes (like mine and maybe Jessamyn’s) or themes where someone has axed a section of the sidebar or footer that just happened to contain the WordPress link.
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  4. walt Says:

    Jessamyn, Steve–those are both good answers. (Jessamyn: Indeed, looking at page source revealed wordpress almost immediately–if it didn’t, I left the blog as “u.”)

    I’d guess that two-thirds of the 29 are adaptations of standard templates, close enough so that I would have said “That’s a WordPress blog” just by the appearance. Those are the ones I find particularly interesting–and particularly ones, say, that left in the “Meta” sidebar heading, but excised the WordPress link. For the other group, yes, it makes sense that if you’ve built your theme from scratch, you wouldn’t go out of your way to include a credit line.

    This isn’t a big deal, of course–WordPress certainly doesn’t require or specifically ask for credit. I just found it interesting–particularly, as noted, in the cases where the template doesn’t appear handmade and the excision had to be done deliberately.

  5. Brett Bonfield Says:

    Very interesting post.

    Do all the folks who don’t credit WordPress, but are still publishing, have a contact form or email address? I wonder if they’d agree to answer a short Wufoo survey for you. It would be interesting to see why they’ve chosen not to credit WordPress in an obvious way.

    Interesting because I hope the whole handmade theme/no explicit credit for WordPress thing is just coincidence. I’m not sure why someone wouldn’t credit WordPress just because they use a handmade theme. Back when the earth was new and we all had static home pages, making your own theme was synonymous with making your own website. That’s no longer the case. The nice folks from WordPress happen to make it pretty easy to skin their software (either with your own markup or with a readymade theme), but what the project focuses on is software, not skins.

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s important to credit WordPress. I don’t think it matters if you do it in a footer or on an About page.

  6. walt Says:

    Brett: I suspect they do–but I don’t think I’m likely to do such a survey, for a couple of reasons:

    1. I intentionally didn’t keep a separate list–once I’d gone through and rechecked the “u” cases, I sorted everything into one list. So, to do such a survey, I’d have to go back through more than two hundred blogs, rechecking presence of WordPress identification. Which isn’t a huge amount of work, but…

    2. I don’t believe the topic is major enough to justify the couple of hours the first step would take and the hour or more that preparing the email list, or sending each one an individual note, would take.

    Sorry if it sounds as though I’m begging off doing additional work, but my track record on reward for effort is getting so consistently close to zero that, well, yes, I’m begging off doing additional work. I don’t think the results would be worth the effort. I thought this was an interesting curiosity, and very little more than that.

  7. Steve Lawson Says:

    Beating a dead horse, just because I can:

    Drupal is similar to WordPress in that it is free, damn good, open source, etc. It’s apparently good enough for some pretty high-profile sites. I bet the number of those sites that credit Drupal rounds down to zero.

    Because the people who are reading your site for its content (or using it to shop or whatever) simply don’t care what software it is running. For blogs it makes a bit more sense because blogs are often read by other bloggers. But if someone said “I took it off because who cares?” I wouldn’t argue with them.

  8. walt Says:

    Steve: Depends what you mean by “credit.” Seven liblogs are clearly built using Drupal–and I think more than half of them use the Drupal favicon, which is certainly a form of credit.

    But I don’t really disagree with your final sentence.

  9. jessamyn Says:

    My theme isn’t handmade, by the way. I don’t feel like I would have removed a credit footer, but I could be mixed up about that. It’s been a while.

  10. walt Says:

    Jessamyn: Is it possible that, back when you started using WordPress, the available templates didn’t include either of the two typical identifiers (one in sidebar, one in footer)? Or that only the sidebar link was typical, sidebars being much more likely to be massively modified?

    All idle conjecture, to be sure.


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