Arianna Huffington Drinks Your Milkshake

2012/03/14 20:16

Last summer The Huffington Post shamelessly rewrote an article from another publication and buried the source link where no one would see it. The author of the source article got mad then got even and the Huffington Post fired the author of the rewritten article. Rewriting other journalists' articles and reblogging with little or no attribution to the source is apparently common practice at the Huffington Post. I wouldn't know myself as I don't read it - everything I know about HuffPo is second-hand - It's Large Print News for the intellectually impaired. Nevertheless Arianna Huffington's news site carries so much heft that some poor souls are willing to write for free just to get their name out there.

The Faustian bargain of the digital news ecosystem suggests that people get to pick your pocket a bit and then send back traffic in return. But Mr. Dumenco noticed that The Huffington Post, a huge site with many readers, returned very little traffic, while Techmeme, a much smaller site, kicked up plenty.

He went on something of a rant about it, writing that The Huffington Post’s overly aggressive approach to aggregation at the time — in which content is rewritten, links are buried, and very little is added — yielded all of 57 page views for the original item.
-- Guidelines Proposed for Content Aggregation Online -

The practice known as aggressive aggregation came into focus again in the last few days with a lot of soul-searching among certain bloggers about a code of practice for linking to other blogs. There is an earnest plea for the use of two new Unicode characters (via - ᔥ) and (hat-tip - ↬) to acknowledge not just the source article but the 'curator' who discovered the source. This is akin to a Nerd who decides that donning a dickie-bow will ward off school-yard bullies. Ha! Arianna Huffington scoffs at your silly unicode characters and your earnest code of conduct.

This is what The Curator's Code is – a suggested system for honoring the creative and intellectual labor of information discovery by making attribution consistent and codified, celebrating authors and creators, and also respecting those who discover and amplify their work.
-- curator's ǝpoɔ

This proposal has justifiably been much derided far and wide in blogs...

First, let’s just get clear on the terminology here: “Curation” is an act performed by people with PhDs in art history; the business in which we’re all engaged when we’re tossing links around on the internet is simple “sharing.” And some of us are very good at that! (At least if we accept “very good” to mean “has a large audience.”)
-- Matt Langer · Stop Calling it Curation

... and on Twitter ...

Good morning, Curators! Y’all got funny cat pictures for me? I got my ↬ ready!

Mike Monteiro (@Mike_FTW)

From now on this unicode character indicates an underutilized liberal arts degree ❦.

Paul Ford (@ftrain)

Remember kids, the web is awesome because everyone followed the rules!

Mike Monteiro (@Mike_FTW)

Marco Arment says we're solving the wrong problem... I feel about links in general: the source author creates something worth linking to, and the rest of us can link as we see fit, regardless of how we found it.

The proper place for ethics and codes is in ensuring that a reasonable number of people go to the source instead of just reading your rehash.

Codifying “via” links with confusing symbols is solving the wrong problem.
-- I’m not a “curator” –

... I tend to agree. The problem is Scumbag Aggregators (Scumbaggregators?) like the Huffington Post and no code of conduct or Unicode characters - even poorly supported ones - will change their behavior. The solution? Don't read The Huffington Post. Don't give it the attention it so desperately seeks - seek out other news sources instead.


The Internet, Milkshake