Thursday, 16 February 2012

Think before you pin

I’m sure many of you know Pinterest, and are using it more or less often and enthusiastically (the word „addict“ seems to pop up again and again in connection with Pinterest). Me too, I like using Pinterest a lot, and, as many other visual persons too, I’m sure, I just saw all those wonderful pictures and re-pinning is ever so easy now, isn’t it.

But a few weeks ago, when trying to trace the source of a particular pin, I noticed that so many of the pins I had re-pinned didn’t really lead anywhere useful. Certainly not to their original source. Most lead to some Tumblr site or other, more often than not one you couldn’t even view without signing in. Some lead to a blog (which gives/is the original source of the image) but more often than not, the link was just to the blog, instead of the post, so finding the image in question was often almost impossible (unless you have time to spend half of the day scrolling through blog post after blog post…). But worst of all, there’s a great number of pins which don’t really lead anywhere at all, but just to the image itself, and nothing more.

So rather than happily pinning away and collecting, organising and sharing all those beautiful and inspiring images, I have now spent the last two or three weeks going through my 3000+ pins to trace sources and delete those who didn’t have one. I must admit I have lost my former enthusiasm for Pinterest a bit. When I visit Pinterest now, I feel that I spend most of my time there clicking from link to link of a particular image only to find myself out in the nowhere. Maybe the problem is the re-pinning option. As I understand it, the main idea of Pinterest was that it allows you to make a visual bookmark of a certain internet source, just as you would with the bookmark option of your browser, or a provider like Delicious. But the re-pin button means that it’s so easy to share and spread all those beautiful, tempting images that others have found everywhere in the big wide internet, and the link to the source of the image, well, it get’s far too easily forgotten. And with it the credit for the fabulous works of many artists, photographers, designers, or otherwise creatives and the efforts they have put into their work. And that, really, is a pity a shame unacceptable.

I once had a picture of mine stolen on Flickr, when I was relatively new there. It was so frustrating to see someone else pretending that it’s their own creation while it’s actually yours, and taking the credit for your work and effort. Well, the Flickr case was easily solved. After the guy simply ignored all my messages asking him to remove my image from his stream, I contacted Flickr and they removed it. But after that I started to use watermarks on all my pictures I put on the net. Don’t count on others to respect your intellectual property, because there are many people who don’t bother the least bit about about it, so it’s up to you to make sure you get the credit for your work you deserve. But actually, there are also a whole lot of people out there who are concerned about proper credits, and who want to know who’s behind a certain image, even though the proper link or source has been *lost* somewhere in the tangle of data of the www, and a watermark can help them to trace you.

It is a pity that there are now so many great images out there on Pinterest which have become “unusable”, or “un-re-pinnable”, because of that. Last time I was on Pinterest, I found that about one or two out of the 10 or more pins I wanted to pin actually had a proper source link and therefore made it into one of my boards. The rest, I had to let go, with a great sigh, because they were oh so pretty and inspiring.


Well, enough said. Best read this blog post by Kal Barteski over on  [I] LoveLife about how to properly pin on Pinterest, it describes it so much better than I ever could. And while you’re at it, hop over and have a look at Link with Love, and grab a button to show that you respect intellectual property. Spread the word!

I still have to go through all my boards to remove images that have no proper source links, and it may well take me ages, but I’m working on it. The next step might be to un-follow those pinners who repeatedly pin from wherever they find their pins (Tumblr, mostly), and to only follow those who care about what they pin. It’s not always easy to get it right 100%, the internet can be a great and confusing jumble, but you can at least make an effort and try to do the right thing.

I wonder how many of my 3000+ pins will be left once I’m through!!


  1. I have not used Pinterest but read this post with great interest, I don't watermark my images but rely on the honesty of people to link back to me as a source... I realise that is pretty naive, I may have to put a dreaded watermark on in future :(

  2. I really liked your post and as someone who is about to launch my creative website, it is an issue. Where I've used it, I've tried as hard as possible to link to the original source and to have enough text on the pin anyway, so that if the link changed, fellow pinners would still know where it came from. Good luck with your authentic pinning and I may just join you on the Link with Love badge (pinterest: livingabstracts)