Sharing other people’s website content has been around since the beginning of the internet and a simple copy/paste was usually the medium by which content was shared. Needless-to-say, this wasn’t ideal, especially when entire posts were being “shared” without providing attribution and/or hotlinking images from the original author’s site. In order to give its users more control of their content, WordPress.com introduced Sharing and Reblogging, which have also proved to be problematic.
What we’ll cover:
- Reblog-The Early Days
- Reblog and Sharing c. 2022
- Other things to note:
Reblog-The Early Days
Back in the early days of Reblog, I and other bloggers covered the problems that were present in the feature and I hope you’ll take a moment to read some of those earlier posts to understand how Reblog has evolved. Please keep in mind that these are archival posts and were correct as of their publication date.
Reblog and Sharing c. 2022
Following a hair-raising guest post on Hugh’s Views and News back in January this year, I revisited our current post Sharing options. I’m not going to rehash the ethical morass involved in other people sharing your content on their own WordPress.com site, or theirs on yours, since we all agreed to allow Sharing content when we signed up for WordPress.com (under the WordPress.com Terms of Service, Article 8a-License). Instead, let’s review our available Sharing options and how each each one currently behaves (as of February 2022*) so you can make an informed decision whether or not to use them. I know that most people reading this will avoid Sharing altogether, while others might not even be aware of how these options work and, thus, abuse this feature, knowingly or inadvertently.
For the purposes of this post, a “reblogger” is someone who shares content on their site using one of the official Sharing options mentioned below. To clarify, if you only link to someone else’s site with a comment about it, that is not “reblogging.”
PressThis Sharing Button
The PressThis Sharing button that appears at the end of a Post or Page opens a pop-up Editor window, which today may or may not contain the shared post title and nothing else. So it seems like this feature is currently broken and I’ve reported it to Support. (Example Post)
Update 12 January 2023: It looks like this issue finally got some dev attention, but there’s a catch. You must highlight some text prior to hitting the Press This sharing button for it to capture not only the post Title, and an excerpt (your highlighted text), but also the link back to the original post. Without highlighting some text first, you’ll only get the post title.
Reader Sharing Button*
The Sharing button in the WordPress.com Reader opens a pop-up Editor window containing the Post title, an excerpt and a link back to the original post, all of which can be edited by the reblogger. It also hotlinks the original post’s featured image via the Jetpack Content Delivery Network. (Example Post) For one blogger’s unfortunate experience on this, see this forum thread.
PressThis Browser Bookmarklet
The PressThis browser bookmarklet opens a pop-up Editor window, which contains the Post title, an excerpt if you’ve highlighted some text in the original, and a link back to the original post, all of which can be edited by the reblogger. No image is hotlinked or uploaded to the reblogger’s Media Library. The PressThis bookmarklet can share any webpage regardless of where it is hosted, i.e. it’s not limited to WordPress.com sites. (Example Post)
Important! All the above three Sharing options allow editing of the original post title, content and link prior to publication, but also allows the reblogger to add their own featured image, tags and categories, add additional comment content and save the post as a draft.
The Reblog Button
The Reblog button that appears at the end of posts behaves very differently from the other Sharing options.
Reblog immediately publishes the post on the reblogger’s site, including the original Post title, an automatically-generated excerpt that cannot be edited or removed, and a link back to the original post, which also cannot be edited or removed. A Reblog will also include any comment the reblogger added prior to clicking the Reblog Post button, and that comment can be edited post publication. (Example Post)
The Reblog also creates a pingback to the original post, which serves as a notification to the original blogger that their post has been reblogged (see notes below). The original blogger may need to approve the pingback before it appears in the original post’s comments.
A post created using the Reblog button not only links back to the original site, it also tells search engines to attribute the source post, not the reblog. (Note that you can only reblog the same post once, but if someone reblogs your Reblog, attribution will still be given to the original source post.)
Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my example post, Reblog is broken on WordPress.com and today again uploads images from the original blogger’s post to the reblogger’s Media Library, even though these images may not appear in the reblogged post itself. My thought is that because a Reblog is published immediately, a featured image is needed for the Publicize feature, provided Publicize is enabled on the reblogger’s site.
Regardless, there is no justification uploading even a single image from the original post, even if permitted by the Terms of Service, when neither the blogger nor the reblogger may be aware of it happening. There can be real legal implications for rebloggers when those original images are under license, purchased or under copyright.
Why are my @wordpressdotcom post images being transferred to someone else’s Media Library? Oh, right. It’s #Reblog, silly. 🤦♂️Tweet
A printable chart of these Sharing options is available on this page.
Please note that all my tests were made using the Firefox web browser. If you are using a different web browser or an older or newer version of a web browser, your results may differ.
Other things to note:
Email me when reblogged: Way down in your site’s Discussion Settings, you’ll find the option to be emailed if someone reblogs one of your posts. Consider enabling it.
Pingback links on your site for Sharing that is not Reblog: Pingbacks and Trackbacks must be enabled in the Discussion settings on your site for this to work. Just like any comment, you can choose to approve a pingback or not. If you’ve enabled comment notification emails, you’ll also receive an email. Pingback notifications may not work correctly unless the reblogger has “Attempt to notify any blogs linked in the article” checked in their default Discussion Settings.
Appearance of Shared posts in Emails to subscribers and in the Reader: With the current exception of Reblog, you can add your own featured image to your Shared posts prior to publishing, which is then displayed on your Shared Post. Whether or not emails display images appears to depend on email client. Your mileage may vary wildly.
Appearance of Shared posts in Social Media (via Publicize): I had a mixed bag here. Depending on which social media site I Publicized to, some Shared posts showed the featured image, while others did not. On Twitter, the single post I created via Reblog was the only tweet that noted “reblogged on WordPress.com”.
UPDATE 18 March 2022 – be aware that if you use Publicize to share your posts to social media, your site must be fully Public in order for the featured image to display.
*Update 05 October 2022 – The Reader on the WordPress.com website has been updated. While there is no change to how Sharing works there, the biggest change comes to navigating to the original post. I’ll update more here once the dust has settled.
While I believe there are some good elements to the Reblog feature, such as the uneditable post excerpt and link, this recurring image issue outweighs anything else.
Also, if a blogger has wisely chosen to remove the Reblog button from displaying on their site (by navigating to My Sites → Tools → Marketing → Sharing Buttons.
Disable Show reblog button under Reblog & Like), their post can still be Shared via the Reader Sharing button, which will then hotlink the featured image, as explained above. There is a Feature Request in the works to disallow Reader Sharing on sites where the Reblog button is not available. That’s an admirable first step, if it’s implemented, but not enough.
If we must agree to Sharing under the WordPress.com Terms of Service, WordPress.com should implement Sharing in a way that doesn’t leave its users open to possible litigation and respect user settings. Currently, our only options to prevent other users Sharing our content are to change our site visibility to Private or Hidden (which removes your site from appearing in the Reader for everyone but subscribers) or not sign up for the service to begin with.
Here’s an example of a website that allows republishing of their content, but really gets it right. The “Be Careful with Images” section earns them a big ❤ in my book.
As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.
What has your experience been? Has your content been reblogged or have you reblogged someone else’s content?