The Curators Code: Are you giving credit?

Following on from the Pinterest dilemma, which shows no signs of being resolved any time soon, we have to ask: does the Internet need a standardised code to ensure credit is given where credit is due? If the code was universally recognised and widely used, then finding the original source of shared content would be a cinch.

With blogging, micro-blogging, content sharing and content curation being the current “big thing” in internet trends, founder Maria Popova has proposed we use icons to clearly show where we found the content we’re sharing and curating.

The two symbols ᔥ and ↬ represent a ‘via’ and a ‘hat tip’, both of which are widely established terms used by bloggers and internet folk alike.

A via link shows that you found the content directly, so this would be used if you post an image on your blog, or use a quote from a press release.


The hat tip symbol would be utilised to demonstrate an indirect link, where the content you are sharing is derivative of an original source. So if you used a blog post as the starting off point for your own post, you would attribute it with a hat tip.

Again, I reiterate that these are already established and widely used terms within the blogging community. So, why does Popova assert that we need to use the symbols?

In reality, Popova is just highlighting that more needs to be done to ensure content is correctly and fairly attributed; the symbols and the fancy website are just placeholders for this message.

In a blog post she writes:

“The Curator’s Code is an effort to keep this whimsical rabbit hole open by honoring discovery through an actionable code of ethics — first, understanding why attribution matters, and then, implementing it across the web in a codified common standard, doing for attribution of discovery what Creative Commons has done for image attribution.”

The suggestion that we need such a code has angered some, with Mashable’s Christina Warren tweeting:

“The Curator’s Code is the most idiotic, histrionic and self-serving pseudo ideal I’ve seen in a long time.”

And later:

“And for the record, I via like a mofo, I don’t need some lamea** symbol.”

Her discontent is understandable; the suggestion that we need a Curator’s Code is the equivalent of accusing bloggers of not being fair in content crediting.

So, fellow bloggers, are you doing your bit to keep your content fairly attributed? And how do you feel about being told you should be using a specific symbol to make sure you’re doing it right?