Got Blog? Take 2.

Brian Flemming/LA.com asked:

Are we

a) Free to link to blogging.la? If so, we will continue to link to entries at blogging.la that we feel will interest our readers.

b) Not free to link to blogging.la? If you prefer, we will no longer link to blogging.la.

After reading all the comments on the LAblogs thread, talking to all the blogging.la authors, and reviewing the Creative Commons license we publish everything under at blogging.la the official answer is C) All of the Above.

Huh?

Lets back that up and start with the Creative Commons license. All content on blogging.la is published under a Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0 License which says a few things, including that anyone is free to copy, distribute, display, the work as long as they must give the original author credit, and they don’t use this work for commercial purposes.

Blogs, in general, are not commercial. They might have ads, but in rare cases do those ever pay for more than the cost of up-keeping the site. LA.com is a commercial site, there’s no question that the main goal behind it is to make money — the content of the site being the lure. Therefor, using our content on that site is a violation of the Creative Commons license. Because of that, we have to ask that any original content from blogging.la not be republished on LA.com. However, you are free to link to whatever content on blogging.la that you want.

Countless e-mails have been exchanged in the past few days between all of us at b.la about this and while everyone has their own opinion of the situation, the general feeling is that we and other LA sites were being used. This is in part because LA.com is NOT a blog. It’s a mega-media corporate site with a small section pretending to be a blog for marketing reasons. A blog is generally accepted to be a personal website, the same kind of thing on a major media site is an editorial column — not a blog.

Therefore, the “norms of blogging” which Brian keeps referring to do NOT apply to LA.com. They apply to Brian’s personal blog, but not to LA.com or the LA.comfidential section. We’d be having the same reaction right now if our posts were used in such rapid succession on LAtimes.com or any other big media site.

One thing that a lot of people are asking is a resounding “Why?” LABlogs is a site where anyone can log in and blog about goings on in LA. Blogging.la is a site where a selected group of regular authors blog about the goings on in LA. While different at the core, these two sites are working very hard to accomplish something and you can’t expect another site to come in and try to do the same thing and be welcomed with opened arms. We’re all getting the feeling that either A, you think you can do a better job, or B, you think we had a good idea and you want to steal it. Neither of those are very flattering for us, or you.

This isn’t limited to LA.com, and I’m not trying to stir up more shit here, but when we were contacted the other morning by LA Voice, a site where anyone can log in and blog about the goings on in LA, we (at b.la) had the same reaction. “Isn’t LABlogs already doing this? WTF?” The only answer we can come up with in all cases is someone else is trying to get credit not due to them or to make a fast buck. Again, not so flattering. (ok, that was out of line. I’m a dick. sorry.)

The fact is, LA.com has way more resources and money behind it than any of our sites, if you take our ideas (per post, or overall) it doesn’t aim to help us, it aims to replace us. So what now? Brian said he wanted to use the site as a “force for good rather than evil.” Our suggestion is that you stop acting like it’s a blog and treat it like the editorial column it is. I’m sure both LABlogs and Blogging.la would be happy to work out a system where a feed of “most recent posts from …” could be included on LA.com which would give some content, but without any question of where it comes from. It would also be a great example of “all work[ing] together for the good of the online L.A. community,” where as repeating what we are already doing with a bigger advertising campaign certainly isn’t.

13 Replies to “Got Blog? Take 2.”

  1. I’d also like to add that the people at LA.com take home paychecks and the Blogging.LA folks do it cause they’re cool. Yes we have google ads but they have made less than my whale cruise today so it’s not exactly a cash cow so we’re losing money every day and people with a budget stealing our content is pretty sad. Oh yeah, kind of illegal as well. Hire your own fucking lackeys LA.com.

  2. To set the record straight, Sean:

    I conceived of and built LAvoice.org in a near-vacuum in November, 2002, when I was just becoming aware of the blogging medium.

    I know you will have a hard time believing this, but back then, aside from a few trips to BoingBoing, and following a few links from there to other blogsites I had no familiarity with blogs in general, and had neither seen nor heard of LAblogs or blogging.la.

    Let me reiterate: I simply did not know your two fine sites existed when I built LAvoice.

    The first time I became aware of LAblogs was at the Live from the Blogosphere event in Chinatown last winter when I rather clumsily introduced myself and my idea to Jonah and handed out a few cards with the URL to people attending. If you read the naive tone of the post, I think you’ll get a picture of how clueless I was.

    I was coming from a different background – corporate-built portal content production and, before that, journalism.

    I did not consider myself to be building a blog, but rather an online community for writers, with a free, more user-friendly and easily manageable (for me) mechanism than I had been using then for more than six years as a member of the WELL.

    The way I saw it, I was setting up a content management system that anyone could use to self-publish without advanced knowledge of the Web. I was under the impression (back then) that blogs were more individually authored, than community-based.

    I also wish to point out that LAvoice is set up somewhat differently – with six focused article categories and a modicum of editorial screening of new registrants to make sure they have writing chops and something on-topic to say. This puts us somewhere between LAblogs’ open-forum stance, and blogging.la’s invite-only policy but – again, it was done in complete ignorance of your work.

    To me, it was literally a tool for trying to gather a community devoted to Los Angeles that wanted to write about life here, and was not set up with any understanding of, or intent to compete with, any other entity.

    I put it on hiatus for about a year when other commitments arose, trying to kickstart it every so often, but only recently have I had the time and energy to try getting it running under its own steam.

    If people like it, I hope they’ll use it, and if they don’t I’ll know I gave it a good try. Both your sites appear well-established, robust and full of life. I can only hope mine will be half as fortunate.

    That said, I wish to apologize most sincerely if I have given any offense to either blogging.la, LAblogs or their communities. I have no desire nor designs to take anything from you – content, eyeballs, credit or ideas.

    Your implication otherwise – and indeed your jab that LAvoice is behaving in any way like LA.COMfidential is unjustified and, to be frank, kinda stung.

    Communities grow over time, alliances are made whether boundaries exist or not, and sometimes those communities blend together, enriching, supporting and elevating each other, as is the case with the physical city of Los Angeles.

    I hope that we can do the same in this space.

  3. Mack-
    I don’t know why you took offence to anything I wrote, as I asked you the same thing via e-mail the other day. The only similarity that I made between LAvoice and LA.com was that there’s already other sites doing things like them. It wasn’t a jab, and shouldn’t have stung. I certainly didn’t intend for it to anyway.

  4. I’m just curious why Brian thinks “almost a year of blogging” is impressive? Rather, why was mama big media was impressed by that?

    There are literally dozens of well established LA blog personalities who’ve been at it for 4, 5 or more years.

    Seems like a screaming clue that Gannett doesn’t have one. I wonder if management had even bothered to read a blog before deciding it was the hip new thing?

  5. Sean,

    I’m sorry to hear about this new policy, and especially to hear that it represents the consensus opinion of all the writers here at blogging.la. Oh well. Per your request, I won’t quote from any blogging.la entries at LA.COMfidential.

    Just so you know, your speculation about my (or Laurie’s) motivation is dead wrong. The concept of competition never even entered my mind. I just don’t look at the Web that way. I don’t see it as a zero-sum game.

  6. Brian – it’s far from a “new” policy, which is why we were ticked off in the first place. We’ve been using the same CC license since day one.

    You might not see it as competition, but why should you? You are on the “getting paid, major media backing” team.

  7. Sean,

    Please point to a single post at LA.COMfidential that violates blogging.la’s Creative Commons license.

    Or that in any way even remotely justifies the “stealing” accusation that is so casually being directed at me.

    It’s a serious accusation. Retract it or back it up.

  8. Sean,

    There isn’t a single word in that LA.COMfidential entry that is original to blogging.la.

    Not one.

    Yes, I reprinted the spam email. But it was a…spam email. Likely sent to thousands or more. Blogging.la also reprinted it. As did many other sites. (And I truly doubt the original author would have minded any of the reprints.) My actions in this shouldn’t be even remotely controversial.

    I gave blogging.la the proper link.

    I also furthered the conversation. I did my own research on the spam email and added a link that I found. (Not that it matters, but there are more original words in my entry than there were in Moxie’s.)

    If my reprinting a spam email is the support you have for accusing me of “a violation of the Creative Commons license,” you should admit that the accusations of this kind that you have been making from the start are without foundation.

    Just retract.

  9. this is my last post on the subject, it’s stupid and boring.

    Go reread my post. There’s nothing to retract. you asked about what you could do in the future, I replied with what you would be allowed to do in the future. You said you were sorry we had that “new” policy, and I pointed out that there was nothing new about it. You are getting pissed off about assumtions you are making in your own head. Don’t you have a job or a hobby or something else to go do?

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