Death of the hat tip?

There is a disturbing trend I’ve noticed among L.A. bloggers lately: the customary “hat tip” is more and more being ignored.

A hat tip, often abreviated to “h/t,” is “an acknowledgement to someone (or a website) for bringing something to the blogger’s attention.” (from Blogossary).

I “hat tip” rather liberally, in the spirit of community, but also because pretending that I’ve magically discovered different news items, events, or details to be arrogant. I also keep this practice because blogs simply make it easy to do so.

I think some blogs are deliberately ignoring the practice because they believe they’re too big to do this anymore, possibly believing they are now equal to mainstream media (who see no need to acknowledge sources of details if they later verify details themselves). These same blogs seem to forget that one of the most read blogs out there, Boing Boing, offer a hat tip in almost every entry.

I’m not calling out names on this because, I’m sad to say, friends of mine have even refused to offer me “hat tips” for one reason or another. Sure, they probably have their reasons, whether its corporate oversite, or merely because they don’t want to appear to have been scooped, no matter how banal the topic.

I just hope blogs, no matter how big they get, don’t forget that at one time they prided themselves on not being mainstream media, and likewise held themselves to a different standard, including a basic respect of the friendly, easy hat tip.

14 thoughts on “Death of the hat tip?”

  1. I guess if you’re a big enough site, you don’t need to worry about this point of etiquette, but it’s a really good habit to get into for a couple of reasons:

    1. The person who initially found the interesting tidbit just plain deserves some credit for having done so, even if they’re not the one who popularized it. Boing Boing cites, Kottke cites, Consumerist cites, you can cite too.

    2. It’s good to know where you got your information from, especially since the original source may explore the topic in more depth and may provide additional details that a reader might find relevant.

    3. It draws attention to your site from the linked source. They’ll see that you linked to them and come snooping around to find out what you’re about. This will lead to higher readership numbers AND could lead to a new relationship with another writer online. If they start reading you’re site, eventually they’ll start picking up stories from your site… and when they do this, won’t you want them to give you a link?

    4. Plus, everyone benefits from the PageRank boost. Go PageRank.

    Everyone forgets once in a while, but if we’re setting ourselves blogging goals, indicating your sources is a pretty good one.

  2. I think being polite is what’s killing media, being polite to other writer, blogger, journalist type people it’s silly, especially if the person is doing something that I would view as unethical.

    Civil, fine, be civil to fellow bloggers, but polite in regards to sh*tty actions, why?

    Now your readers, be polite, but if one blogger pulls a d*ck move, you should call them out on it. If they got info from you, a tip from you, info from your blog and it’s real obvious, call them out on it.

    Call people out on their bs, especially if what they are doing what I would call the internet and blogosphere version of plagiarism.

    Linking where you got info from to me isn’t just polite, it’s mandatory.


  3. Hat tips — or any other manner in which you care to express the origin of the source — is vital for increasing readership as the first commenter remarked. However, at Carver’s Dog I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon …

    We have, on average, 200-300 readers per day and growing. Not much, I know, but not bad for a daily-updated blog that’s a mere four months old. The only time my readers click through en masse to something I link to is if I provide incomplete text, thus compelling them to read the rest of the piece at another site. Otherwise, only one or two readers will ever click-through to a link at CD.

  4. Only if it’s real obvious, Browne, yes. Every morning I search Google news for the latest news in the world of books and literature for my semi-weekly Literary Blogging column. This means that on some occasions I’m writing about or linking to some of the same stories that can be found at The Elegant Variation or on Maud Newton’s Blog. This doesn’t mean I cribbed anything from TEV or MN. We just happen to be walking down the same cyber alleyway.

  5. Josh, I like Gawkers post, but writing h/t is just a brief way of writing “thanks for pointing this out.” I think its different than a cliche.

    Browne, I don’t think anyone would claim that I’ve not been open about my grievences with other blogs. I’m just not detailing instances here because, again, some of these folks are my friends, and I don’t think its a belligerent act. Hopefully this post alone will be reminder enough. Other than that, though, I agree – bloggers should call each out on bullshit of any kind. I doesn’t have to be unfriendly either – as long as people are fair and not full of hate, I love to read critiques of Metblogs.

  6. “via” uses the same number of characters as “h/t” (“thanks” is a one character savings over “hat tip”)

    : )

  7. I’m a serioual hat tipper. Hell, most of my posts are linkalicious because of a sentence I read. I think not only is it just polite, but it backs up sources. I see too many “big” bloggers just post stuff now and get pissy when people call them out on their sources or accuse them of lifting someone else’s post because they’ve decided they’re too big to link to anyone.

  8. I wonder if this is related to the infamous manners of L.A. drivers. They fail to hat tip in every sense of the driving word. Their aggressive maneuvers are legendary. The possible explanations for this — from false self-importance to being too busy to simple neglect — seem to mirror the possible explanations for the death of the hat tip.

  9. You know what I find irksome? When a site posts something that gets picked up by a new site with a proper site-ation (eh? eh? new word?), and then a third site picks up the story based on the second, but links back ONLY to the second and not to the original.

    For example: Kottke <– <A HREF=””>Boing Boing (citing Kottke) <– <A HREF=””>YesButNoButYes (citing only BoingBoing).

  10. Being that very few blogs actually report original content and just mostly rehash news from actual journalists, perhaps this blog that failed to attribute got their info from the source. Being that you didn’t name the blog who made you said, we’ll never know.

  11. Rumors, indeed, thats annoying, and I’ve been victim to it. Digg users, especially, take advantage of this, but I think for the most part its unavoidable.

    Bullock: (I responded to Dave privately with this as well, btw) This isn’t a case of paranoia, there are definitely cases where other blogs know they’ve lifted stuff without an h/t. Individual instances appear petty, so for now not worth pointing them out.
    Again, this is etiquette, not plagiarism, because, as you note, most bloggers are citing other’s content.

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