To Cite or Not to Cite

“Cite your sources.” The three most common words you hear in high school, and the three most dreaded words in college… well okay maybe after the final is cumulative. Regardless of where you last expected to hear those words, it is apparent that today it is not only the English majors who are required to cite their sources outside of school, and while this may have always been the case, there is no argument that citing your sources and crediting work is more necessary today than ever. Not just at work either, with social media and content sharing platforms taking over as a major part of people’s day-to-day lives, crediting work is now more important than ever.

When we cite a source online we are helping two types of people, the artist or creator who made the work, and secondly the viewers and anyone who may see the post. While we all know very well the arguments for the former, the idea that by citing a source we are helping the viewers is a point that we do not hear too often anymore, but in many ways it is just as important. When we chose not to post the link or information, we usually expect that anyone who does not do a reverse search is lazy. Yet we tend to forget that there are many people who don’t know how to properly do a reverse search. Hell there are people who think a cd tray is a cup holder. Plus when we take the time to post something but do not credit the source, then we are taking the time to share something we care about, but without linking back to the source other, more lazy, people won’t do the research, which makes the time you took to post pointless.

Now I know the question you may be asking yourself now is “Why should I care?” but let me ask you this, have you ever gone searching on the internet on how to fix a computer related problem and you can only find one thread on the subject. Chances are if you have done this then you are all to familiar with the dreaded post by the owner that simply says, “Nevermind. I found a solution.” In that moment you have been the viewer, and without the original poster putting up a link, you are left high and dry and that thread became useless to you and a waste of time. Now had the author remembered to link where he found the information or what he searched then you might have been able to quickly resolve your issue, however now you are unable to do so. When we cite sources, we are not only giving credit where it is due, however we are also helping our audience to discover the source and what it has to offer.

Based on “Credit is always due”: http://austinkleon.com/2014/01/27/credit-is-always-due/

This article originally appeared on aggrocultureguild.com.