So as I enter gracefully into blogging-middle-age (like a swan, I know) one of the pitfalls of discourse for me is how to address an uncited image on another science blog.
I'm a bit passionate about the issue. (See here, here, here, here, and here.) Most science bloggers cite their sources and papers, yet many lift images wholly from Google without a thought.
Last night, while looking at a relatively new blog, I saw some artwork I recognized as probably being by Nobu Tamura. It was. A quick Google search for the species, and on Wikipedia, the first link, revealed that Mr. Tamura has granted the image of Cynognathus open under Creative Commons, free to be used and posted -and even modified!- provided he is given credit.
|Image © Nobu Tamura. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cynognathus_BW.jpg">Wikipedia. (See? That was easy.)|
I commented on the blog. I said something like, "The Cynognathus is by Nobu Tamura, and should be credited. All the cool kids are citing images." I can't tell you exactly what I said, because my comment has been removed.
The blog in question also has a bit of tweaking to do, apparently: my comment appeared as black text on a black background, with only links to Tamura and one of my own posts about citing images appearing as orange hyperlinks. So I thought, hey, these guys are on Twitter: I'll say something there.
I said: "Hi, @bloginquestion . Could you plz cite images properly? & my comment appears as black text on black b/g." With a link to the post.
Then it gets weird. They sent me 3 direct messages saying it was inappropriate for me to comment on their blog if I had a problem, inappropriate to tweet about it (should have direct messaged) and that it IS cited on the post and they're sorry I didn't see it.
Only...it wasn't cited. The only citation was "Photos from google.ca images". Umm, yeah, that's not even close to credit where credit is due. I have the screen capture to prove it.
Nobu Tamura's artwork is cited now, but none of the maps are.
I couldn't direct message them via Twitter (they are not following me), so I sent a couple of more public messages. Then, I realized they've now blocked me on Twitter!
I sent an email to one of the blog hosts after looking it his address on their Facebook page. It's their prerogative to block me; perhaps I could have somehow handled this with more tact than a blog comment and public tweet. There's been a bunch of words of support from many science bloggers on Twitter and Facebook about this to me, and thanks.
Being a science-blog killjoy or meter-maid is of little interest to me, roving around handing out tickets. "You parked that image here without a credit. You're fined a minor public shaming". At the same time, when I see the art of someone I admire being used to enhance a post without a shred of proper credit, I feel I should say something.
Private emails do little to raise consciousness about the issue - the comment is not just there for the blogger and commenter, but for all the subsequent readers.
What should I have done differently? How do I raise the issue without throwing science bloggers under a bus? Do I remove them from my personal Facebook friends? It feels weird that they're blocking me on one media (Twitter) yet they can see all my stuff.
Oh, and do make sure you go through Nobu Tamura's deviantArt gallery. This man is a paleo-illustrating machine.
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence. Except that one up there of the cynognathus.
That's © by Nobu Tamura. See? Again. Easy.