One of the major sticking points for websites is how to create compelling and truly original content. In a post-penguin world penalties rather than SEO benefits await websites that rehash and chop and change content already published online. Perhaps understandably, authors of original content are fed up of seeing amended versions of their keenly researched and well constructed articles crop up on other websites. This creates an ethical dilemma for many webmasters and online marketing agencies, who want their websites or clients’ websites to rank highly, but often do not have the time required to write a piece of truly original content. This is where the Curator’s Code can help to ensure original authors are properly credited for the insightful articles they produce.
As a smorgasbord for innovation, few events come close to the annual South by Southwest festival. The festival brings together many of the world’s leading technical minds to discuss and analyse their ideas and create a framework on which to shape the future of online behaviour.
This year the topic of content curation took centre stage, with discussions focussing on the ethical connotations of profiting from rehashing someone else’s work as well the subtle differences between curation and aggregation; however, the biggest news came after the event, with the announcement of the Curator’s Code, which is the first attempt to standardise the way unoriginal or reworked content is attributed by websites.
The Curator’s Code encourages the standardisation of attributing content, with the Unicode character ᔥ used to represent ‘via’, which signifies a direct link to content, which should be used when reposting content from another source which has not been significantly modified. The second symbol used in the Curator’s Code is ↬, which is used to indicate a ‘hat tip’, which seasoned journalists, both online and off, will recognise as industry language for a lead or indirect source.
The Curator’s Code is a simple but incomplete solution to a problem that has plagued the internet since its infancy. However, ethically minded online marketers and webmasters will be happy to see that this topic is finally receiving the attention it deserves, in the hope that a more sophisticated approach will soon be reached.