Where do you draw the line?

by Michelle on February 26, 2011

Recently I was in an uncomfortable situation concerning my blog and a post I published a month or so ago. There was a gentleman that contacted me demanding that I link to his blog and give him credit for the post and recipe. Well he really didn’t contact me, even though my email address is visible on the front page of my blog, he tried to post a comment containing a URL address for his blog and my spam filter caught it. I never responded but his persistence didn’t stop there and continued for a few days.

Let me give you the particulars. Was I on his blog, yes. And he had a photo of a dish that reminded me of a recipe I had considered making for some time. The photo is not something unique or unusual, in fact I’ve seen the very same dish on several restaurant menus over the years and my husband has enjoyed it at a local restaurant on numerous occasions. If you google the name of the dish you will find pages of sources on the Internet. I did not use the gentleman’s recipe, in fact I never read his post. How this gentlemen found out about me being on his blog and seeing the photo is a long story so let’s just say that a third party, apparently a self-appointed editor, stuck his big nose in where it didn’t belong and stirred the pot.

I realize that some people think if they are even remotely involved that they deserve some of the credit for the success of others. Well, I’m not one of those people.

Holy moley if I was to list the people that have influenced me over my lifetime, I certainly would not be mentioning a blog owned by a stranger. Frankly I am getting a little bit tired of the egotistical nonsense from some people that think they “deserve” credit where no credit is due. I was a teacher and had hundreds, probably closer to 1000s of students and I influenced each and every one of them on a daily basis. My job was to teach my students to stand up for themselves, research, analyze and make their own decisions. Now, if my students credited me for their success, then I didn’t do my job very well, did I?

I might be over reacting a bit to this situation being I had a favorite college professor recently pass away. Now this was a man that had a huge impact in my life at the time and his influence and inspiration continues today. I was fortunate to have had four such professors in college and words could never express just how much they influenced me and how fortunate I was to be in their class. And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of one of them. Many of you probably don’t know this but I have a BFA from University of Michigan and I was a successful showing artist for some time. So when I say these men had a huge influence on me, it was not only technical but on a spiritual, emotional level. And this recipe crediting situation just seems so trivial in comparison. I mean it really is nothing compared to the fabulous, long-lasting influence from these four incredible men. And if any one of them read this paragraph, I’m pretty sure they would be very humbled and maybe even a bit embarrassed.

I draw inspiration from many things whether it’s photos, advertisements, recipes, my husband and family, past experiences, day dreams and the list can go on and on. If I were to list everything and everyone that had influenced me for every single post I would have two to three paragraphs of nothing but names, titles of books, friends and teachers. Well, that would be boring and I’m not going to do it.

It’s not that I’m stingy with links, far from it. I’ve written posts with upwards of 5 outgoing links in one post. I do give credit but I give credit where it’s deserved not demanded. And if I am inspired on an emotional level then of course I always link back and generally go into some detail with the circumstances. But there was no emotion felt when I looked at this photo. All it did was remind me of a dish I had wanted to make and one that my husband had enjoyed at a local restaurant. That is it and nothing more. And as a reminder, I DID NOT read his post and I DID NOT use his recipe, not even close.

Awarding someone credit for anything without some emotional attachment is meaningless. I know there will be people taking the opposite opinion and saying “that’s an easy fix” and continue with detailed lessons on how to create a link. Forget it, I don’t need the HTML instructions. And I’ll hear some self-righteous scolding declaring I should have linked back because “it’s the right thing to do”. But be careful because this is a double-edged sword.

I digress………

I did go back to the blog that had the photo and I checked his posts for links and credits. And guess what, I didn’t find one! Should I assume all the recipes he posted just popped out of the blue into his head, ended up on his plate and consequently published on his blog? Wrong, most of the recipes he posted as his own creations are in a certain author’s very popular cookbooks that were originally published in 1973 and 1995 and both of these books are in my own personal library! See what I mean about this being a doubled-edged sword!

There are so many recipes and cookbooks out there, it’s difficult to find anything that has not been done before. But I’m pretty sure this person just wanted a link to improve his Search Engine Optimizaton (SEO) and gain traffic from my blog which is exactly what this was all about.

To clarify, he asked for “credit” for the recipe and a link to his blog so “others can see how to properly make the dish”. What? Could it be the dish was not prepared as himself saw fit because I DID NOT USE his recipe? If you’re laughing at this point…well so was I!

But I have to admit this entire episode has me wondering, “Where do you draw the line?” If you see a restaurant sign for ice cream, rush home and make it, in your post do you link back to Mr. FrostyFreeze? If you see an wine advertisement with a fabulous looking dessert in the photo, you create a similar dessert do you link back to the magazine? Or maybe the winery? Do you do a massive Google Search to make sure that no one has published something similar? Does every post have to have a long, drawn out explanation of who, when, why and full of back links just to make sure you’ve covered all the bases? Can’t you just make a dish because it sounds good?

Exactly where do you draw the line when it comes to crediting and/or linking to someone or something?

If the post in question had been a failure and my photos were over exposed and out of focus, it’s doubtful anyone would have wanted a link on my blog. Of course I can never be sure, narcissism is an odd shaped fellow with long arms and a big head.




Photos #2 and #3 are Author Unknown
Photos #1, #4-8 are original works by the graffiti artist Banksy, who is presently up for an Academy Award for his film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”.

AllRightsReserved@BigBlackDog

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Comments

  • Coco cooks February 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Love he last pic of Mona Lisa Mooning Us. As for the man, totally insane. Like fashion, food isn’t orginal. It’s just many variations on a theme. You didn’t take anyhting beloging to him and he needs to get a life. Now if you took his photo and post vebatum , that would be another issue entirely.

  • Glenn February 26, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Enjoyed the pics!

    Now as to this guy-he’s a douchebag. I don’t sweat the small stuff and neither should you! Send him my way-we’ll take care of it!

  • kat February 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Oh, that reminds me of a similar problem I had recently on my craft blog. Someone accused me in a comment of stealing a pattern I had written from another blog & told me I should credit the other person. Funny thing was the patterns weren’t the same & I had actually written mine 3 years before the other person had posted there’s. I just stated my facts & tried to let it go. But it sounds like you are in the same place as me & its hard to let things like that go.

  • Marigene February 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    You know where I would have told him to go…egotistical SOB!

  • Sandra February 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    You tell em and stick to your guns!

  • margaret February 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    How ridicuous was this Man!! We all use recipes from other people, adapt, modify change to fit our own tastes. A picture may be worth a thousand words/ideas/thoughts but …. Don’t waste any more time on him. He’s not worth the stress!!!!

    GREAT piece, btw.

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe February 26, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    You said you didn’t use his recipe, but did you use his photo maybe? If so, I definitely would have linked back to his page. Otherwise, I have no idea what his problem is! I have had the opposite problem from you a few times – with the same recipe even. I have found one of my recipes AND accompanying photo on a few different sites with no link back to me. That ticked me off. Not only is the recipe my own, but the photo as well. The funny thing was that on one of those websites, they actually screwed up and left off the main ingredient. DUH!! LOL

    • Michelle February 26, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Chris,

      All the photos are my blog are of recipes that I made, in my own kitchen and I took all the photos too. I have never used anyone else’s photos on my blog.

      Never thought to use someone else’s photos, I don’t have time to post all the stuff I make let alone someone elses! LOL!

      Michelle

      • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe February 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

        That is crazy then. Hey, chalk it up as free publicity! If he posted about you, chances are, people came over to see what/who he was talking about. You might end up with a few new followers as a result! 😉

  • pam February 26, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Oh my goodness. I hope you didn’t take him seriously at all. He was not even worth this blog post, except that you got to show some cool photos.

    • Michelle February 27, 2011 at 12:22 am

      Pam,

      You are probably right and he was not worth a post on my blog, but I sure felt good while I was writing it. Although this is the first time anyone has ever contacted me about a possible copyright issue, I know it’s happened to other people. I guess it was my turn to stand up and say “no more”.

      Michelle

  • Bonnie February 26, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Can I just say AMEN and leave it at that. Jeesh!!!!! Some people are not worth the bother.

  • rebecca February 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    great post and thanks for sharing be true to yourself and what you feel is right

  • Amy February 27, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Uff, in this day and age, there isn’t very much originality out there which needs crediting. Yes, had you used anything from his blog directly a link back would have been in it’s place, however, you know this and just getting an idea from his blog doesn’t give him the right to demand any credit! It’s as you said, how many times are we inspired by others, use an idea and shape it to fit our own lifestyles and tastes and we don’t HAVE to go back and give credit to the one who gave us the idea unless we feel so inspired to do so!
    With as many bloggers out there and not very many original blogs in my humble opinion, you’ll find a lot of “parasite” type bloggers who want to ride on the “successes” of other bloggers in order to gain attention for their blog. Again, unless something has been directly taken off of another blog, then I see NO need for giving credit where credit isn’t due!
    Keep your head high and stay focused on the truths…that is the only thing that is real and worthy of your time!
    Warm regards from Norway-
    Amy at Eventyrhus

  • Amy February 27, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Oh by the way, forgot to mention, hillarious photos!! Just love funny creative stuff like that!!! :-))

  • pattie and Allie February 27, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Oh Michelle. Oh Michelle!! Yay you!!! You have put into wonderful words something I have been thinking for a VERY long time. There are some out there in bloggy land who are so obsessed with those rankings and numbers that they are willing to go to ridiculous lengths. As you know, my blog (when I’m healthy enough to blog!) tends toward traditional Italian and European. I see, on a daily basis, many well known bloggers and cookbook authors putting recipes out there (and wanting credit for them) that came out of my grandmother’s kitchen for 60 years! One very well known author/blogger wrote a post about wanting credit- everything on this person’s blog and books is based on something traditional! You’re right- THEY’VE ALL BEEN DONE BEFORE! Grow up people! We all put our own little spin on recipes, but I’ve seen a couple of very big names putting out IDENTICAL recipes. So, who gets credit?? The only thing I ask is that someone ask my permission before using my pictures. You, my dear, are a great blogger, artist, cook, and person- keep doing what you’re doing and just give him enough rope to hang himself. Someone will eventually call him out on his “original” recipes.

  • Kathy Gregson February 27, 2011 at 7:32 am

    i completely understand! Some people are just so sensitive. And egotistical. Love the graffiti.

  • Cheryl B. February 27, 2011 at 8:48 am

    p.s. – on re-looking at your posting, I forgot to mention that I also love the pic. of the lady hanging the zebras stripes out to dry!!! Comical! :->

  • Stacey West-Feather February 27, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Some people strive to cause conflict in any market. My heavens he should have patented his recipe. hee hee Love your blog !!

  • Kate February 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Great post! I have followed your blog for a very long time and find that you are are very clear when the recipe is yours or based upon another….and your photography is wonderful, by the way. Recipes are always modified to fit the tastes of the person preparing the meal…what a silly man! I would wager that the individual is trying the same tactics with other bloggers, too! You addressed the situation in an entirely professional manner.

  • Carroll February 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Some people just LOVE to rain on someone else’s parade. Your blog is great – ORIGINAL and interesting. Just ignore the idiot – he’s obviously a loser.

    The origins of recipes are lost in the distant past – who made the first quiche? ROFL Everyone puts a different spin on their cooking or baking to suit their own individual requirements or tastes. I leave peppers out of EVERYTHING because I can’t eat them (can’t even stand the smell of them being cut up) This guy should get a life!

  • Ryan February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    How dare you post about strawberries. I wrote a post on strawberries last year and you must have copied me, I demand an apology this instance. lol I wouldn’t worry about this guy.

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