Pinterest recently released a new bit of code that you can add to your website which will block anyone who tries to pin your posts. It’s pretty simple. You just add a line of code to your header/footer and would-be pinners will receive a message when they attempt to pin anything from your site that says the site doesn’t allow pinning. Hear that? It’s the sound of Pinterest haters everywhere rejoicing.
But whether you use this social network or not, is blocking Pinterest a good idea? In my opinion, no.
At least, not for most bloggers. There are a few exceptions:
- If your blog is photography-based, with posts containing little content beside your pictures, it might make sense to block Pinterest.
- If your blog is about showcasing your artwork and, again, contains little written content, it might makes sense to block Pinterest.
- If you hate traffic, it might makes sense to block Pinterest.
Okay, I think the last point probably doesn’t apply to anyone here…but the first two certainly might.
Pinterest has been getting heat lately because the platform basically makes it easy to repost any picture you find online. Pinterest does abide by DMCA rules and will remove pins when asked to do so by anyone who owns the picture in question, but this new opt-out code will make it even easier for bloggers to just say no to Pinterest.
Only…why would you want to?
I’m not arguing that artists and photographers should share their work for free. I believe everyone deserves to get paid for the work they do. However, Pinterest isn’t about stealing your work to use for some kind of personal gain. It’s about sharing your work so that others can find it. Curation is the theme here. Pinners are trying to help drive traffic to your site, not hoping to get away with not paying you for your work.
When someone steals a picture from Google images and publishes it on their blog without buying it (or crediting it properly/getting your permission if that’s what is required by the license), they’re using your work in a way that robs you of the money or traffic you’re supposed to get as the picture’s creator. They’re doing so because they don’t want to spend the money to pay you for your time. It’s the same as copy/pasting my words and posting on your own blog without permission – it’s wrong.
For example, let’s say that I am blogging about cake. Mmmm cake. Instead of taking a picture of a cake myself, buying a picture of a cake, or finding a free image to use, I steal a picture of cake you took for your own blog. It’s wrong. I’m using that picture for my own gain because I’m too lazy/cheap to do the right thing. You get no benefit.
Pinners, however, aren’t using your pictures without permission for their own gain. They don’t own their pin boards any more than we own our Facebook profiles. They’re using your picture as a preview in order to encourage others to be fans of the posts you create. It’s a recommendation, the same way it would be for someone to share a link on Twitter or Facebook. Pinterest just happens to create visual links, like a little preview of your site to encourage people to click through.
And because most people are visual learners, I think as Pinterest grows, this could lead to more traffic for any visual-based site (food, crafts, fashion, etc) than any social media site where just links are shared. Think about it. You’re more likely to be interested in a recipe if there’s a picture of the finished product to entice you, right? Allowing pinners the ability to pin your posts can lead to a LOT more traffic than places where people just share the title/URL.
Of course, like with every social media site, some users are jerks. They pin pictures without linking to the original source. They copy/paste the entire blog post into the description so people aren’t encouraged to click through to your blog. They change the pin URL to lead to their own site. They download your pictures and then upload them as if they own them.
But these users are a VERY SMALL percentage of users, at least in my experience. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin the bunch for you. Pinterest is working to make the platform better (for example, there are plans to limit the characters in a description to avoid c/p of the entire post). You should definitely contact Pinterest if some users are pinning your work incorrectly…but don’t give the middle finger to the entire platform! You’ll be missing out on the potential for lots of new traffic if you do.
Now, like I said, the opt-out code could make sense for some people. If your website or blog is all about your artwork (photography or otherwise), it might make sense for you to say “thanks but no thanks.” Personally, I would want as many people as possible sharing previews of my work, but I can also understand how you’d want to limit the way people share. For the typical blogger, though, blocking Pinterest just doesn’t make sense in my opinion. This platform is such a cool new traffic source, and unlike some other recent networks *cough*Google+*cough* it seems to have attracted the attention of the general public, not just people who blog and use social media. For most people, blocking Pinterest is cutting off your nose to spite you face. Before you make this decision, I recommend you at least spend a few weeks giving the network a try first-hand.
Feel free to disagree with me in the comments! Will you block Pinterest on your blog now that this option is available? Why or why not?