Blogging Etiquette

Is it OK to quote a blog post without asking for permission from the author?

I would think so. No one asks a book author for permission to quote a passage from a book*. It is implied that when someone publishes a text, then it is out there for the world to quote and recombine in a myriad of new contexts, which the author doesn’t expect to control.

A blog is more of a greyzone than a book, though, due to its interactive, informal and often personal diary-like style. Nevertheless, I think that it is generally OK to quote blog posts, respectfully and considerately, without asking for permission.


Is it OK to quote comments?

Blog comments lie further into the greyzone. The boundaries are blurred… Is a comment a publication or a private conversation, or something in between?

Is it socially appropriate to quote comments left on one’s own blog? I would think that it is (considerately, of course), that the comments have been ‘given’ to the blog owner to refer to, but I am not 100% sure.

What about comments in conversations which one participates in on someone else’ blog? Comment tracks can be very inspiring with brilliant and original thoughts that deserve to shine for a broader audience, to inspire and combine with new thoughts in a wider context. But is it appropriate to quote them out of the context they were written for?

What about forum posts in open forums? The more conversation-like writing is, the more borderline socially unacceptable it seems to quote passages out of their original context.

There is always the option to ask, of course, but then it may get awkward if some of the comments don’t survive the editing phase after all, and also, it may slow down the idea phase to have to factor in permission-chasing.

There do of course exist a code of conduct for sharing content on the Internet- the Creative Commons framework, but it doesn’t really address the key issues of this type of content sharing: which is privacy rather than copyright.

So there seems to be a lack of clear rules on this area.


My permissions

My posts, comments on this blog, and comments on other blogs can be quoted without asking me by persons involved in the conversations as long as it is done in a manner that is:

  • Considerate, respectful, and appropriate.

Please consider if content may be too sensitive or out of place for a particular context or audience. (That is important! Ask if in doubt…)

Please also help protect my privacy by quoting content only to my online ID, even if you happen to know my real name

  • In good faith. Nothing I write may be used in a misleading, information-distorting manner, to mock anyone (including but not limited to me), or for other malign, self-serving, manipulative, distorting purposes.



I encourage other bloggers to make a permission statement on their blog that outlines how their content can be quoted (posts, comments, and maybe other types of content I haven’t thought of!). Please feel free to link to it from the comment track below; I would love to know others bloggers’ permissions/boundaries and develop a clearer sense of general unwritten rules for integrating interactive content.

Rainbow_Dragon, clipart


* Copyright violation is an entirely different matter, which I will not discuss here


4 thoughts on “Blogging Etiquette

  1. Ashana M

    I would think anything posted on a public forum can be quoted, as long as the source is indicated, and as long as you aren’t simply copying the whole thing. (The important distinction between what is allowed and not allowed according to copyright law in the US is partly about entirety and how much of a work you are using. I think international law is similar in that regard, but I am less familiar) If you are quoting from a source that others don’t have free access to, then it is a private conversation–for example, from a discussion group, on a social networking site, or a message board, then etiquette would suggest you ask for permission. What we say in a public forum is up for grabs, and I think that is something we need to get used to. We are now all writers, and our words can be referred back to by other people even when they don’t like what we say.


    1. Mados

      Thank you for contributing your point of view!

      I think I sort of agree with you in principle. However, I have come across caution in regard to quoting comments without asking for permissions, so I took that to mean that comments are not as public as I thought, even though they are open for anyone to read in the context where they are posted.

      Basically I wish there was one clear, certain, consistent code for quoting ‘semi-public’ thoughts: written conversations that are public, but not published in the same sense as a book / article. An Internet social appropriateness code, basically:-)

      To copy larger blocks of content is a different issue … That is IP theft and obviously wrong, so it is not something that needs a code. It is already clear enough, and people who steal others content know that they do something wrong (I presume).


    1. Mados

      Thank you Lori:-) but it is not my birthday.

      If you have received a notification from a social media platform saying it is my birthday, then it is probably because I use 1 April if asked to provide my date of birth when I sign up for things. I always get happy birthday emails from marketing departments on 1 April:-) and sometimes from friends too.



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