A few weeks ago I got an email from a good friend in sunny California (sigh), and she said that she was looking around for bathroom ideas for an upcoming remodel in their home. She emailed me because she was excited to see my kids’ bathroom pop up when she searched the topic. I see the image a lot – it’s on the This Old House website, and it’s also the cover they use on all of those annoying little postcard sized inserts in their magazine. It pops up at the intro and at the end of the show on PBS, and the colorful cover stands out on the bookshelves at Lowes and Home Depot.
I forgot about it for a bit, and then I was messing around on the computer on Sunday and searched for kids bathrooms. There it was, on the top line.
I followed the image to the website, and discovered that there is no credit for the image anywhere on that site. I’m not going to link up to the site because I don’t want to send any traffic that way. But after looking around for a bit I noticed that they have frequent posts with images from various non-sourced sources. They are getting enough traffic to put the image at the top of the Google search, but nowhere on the site is the professional photographer – Alise O’Brien – nor the publisher of the photographs and article – This Old House – nor the owners / designers / builders – US – referenced or credited.
It’s interesting to read down through the comments on this particular site because they all have the same theme. They sound like this: “Could you provide links to the actual websites?” “Could you give me the source for this particular item?”
If you don’t credit the source, or link to the original website (or artist, or publisher, or photographer) then it’s just a pretty picture. It’s not helpful, it’s just eye candy. And it’s just not cool (others may call it stealing).
I feel bad for that Christina – I want to tell her where the sink came from – how it was one of two original kitchen sinks in our house from the days when our home was a two-family flat. She might like hearing about how heavy it was – what a bear it was to get off the wall. How the matching one still sits in our backyard thirteen years later because we might clean up well for the blog but we’re still a little trashy in the back. Who knows – maybe Christina lives nearby and we’d strike up a conversation and she’d beg me to sell her that old cast iron beauty and our kids would meet when we hauled the thing over in our pickup truck, and they’d be fast friends for life.
This kind of explains my love / hate relationship with Pinterest. I do like the fact that the images pinned have an automatic link built into them from the source. That’s just not always the original source, so you have to trust that someone’s pinned image is either their own image, or they’ve sourced and linked to the original owner of the image. And it’s still this big collection of very vaguely referenced images.
Scrolling down through the Google images, I found the girls’ bathroom over and over again – and mostly shown on websites with no links back to any of the aforementioned people that deserve credit. My advice? If you are looking around on the web and you stumble onto a site like that – one that posts pretty pictures that drive up traffic to the site but fail to provide any references to the origin of the image – then move on. Because what good is the inspiration if you can’t dig deeper or ask questions?