In some ways this is part two of the “walking the tools” rant. I still see a rather low awareness of the power of making use of creative commons licensed content ad I put out the call to fellow edubloggers to be more vigilant on demonstrating the use of CC content…. and being a model of providing overt attribution. It is such a pay-it forward thing that, to me, is not yet over the hump of critical mass.

So first a story. This comes on the heels of some blog post/comment exchanges with Beth and a decision to make by CC licensing simpler and more clear by jumping to the “By” Attribution. So far, it’s been a month, and I have yet to be exploited by a Big Company.

This started when Tim Lauer noted a photo of my satellite internet dish was used in a post over at infinite thinking. Hey, that is cool! I say, feeling my ego bone tickled. But while my picture is there (and techinically is linked by hyperlink back to the original), it does not seem like a clear attribution. I posted a comment, not trying to growl and bark.

Since I started plundering the flickr creative commons cc licensed images 2+ years ago for presentations, etc, I make it a point to provide a textual attribution, with link to the original. Giving this attribution a link (what I call, and hardly anyone else does, a Linktribution) is not only in the spiriting of spreading the love via attribution, it should make it easer for someone to locate where their images are used, it says more clearly, that “This is how this groovy notion of creative commons work– I get to use this cool image, and Mary is even cooler for letting me use it”.

That said, Mark has replied via comment [1] [2] , and very apologetic as well.

The point is not that I crave the ego puffing, and would have had just as happy as a week if I never knew about the image. I do not seek obtuse credit, but I am more interested in ed tech leaders in modeling strong attribution messages.

That said, the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license reads:

Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

But flickr is the one who specifies the manner specified; there is no option for me to request a textual credit– so this means that when Mark followed the options listed on the image download page, that is sufficient to satisfy the CC license. He did the right thing. But it is really hard to catch from just a hyperlink that an image is attributed, and in print form, the attribution is gone.

But that is really a a bare minimum, and I think 2007 should be the year we really light a fire on the culture of content use, re-use, and do so by being more than “sufficient” in providing attribution. Join the Linktribution bandwagon, and give credit by text link where you blog, comment, hang web content.

So give credit, overt credit, where credit is due. It will surely boomerang around to you in the sphere of good karma.

The post "Linktributing Images" was originally slapped on the butt by a cigar smoking doctor yelling "It's a post!" at CogDogBlog ( on January 2, 2007.


  • The Linktribution bandwagon is a good one to be on. Thanks for the reminder.

  • DArcy Norman

    On a lark, I just queried Technorati to see who’s linking to my Flickr stream. Holy crap! A lot more people are using my photos than I would have guessed. And from a quick look, about 90% aren’t providing attribution. One attributed a photo to “Flickr”.

    Whatever. I don’t think they’re trying to steal the images, so I’m actually OK with that.

  • Wow, score one! Finally pegged a higher score than DArcy a.k.a. D;Arcy —

    though 90% of them are from right here.

    But I have not been clear– I do not seek the credit (a little feels good, but I can die happy with none) or worry about theft concerns, but that an insufficient number of people are linktributing as examples (not you of course). We must model the change we hope for others.

  • DArcy Norman

    Cogdog rules the roost!

    I gathered that you weren’t looking for credit, just yearning for people to honour (or at least be aware of) the spirit of the CC Attribution license.

    Is a transparent link to the Flickr page enough? Is a “Photo by: [insert photographer name here]” enough? Like you say, it’s unclear. There should be a clearer “If you use an image with CC:by, here’s what you do…” from an official source like and/or

  • Precisely the point. The C deed says attribution on the manner specified by owner or licensor. So if I out a gallery on own web site, I can put own statement like, “The images are licnensed Creative Commons By Attribution– you are free and welcome to use them as long as you provide a link here and credit to Alan Levine”

    But flickr offers no such tool to place an attribution method. In fact, they insert their own on the All Sizes page, which says that the link is sufficient.

    I doubt I will have any influence n flickr changing their interface; what I’d like/”yearn” is for my colleagues to do more than minimum in attribution.

    Oh well, there are bigger things to bark at.

  • DArcy Norman

    D’Arcy’s First Law: People are lazy. Given the choice, assume that people will usually do the minimum, or less.

  • After finally learning how to spell it, I’m trying to put it into practice. What happens to me is that I get sloppy or in a rush – and it is an extra step.

    BTW, thanks for the great B-day Card.

    I thought you might also be interested in this tag analysis tool that someone cooked up ..

  • Allan,

    Another thought here …about this … I’ve cooked up another presentation for a conference I’m heading out to in UK on demystifying the web.2.0s … in the powerpoint, I meticuloulsly added the user urls – but they aren’t linked .. and I put the presentation in slide share and it cut off some of the linktrition.

    Also, how do you search to figure out if someone has used your photos?


  • Finding use of your photos is a bit of a shell game- D’Arcy’s suggestion above uses Technorati on the URL to your flickr photos, e.g.

    and you might get some via a google like below, using the same fragment, and filtering our links from your own sites and flickr itself:

    try it