This is one of those ideas that came to me as I was watering my garden.

Endorsements are a possible positive feature of a credential/badge- it makes sense to add some validity to such a thing if a credible, trusted entity gives your microskill a thumbs up. There is an Endorsement Working group in the Open Badge Alliance:

The Endorsement Working Group is developing the conceptual and practical framework for the endorsement of open badges. Endorsement is a game changer for how badges are used, understood, and trusted, because it allows third-party organizations to publicly indicate which badges are aligned with their values—those that are the most meaningful and useful to them. It adds a new metadata component to the open badges standard and defines the structure for rich, well-defined endorsement information and criteria such as alignment with standards, uses for the badge in the context of the endorsing organization, description of evidence of learning and assessment techniques the organization values, etc.

as well as a fair bit of specs and some persona examples in the group’s working draft.

This does mean some tracking of who/what organization made the endorsement, as meta data. It’s not clear if there will be something that connects the endorser to a specific endorsee.

If you talk to someone about digital Endorsements, I bet their first response will be a sneer will be about LinkedIn Endorsements.

The fact that anyone can endorse anyone they are linked to for anything, makes them as cheap as likes. I did previously suggest that Endorse is the New Like, which led to getting a very framable endorsement from Tara Calashain:

And before I nuked my LInkedIn account, I was proud of that okra folding endorsement

okra folding endorsement

I was amused to find an entire tumblr devoted to Endorsement Bombing.

Guffaws aside, everyone can see through the problems with such things. There’s nothing to really weigh who is endorsing or why or that it has any connection to anything in the world. It’s a button you click, and LinkedIn is always shoving questions in your face (this is my own mocking remix):

So if everyone shrugs them off as meaningless/silly, why are people even doing it? Or is this the idea (I will come back to this later) that if you add up a large amount of tiny inconsequential micro-things, that they will add up to something larger?

But here is an interesting angle (the thing that came to my while holding a hose over thirsty plants) with the Creative Commons credential project I am working on. In my mind, an important part of getting said credential is, for me to get one, I ought have in the public space, some examples of how I apply Creative Commons principles and licenses in the work I do.

Lets say I use, say a creative commons licensed photo by Tom Haymes (an amazing photographer from Houston, Hi Tom) in a presentation or a blog post

Road to Olympus
flickr photo shared by Tom Haymes under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Or maybe I create a video (I actually did) using some creative commons licensed music, maybe it is a track from ccmixter like Dubstep Beat 150 by Forkboy.

There is then subtle, but more than just button click relationship between me and Tom, or between me and Forkboy. I would suggest that their endorsement of my use of their creative commons licensed works has a bit more weight– because they have a stake in it. It’s their stuff being reused.

I have no idea how such a thing would work, but an endorsement of creative commons application by a rights owner does seem like an interesting element to ponder.

And while I am at it, there are a lot of things I love about finding tracks in ccMixter– they are all creative commons licensed, and the site provides a nice copy/paste attribution string. But they also provide a way for you to tell the creator when you have used the track or seen it used in another work.

"Acoustic 12 bar rhythm in Am" ccmixter track by "Admiral Bob"
“Acoustic 12 bar rhythm in Am” ccmixter track by “Admiral Bob”

I usually include a credits link in my blog post; I used this track in a video I made about sunflower seeds, but this was one where I also remembered to provide a link to my work back to the author.

So, does this idea have any relevance? I don’t know, I am just thinking about it. Still, the relationship in this creative commons context has a bit more weight that LinkedIn clicks.

Would you have a steak (or a stake) (or a lobster) in giving an endorsement? What would be in it for an endorser to even bother?

Top / Featured Image: My image search started in Google for ones licensed to reuse on both “endorsements” and “endorse” — mostly I got ones related to politicians. Yuck. However, this image, from a YouTube video, worked well for the strength if the endorsement “highly” and that it involved lobsters.

The image is a screen capture from a creative commons license YouTube video by Buddy Huggins I Highly Endorse LEON’S LOBSTER HUT, Food Review TripAdvisor

The post "Having a Stake (or a lobster) in Endorsements" was originally yanked out of the teeth of a rabid chicken at CogDogBlog ( on March 22, 2016.


  • Kirsten

    On first read, I love this idea. What could be better than hearing that the person whose work you used loves it? Then I thought about it. I’m trying to decide if I think people who post their content under Creative Commons are more likely to be open about what happens to it, or if there could be some troubling conflicts of intent, purpose, or ideology. I think mostly those who are into open sharing would be happy about others using their work and doing fun things to it. It is, however, the internet and I wonder if intentionally using Creative Commons material in offensive ways would become yet another avenue for trolling? Do I have to like it to endorse it?Am I endorsing everything made with my work? Only the stuff I agree with? Only things that took real skill? It definitely raises interesting questions for me. But I do like the tracing back the lineage of something involved, seeing the path it may have taken, and knowing that the originator of content has seen what happened to it.

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog

      Thanks for those questions Kirsten. In the past when people wrote me asking for permission to use my CC licensed flickr photos, I would try to “educate” them about the licenses and that it meant they did not have to ask me. Then one person replied, “I know that. I just thought you might want to know.”

      That’s when I realized that getting those request were a way of knowing my work was reused that would not have happened otherwise.

      I don’t see this as being automated or even wide scale. I do not see endorsing as being even common place. It’s more like if I am seeking some certification in CC, I produce works that publicly demonstrate my use and attribution. I might contact the site I got it from, and ask them to maybe click a link, or just a simply survey. It’s not as much a question of evaluating the artistic judgement of the way your work being reused, more that if you, as an owner of the content, see the attribution, and about how it fits into the ethos of reuse. I’d like to think that they would be more flattered than anything.

      But it’s just conjecture here.

  • Mark Wilson

    Another step towards web 2.0? I like the civility of the requests, if it doesn’t involve too much of one’s time. We’ll never have an endorsement like this one!

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