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Pinterest – It’s what you make of it

By comparison, yesterday’s rambling post was very much on point. Yes, I discussed how I came to be on Pinterest, but the main point was an idea I hope others will like enough that they want to add their voices. Don’t expect a coherent theme in today’s post because it’s much more random. This post covers thoughts I’ve had since, observations, and topics from conversations I’ve had as a result.

First off the roster is a follow-up suggestion by Ami, a friend who has been on Pinterest much longer than I have.

This is something that bothers me, too–if I post/pin something that is my own work (scrapbooking, photography, whatever), I can initially caption it with my information, or pin it directly from a link of my choosing, but after so many repins (if I should be so lucky, lol), that info can definitely get lost. I hope they get this solved soon–surely it has been brought to their attention by others and it’s probably among improvements they are planning, but it would be nice to know if that’s true.

This is a bit ancillary to my request that content creators be allowed to claim their work via links to the site of their choice rather than removing their works outright, but it’s the same stream of thought that more should be done to credit the appropriate people. That’s certainly Pinterest’s expressed wish if you read item 2 in their etiquette guide.

Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source. If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search or a blog entry.

The thing is, as Ami observes, the only field when pinning an item is a comment field. To me this sounds simple, provide a credit field that carries forward with each pin. However, I have an issue with that last part about blog entries. Sometimes the blog entries are the blogs of the content creator. That’s much different than finding a random entry in a Tumblr blog or someone indiscriminately sharing 100 pictures they ‘found’ online that day in their blog. I’m sure the latter is what they mean at any rate. Anyway, if you’re using the suggestions box linked to in yesterday’s post I’d suggest you consider adding in Ami’s suggestion as well. It’s all ultimately about crediting the right people for their work.

Another question that came up was the value of Pinterest. As I have heard often, I have to say any of these communities online are what you make of them. Or harkening back to my days in programming classes many moons ago, garbage in, garbage out. Post interesting content, re-share, comment, or like the items others are sharing, and generally don’t try to game the system for your own benefit and I think you’ll be doing well. In fact, one of the items in the earlier mentioned etiquette guide is not to use Pinterest purely for self promotion.  One would think that goes without saying, but maybe not!

And yes, as with all sites, actually enjoying it plays a huge part. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find I get far more enjoyment and ‘return’  for my time doing things I enjoy. There’s no rule that one must have a presence on every social site that comes along after all! Try it and if it doesn’t grab you after a solid attempt, maybe it’s time to concentrate  your efforts elsewhere.

That said, trying it is necessary to making an informed opinion. In the past two days I’ve read some pretty sexist opinions on the matter. Here’s a handful of comments I collected from online forums in regards to Pinterest:

“…pinterest… let me figger you out… I’m getting in touch with my woman-side…”

“I don’t see the craze – and from what I gather, it seems to be a hit with the crafty, home-y, female genre more than anything.”

“I didn’t realize straight men were allowed on the site.”

I have to say at that the Sociologist in me was intrigued (my research project in college was the role of gender in an online environment). Yet while my interest in those reactions was piqued, I couldn’t imagine saying those things in private never mind a public forum. Way to go guys belittling a community because a good portion of the people active within it happen to lack a Y chromosome. The obvious implication is that because women are there in large numbers, it can’t warrant much attention.

While that theme bothered me and it was played out many more times, there were a couple of other interesting comments like:

“Pinterest is great if you know how to follow the right boards. If you just follow all your friends, you’ll find that all you see is their junk.”

That’s a theme that I find mentioned in regards to many communities. Surely I can’t be the only one with friends who share cool things, can I?! Yes, diversity is nice. I did say yesterday I loved that I could look at both what my friends are sharing and what the larger community is sharing. But it’s actually because my friends hit a lull and aren’t sharing anything new, not because I followed them out of pity and cringe when I see what they post! Wow!

“I find it a little boring, don’t visit it that much because it’s a lot of people liking and repinning everyone elses things. Where’s the originality?”

This general theme came up more than once, i.e. that there’s nothing new about Pinterest. And I have to say oh contraire! First, it’s explicitly a visual medium. You can share images and videos, but try to share a page of text and Pinterest will tell you it can’t find anything to share there. This again, is why I feel like people who are into the visual arts and design should give the site a try! Second, is the categories. You create your own boards and you add content into them that fits the theme you set. Check out any other social site, you share links to pages and content you find online and in the end of the day, no one will likely ever stumble across them again. They become just another of a million links you’ve shared with no categories, no way to really uncover them again. And your friends and others can be picky choosy about which boards they follow. Maybe you have a board devoted to wedding planning and another of decorating ideas. I don’t have to follow them both – I can pick the channel that interests me personally. This actually harkens back to a thought I had last year about being able to pick and choose the content we read from friends and others on networks. Excellent!

Beyond that, the call for originality – if you find the things your friends are sharing stale, be the one that livens it up. Discover new things. Why are you relying on everyone else to find interesting things for you?

Okay, I think that does it for me on the Pinterest topic, but you never know. What are your thoughts? Keep the conversation alive!

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