Why you should always give credit where it's due

The collective term for a group of badgers is a cete. I only know this because I looked it up on the internet. Who put that information online? I have no idea. But when I want to know something, I can access most of the world’s knowledge with just a few clicks.

As a maker, this has helped me enormously. Not the badger information in particular, but things like the pinout of chips, which oil is best to use on green oak, or how to lay out the frets on a cigar box guitar.
When it’s just minor facts, I often just use the information, without giving a second thought to who actually put it there. But somebody out there kindly took the time and effort to contribute to the internet, and I call these people my superheroes.

I try to give due credit and attribution to those superheroes whose work I use in my projects. But I know I miss many – that one line of code that made everything work, but the source got lost among the open tabs on my web browser, that photo that inspired me, that funny tweet that I shared, without checking the origin. And I also know… I sometimes just forget.

It’s so easy to share things on the web – and an unscientific Twitter poll of my followers suggested that over 70% of them do already. We can all do something. It can be simple, such as answering a question or posting an inspiring photo. With a bit of planning, we can do something more complex, such as a series of how-tos or a beautifully edited film. Each contributes to the global knowledge base and could help unknown people around the world.

When we share online, we can make it easier for others to credit us correctly, while protecting our own rights – such as using Creative Commons or Open Source Licences.We can obviously also ask strangers around the world for financial help by using membership clubs such as Patreon and crowdsourcing, such as Kickstarter.

There are many reasons to post things online. For me it’s the love of sharing, to give back, and as a record. But there’s also that little ego thing too of, “Hey, look what I did!” Or as H. Jackson Brown says in The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book: “Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.”

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