Thursday, February 28

Using Pinterest Responsibly

AKA: Wheaton's Law of Don't Be a Dick.

Ever click on a pin, just to find the link goes nowhere useful?  It’s super-annoying, right?

That happens when the previous user didn’t click the link to see if actually went anywhere before re-pinning it to his or her own board.  It’s extremely frustrating, especially if you want to learn more about the image or project or product that was pinned. 

If you’re as addicted as I am to Pinterest, you’ve surely added their “Pin It!” widget to your browser.  Then whenever you see something awesome, you can just click the button and save it to your Pinterest boards.  However, make sure you’re not part of the problem!  Be sure the site you’re on is the permanent link to that image before clicking “Pin It!”

Here are a few examples of terrible pinning, and their solutions.

BAD: the homepage of a blog, such as
Any site, especially if it’s a blog, is going to change as new posts are added.  A year from now (and people will be seeing it a year from now and beyond – this pin is over a year and a half old), that image you loved could be buried under a 300 new posts.  That makes it harder for you AND other pinners to find it.

GOOD: the exact post in which the image is included, such as
When pinning an image for the first time, take the extra two seconds to click on the title of the post so you get an address similar to the one here, and then pin from there.  This takes you directly to the image you were inspired by, and makes it easy to find in the future. 

Pinning from here is even worse than the homepage of a blog. No one else who is not logged into your profile will ever, ever be able to see where the fuck you were when you pinned the image. No one. And you’ll never be able to find it again, either, so you’re only screwing yourself.  Think this is too obvious to even deserve a mention? I cannot count the number of times I’ve clicked on a Pinterest link only to be directed to my own profile’s dashboard. DO NOT DO IT.

GOOD: Anything else resembling a website that is not your own reading profile. Please, please for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, just click on the title of the post before you pin it. It’s that easy.

BAD: a link that sends you to another pin instead of the image, or any link with “” in it, like
This gives you no information about the image. None. Plus, it won’t load when you try to click on it. How does this even happen? Do people use the “Pin It!” button FROM Pinterest instead of just re-pinning? WhatisthisIdon’teven.

GOOD: Just re-pinning the (properly sourced to the original location) image.

BAD: a link to an image’s static page – like -- or pretty much anything ending in .jpg.
 This is the page you’re taken to if you click on an image in a blog post to make it bigger.  You’ll never be able to find the original source with only that link to guide you, and it’s a huge pain in the ass for everyone else who comes after you.

GOOD: The permalink to the original post.
Of course you want to see the largest image possible if you like it. But click the “back” button before you pin it, because the link of just the image gives you ZERO information to help you find the blog from which it came.  

BAD NOT GREAT: an Etsy shop’s homepage, like
I saw this recently, where an item I like was pinned from a shop called Wonderland Room.  However, Wonderland Room has 33 pages (at the time of this writing) of items in the shop. I appreciate that the original pinner wanted to spread the joy of Wonderland Room’s items for sale, but I am highly unlikely to scroll through 33 pages of items to find the one that was pinned. 

This is the item that was on Pinterest that I liked. If the original pinner had linked here, she would have been able to pin a larger image of the item for sale, and it would take her directly to this item in the future. If the shop sells this listing, Etsy tells you that and suggests other items in the shop that are identical or similar to the sold item.  Plus this way, you’ll be able to click on her shop icon to see her whole line of products in an instant.  I've also found users pin the item from the item's page, but use the description to link to the shop's main page.  I think this is a good solution, too, and am going to be doing it from now on.


Here are some ways to be a responsible Pinterest user who gives credit where credit is due.
  • Click the image to visit the link before you re-pin it. Make sure the link goes to a website that actually features the image you clicked on. Then, make sure that image originated on that website. If that website has a link attributing their source of the image, click on that too, and repeat the process. Make sure any future re-pinners of this image will be able to find its original source by editing your pin’s link to direct them to the original location of the image. If the link is no good and does not link properly to an original source for the picture, the easiest thing to do is to simply not re-pin the image. Do not continue to perpetuate the problem.
  • If you love the image for some reason, and want to do the harder thing, go find the image’s original source. Sometimes a Google image search (“green floral wallpaper bathtub vogue,” for this one, based on the item pictured and the watermark) will pull it right up. Then you can click all the instances of it in the search results until you find it on its original website.
  • Often the front page of a blog is the landing site from the Pinterest link. If that website has a search function, use it, and your work might be very simple. If the website doesn’t have a search function, you can Google it by specifying you only want the search engine to look for certain words on one particular website. For instance, if I want to search for the word “mail” in my own blog, I’d Google: “mail” (without the quotation marks). Replace the page after “site:” with whatever page you’re searching. Then use due diligence to make sure that page is the original source, as specified above.
  • My last resort option if I can’t find the image on the web, but I want to be able to refer back to it for a project, is to “like” the image. Then it’s stored in my profile, but not added to the feed of every person who follows me.
  • If you find one person in particular is consistently lax about sourcing their images, it’s usually less disappointing to stop following their boards rather than getting frustrated each time you can’t find a source. Don’t reward irresponsible behavior!
  • Sometimes you won’t be able to find the proper source for an image. It’s frustrating, but not as frustrating as it must be to be the original owner of the image who is receiving no credit or website traffic for their work.
I can't promise I'll never make a mistake in pinning properly,
but I can promise I'm trying a lot harder than most.


The Missive Maven said...


PostMuse said...

Amen is right! Nothing turns me more passive aggressive than an incorrectly pinned Pin. I will repin, find the correct source, edit the link, then make the first words of my "description" "LEARN TO PIN .... I had to find the correct source for this XYZ and I have corrected the link"

Did you know that you can download an image, change the filename to something descriptive, then upload that image to Google Images for searching the exact image? It doesn't always find what I want, but I've had significant success. When you are on the Image search page, click the camera in the search box.