Permission for Carnivals?

So, Charles over at Rigorous Trivialities recently put up a post begging for submissions to the latest installment of the Carnival of Mathematics, and this prompted Ben and I to wonder:  Why is it customary to request permission to link to posts for the Carnival of Mathematics?  [Edit:  Is it customary?] Is this just standard operating procedure for blog carnivals?

It seems a bit bizarre.  We don’t ask permission to link to posts in any other circumstance.  And it makes it harder to assemble a Carnival.  Obviously, it would be best if people actually submitted their own posts, but I don’t see much sense in not linking to a post because you don’t have explicit permission.  (Ben, I think, didn’t bother to ask anyone for permission when he assembled the SBS-hosted Carnival.)

I suppose some folks might not be comfortable with not having explicit permission.  Maybe we can do something about that in this post.  I, for one, want Carnival hosters to know:  Any post I write is fair game for the Carnival of Mathematics.  If you feel the same way, you might mention it in the comments.

11 thoughts on “Permission for Carnivals?

  1. A related question: why do certain large companies (I wish I could remember which right now) have legalese on their web page that basically amounts to “no linking to our page”? And is this at all enforceable? It’s the world wide web, not the world wide pile of unrelated documents.

  2. This issue for me was that I had no idea what the etiquette was, so I decided to err on the side of caution. Carnivals seem somewhat more formal than a regular blog post (at least to me) and so I felt a bit more pressure to make sure that everyone was ok with being included. I know that I would not object to people using my stuff in a Carnival, but I didn’t feel comfortable assuming others felt the same.

  3. Charles,

    That’s a sensible move. I’m hoping the culture will adjust so that it becomes unnecessary.

    Although it occurs to me that not requiring permission might make people less likely to submit posts to the Carnival. Which would be bad.

  4. I never ask permission to link, I don’t really know anybody who does. You need permission to republish articles/post. Even posting excerpts is fine, just as long as you link. I usually permit reprints on sites that don’t have any ads. Any site that has an ad can only link or publish an excerpt with a link back.

    Linking to other people’s blogs makes them more relevant to search engines, which is good for them. Technorati standings are largely based upon how many people link to you.

    I’ve never heard of a company not wanting to be linked to, but I doubt that it’s enforceable. Links attract search engines, traffic and other visitors, which is usually what companies want from their websites. However, I don’t doubt that you read that somewhere.

  5. Isabel: welcome to the world of unenforceable legalese. Next door to “you can’t link here” is “keep 100 feet back, not responsible for damage”, when in fact the truck driver (or his company) is responsible for damage, and saying they aren’t doesn’t change a damn thing.

    But a reader might think it does!

  6. Yeah, I feel the same way — a carnival host should feel free to use anything I write. In fact, it would make the act of hosting more meaningful and creative: a host picks something he (or she) finds interesting, which may be different from what a blog author might suggest.

  7. Like everyone else, I am glad to have any carnival, or any blog, link to anything I post on the Secret Blogging Seminar. I’d be glad to see carnival hosts seek out links on their own, although probably most hosts wouldn’t have time to do this.

  8. have legalese on their web page that basically amounts to “no linking to our page”

    Perhaps I should start reading the small print, because I use my blog as a “live bookmark” at times, and never think twice (or ask permission!) before linking. Linking is like recommending a book to someone… or is that not allowed as well?

  9. Grizzled carneys should feel free to link to everything I write. One thing I’ve found is that (for reasons that should have been obvious to me in advance) it is polite to ask people permission to link to music files on their site, since you’re free-riding on their bandwidth by not downloading and hosting the file yourself.

  10. I once had a post included in the Carnival of Philosophy that I hadn’t submitted. It felt a little odd, because I hadn’t even looked at the carnival that time until I looked at my referrer records. So it certainly seems plausible that one ought to tell people if their post has been included, rather than let them be surprised when they either get the hits, or look at the Carnival themselves and see their post mentioned. And once you’re going to tell people in advance, you might as well ask them if it’s ok – they’re probably not going to say no.

    I think the difference between a link from a carnival and a regular link is that a carnival generally has much more traffic than an ordinary link from the blog in question, and also often includes a summary of the idea of the post. But this summary isn’t normally as accurate as the description in a regular link, because the carnival host is linking so many things that they can’t really be expected to have read all of them carefully.

    But these don’t seem to be very strong reasons telling in favor of asking permission, or even notifying the author before inclusion. I think the bigger reason to ask for submissions is the same as the reason the carnival exists – it’s a way for people who haven’t read a blog to find some interesting posts from it, and the carnival host is generally no more likely than any other person to have read all the dozens of blogs that might have something worth linking.

  11. I don’t think there is any such custom. Back when I hosted the Carnival, no one suggested to me that I couldn’t link to things that were formally submitted. Things that are formally submitted deserve special attention because someone took the trouble to bring them to your attention, but I think you’re free to find posts on your own.

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