Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cleaning Up Pinterest: Theory Into Practice



I've been pretty vocal about my frustrations with Pinterest on Twitter.  Every time I come across an image that's improperly sourced, especially when it's been pinned by a big blogger, I gnash my teeth.  But I've been a hypocrite for months now because, although I've been incredibly conscientious ever since the issue was brought to my attention about six months ago, my boards totally lacked integrity because of my old pins.  I knew I had to do something - something drastic.  After all, there's no point in cleaning up sloppily!

Back in November, I started trying to clean up the images on my blog. I've been blogging since April 2010, though I didn't even begin to know what I was doing until late 2011. Those early posts are embarassing, but I don't want to delete most of them because I think it's important for me to own my learning curve. We all were newbies once - no one simply appeared online in perfect form, despite what a lot of blogs want you to think!  However, I do want to make sure that all the images on the posts from those first years are properly credited. It's a long slog, but I'm about halfway done now. I was able to find the original sources for some, which I corrected; for those that eluded me, I updated the posts with new and properly sourced images. (A few have been deleted, but I did try to keep it to a minimum because I really want to be honest about my blogging journey, and others are in DRAFT purgatory while I figure out how to fix them.)

I've always been more ambivalent about Pinterest and the dimension it contributes to my online persona - though that's a whole post in and of itself - so I knew that I wouldn't be able to halfheartedly clean up my pins. I had to be okay with my boards being corrupt, I had to delete my account entirely and never pin again, or I had to start fresh. Obviously, I decided on the last option. So, over 48 hours last weekend, I clicked on every single one of the nearly 900 pins I'd posted since I joined Pinterest. If it went back to the original source or it was easy to find the original source, I bookmarked it in a specially-made folder in my browser. ("Easy to find" had to involve only one or two more clicks, and I didn't use the bookmarklet to help me.)  If it didn't, or even if it did but I decided that I didn't actually need to keep it, I simply clicked out. Once I'd gone through an entire board, I deleted it. Yes, that's right; I deleted the whole board. And I did this for every single board. As of last Sunday night, there was only one pin live in my account.

I edited myself down to about 100 images/websites in that bookmarked folder and yesterday I properly pinned almost all of them to my account. (When I revisited some of the images, I decided that they weren't that important to me after all and I just ignored them.)  Yes, I was guilty of some Pinterest sins (for instance, I flooded my followers' feeds for 12 hours and I wasn't able to acknowledge the pinners who led me to the images in the first place) but I'm afraid that it was the only way to begin again and to move forward from this point with integrity.

Now I'm back up and running on Pinterest, and you know what?  Writing this post has encouraged me to think about how and why I use the site in the first place.  It'll probably be easier to stay on track from here on out if I have a strategy in place... check back in a few weeks to see what I come up with!

If you want some resources that can help you with the theory behind the practice I just described, try these:

Have you cleaned up your pins?  If you have any further advice or if you know of any other good resources, please do share!  And happy Sunday, dear readers.

30 comments:

  1. I love this! Amazing work Betsy. I always make sure my images on my blog are properly sourced and it annoys me SO MUCH when other bloggers don't. Especially bigger bloggers and especially when they say "found via google images" or something similar. Not good enough!


    I definitely feel guilty about my Pinterest boards now. Need to clean them up!

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  2. Great post! I'm in the process of going through all of my pins to check sources and get them organized better. It's a long process, but it's necessary. I cannot stand when a pin isn't properly sourced, especially when bigger bloggers do it. You think they'd know better. Thanks for linking to my post!

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  3. I know. "via Pinterest" or "via tumblr" is just lip service - almost worse than not crediting anything at all because it means that you know you should but are half-assing it!

    cleaning up old pins is a BIG project. you'll get to it!

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  4. I've been working my way slowly but surely through all of my Pinterest boards - it's such a frustrating task! and it irritates me how many images have pinned that link to nowhere - as well as the sheer volume of images for which I can find nothing resembling a source. where are they all coming from??!?! 'cause it's certainly not Tumblr. I installed a plug-in for Chrome that brings up a search function on each pin (similar to the repin and like buttons), so I can just click that to search for the images, which kind of makes things less tedious. I've been definitely been deleting a lot of things! I also set up a secret board which I've just labeled no source - it's where I dump the pins that I can't source yet but that I still want to hang onto for whatever reason. I made it secret so that people can't repin unsourced images from me! some semblance of peace of mind.


    through this process I've also developed the practice of just "liking" pins that I would like to re-pin, so that I can go back later when I have more time to check and see where they link.

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  5. oh that's a brilliant use for a secret board! I'm going to copy you :) and I hadn't been "liking" pins at all before, but I think it's definitely going to have to apear in whatever strategy I come up with. we can clean up Pinterest one account at a time!

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  6. This reminds me of how badly I need to do the same. Thinking about all of the time involved, I'm dreading cleaning up my pin boards. I have tried to be conscious of it with new pins.

    Sometimes I have no idea how to find the original source though. Even using the bookmarlet, there are times that only leads to a million other users pin boards or tumblr pages. That drives me crazy!

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  7. this is so great! Is it weird that I'll be pinning this post?
    I really really need to go through all my pins as well, I ust need to find the time

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  8. I actually don't really use Pinterest that much to be honest! I know, crazy, right? I normally don't pin things, I just use it to search for things and don't save them.

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  9. I (for some reason; I'm not normally so saintly :P) have always checked that a pin works before I pin it, and I'm fairly certain I've resisted any Google images, Tumblr, or random Flickr pins. But mostly because the photography theft (that's what it is, really) rampant on those really gets at me. And I'm not going to pin a recipe if the recipe's not there... But I've tried to become more conscientious about labeling my pins properly. Instead of "Oh, this would be a great idea!" I'll label it with "Betsy Transatlantically: Advice for Ethical Pinning". I just think it's a whole lot nicer when the source's name or identification is in the comment. And while I do use Pinterest, it's not a vortex for me, it's a way to bookmark and sort things I want to access; so I want to have usable, clearly labeled pins. But I feel like I should go back and check all my pins... good grief I just looked and I have 945. That might take a while.

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  10. You're a genius on the secret board thing. So smart.

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  11. you know, that's what I've been doing for the past few months because I felt like I was on the fence about Pinterest! but now I'm enjoying pinning with a clean conscience :)

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  12. it DID take a lot of time. I literally spent two who afternoons on it. (and when I couldn't find the original source, even if I loved the image, I gave it up for lost.) but it was SO worth it fo the peace of mind!

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  13. psh you have integrity! but I had used you as a thesaurus while I was writing this... I like "ethical" too :) good luck... haha

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  14. This is something I really need to do. Since I'm not completely attached to any boards I've made, I'm considering deleting my account and starting over. It may take a lot of time to go through all of my pins. Cheers to you for verifying everything. It's important to give credit where credit is due.

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  15. I've already told you this, but I thought I'd leave the comment here as well in case it helps anyone else. As I've been cleaning up my own Pinterest, I've found the iPad app to be the easiest way to do it (though honestly, there is no truly easy way to do it other than starting completely fresh). I still have to use my computer to source improperly credited pins, but it has made the process of deleting out the ones I don't want anymore a lot faster.


    There is one cool thing I've found sorting through my pins though — for a lot of the earlier ones that had crappy photos/graphics, the blogger has since updated the post with better photos, so some of the pins I really wanted to keep are now better quality since I took the time to check that they were properly linked.

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  16. I've had pretty good Pinterest habits for the last 6 months or so, but I have yet to really fix the mess that I made when I first got my account. Your post is inspiring me! I forget that people sometimes delve into old pins because I almost always use Pinterest for pinning things I find or repinning what pops up in my feed. I won't be starting fresh, but I've deleted some bad pins already, but I have a long way to go... thanks for linking to my post!

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  17. it really would be easiest just to delete and start over! I was shocked that I didn't end up keeping even 1% of all of my pins - and that I wasn't upset about it.

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  18. YES thank you for repeating here! and thank you for letting me use our emails as the guinea pig for this post :)

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  19. your post was a huge help! I love your blogkeeping series :)

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  20. Good post! I try to be good about actually clicking through to sources before I repin things (it's a good policy in things like recipes, if just to see whether I'll actually make something, based on the ingredients and time commitment!), and I usually dig through to the original source if needed before repinning. The majority of mine are things I've pinned from the original source when I'm reading blogs/web surfing though, so I think my boards are decent in this respect. The kind of cleaning I make sure to work on occasionally is to clean out the # of pins on each board to cut through the clutter - have to make sure they actually fit me and my style and my goals, because if there are too many to look through, it's impossible to be inspired as intended!

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  21. Ohh the scary place that is early blog posts... I'm too afraid to go there which helps resist the urge to delete at least the first few months of posts for me! I'm pretty careful when in comes to pinning now, and I regularly delete old pins that don't mean anything to me anymore, but one of these days I really would like to sit down and clean up some of the ones that just lead down the black hole. Great motivation!

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  22. sometimes I have my moments :)

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  23. I've tried to be pretty conscious of this on my blog all along, partially because my other-half works in advertising and is very conscious of Creative-Commons. I source a lot of photos from CC on Flickr, but always link back to their Flickr page. I can't say I have been as consistent on Pintrest, but I'm pretty new to that game, so since reading this blog post, I went and cleaned/ditched a few early offenders I quickly spotted. I doubt I'll go back and make a project out of cleaning up old pins/posts, but I definitely plan to make more of an effort now!

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  24. ROCK ON :) and thank you so much for sharing my link, pretty lady! This is SO important! xoxo {av}

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  25. haha yes it is a scary place! it is also an emotional trip down memory lane, though, so that's something :)

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  26. YES one of the best side-effects of the whole project was thinning out my boards - I definitely didn't need most of the images I pinned even if they were all sourced properly!

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  27. yay good :) I can't even imagine how frustrating it must be for designers/illustrators/photographers/etc not to be getting credit for their work...

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