My problem with Pinterest

Added: 2014-08-22 | Edited: 2014-09-05

Block Pinterest

A few years ago I noticed I was getting traffic from a website called "pinterest.com". At first it wasn't much, but as the weeks go by the amount grew. Eventually I decided to check out that site. It seems to be some kind of bookmarking website where users make boards of images they find on the web and share it with other users. That's not so bad I guess. At least I get some traffic from them.

However there are a few things that bothers me. At that time (2010/2011) my blog was still written solely in Norwegian only. I started translating to English around July 2014. Practically everyone who pinned or repinned my images doesn't even speak Norwegian. So what interest do they have in my blog?

Another thing that bothered me is how little control I had over what's being pinned, who repins, number of repins and so on. I get no notification whenever someone pin something from my blog. I get no access to any kind of insight or statistics on what's happening with my content on Pinterest. The fact that everything happens behind my back is disgustingly disturbing.

What bothers me most is the way the users on Pinterest treat the content they're taking. They make nice boards based on other people's images, they share them as if it was their own. It also annoys me to hell and back that those people who pins and repins my images gets the credit for them. They get the hearts and the compliments like "wonderful dress!", "great tutorial" etc just because they "found" my picture on the web. Me as the creator however doesn't hear any of that. It wasn't until I start digging around on Pinterest that I found out about this.

So basically the Pinterest users would gladly compliment the person who pinned the image rather than going to the creators of the work and give them the thanks, even though the link to the origin is attached to every single pin and repins.

For me as a creator that's quite a big deal. I enjoy making stuff and I enjoy sharing them, and I rarely ask for anything in return. But I also like to be appreciated for what I'm doing.
When someone visit my blog they can easily leave a comment if they want to. When someone put my contents on Pinterest that moves all the action elsewhere.

You don't really appreciate someone or what they're doing if you can't be bothered to tell them about it.

You pretty much need to be an artist or a creator yourself in order to understand why that's a problem.
Let me try to explain it with this analogy:
You invite people over to your home and cook a nice meal for them. The food was great and everyone compliments you for it. You and your guests are having a good time.

Now think about this scenario;
You invite people over to your home and cook a nice meal for them. Then one of your guests decided they wanted the party elsewhere. And they're bringing your food with them. So you were sitting alone at home wondering whether people enjoy your cooking or not. Would that be OK with you?
That's more or less what Pinterest is doing to all the creators out there.

While Pinterest generates some traffic to my blog it sends me a group of visitors I'm not too fond of. The vast majority of the visitors I get from Pinterest doesn't stay on my blog. They went only to the one page linked from the pin and then they leave. Which means they clicked on the source of the pin either out of curiosity or were simply mindlessly clicking just because the link is there.

Yes I get traffic from Pinterest, but it's "worthless" traffic which only waste my bandwidth.

What can you do?

Thankfully over the years Pinterest has giving us some ways to control the pinning. Probably because of all the complaints they're getting. The most useful one is a meta-tag site owners can put into their HTML pages to prevent users from pinning contents on Pinterest.

<META name="pinterest" content="nopin">

By adding the above tag in the <HEAD> section of the pages I effectively stop new pins from my blog. However that doesn't do anything to the images already pinned. In order to get those pins removed I had to fill out a form on their website:

http://www.pinterest.com/about/copyright/dmca/

To be safe I also provided exactly the same information given in the WHOIS database for my domain, in case Pinterest want to make a fuzz over mismatched informations with the domain records.

A few hours later I got a reply from them saying they've removed the requested pin, the repins, the parent pins and their repins. Oh, not bad!
I had to check it for myself. Tried a few pins listed as referer in my log files and yes, they're all gone. Great!

Unfortunately it's not quite the end of the story for me yet. The most pinned and repinned image from my site is part of a tutorial I wrote about mitered corner (in Norwegian): Opplegging av hjørner,
namely this image: /opplegging/opplegging-hjorner.jpg

Just within minutes after I got the email from Pinterest a bunch of users were downloading that particular image like crazy. After investigating my log-files it seems like many of the users were fetching that image through their email clients... Which means:

Whenever Pinterest remove pins they email every user who have that pin, informing them about the removal. Apparently they also include the link to the original image, encouraging people to download the image they just removed. And that's exactly what people are doing!

Seriously? What the hell?
A few moments ago I almost gained a little respect for Pinterest for honoring my request. But this? This is just a childish way of Pinterest to "punish" the creators by using their users against us.

In any case this is my website and it's not like I can't do anything about it.
To stop people from mass-downloading the image I simply renamed it and updated my page. Then I got another problem; my error-log got filled up with missing files. Since I like to have my error-log for actual errors I put up a dummy image in place of the old one.

Problem solved!

PS: Just for the record; barely 3% of the said users actually visited my blog after they got notified that the pin has been removed. During that day I had 13500 unique requests more than usual, but the number of actual visits only increased by 400.

Edit:
According to the comments below it seems like Pinterest is providing a link to the image in question so people can see what has been removed. So most people were probably just viewing the image and not saving it. For a site owner it still freaks me out when I suddenly get literally hundreds of requests for the same image from the webserver.

Which again leads me to two questions:

1) They had copies of my images in full size on their servers for years, but when they removed them they couldn't provide small thumbnails to show the users what has been removed? Instead they sent a link to the source, my website, so I have to waste my bandwidth and my server resources in order for Pinterest to inform their users? Pinterest obviously can't do anything without leeching from someone else.

2) Why can't they just quietly remove the pins without emailing hundreds of people about it? They never informed me when they took contents from my site. Why is there a need to inform the users when they remove it?


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Comments

Ashley2014-08-22 18:04:33
I appreciate the explanation. I was one of those re-pinners who got an email, and I was very confused. I agree that Pinterest needs to fix some things. It drives me up a wall that people can pin images without linking to the original source; those images become anonymous and practically untraceable. I've spent many hours doing fruitless searches to try to find the source for pins that have caught my eye, largely because the image itself is rarely useful to me. My Pinterest boards are primarily for products I may want to buy or tutorials I'd like to try, because my old way of saving these was to simply bookmark them in my browser and using Pinterest is just more practical. Thank you for your perspective. I will be even more conscientious about my pinning now. Ashley
Rose Ann2014-08-22 18:09:54
I'm sorry about this whole mess. I don't know which pin you are discussing but I, apparently, was one of the pinners. In my case, I love to pin things or places I admire. That is as far as it goes. I was unaware of your blog. But I must have admired your work. I still don't even know what it is. I have a love for needlepoint and I have been doing it for years. I apologize if I have offended you in some way.
Willy 2014-08-22 18:13:23
Ashley, Thank you for your opinions. While Pinterest itself is not a bad concept, the way it works now mostly benefits Pinterest, then their users and thirdly the creators. I am however considering adding Pin-it buttons to my pages in the future when I figure out what kind of tools and control Pinterest is offering the creators. But at the moment I'm quite busy translating my blog to English.
Willy 2014-08-22 18:16:13
Rose Ann, It's probably the picture from my mitered corner tutorial. Don't worry, it's one of the pages which will be translated to English soon
Agnes2014-08-22 18:29:16
Thank you for your analysis. I have long been frustrated with Pins on Pinterest that do not go straight back to the original source. I hope they find a way to both give feedback and thanks to original bloggers/websites and to keep the identifying information attached to every image. Thank you for going to the trouble to translate to English.
Pam2014-08-22 22:22:43
I appreciate this message! I too had pinned your mitered corner tutorial (probably from another pinner) in the hopes that I would have time to read the tutorial - I can't seem to figure it out myself! I look forward to reading the tutorial once it has been translated to English. I appreciate the time you spend creating your blog. Thank you!
TaffyDeb2014-08-22 22:26:02
I am one of those Pinners- When I get a closed pin notice, I then go to the website/blog and bookmark the object in a file "Not Pinnable Crafts" and then also bookmark the blog main page -- When I have used a Pin to complete a project, I then comment on the original blog -- or if I find a new "fave" blog I look forward to your new English translations!
Romona2014-08-23 03:23:41
I'm also one of those Pinners, and do apologize for causing you this stress. If it helps at all, I don't think anyone pinned it to steal or call it their own, I think we all just appreciated the effort you put into the work. For the most part I think people just really enjoy Pinterest and speaking only for myself, I didn't want to get involved with it to begin with. But then I felt I wasn't giving it a fair chance. Since then I been enjoying setting up my boards and I have some of my own work on my site as well that I am sharing with anyone that wants it. I use Pinterest merely for inspiration and anything I might use for inspiration in the future, I would and always have given credit to the original artist. I think what I will do now, is go back to my main page, and put a note on the profile to thank anyone whose images inspire me. I may not be able to locate the original source but I can add this note in the meantime. Maybe others will do the same. So again, I do apologize along with everyone else for any trouble I caused you with this... Romona
Willy 2014-08-23 11:59:04
Romona, I do believe most Pinterest users pin stuff with good intentions. However what Pinterest is doing is definitely stealing. I didn't say that people claim the images to be their own. I said people are using the images "as if" it was their own.
Romona2014-08-23 18:15:38
Hi Willy, Unfortunately because Pinterest is a free site, that comes a host of problems for people. They probably have all their legalize in place, and they have made it possible for people to add the no pin code to their sites, to cover off their legal issues around people snagging things from sites. One thing some people do to protect their art images, is to put a watermark on each image and/or add their names to each. Other than that and the code, I think that's all you can do. It would take an army of people collectively to force changes to Pintest policies. I can't speak to how people represent their boards and appear to use the images as if they are their own, I can only speak for myself and say that I really enjoy the inspiration that Pinterst gives me in my doll making and have as promised, added a note to my profile regarding giving credit to the original source. I hope you know that there are those of us out here who do respect and appreciate each other. I have tutorials of my own on my boards and am okay with people pinning them to their own boards. I can't worry about the few that have no creativity and feel the need to steal other peoples work as their own. I always think those few will get a visit from Karma some day anyway. )) Take care and have a wonderful weekend. Romona
Carolyn2014-08-23 19:01:07
I, too, am sorry I offended you by pinning something of yours. My only reason for using pinterest is to use it as form of "bookmark". It has been a wonderful way for me to learn, and I only seek to go to the source, not to someone's pinned picture. Thanks for your patience!
Bev2014-08-23 19:41:55
Wow! Not sure what I repinned but I believe this is the first time I have seen that image on the mitred corner and it is pretty amazing! If I am a guilty party, please forgive me. I repin many things I hope to have time to go back and search out the source on day when things "slow down" a bit.
jrachelle2014-08-24 04:14:29
Hi Willy, Thank you for posting this information. I'm a careful pinner and trace back to the original source before placing on my boards, BUT, I never considered the traffic it created for you was, for the most part, worthless. Other than the great information you and others have on their blogs, I thought the traffic was somehow beneficial to you. Now I'm left feeling we, the pinners, and you, the bloggers, have been used by Pinterest but I don't know why, to what means. You've made me step back and take a good look at what's going on here. Thank you for the wake up call.
Marian2014-08-25 18:06:25
Hello Willy, Thank you for your explanation. I too am one of the Pinners of your image. I love Pinterest as it opens me up to so many websites I would of never found on my own. That is how I found your Blog. I use it mainly as an image bookmarking tool. I can never remember were I saw what - I am a visual type person - and Pintrest helps me with being able to organize my "bookmarks' see an image of why I marked the bookmark. Then I can go back to the original site when I want to do/try something. I always, or very close to always, try and have the link to the original page so that someone can click on the image and go to the creator's site. I am not real good at changing the comments to credit the owner. Now I am sorry about that due to your explanation. I will try harder to do that. I was very glad Pintrest sent a link so I could go to the site to see what had gotten deleted. The reason, I could make sure I had your blog bookmarked so I don't lose it. I am not sewing a lot right now, been working on organizing my sewing/craft room. But when I do I will probably be coming to your blog a lot. No I do not speak Norwegian however the browser I use will do automatic translation for me. That way I can enjoy sites that I normally would not be able to. Thank you for your Blog and the time and effort you put into it. I'm sorry I lost my image bookmark to your site, but I do now have a real bookmark so I don't lose the fantastic information you provide. I won't stop using Pintrest as it really helps me remember what I see and like. But I will work very hard at giving credit to the original creator. Kindest Regards, Marian
Willy 2014-08-25 18:32:29
Hello Carolyn, Bev, jrachelle and Marian, Thank you for your input! It seems like people are using Pinterest in good faith and with good intentions. But as a content creator it's been more of an annoyance. Searching the web I found pages after pages with other creators who experience similar dissatisfaction with Pinterest. Reading what you girls are saying I'm considering using Pinterest after all. I just made an account and trying to see what possibilities I have to make use of their website to my advantage. However I'm not too excited about their Terms of Service for business accounts (that is an account for people who publish content). It basically says If you publish anything on Pinterest then we also take your arms and legs. And your soul. So I have to figure a way to make them work for me, and not the other way around. Don't be surprised if you suddenly start seeing pin-buttons on my blog
Kristy Moore2014-08-25 18:37:26
Yeah, so I'm one of those horrible people who repinned something that was sourced off your blog. But since you don't want people to know what it was and changed the image to a stupid little emoji happy face, I have no idea what it was that I had bookmarked to read later. That's what I get for having kids (aka time and energy vampires), I guess! And no, I don't speak Norwegian, but Google Translate is a thing, and I can get the gist of most stuff that way.
Willy 2014-08-25 18:51:50
Kristy, As mentioned in an earlier comment, it's the picture from my mitered corner tutorial. The reason why I changed the picture is not because I didn't want people to see it, but because of the way Pinterest handled the situation. It's explained in my blog article. It may be a little technical, but in short Pinterest choose to link to my original image rather than supplying a small preview image when informing their users. I had 15000 people (13500 the first day + 1500 the following day) loading that particular picture. Luckily the file isn't so large. Still it took quite a big toll of my bandwidth. Image if this was a high-resolution nature photograph? That would totally drain the server bandwidth of the poor photographer who just wish to have their picture removed. The bottom line is that *I* had to pay for that data traffic, and not Pinterest.
Kristy Moore2014-09-01 00:03:27
So, now what are you going to do about all the people pinning from the copies of the images being held at indulgy?
Willy 2014-09-01 01:35:08
Indulgy? Oh a Pinterest-clone? *shrugs* At the moment I'm busy fixing the program running the blog. Then I'll continue translating the remaining posts to English. And then I'll add more contents. By that time I should have figured how to deal with Pinterest. And finally I'll deal with the other Pinterest-lookalikes You're not the only one with time vampires
Mina2014-09-09 12:18:35
Thank you for your explanation. I am one of that pinners, and I did save your picture as soon my pin was deleted by Pinterest. I am sorry if my way of saving pins did bother you in any way. Let me say, first of all, that I respect your position, but I´m afraid I do not agree with you. Let me number just some of my arguments: 1. There is a lot of traffic from Pinterest which is not really interested on your content. They just searched something, found your image, checked your blog, and found it wasn´t exactly what they were looking for. I do it often, and never pin them. I guess you receive traffic from google as well. And it works the same way, let's say I look for finishing hems trying to finish a skirt and I get to you blog. It's about finishing corners so, you can see me at your visit counter, but perhaps it wasn´t what I was looking for. The point is that Pinterest is focused on DIY, arts and images so that it is easier searching through Pinterest than in Google (where you will probably find more commercial products than tutorials). An I dare to say that that is the reason why you are suddenly receiving your visits through Pinterest. And that is not necesarily bad. It is just another search-engine, powered up by the users´selections. 2. There are lots of search-engines, the novelty of Pinterest is that it allows saving your findings on the cloud. It is a good idea so everyone is trying to to the same. - Facebook can do it. But pinners don't like it because it is dificult to organize and to find again your own pins. And you usually miss the sources after 2 or 3 "repins" -Google+ is trying to do it, but it is not as public as Pinterest. Google circles are used more as a social-net than as a search engine. Just wait - And Pinterest clones (!) Not just indulgy, there are hundreds from them. And they use to forget a link to the sources. Some of them are so nasty that they gather all pictures from one blog-post and re-order them in a single column-picture, they lose the trace and you never ever find where did they picked the info from You can not prevent everybody from finding your blog, blocking any search engine. I guess you like sharing your work, otherwise you wouldn´t have a blog. What I do is just marking my images with my blog name. That way I never let the trace be lost. 3. It does not matter what language a blog is written, as long as google-translate exists, you can get the idea. Well, perhaps not if they are written in korean, but it works with any indoeuropean language. Translation may not perfect, but enough to follow directions in other languages. I´ve read your norwegian blog from Spain, it wasn't so dificult. If you receive visits from all over the world, it is just that you have more potential readers 4. You do can find your own work in pinterest. Just type "http://www.pinterest.com/source/willy.foreviget.no/" on your browser. If it is properly directed to your blog, every single pin to your blog is listed. If not, just perform an image search on google, you will find lots of badly redirected pins to your image. I hope you solve your problems with pinterest and pinterest-clones. In the mean while, I will continue following your blog, I really like it and thank you for your work. You will probably not find my visits very often, because I use to follow contents through feeders. But I'll be there Saludos
Willy 2014-09-09 16:08:57
Hi Mina, Thank you for your opinions. I already have an account on Pinterest and am aware of my other pins there. I also added the option to pin my blog posts (but it's turned off at the moment, will turn it on once I'm done translating to English).
Mina2014-09-10 10:16:51
Always wellcome. By the way, I have realized that you blog is not visible through android. As most of the readers are now migrating to cell-phones and tablets, I thought you may want to know it. Vennlig hilsen
Willy 2014-09-10 16:48:18
What do you mean by "not visible through Android"? The mobile version of the blog has been tested on various emulators and actual mobile devices. Did you even tried viewing through your Android device before making that claim?
Caroline2014-09-15 15:05:02
I'm one of those Pinners, and I"m sorry, I apologize but I didn't do it to steal, I just want to express that I appreciate your work. Thanks

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