Fire is an amazing thing. The smallest flame of a candle can bring light to the darkness, but even that small glow left unattended has the potential to become a raging wildfire. Does that mean we should do away with fire? Is it too dangerous for us to risk the smallest spark? Of course not. The benefits of fire far outweigh the danger. When properly handled, it cooks our food, it warms us, it gives us light.
The internet is very much like fire. When used correctly, it can be a valuable tool, a source of information, a means of communication and understanding. But handled improperly it can also quickly spread lies, cause hurt and hardship, and foster hate. This does not mean that we should do away with the internet. It just means that we should all learn to be careful with it. As bloggers, we have a responsibility to look out for the welfare of our fellow bloggers. As homeschooling bloggers, we have an even greater responsibility of teaching our children by our example.
Reading Alasandra's blog yesterday, it was brought to my attention that Deborah Markus, the creator of the Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List, has been having some problems with the rampant distribution of her list. This list was included in the first edition of her new magazine, Secular Homeschooling, and its release was intended to help spread the news about her magazine. It is wonderful that so many people can relate to her work. It is also nice that they want to share it within their homeschooling circle. Many of us share inspirational articles, photos, e-mails and websites every day. But sometimes we forget that these messages and pictures we send did not invent themselves. Behind every article and image there is a living breathing person who first created it. If their work inspired you, made you laugh or cry, and compelled you to share it, the author deserves credit.
As internet usage grows, we need to start considering proper etiquette for this electronic world. Do your best to find the author/artist before you post something that is not your creation. Ask permission before posting. Give proper credit and link to the author's site. Consider how you would feel if your moment of wit and wisdom escaped anonymously into the blogosphere. Isn't it better to enjoy in your candle's glow than to chase the wildfire with a bucket of water?