Category Archives for "Troubleshooting"

Copyright for Images, Video and Copy

I haven’t written much about copyright, so here are a few guidelines I follow to be on the safe side.


I found this bulletin “Alert – Photo and image copyright compliance” in the Churches Together in England newsletter, CTE News July 2014.  Whilst this article addresses churches the main point applies to all organisations with websites.

I always warn my clients about images. For some reason they seem to cause the most trouble.  I suppose most websites feature many images and far fewer videos or audio recordings and so the likelihood of a mistake is higher than for other media.  Also tracking down the owner and asking permission is a hassle particularly if the owner lives on the other side of the world.

However, the dangers are real.  You have three options.

  1. Use your own images.  If you carry a digital camera or a mobile phone you can record useful images as you encounter them.  You can scan images you draw yourself.  If you’re really ambitious learn to use Photoshop or one of the other similar tools.
  2. If you have permission then attribute the image.  I use the title attribute in the html img tag, which means the attribution appears when the reader hovers over the image.  Captions are equally good and the attribution is always visible.  Best practice is to use these if your website features members’ images, for example.  So, it is best to attribute your own images if they feature on an organisation’s site, even if you put them there.  Make it clear the copyright of images belongs to the site unless otherwise stated.  If you use free images, and there are many sites that supply them, follow the instructions about attribution.  Remember many free image sites charge for images used anywhere other than on websites.  Don’t assume you can use an image in any way you like just because it is free to use online.
  3. Get permission to use an image if it isn’t on a free site.  This may be a hassle but occasionally if there is no alternative it might be worth it.  Some sites might charge to use images, presumably a lot less than the fine.


Video seems to be less of a problem than images.  When you upload your video to YouTube, YouTube becomes in effect its owner.  Any website can embed a YouTube video without breaching copyright.  Presumably this is because the video is attributed back to the site and anyone who views it registers on the YouTube site.  Take care with other video sources, check their terms and conditions.


This is the least problematic.  Unless you’re planning to copy the entire contents of a paper, blog post or book onto your website you’re in the clear.

You can reproduce short extracts from a text on your own site.  It should be attributed and if it is available a link to the full text is always worth adding.  This has been standard practice in academic writing for many years.  Linking to the full text, where possible, is new and has many advantages.  The reader has something to follow-up if they are interested and you provide a back-link to someone’s site.  In time they or others may do the same for you.

As far as I’m aware ideas are not copyrighted.  So, there is no restriction on expressing an idea in your own words.  What you choose to attribute is a matter of judgement.  For example, I sometimes take the structure of someone’s copy and adapt it to my own ends.  The overall flow of logic may shadow theirs but the content is entirely mine.  Should this be attributed?  It does depend upon how much they have influenced your own copy and you may wish to link your copy to theirs so your readers can see both arguments.  On the other hand if you are taking an entirely new direction there is little point in muddying the waters with an irrelevant link.

Do you agree with the basic rule: “If in doubt, leave it out!”?

Things I Don’t Want to See on Your Website

A couple of weeks ago I ranted about the word welcome” on website home pages.  Today I shall list a few more things I don’t want to see on your website.

It’s Not a Filing Cabinet

The thing to grasp is your website is not your online filing cabinet.  The words, “We’ll put it on the website” should always be met with the response “You must be joking!”

The sorts of things I mean are:

  • minutes of meetings
  • organisational governance arrangements
  • policies and procedures (except a few that are relevant, eg your website security policy, which can be tucked away where no-one looks – its presence encourages visitors to trust you even though they don’t read it!)

These have no place on your website!  How can I put this?  Nobody at all cares about any of this stuff.  Get rid of it!  If you need to share documents there are plenty of options:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Groups
  • email is actually a good way to communicate this material

For cloud working I’ve found Google Groups works.  Some people object to joining Google but once they see the benefit they usually give in!

No-one Cares About Your Mission Statement!

Another thing I do not want to see is aims and objectives, vision statements, mission statements and all the paraphernalia of corporate speak.  Especially if you’re not a corporation.

Things I don’t want to know include:

  • we offer excellent service
  • we aim to be the best in the UK, Europe, the world
  • we’ll deliver your pizza before it gets cold

You get the idea?  Reverse any of these and you’ll see that they are meaningless.  These don’t differentiate between your offer and anyone else’s so there’s no point in including them.  If you say these things it means your offer cannot be serious.

Focus on explaining exactly what you offer in the language your likely followers or customers will use.  Pompous mission statements simply don’t have any impact.

What do you hate to find on websites?

How to Avoid Website Catastrophes

[This post has aged somewhat but the material about website catastrophes is still relevant.  You can sign up at the foot of this post and details of my consultancy offer can be found in the navigation under “Services”.]

I leave Fridays free to respond to things that come up during the week.  Sometimes I write about how I’m developing my website.  The aim is to develop the site into a hub for people interested in community development online and I shall write about some of the changes as I make them and the issues I encounter.

Today I shall describe how something went wrong to illustrate the need to pay attention to your site.

Back in December I had a problem on my blog pages.  Material from the main left hand blog column was duplicated in the right hand sidebar.  Stumped, I asked WordPress for help. It turned out to be a rogue bit of code in one of my posts.  I set it right by rebuilding the post and everything was fine – or so I thought!  One lesson here is check your blog every time you post.  If a post causes a problem, you can identify it by taking it down to see whether the problem disappears.  If the post is the problem, creating a new post and copying the content should do the trick!

A Second Problem!

One thing that has puzzled me was the small number of people signing up for my blog.  A large number of people had said they would and absolutely no-one was following through.  Whilst I can be a bit paranoid from time to time, I was sure my blog wasn’t so awful that absolutely no-one was signing up for it.

Earlier this week, I spotted the problem.  It was one of those things that is so obvious, I couldn’t see it.  When I set the previous problem right, I had not noticed the sign-up form had disappeared from the sidebar.  The form still existed and appeared on a page buried deep in the site but had somehow become uncoupled from the sidebar.  I have no idea how this happened or, more to the point, that it could happen. So, WordPress can move stuff about without telling you.  Presumably it was another effect of the problem with the post I rebuilt.

So, I hadn’t been offering the option to sign up to the blog for over a month!  Arrrgh!!

How to Avoid Website Catastrophes?

First, by paying attention to your site!  It is not static.  Things change, sometimes at random!  Keep an eye on things and if you’re puzzled about anything, look for the reason on your site.  If people are not signing up, check over your system for getting them to sign up and check everything’s working!

Second, sign up for my blog!  The form is at the top of the right hand sidebar.  The blog will offer lots of guidance specially designed for small groups and businesses looking after their own websites.  Read it to learn how to avoid catastrophes and get your site working for you.

If there is something you’d like me to write about, leave a comment on any post. (I provide general info on the blog and charge for helping you with your site.)  Everything should be working now, so please sign up if you have wanted to and couldn’t work out how to do it.  (And sign up even if you haven’t!)  And please let me know if there are any problems when you sign up!