Miss Manners: Pinterest -Style

pinterest tip

For many Pinterest users, proper etiquette isn’t such a big deal.  They are just pinning images they think are funny, pretty, or awesome and that’s where it ends.

But for the DIY community, our intentions need to inform our actions.  Because when a crafter pins something she is intending to use that idea as inspiration for a craft OR because she is going to make that exact project, it is crucial that she follow ethical pinning etiquette so that everyone’s ideas receive the credit they deserve.

I am sure you have all heard horror stories about creative ideas being stolen by dishonest people and presented on Pinterest as their own.  Allison from House of Hepworths posted her Pinterest theft story on her blog.   Because of the exponential sharing that happens through Pinterest, righting that kind of wrong is next to impossible.  The best we can hope to do is to stop it before it happens with a little preventative pinning etiquette.

Pinterest already has some guidelines for proper pinning etiquette, but I think those general guidelines need to be expanded upon for our community.



Be careful what you type, little fingers.  Maybe more than any other social network, people on Pinterest are following people they do not know in real life or through an online community.  The people you follow don’t know your sense of humor, they might not share your particular tastes, and they don’t have any reason to take your critical comment with a grain of salt.  And, remember, sarcasm doesn’t read well when written in a comment box.

pinterest etiquette


This is likely the most important rule for the crafty pinner to follow.  Pinterest is a massive source for inspiration; it is also a massive temptation for plagiarists.  When you replicate and publish an idea from Pinterest without giving the original creator credit, you are stealing their idea.  Period.

pinterest etiquette

Here are some practical suggestions to avoid idea theft, yours AND others’:

1.  Don’t simply repin off your Pinterest main page.

Open each interesting pin in a new tab, and then click the origin link.  If the idea isn’t properly pinned, don’t repin it!  Find the original project and pin it yourself.  Yes, it takes a little extra legwork, but think of all the love and work the project’s creator put into that fabulous idea.  The least you can do to thank him or her is to make sure the idea is shared correctly.


2.  Put the name of the blog or website in your pin description.

Imagine if everyone did this!  Not only would the amazing idea be shared properly, but it would give extra exposure for the blog where the idea was posted.

3.  Never pin off of an image search.

Be honest:  it’s a little lazy.  Not only does the project’s creator not get credit, other pinners who are interested in the idea won’t be able to find what they are looking for.

4.  Avoid pinning craft ideas from Tumblr.

Have you ever tried to follow the thread from reblogged Tumblr image to its original source?  It is like The Amazing Race: Internet Edition bouncing from site to site, country to country.  Messy.

5.  When possible, pin from the original source NOT the referring site.

Huge sites like Apartment Therapy are amazing for finding inspirational ideas, but they don’t need your Pinterest traffic.  Follow the backlink in the article, and pin from the original source.  Give the little guy some love.

6.  Pin from the actual post NOT the blog’s home page.

Blog home pages change, sometimes several times a day.  By the time someone pulls up your pin, that amazing project may no longer be on the blog’s home page.  And, chances are, people aren’t going to go looking for it.   A poorly cited pin isn’t any better than a pin with no citation at all.  It only takes 5 seconds to click on a post title, pull up the page, and pin from the actual project post.  Make the effort.

7.  Don’t repin poorly cited pins.

Once an image is pinned to Pinterest, it exists in the internet ether for eternity, for better or for worse.  Now that you have an idea of what makes a “good pin,” don’t settle for mediocre.  Be part of the solution, not the problem.

For some excellent discussion on Pinterest citations (or lack thereof) read this article on The Pinterest Problem from Addicted 2 Decorating and the comments on it.



This is another rule that is applicable to craft pinners.  Pinterest is an amazing platform for sharing projects you worked hard on and are proud of.  It is consistently one of my blog’s top referrers.  But according to Pinterest’s policy, it’s not cool to use the service solely for self-promotion.

Pinning your own projects isn’t “against the rules” but be sure to have a healthy dose of other people’s work pinned as well.  If you want your projects to end up on Pinterest, consider adding a Pin It! button to each of your blog posts and letting your readers do the pinning.



According to Pinterest’s etiquette guidelines, objectionable content means nudity or hateful content.  Hopefully neither of these are a problem for any of us here.  BUT did you really read those Pinterest Terms of Service when you created your account?  Did you know that you had agreed to this:

…neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation. (emphasis mine)

I am no lawyer, but I think this means that if you find that your intellectual property rights (aka YOUR project) have been violated, you have the right to contact Pinterest to have that pin (or the offending pinner) removed.  For the legalese on copyright law, visit the US Copyright Office’s Fair Use FAQ.  Has anyone contacted Pinterest for such a reason?  I would be interested to see how Pinterest reacted to that kind of request.

Do you have any other tips minding your Pinterest P’s and Q’s?

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36 Responses to “Miss Manners: Pinterest -Style”

  1. Great article! So many of those are my pet peeves about Pinterest! I always try to go to the source and pin the original instead of just repinning. I’ve learned from experience by re-pinning, if they original pinner didn’t pin it the correct way, it’s nearly impossible to find the original source! Erg! Thanks for sharing! Imagine how incredible pinterest would be if all users abided by these guidelines!

  2. Laurie says:

    I get what you’re saying, but sometimes I like to pin a link to a linky party (ex for dip recipes etc) or a blog post highlighting crafts that can be done using pennies and nickels. I am pinning the link to an entire collection of ideas do I will have access to all the ideas layer. I am not going to take the time now or later to seek out and individually pin each one. Pinterest is a timesaver for me, a way to save ideas for future use. I pin for myself more than anything else.

    • madincrafts says:

      I don’t have a problem with pinning to a link party at all (as a source of several great ideas). After all, when the crafter added that project to a link party, she is knowingly adding it to another URL (in a similar way to submitting a guest post).

      If Pinterest had a “private” feature for boards, the just-pinning-for-myself issue would be resolved. But when a board is shared with followers, I believe there is further responsibility.

  3. Amen to this. I just had someone pin something of mine and copy the entire tutorial/post and paste it into the comments section for the picture. I asked her to please remove all of that text, but so far she hasn’t. I have been slowly weeding through my boards and correcting bad links and deleting ones that go nowhere. (I didn’t realize how many pins I have, but I have a lot of followers and I feel I have a responsibility to do it.)

    I do promote my own work, but I pin it to a board called My Projects, so I figure it’s full disclosure that way.

  4. Excellent post!!! You touched on just about all of my concerns with Pinterest. I am always very very careful to list a blog name in my Pin’s description–giving credit where credit is due. 🙂

  5. Excellent post on Pinterest. Thanks for writing this!

  6. Wow! Someone should contact pinterest & fill them in on all the controvery! This is the 5th post today I have read on this topic & I am soooooo happy to be reading them! I have only been blogging for 3 months & I actually email Beth @ A2Z yesterday (after reading addicted to decorating’s post). I really had no idea how to track back a pin & to actually “PIN” from the original source. I did not know that I shouldn’t pin from a link party for example. Such good info! This was a great post with detailed info on how to do it right 🙂

    • madincrafts says:

      It is not a bad idea for Pinterest to be contacted, not because I think this is an earth-shattering problem, but because I think the whole Pinterest world is still in the experimental phase. Everybody is learning as they go.

      I don’t think that the percentage of dishonest people misusing Pinterest is any higher than the percentage of people scamming bloggers (or any other industry). Pinterest was a golden haven of ideas that is just starting to tarnish a bit. That doesn’t mean it’s not awesome, it just means it’s not too good to be true.

  7. Great article! I’m following Allison @ House of Hepworth’s lead and checking (slowly) all my pins to make sure of their source.

    There was a great convo at Addicted to Decorating on same issues. From one of the commenters I learned to drag any image to Images.Google to find source. Works great so far.

    • madincrafts says:

      I have also heard that does something similar. However, if Tineye hasn’t already scanned the photo’s origin site, it won’t find the photo. Google Image search probably has a better shot at finding it.

  8. Fantastic tips, and I’m so glad this is being discussed on lots of blogs! I’m hoping we can get enough people aware of these issues, and on board for more responsible pinning. I still have lots of pins on my boards that need cleaning up.

    I’m not sure how many bloggers will do this, but today I decided that I really wanted to take a step to ensure that proper credit goes to the right people. Every Friday I host a link party, and I start off with highlights from the previous week. For each project that I highlighted, I made a separate “Pin It” button using the button creator on Pinterest, and I included the URL for the blogger’s original post, and the location for that blogger’s picture. That way if someone wants to pin the picture from my blog, they can use the custom button that I created and put just underneath the picture, and that pin on Pinterest will link to the original blogger’s post rather than to my post.

    Wow, that really sounded complicated, but it really only took a few seconds of my time per button.

    The button creator is here:

    And if you’re making several buttons (or a button for a blog that is not your own), then you use the “basic” setting. I’m still not sure what that “advanced” setting is.

  9. Lolly Jane says:

    We just wrote a post about Pinterest last week. Our love/hate relationship with it. It’s kind of a comical post but has some deep concerns as the bottom line. Excellent post, thanks for pointing it out. I hope it gets read by many! (: Kelli and Kristi

    ps: Our love/hate post if you’re interested:

  10. Excellent post! Wonderful tips.

    Aside from what you covered, one thing that bothers me is when I see bloggers writing posts with pictures and naming the ‘source’ as Pinterest… or they link back to their Pinterest pin, not the original source.
    Pinterest is a wonderful tool for sorting, storing and sharing ideas… but it is NOT a photo source. Please, please, please link to the original source. And if you can’t find the source… there is a great article on this site for tips on how to find it.

    • madincrafts says:

      Another good one, Shannon! I think I am guilty of this one too. I was pinning back to my board or a certain pin thinking that my readers might want to follow my boards. BUT, it’s a better idea to have two separate links: one for the Pinterest board and one for the original source.

  11. Amanda says:

    I agree with you on sooo many aspects and levels. The only thing that I’m on the fence about is not pinning the referrer. The more traffic that a larger site that’s link to you gets/has, the better it is for the linked blog. While they aren’t getting the immediate traffic and click throughs from Pinterest, Apartment Therapy and other large sites have excellent rankings. So giving them some juice will always help those that are linked as well. it’s a round about way, but still beneficial 🙂 Everything you have mentioned here is excellent and describes exactly how I operate on Pinterest. So nice to know I’m not the only one!

  12. Melanna says:

    I’ve never contacted Pinterest about any of my work (there isn’t much on there. Ha!), but I have had Pinterest contact ME about a pin on one of my boards that the original owner requested that they remove. They just sent me an email explaining that they had to remove one of my pins due to this request. So I know they follow through. I don’t think this was a plagiarism situation, just a request, but nice to know they are on top of things.

  13. Indiri says:

    Anytime I use Pinterest for my inspiration, my blog post always credits both the Pinterest pin and the original blogger. It usually goes something like “I found this via Pinterest (original source here)” with links to both. I do this because if I found the link via a referring site I usually link to both of them so I think Pinterest should be the same. A via and an Original.

    Usually if a pin is really awesome I go check out the original and then I try to make sure it is the source that’s pinned. It makes it easier both for me and for the person looking later.

    As for pinning one’s own stuff, I’m not sure about that. I have over 1000 pins and about 50 of my own but they are in a separate board marked “Made by Me” and not mixed in with the rest. I do that mostly because when I’m telling IRL friends about a project it’s quicker to pull up Pinterest than hunt down the blog page and try to make it fit my smartphones screen size. Anyway, since it’s such a small percentage of my pins I think it’s probably fine. I don’t think I’ll ever just mix them into the other boards, though.

  14. Ms Redo says:

    This is very eye-opening for me. I recently posted pics of the “KitKat cake” (I know you’ve seen it a million times…) that my niece made for her son’s b-d party, and blogged about it on my blog. I gave the original source as “Pinterest.” Not knowing any better. Just now I have done a search to find the original creator of this cake … and can’t. I have emailed one person to ask if she originated it. I went to the KitKat website but didn’t see it. However, I will be much more careful from now on about things I make/share from Pinterest, and unless I can find the original creator, I guess I’ll leave it alone! thanks for sharing.

    • madincrafts says:

      Don’t beat yourself up! It sounds like you have definitely made a good faith effort to find the source. Have you tried doing a Google Image search using the photo’s URL? If you are not sure how to do that, click the link in Shannon at Madigan Made’s comment above.

  15. debbie says:

    Awesome info, and yes as one comment just made note of, is we are learning as we go. I pinned a few things recently, and could not find the original source, not sure who it was, and now it is embedded to me. I made note on all three pictures that they are NOT mine, they were pinned from pinterest first. They look like magazine pictures, and I want to be sure whomever publications they are get the credit. I was so upset about it, and still am, because I want to give the proper credit where it is due.

  16. Becky says:

    Wanted to share with you a recent tip from the fine peeps at Pinterest! I kept wondering why some of us have “As Seen On” box on the pinned items page and others do not. Why this is helpful is because you can click on it and receive an entire list of any pins your site has received!
    So I emailed Pinterest and asked! Here’s what I found out…

    You can always view all the pins that originate from your blog by using a source page. The “Also from” section has been disabled and will likely be replaced later for all source pages. Source pages shows all pins being added by all users from a particular site.

    To go to others, you would simply go to:

    Hope this helps!

  17. Well, It’s official, I’ve been doing everything wrong! Thanks for the great article. Now I can’t decide if I’m going to just make sure I do everything right from now on, or go back through ALL my previous pins and “fix” them.

  18. Carol says:

    These are great tips. I usually try to click through to the original source to make sure if it’s something I’m pinning, I can get to the instructions BUT, I realize after reading this that I then just do the “re-pin” thing and don’t directly pin from the source. Will do that from now on.

  19. Sara @ Mom Endeavors says:

    What a fabulous post!! Pinterest is such a great resource, but there are definitely things to keep in mind. It is so frustrating when the original source isn’t what is pinned! That just happened to me with a REALLY popular post and it’s a huge bummer.
    Love the idea of writing the blog name in the description–hadn’t thought to do that.

  20. Natalie says:

    I wish this could be part of signing up for a Pinterest account, like a “Terms of Agreement!” Love this post- thank you so much! I think that some people like to be “repinned” as if pinning a great project or article is equal to having created or written it themselves. Sort of like “I found the gold- me me!” It’s tempting to get excited when people repin, but so much more respectful and nice to be as direct as possible with your pins.

  21. Joy says:

    Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for. I am just starting a crafting blog of my own, & was wondering how to credit idea found through Pinterest. I wholeheartedly agree with all your issues on proper pinning. It is so frustrating to see something wonderful I’d like to try, only to be linked to an image search or a home page where the project is buried. I try to find & fix it when possible before pinning it. I’m a noob, but I’m learning^_^

  22. Excellent post! You hit the nail right on the head. Also, thanks for linking my post theft post! That was really nice of you!


  23. Emily O. says:

    I found your blog through Ashley’s link at Under the Sycamore. Great list of suggestions; it drives me nuts when a pin just links back to Pinterest. Glad to see from the previous comments that there are ways to find the original source.

    Etiquette question that came to mind as I’m checking my pins – if Blogger A does a guest post on Blog B, I’d link to the actual post on blog B (which has a citation), but would the proper thing be to cite both in the comment? Like “Puzzle Blocks DIY by SuperDIYer guest posting @ BloggityBlog”?

    • Penelope says:

      When a pin links back to Pinterest, it’s because the original pinner uploaded it from their computer. I know I’ve created a few graphics that I just uploaded to Pinterest. They all lead back to my original pin. I get what you’re saying, though, about a pin that obviously came from somewhere else, but leads back to Pinterest; I hate getting those!

  24. Angie says:

    Let’s get rid of the F word on Pinterest. There’s a worthy cause. Some of us still find it offensive.

  25. Lelah says:

    Ugh, I am so guilty of repinning! I thought that when you repin, it does link back to the original blog or website that the photo was found on (or most of the time). But here is why I repin – I use the Pinterst app on my iPhone pretty much exclusively, as I can’t get on my laptop unless my little guy is sleeping. I use Pinterest as a means to explore what’s out there on the Internet at a glance.

    So what can an app user like myself do in this case? I hate not crediting the original, but it’s difficult on my phone. Suggestions very welcome.

  26. Anastasia says:

    I repinned all of these! I have found myself guilty of a few of these occasionally, but I have corrected most of them. I recentlly created an image of my own and pinned it, then someone STOLE it and uploaded it as their own!! Their whole board was all ‘uploaded by user’ so either they are SUPER creative, or they give NO credit! I called her out on it and commented on my image hopefully to get her to give credit to others.


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