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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