I had a discussion few days ago with a friend of mine on blogging. The topic was that as soon as something happens on the Net, thousands and sometimes even more people are writing, posting, discussing and blogging about the very same topic. A sort of information tidal wave that spreads across the cyberspace. Which was according to my friend huge waste of time and energy. Generally, he meant, from a whole community perspective, it makes no sense to write about something unless there is reasonable chance you will be saying something very unique that nobody else will likely say – otherwise it adds no value, just clutters the content by repeating and rephrasing the already said. At first it sounded reasonably sound ;-), but the longer I was thinking about it, the more I was convinced it may be quite the opposite.
So why is the repetition actually a good thing ? Because of Google. Think for a second about how the web search works: Google (or any other search engine) indexes the text of the retrieved Web pages and ranks them using the number of back-links (roughly said). It has no understanding of the content whatsoever, it does not classify or categorize Web pages – all it does is index the words and evaluates the links between pages. The people who are trying to search the Web, are using search phrases and get results from matching pages for the words from their search phrase, sorted by the ranking algortihm. What happens when many people are posting webpages or blogs about the same topic is that they will inevitably use different words and thus allow more search phrases return results. Because people who search will also use different variations of words, by adding new pages dealing with same topics you are actually increasing the chances that the searchers will find what they are looking for and making the search better. If the content creators also post links to similar pages, or their information sources, they are also helping the ranking algorithm to work better and are sort of “promoting” the pages they liked. This is very interesting voting mechanism from which we all benefit daily.
Therefore, do not be shy to write your own opinion, valuation of event, technology, news or any ideas and do not worry about brazilions of other people doing the same. Even if very few people will actually read your stuff, the omniviscent Google will, and after scanning and indexing your page, your little bit will contribute to the shared pool of knowledge. And even if not, there will be always future you that will care what were you thinking about X.Y.Z. few years from now.
Whenever you use some source, be nice and mention the reference – put the URL or backlink, and when quoting, make sure you say so. And remember that using copy and paste without proper attribution is cyber-plagiarism and it is worse for the well being of your cyber-identity than the supersized hamburger with boston cream donut is for your waistline: everything posted on the web stays cached for eternity and thanks to Google it is trivial to find out who used exactly the same words than you did :-)
And do not worry, series of tubes that Internet is built from are not going to be clogged up just because you (and thousands people like you) will add one more page about iPhone :-)