With the explosive growth of the site Pinterest — more than 48 million users and 2.5 billion page views each day — it only makes sense some of the problems that plague other sites, like spam, malware and drama, have reared their ugly heads. While incidences of problems are relatively low, considering the sheer amount of content being shared on the site, it’s still important to keep a few basic etiquette points in mind to avoid annoying others— or worse — while you’re happily pinning ideas for your next dinner party.
Be on Alert for Spam
Sometimes, spam on Pinterest is easy to spot: repeated pins promising rapid weight loss with photos of women in bikinis posted on craft or recipe boards, a new “follower” who has 20 boards with only a few identical pins on each board, comments that are unrelated to the pinned image. Other times, it’s less obvious: You pin a delicious-looking recipe that’s been re-pinned dozens of times, only to find that when you try to get the recipe, the content is blocked or it leads to something unrelated.
Spam is a growing problem on Pinterest. It’s up to you as a user to be aware of it and do your part to stop its spread. First, never repin anything without checking that the pin is legitimate. This way, you avoid inadvertently spreading spam. Second, report spammers. Every pin and comment has a small flag icon at the bottom of the photo. Click on the pin and you can report the pin to Pinterest. If you notice that a user is obviously spreading spam, report the user and block him or her from your feed.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
One major issue for bloggers, designers and businesses promoting their work on Pinterest is that many times their images are repinned without credit. To ensure that artists receive credit for their work, try to pin from original sources whenever possible. If you’re repinning an image, again, make sure that the pin leads to the right place. Add the name of the blog or website into the description when appropriate so other pinners can find out more information if they want it. One easy way to annoy your followers is to simply pin an image from the results of an image search that doesn't provide more information about recreating or buying the item.
When you get excited about something, it’s easy to get carried away and pin dozens of images all at once, flooding your followers feeds with ideas for your daughter’s birthday party, your Thanksgiving decorations or recipes for gluten-free cookies. To avoid pin-bombing your followers, only pin those items you truly love and simply “like” others. You may also consider creating a secret board if you expect you’ll be pinning many similar pins.
You've seen them: Pins with random descriptions like “Perfect for Jane’s wedding,” or “This is for you, Heather!” Except as you look at them, you realize that you have no idea who Jane or Heather is. Before you repin, personalize the image descriptions, removing references to other people and inserting the source or a more accurate description. Your followers will thank you.
You’re not going to love everything that everyone you follow posts, just like not everyone will like all of your posts. But that doesn't mean you need to leave nasty comments. Sarcasm doesn't generally read well online. If the pinner doesn't know you or your sense of humor, you could hurt her feelings or cause unnecessary drama. If you don’t care for a pin, keep on scrolling and find images you love. If the image is something truly offensive, report it to Pinterest and hide it from your feed.
At the same time, be respectful with the images you post. Not all of your followers share your personal beliefs and values, and may find some of your posts objectionable. For example, if you’re linking to a site that contains foul language, warn followers in the description that the site contains strong language so they aren't unpleasantly surprised when they click through. And keep Pinterest’s terms of service in mind when pinning. The site expressly prohibits pinning certain objectionable content, like hate speech and pornography.
Pinterest is growing and changing every day, and as more people join the party, new issues are bound to appear. Keeping these basic points in mind as you use the site will help keep it enjoyable and useful to everyone -- whether you’re looking for an unusual party favor or a paint color for your bathroom.