What would the MLA say?
A reader named Mae raises a nice* point about acknowledging sources:
Suppose that a writer reads a source with an interesting reference, and then looks up the reference and reads an entire article, call it A. Later citing the material, the writer makes direct and indirect quotes from A, properly cited. Should the writer also cite the original referral source?
I think this is more likely to happen with online articles/blogs, where A is only one click away. But proper citation among web sources is a growing issue: and I think that the traditional gatekeepers (you) are best equipped to tell us what to do.
It has been a long time since I was a cadet member of the Modern Language Association, and I long ago gave up any attempt to write scholarly articles (another nice point, whether scholarship or I should be more relieved), so I may not be the best source of information about what the most formal gatekeepers say. But I think that the formal requirement is met by citing the article being quoted or summarized. If I come across a citation of an article in the bibliography of a book and subsequently quote the article, I don’t think that I’m honor-bound to cite the book as well.
But, as you suggest, the online world is developing slightly differently.
On this blog, for example, I usually mention the site that leads me to another source. That is because bloggery is a conversation, and it seems right to identify the parties to the conversation. It also serves to drive traffic to those fellow writers. Naming the source of a source probably fosters humility as well, rather than giving the impression of some omniscient personal scanning of the Internet.
So, strictly speaking, you must indicate the primary source of information, the article you quote, the post from which you take the actual information, whatever. Given the skepticism among the public about the probity of journalists, and the scary, Wild West, anything-goes blogosphere, showing the sources is a necessity.
Naming the sources of sources is, I think, more of a courtesy that a requirement. But it can’t hurt, so long as you find ways to do it without making your own posts unreadable through the thicket of references.
As always, I await contradiction and correction in the comments submitted.
* I’m going to insist on being able to use nice in its older sense of subtle or indicating careful discrimination — the sense allied to the word nicety.