Codes and policies to blog by

A welcome contribution to a clear code of practice for bloggers comes from Charlene Li at Forrester Research.

As part of a report into corporate blogging that Charlene prepared, and which Forrester published last week, come 13 suggestions for a blogger ‘code of ethics’ (I prefer the expression ‘code of practice’):

  1. I will tell the truth.
  2. I will write deliberately and with accuracy.
  3. I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
  4. I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.
  5. I will never delete a post.
  6. I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.
  7. I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.
  8. I will strive for high quality with every post – including basic spellchecking.
  9. I will stay on topic.
  10. I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
  11. I will link to online references and original source materials directly.
  12. I will disclose conflicts of interest.
  13. I will keep private issues and topics private, since discussing private issues would jeopardize my personal and work relationships.

While I think these are very good, and should present little difficulty from a personal blogging point of view, I doubt they will all work in every organization. For instance, numbers 4, 5 and 11 might not be so easy – or even desirable – to commit to in a corporate environment. This is entering the territory of a favourite topic for critics of blogs: keeping the corporate hands off blogs. As these suggestions stem from Forrester’s research (ie, they result from what the companies surveyed specifically discussed with Charlene), I’d be interested in knowing whether my comment here reflects what those companies believe.

Reality: a corporate blog is first and foremost a tool of the organization, not of the individual. In the context of establishing the objectives a corporate blog is desired to achieve, the organization’s needs will influence whatever code of practice is decided upon.

This is directly related to establishing policies for blogging – and here, Charlene’s report also includes some good suggestions:

  1. Make it clear that the views expressed in the blog are yours alone and do not necessarily represent the views of your employer.
  2. Respect the company’s confidentiality and proprietary information.
  3. Ask your manager if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog.
  4. Be respectful to the company, employees, customers, partners, and competitors.
  5. Understand when the company asks that topics not be discussed for confidentiality or legal compliance reasons.
  6. Ensure that your blogging activity does not interfere with your work commitments.

It’s great to see a commonality of thinking when talking about blogging polices: I’ve seen similar suggestions in other blogs and I included many of these recommendations in a contribution on blogging polices I posted to the Kitchen: How to Cook a Weblog collaborative blog project last week.

In her post on this overall topic, Charlene has included links to the polices of some organizations. I particularly recommend for reading the policy of Harvard Law School – essential elements presented in a clear, simple and helpful manner.

Charlene has also established a wiki for further developing codes and polices. Great! In all, Charlene’s contributions advance these topics a big leap ahead.

Charlene Li | Blogging policy examples

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