Weblogging vs. Your Career – It’s All in the Weblogging Policy and Guidelines

As a follow up to yesterday’s weblog post on Enterprise Weblogs – Why Aren’t There More? – A Question of Control? Is It Really?, Rod Boothby created a weblog post around the same subject in Blogging vs. Your Career where he is actually expanding further on why knowledge workers may have several constraints regarding weblogging, both on their corporate Intranets and also out there on the Internet. Rod’s post is a really worth while article for those interested in weblogging as a knowledge sharing and collaborative tool but who may still have some reservations as to what the limits would be. More than anything else because he is actually providing a couple of solutions to some of the different issues that people may have about weblogging overall; which are use your common sense (As in there are things you know you can weblog about and there are others that are better left for yourself and not everyone else) and copy Intuit’s Scott K. Wilder‘s weblogging guidelines to help people get started.

Indeed, Rod is listing over at Blogging vs. Your Career all of the different guidelines put together by Scott (and his team) and for sure that weblog post is a must-read for everyone interested in the Dos and Don’ts of weblogging, both from an Intranet and Internet perspectives. Lots of different hits and tips on how you can get the most out of weblogging without getting it backfire to you. Highly recommended.

This is exactly the same kind of exercise that IBM went through a few months ago (May 2005) when it finally embraced corporate and Internet weblogging as another medium for knowledge workers to reach out there and engage in the different conversations. I was part of the initial group of folks who drafted those different weblogging policy and guidelines and I must say that without those I doubt I would have started weblogging as well both on the Intranet and on the Internet. It was a good exercise to be able to establish how you could protect not only yourself but also your own weblogging against whatever other issues that may come up out there. We, too, decided to keep it short, simple and effective and from there try to spread the message around as much as we could possibly do so that everyone would be able to use their common sense and those guidelines, if anything, to protect themselves. And by the looks of it things seem to be going all right, I would think.

For those interested in reading some more about IBM’s blogging policy and guidelines you can find an extensive overview about them at the following URL: IBM’s blogging guidelines, but for the sake of this weblog post, and in order to add some more into what Rod has been sharing already, here you have a quick drop down of each of them:

  1. Know and follow IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines.
  2. Blogs, wikis and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. IBMers are personally responsible for their posts. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.
  3. Identify yourself – name and, when relevant, role at IBM – when you blog about IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
  4. If you publish a blog or post to a blog outside of IBM and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to IBM.
  7. Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
  8. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc., and show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion.
  9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.
  10. Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
  11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

Thus as you will be able to see things are not much different. However, the key message here is that if your business hasn’t got any weblogging policy or guidelines already available, it may be a good time to get busy building up some of them and, if you can afford it, get some of your company’s most well known  webloggers to help draft them with you, because there is a great chance that they would know exactly what they would want to weblog about and what not. Remember, try to always keep them involved in the discussions and make them feel part of the whole exercise. You would all be much better off in the end. That is for sure.

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Worth while sharing it along?

4 Comments »

  • Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Ed ! Thanks a lot for letting me know about this and for dropping by to share your comments. I am not sure what happened with the trackbacks but this is not the first time that it has happened to me, so I am having a look into it and will hopefully be able to fix it soon. Also, it looks like the weblog link you shared above is broken somehow, so here is the correct one as well: Luis Suarez: Weblogging vs. Your Career – It’s All in the Weblogging Policy and Guidelines

    Regarding your comments in your blog post about the role of the blogging policy and guidelines I cannot stress out good enough how important it is actually to have some guidelines in place to help people channel through their strengths and forget about their weaknesses. Work through the topics they would feel passionate about and share with others in such a way that they would be adding some more into the conversations as opposed to increasing the noise already available out there.

    As I said, I doubt I would have been weblogging in all three weblogs that I maintain at the moment if it wouldn’t have been for those blogging policy and guidelines. They have managed to keep me straight in my own thinking and focus on what I do want to deliver. Like my good friend Des Walsh’s references from a recent weblog post on a great interview that Easton Ellsworth did with Kathleen Gilroy, CEO of the Otter group:

    “Figure out your passions and where you think you can make the most contribution. Make that the focus of your writing. You are better serving a narrow audience deeply than a wide one shallowly.”

    Spot on, indeed ! That is exactly how I feel about weblogging whether we do it inside of the firewall or out there on the blogosphere.

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  • A lot of it comes down to two factors. The first is that is represents a risk for companies who are trying to get a handle around the “beast”. Richard Schwartz and I address this in our article “Managing the Business Risk of Blogs” in Compliance Solutions Advisor Magazine ( http://complianceadvisor.com/doc/16543 ). The second is that it really represents a cultural paradigm shift that accompanies any knowledge management/collaboration activities.

    Two books that are good references on these topics are:

    Blog Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policy, Public Relations, and Legal Issues (2006, AMACOM, 226 pages, ISBN 0814473555 ) which I have reviewed at http://www.controlscaddy.com/A55A69/bccaddyblog.nsf/plinks/CBYE-6S23T8

    The Wisdom Network: An 8-step Process for Identifying, Sharing, And Leveraging Individual Expertise

    The Wisdom Network: An 8-step Process for Identifying, Sharing, And Leveraging Individual Expertise by Steve Benton and Melissa Giovagnoli, which I have read but not posted my review of yet ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=theinternationad&creative=373489&camp=211189&link_code=as3&path=ASIN/0814473180 )

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  • Luis Suarez says:

    Hello Christopher! Thanks ever so much for the feedback comments and for dropping by ! Welcome to elsua!

    I really appreciate you sharing with us some very interesting links to different books and articles (Have already added them to my growing list of books to read). I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed your article “Managing the Business Risk of Blogs“, co-authored with Richard, where you are certainly providing some sound advice as to how to approach the creation of that blogging policy and guidelines that would help people get going off to a good start.

    However, I was actually quite surprised to see that webloggers themselves would not be included as part of the team defining those different guidelines. There is actually a good reason for doing this: not only would webloggers be feeling that their voices are being heard, specially by the powers that be, which is a good thing, but they would also reach a compromise at the time as to what they would feel comfortable with and what not, so that way those guidelines will be built up by the main group of folks who would actually be following them at a later time. I am disappointed to see they have not been included as part of them and somehow I feel they would not be as effective as you would have expected if you had the chance to work with the bloggers through the entire process. Just a thought.

    Perhaps I am missing something in here, but wouldn’t it have made sense to actually encourage bloggers to be part of the exercise in order to represent all parties involved, next to the group of folks already identified? How can you have a blogging policy and guidelines without having consulted with the group affected in the first place. I would love to hear Nancy Flynn’s take on this as I feel that right now it is just a missed opportunity to do the right thing. Don’t you think?

    Thanks again for the feedback and for the book recommendations

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