Blogging Guidelines

There comes a time in any organisation’s use of blogging, and for that matter other social media tools as well, when someone feels the need of a line in the sand. A blog post from James Dellow at Headshift Australia brought back my own “line in the sand” moment at the BBC, the moment when having some “official” view from the organisation about this new field of staff activity felt like a good thing to do.

The thing is, a blogging policy can range from “Don’t be stupid” to a multi-page legal document with every possible variation in between. The document says at least as much about the people writing it as it does about the people it will affect. The neat trick we pulled off at the BBC was to make them largely one and the same thing. We encouraged collective responsibility from the start. It wasn’t one group of people telling another group of people how to behave. Attempting to do so rarely works in online environments and indeed government legislation often falls prey to this. One group, who have status and power and feel the need to control, writing legislation intended to apply to a sphere of influence and activity of which they have little or no experience.

The thing to remember is that bad laws are hard to enforce while good rules pretty much enforce themselves. There are loads of different examples of blogging policies out there that you can learn from but make sure you don’t just copy and paste or worse still fall into the trap of letting someone else write yours!

10 thoughts on “Blogging Guidelines”

  1. For me, the key thing with blogging guidelines is to write them in an empowering way, so that readers feel more able to blog, not less. I’ve had a few clients where the bloggers themselves, being new to the game, really wanted some sort of guidance from the company so that they knew not only what they could and couldn’t do, but what to do if they felt unsure. Viewing the guidelines as an enabling force from the outset will affect not just the language used to write them, but also the way in which people engage and relate to both the writing process and the finished document. Guidelines don’t have to be negative and restrictive – they can be open, supportive and empowering instead.

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  2. PS. The text box font size in your comment form is too small, and it really didn’t like my URL – ‘strange.corante.com’ but insisted upon an http://. Otherwise, new blog looks good – just like the old one! Just thought you’d some feedback.

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  3. Thanks Suw. Just to be pedantic which element of the comments is too small? The resulting comments themselves or the text in the input field? Bernie – you – a blogger! 🙂

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  4. Just read your second comment properly Suw and have adjusted the size of text in the form. Blissfully as simple as moving a slider!

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  5. Funnily enough we have just been discussing the blogging policy for Sleepydog ahead of the launch of our new wordpress site on Monday. I am a big fan of the Blog Smart approach.Apart from @sizemore we are all blogging noobs so I guess it will be an interesting month or two while we get started. Philosophically though, I think our policy should be an extension of our approach to staff in general. We employ smart independent thinkers who are comfortable being part of a larger collaborative effort. That leads me to think the policy should be as lightweight as possible.watch this space.

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  6. Less is more I reckon. Most people find that most of the stuff they feel the need to cover is reflected in existing policies anyway and these can still be applicable in online spaces.

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  7. I think Siemens for their internal blogs had everyone confirm a blogging guideline upon starting an employee blog. The guideline is simply a repetition of all the stuff about professional behaviour they already signed as part of their job contract. So it more or less said: ‘Do you remember that you signed up to behave like a responsible professional when you joined the company? Same applies to this blog. Please confirm.’At the same time because it repeated the actual paragraphs, the ones wanting a whole set of rules put up were satisfied as well.

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  8. This came up often at the SOMESSO conference last Friday where I spoke about IBM’s experience. One thing that worked well in the IBM case was that the blogging (and later, broader social computing) guidelines were initially crowdsourced from those experienced in the medium and the internal community, so that improved initial buy-in as it wasn’t deemed to be something imposed on the community.

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