parlez vous victoire?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

the rules of blogging

My company has started getting into the blogging thing... my boss is the pioneer with a blog of his own. Interesting concept. I still view it with suspicion. For me blogs are personal things. Plus you have the whole thing of people posting really irrelevant matter about their companies and it turning into something dreadful, like a lawsuit for instance.

Along with the invitation to the company to start their own blogs, a rough guideline or "blog policy" was appended. I was wondering what the general blogging community thought of it?

the policy is based almost entirely on sun's blog policy, which can be found at http://www.sun.com/aboutsun/media/blogs/policy.html

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copied and slightly modified from sun

Advice By speaking directly to fellow members*, without benefit of management approval, we are accepting higher risks in the interest of higher rewards. We don't want to micro-manage, but here is some advice.

It's a Two-Way Street The real goal isn't to get everyone blogging, it's to become part of the industry conversation. So, whether or not you're going to write, and especially if you are, look around and do some reading, so you learn where the conversation is and what people are saying.

If you start writing, remember the Web is all about links; when you see something interesting and relevant, link to it; you'll be doing your readers a service, and you'll also generate links back to you; a win-win.

Don't Tell Secrets Common sense at work here; it's perfectly OK to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it's not OK to publish the recipe for one of our secret sauces. Protect proprietary and confidential information, but there are still going to be judgment calls.

If the judgment call is tough-on secrets or one of the other issues discussed here-it's never a bad idea to get management sign-off before you publish.

Be Interesting Writing is hard work. There's no point doing it if people don't read it. Fortunately, if you're writing about a product that a lot of people are using, or are waiting for, and you know what you're talking about, you're probably going to be interesting. And because of the magic of hyperlinking and the Web, if you're interesting, you're going to be popular, at least among the people who understand your specialty.

Another way to be interesting is to expose your personality; almost all of the successful bloggers write about themselves, about families or movies or books or games; or they post pictures. People like to know what kind of a person is writing what they're reading. Once again, balance is called for; a blog is a public place and you should try to avoid embarrassing your readers or the company.

Write What You Know The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. If you have a deep understanding of some chunk of technology, it's hard to get into too much trouble, or be boring, talking about the issues and challenges around that.

On the other hand, a architect who publishes rants on marketing strategy, or whether something should be open-sourced, has a good chance of being embarrassed by a real expert, or of being boring.

Financial Rules There are all sorts of laws about what we can and can't say, business-wise. Talking about revenue, future product ship dates, roadmaps, or our share price is apt to get you, or the company, or both, into legal trouble.

Quality Matters Use a spell-checker. If you're not design-oriented, ask someone who is whether your blog looks decent, and take their advice on how to improve it.

You don't have to be a great or even a good writer to succeed at this, but you do have to make an effort to be clear, complete, and concise. Of course, "complete" and "concise" are to some degree in conflict; that's just the way life is. There are very few first drafts that can't be shortened, and usually improved in the process.

Think About Consequences The worst thing that can happen is that you're in a meeting somewhere and someone pulls out a print-out of your blog and gets us all into trouble

In general, "XXX sucks" is not only risky but unprofessional and unsubtle. Once again, it's all about judgment: using your weblog to trash or embarrass yourself, the company, our customers, or your co-workers, is not only dangerous but stupid.

Disclaimers Many bloggers put a disclaimer on their front page saying who they work for, but that they're not speaking officially. This is good practice, but don't count it to avoid trouble; it may not have much legal effect.

Tools We're starting to develop tools to make it easy for anyone to start publishing, but if you feel the urge, don't wait for us; there are lots of decent blogging tools and hosts out there.

Profressional : Obviously if content is deemed in-appropriate, with the above policy, but also with social norms (e.g. racism, sexism, profanities, etc,etc) then your content would obviously be removed, and access to blogging facilities denied.


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* name of the working community changed to conceal the name of the company concerned

So to blog about work at work or not, that is the question... I hardly have time for my own blog over here, let alone to make some more time to keep up with it elsewhere... but maybe I'll change my mind and become a happy and entirely work-engrossed individual... but I doubt it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Nelis said...

Your company might be interested in reading some of the books recently published on blogging for businesses. Most of them are "not yet published" but listed at Amazon.com. One of the more successful ones have been co-authored by one of Microsoft's chief technical evangelists. The title of the book is Naked Conversations : How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. I haven't read it myself, but perhaps it applies...

10:02 am

 
Blogger victoire said...

looks good. i have passed the info on to my boss. i remember skimming over an article quite a while ago about how blogging will be the next big thing in business.

3:42 pm

 

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