Rules for blogging…

Back in February, I blogged about the dangers of blogging without your employer’s consent. My current employer does not appear to support blogging as an information sharing tool; however when I joined the company I asked if there were any specific guidelines regarding blogging other than the confidentially obligations as part of my employment terms and conditions (i.e. is it specifically prohibited). No response suggests to me that a) there are no specific guidelines and b) it is not specifically prohibited.

As my original post suggested, such grey areas can be problematic and as my blog seems to be building a reasonable following now, I’m reluctant to stop. For any IT (or PR) managers out there who want to allow blogging but are unsure how to keep it in check, below are some guidelines (reused with permission) from a previous employer:

Policy, guidelines and instructions for using blogs.company.com

This page includes policy, guidelines and instructions for using blogs.company.com

General Rules:

  • Take care not to disclose any other information that is confidential or proprietary to company or to any other third party, including project and client names. Consult the blogmaster if you are unsure.
  • Since blogs.company.com is a public space, please be as respectful to the company, our employees, our customers, our partners and affiliates, and others (including our competitors).
  • Be especially careful about releasing partner information which is covered by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Again, if in doubt ask.
  • No profanity, no politics, no personal information.
  • We may ask you to stop if we believe it is necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with securities regulations or other laws.
  • Company reserves the right to remove any information which it believes contravenes these rules, any laws, our customer and partner relationships and agreements or shows us in an unfavourable light.

Guidance:

  • Be passionate about what you write, or don’t write it!
  • Publish as fact only that which you know to be true.
  • If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.
  • Publicly correct any misinformation.
  • Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.
  • Disclose any conflict of interest.
  • Note questionable and biased sources.
  • Post regularly; even if this is only once a month. Quality is better then quantity.
  • Don’t post too quickly. Take your time; spell and grammar check.
  • Once you start, don’t stop.
  • Keep it relevant.
  • Measure your effectiveness by seeing who is linking to you and who is visiting.
  • Monitor other blogs.

Guidelines for accessibility:

  • Do not use in-line font formatting – colour, size, etc. All control of font and paragraph styles should be done in the style sheet. If you are pasting formatted text in from elsewhere, go to the HTML tab and strip out any <font> tags.
  • All images must have an alt attribute. If the image is there just to look pretty, you may set the tag to null (i.e. alt=""); if however, the image has meaning (e.g. it’s a header or is not described in the text) then the tag must be descriptive. If in Internet Explorer (IE) you want to suppress the alt attribute from being displayed as a tool tip on mouse hover, simply set the title attribute to null which will override the alt text.
  • Do not use colour alone to communicate something.
  • Do not use the same text to refer to different resources on the same page (e.g. “Click here for more” at the end of every paragraph) and furthermore, make sure the link text makes sense when taken out of context (e.g. “Click here for more about .NET”).
  • Use ‘proper’ XHTML in the way it was intended to be used – i.e. don’t use markup that is intended to communicate structure for formatting. If you want something to be big and bold, don’t use the <h1> tag unless it really is a heading. Similarly if you want something to be italicised and indented, don’t use <blockquote> unless the text really is a quote. If something is a list, use the list tags to format it. Finally, use <p> to mark paragraphs, and not <br />.

For more information contact blogmaster@company.com.

7 thoughts on “Rules for blogging…


  1. Fair comment Techmount, except that when you are an IT consultant by day, a techie spod by night, and the whole goal of your blog is information sharing, it can be difficult to draw the line between what you find out at work and what you do in your own time (i.e. what is “work-related”).

    Because I work from home, and rarely keep the time I spend in my office down to my contracted 37 hours a week – more like 60 most weeks – it’s difficult to say whether the time I spend (for example) reading industry newsletters, playing around with the next version of Windows, or maintaining my private web sites, is work or play.

    My employer probably considers everything I do that it IT-related to be work; but in these days where pretty much everything I do uses a computer (including my photography), that is rarely the case.

    The best compromise I have found is to follow the guidelines in the post above – making double-sure that I never name clients or disclose confidential information.


  2. You are right, sometimes it’s hard to make the distinction between “work” tasks and personal tech related tasks. Computers are my hobby as well as my job, almost everything I do is around the computer; Building my personal websites, my photography, editing video, documents, finances and games.

    But still, I do not mention my place of employment, it’s clients, it’s porojects, etc. I will write about an interesting problem I came across while programming a piece of software or script or about maintaining some OS or third-party application but never on my workplace proprietary internal software, structure or mechanics.

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