Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Lesson 5: The Rules of Blogging

Posted by Adam Graham on March 18, 2007

Today, we’re going to talk about good, general blogging rules as I see them:

1. Remember Whose House It Is:

The Internet is filled with a new type of refugee, the net refugee. There are people who rail about being kicked off certains, forums, blogs, and websites. They allege persecution and thrown around comparisons to Stalin.

Of course, such a thing is absurd. Private property rights apply in the blogosphere. The blog and what’s written there is the propery of the owner, not of the person coming on the blog.

Another way to look at it is that a sidewalk exists to serve the interests of everyone, but a blog is more like a house. A house exists as the personal domain of the owner, and serves primarily to meet his needs and for his pleasure. Thus no one has a right to comment or to behave in a certain manner on someone else’s blog.

Even though when you have your own blog, it’s your house, it’s important to be consistent in rules and set expectations. If you promise complete openness and then start banning people, you’ll have a reputation for unfairness. Either use hard and fast rules or warn commenters to give them a chance and then if the behavior persists, remove the offending commenter.

2. Visitors/users are human beings

It’s easy to start thinking that they’re just very annoying computer programs, but they are human beings. While you may not have much control over it, you do not want to be the cause of a debate going into personal attacks.

Some people use the Internet as a venting outlet. and will say to the liberal commenter, what they wouldn’t say to the liberal family member, or to the conservative blogger what they wouldn’t say to the conservative co-worker. This can lead to very nasty escalation of the debate to the level of schoolyard insults. To paraphrase Nike, “Just don’t do it.”

The other thing that’s important is to respond feedback promptly. Be it comments or e-mail, when readers care enough to e-mail you, care enough to respond back, work to build a level of committment and follow-through.

3. Be Principed

I recently read a blogger who declared that her blog has an 11th Commamdment policy. This means they will not cricitize Republican elected officials, because they want to see Republicans elected. What’s the problem with that?

In essence, what they’re saying is, “I’ll be a shill for the Republican Party and there’s no principle higher than party victory.” First of all, that’s not going to make people trust them, because if the GOP says down is up and up is down, they’ll believe it and they’ll tell you that. There’s enough shills already in the blogosophere and the mainstream media, one more is not needed.

If you’re willing to criticize your party when they’re wrong, people will take you more serious when you support them when they’re right. Have some principle bigger than party, or you’ll be greatly hindered as a blogger and not really make an impact.

4. Be interesting and informative

Good writing is key to good blogging. Remember, your audience has a limited attention span. If you get too long-winded, you’ll lose them.

Also, before you write ask if you really have something to contribute. Sometimes, it’s all been said, so don’t feel the need to say it again. Let your readers know about a story that interests you and let them read it. If readers know they can trust you to find interesting news for them, that will help with reader loyalty, even if you don’t have a lot to say.

Be sure that the stories you’re talking about serve some purpose. It should inform or enrich them in some way. For example if you’re writing a blog targeted at people in Seattle and you write, “Boy, it’s rainy outside.” You’ve not really done anything other than waste your readers’ time. You can add something with a photo of the storm or you can discuss the consequences of it.

5. Be Trustworthy Online and Off:

Without integrity, you have no credability as a blogger. Without

1) Properly attribute quotes and avoid plagarism.

2) Do not practice sock puppetry (i.e. assuming a second identity from your blogging one.)

3) Respect privacy and security of others

4) Insure accuracy and apologize for errors.

5) Disclose potential conflicts of Interests.

Following these basic steps will help you avoid the most common blogging ethical mistakes.

6. Be Dependable

-Post consistently. Consistently can be every day, three times a week, every week, but it has to be there. While the unserious blogger may go months between posts, if you wish to build a readership, you have to be there when they expect you to be there. If they can’t expect any type of consistency they won’t read, you’ll only have people stumbling on your blog.

7. Keep Up On Technology

Technology in blogging is always changing. New technology, new updates, new versions, allow you opportunities to grow and become more proficient at blogging, communicate to more people, and creativity. Don’t get in a rut. With blogging as with everything else, the watchword is, “Don’t stop learning!”

Click here to listen.


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