May 18, 2005

Big Blue Breathes

While the blogging world+dog has gone in a frenzied chase after its latest whipping boy - IBM's guidelines for blogging - it would be a wee bit interesting to try and figure out how else could it have been drafted. As I had commented on Dare's post on the subject, this is more about a company wanting to keep its mouth clear about whatever feet its employees choose to put in it. Time to tackle the points blow-by-blow.

1. Know and follow IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines.
Obviously, no company in its sane mind is going to ask its employees to ignore the 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.
To the uninitiated, blogs, wikis and forums are not any form of corporate communications. Don't tell me that you did not know that already?

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.
Refer to point 2.

4. If you publish a blog or post to a blog 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."
Once again, refer to point 2, a lot of the personal blogs I have seen have the disclaimer about not being the opinion of the employers. There is nothing new here, move along.

5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
Laws are laws, whether you, me or my mom likes them. Blogging is good, but blogging is not a way to get around them. Speak up, scream out, but do it responsibly.

6. Don't provide IBM's or another's confidential or other proprietary information.
Simple and straight forward, right? Even without these guidelines, almost every sensible blogger does this already.

7. Don't cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
Not too complicated again. Write something about a client, partner or supplier and it does not go too well with them, it should not be the company's headache that you wrote it.

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.
Self-explanatory again.

9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.
Did someone not say this was all about the conversation?

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.
Sounds like a decent enough rule to me.

11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.
A simple case of signal vs noise?

Now, what was all the fuss about again?