Wednesday, December 19, 2007

When Blogging Goes Bad

One of my close friends has just gotten into deep trouble at work. The reason? His MySpace blog, in which he shared information that was a LITTLE too personal, and a LITTLE too not-happy-with-work. One of his colleagues apparently forwarded a not-so-complementary post to one of his bosses, and well - you know how it goes.

As more folks take up the torch and start documenting their lives online, employers are starting to take notice, and more people are getting into trouble at work over things that they say or do in their online lives. As far back as 2005, ABC News posted a story about just this type of thing.

It sucks, yes, but it can be prevented, with a bit of foresight.

For one thing, it's really not a good idea to insult your clients, coworkers or company in a blog post - especially if you're in a high-profile position. Even if you don't name names, it's just not a good idea. In a world that gets smaller by the minute, you never know who you know who knows the person you're talking about.

Also, it's a good idea to monitor who gets to read your writing. In the case of a blogging software like MySpace or LiveJournal, you can actually set blog posts so that only specific people can read them. This isn't foolproof (I believe they can still come up in Google searches), but it helps make sure that some of the saucier (or less professional) bits of you don't get through to folks that you don't want reading it.

Lastly, ask yourself before you write: who am I writing this for? How would I feel if my boss/mother/person I'm talking about read this? If it's not something you'd want someone that close to you to read, don't put it online. Personally, I suggest having both an online and a paper journal, or just sticking to the paper journal.

While these notes are definitely more geared towards personal blogs, a lot of it holds true in business blogging as well - if you're afraid of person X coming across a post you made in your business blog, it's a good idea not to post it. This is another reason why I recommend having an informal "blog content plan" when you start your business blog - if you have an idea of what types of things that you want to share with people, it's not only easier to write, it's easier to figure out things that won't be a good fit for the blog.

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