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Blog Policies

(July 30, 2003) -  It's coming. The "blogosphere" currently contains about 2.5 Million blogs (updated at least once in the past 30 days). AOL's new "journaling tool" makes blogging a part of the AOL experience. Google is integrating blog capabilities throughout its service. Microsoft and Yahoo won't be far behind.

We've frequently mentioned the Army's integration of a blog into their recruiting process. We're certain that blogging will become a part of the Recruiting toolkit. It's a method for making the workplace come to life in the eyes of a potential candidate.

With blogs (and other network communication tools), the lines between personal and company are increasingly blurred.

As was predicted at the start of the web revolution, publishing, from books to editorial opinion, is decentralizing. Contemporary notions of management and "press relations" offer little in the way of guidance...you simply can not edit or control the output of all employees all the time. Although it's tempting to want to, it's simply not possible. Trust is becoming an increasingly important management skill.

We offer the following Weblog Policy as a guideline. It was developed by John Robb (former CEO of one of the blogging companies). It's a useful starting place when you are thinking about using and encouraging workplace blogging.

Personal Website and Weblog Guidelines

Some employees who maintain personal websites or weblogs, or who are considering beginning one, have asked about the company's perspective regarding them. In general, the company views personal websites and weblogs positively, and it respects the right of employees to use them as a medium of self-expression.

If you choose to identify yourself as a company employee or to discuss matters related to the company's technology or business on your website or weblog, please bear in mind that, although you and we view your website or weblog as a personal project and a medium of personal expression, some readers may nonetheless view you as a de facto spokesperson for the company. In light of this possibility, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:

  • Please make it clear to your readers that the views you express are yours alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of the company. To help reduce the potential for confusion, we would appreciate it if you put the following notice - or something similar - in a reasonably prominent place on your site (e.g., at the bottom of your "about me" page):

    The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
  • If you do put a notice on your site, you needn't put it on every page, but please use reasonable efforts to draw attention to it - if at all possible, from the home page of your site.
  • Take care not to disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the company or to any third party that has disclosed information to us. Consult the company's confidentiality policy for guidance about what constitutes confidential information.
  • Please remember that your employment documents give the company certain rights with respect to concepts and developments you produce that are related to the company's business. Please consult your manager if you have questions about the appropriateness of publishing such concepts or developments related to the company's business on your site.
  • Since your site is a public space, we hope you will be as respectful to the company, our employees, our customers, our partners and affiliates, and others (including our competitors) as the company itself endeavors to be.
  • You may provide a link from your site to the company's website, if you wish. The web design group has created a graphic for links to the company's site, which you may use for this purpose during the term of your employment (subject to discontinuation in the company's discretion). Contact a member of the web design group for details. Please do not use other company trademarks on your site or reproduce company material without first obtaining permission.
  • Finally, please be aware that the company may request that you temporarily confine your website or weblog commentary to topics unrelated to the company (or, in rare cases, that you temporarily suspend your website or weblog activity altogether) if it believes this is necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with securities regulations or other laws.

If you have any questions about these guidelines or any matter related to your site that these guidelines do not address, please direct them to the company's Vice President of Communications or its General Counsel, as appropriate.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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