Thursday, June 01, 2006

Some of my blogging rules (of thumb)

Its a year since I started blogging and I promise to reflect more fully on the positive and negative aspects of blogging. In the meantime, just before I go on holiday, I’ve had a go at codifying the rules of thumb I use when creating a blog entry

1. One blog entry one idea

Not always that simple but what I aim for.

2. Know what you are going to say before you start writing

Don’t ramble. Have a unified idea up front before you start writing. Sketch it out in your head, on paper or on the dictation machine - it helps if you can talk it through from start to end, that also helps keep it short.

Don’t ramble.

3. About individuals: If you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything

Courtesy - an old idea I know, plus you don’t know when you’ll meet in future so don’t be horrid about someone unless they’ve asked for it.

Two exceptions: authors and politicians, they put their head up and expect to get shot at.

Fellow bloggers? I don’t know, Robert Scobie or Nick Carr, they are bloggers who I see as fair game - well, they both have books so maybe they are authors, but people like myself? Like my work colleagues who blog? No, these are ordinary folk, don’t be horrid to them.

4. Don’t change blogs after they are published– especially not the title

If I revised blog posts after the event I’d be here all day revising them. In some ways blog entries are a matter of record. Plus, knowing that you won’t change them helps you focus and think seriously about what you published.

I have changed a few entries within minutes of writing them, just to fix errors (spelling, grammar, logic, word missing) and I changed the title once but it really adds to the time it takes to write and entry so better to get it right before you publish.

5. Remember you next boss could be reading this blog

This cuts both ways: someone could read this blog and decide they want to hire me – unlikely but it could happen, I suppose. Then again I could be in line for a job and they decide to do some due diligence on me, wouldn’t be hard to find this blog, and I could wreck my chances of getting the job.

So, don’t give offence, don’t get too wacky, and if you do say something wacky then explain your self and give evidence.

6. Remember you current boss could be reading this blog

Try to be objective, don’t get hung up on events in the company; yes things that happen in work will inspire thoughts and ideas, try to generalise them and look for supporting evidence outside the company - otherwise it is just a comment on one company.

Don’t talk about the company directly, don’t disclose confidential information, don’t talk about current events in the company (comes from 3 above). Keeps life simple.

7. Remember you colleagues could be reading this

Blogging can be a great way to introduce new ideas to your colleagues but you are also responsible for being objective and not beating up on the company or for giving co-workers (too many) wacky ideas.

8. Don’t write in anger and haste

Yes blog entries are written quickly but I do try to read them through and correct them at least once before they are posted. Sometimes I get wound about something and want to blog it there and then - doing so is a good a relief valve. But, and it is a BIG BUT, don’t post it as soon as you’ve written it. Sit on it, if after a couple of days, when you’ve calmed down it still seems like a good then post it.

I have 2-3 blog entries that have never got posted because after a couple of days I realized they were written in anger and in hast, they weren’t as objective as they could be and they could give offence. Unusually these entries violate one of the rules above - and frequently ramble - so it is best to recognise the need to reflect before you post.

9. Strive for objectivity but don’t get hung up on it

I’d love to be objective but it would take too long, but it would require lots of research... and actually I don’t think true objectivity exists, at some level there is always context and opinion. Still, try to be objective, don’t be too biased, think through your arguments.