Blogging Guidelines

IBM’s call to arms now means that they will have up to 300,000 bloggers working fror them, in the form of employees. But what will be the price? Compliance with the IBM Blogging Guidelines.

Is it really that bad? No of course not, in fact at a high level it is pretty good. Here the is executive summary:-

  1. Know and follow IBM’s 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.
  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.
  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.”
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information.
  7. Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
  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.
  9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.
  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.
  11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

Overall the guide is reasonable, however Scoble says he has broken some of the guidelines (which is ok as he works for Microsoft whos guideline is simple “Be Smart”) and he knows of employees at IBM who have also broken the guidelines.

What I find very interesting is this guide has been written by IBM employees through the use of an internal Wiki. Another interesting point, as James Snell states, is the guideline actually contradicts some of the generally agreed guidelines for employee blogging. I see this as a good thing, because it means that the IBM guidelines actually take into account the corporate culture.

I still have a few questions.

  • How many of the 300,000 potential employees actually contributed to the guidelines?
  • Or was it just the A-list bloggers inside IBM?
  • Did the many different local offices get a chance to input from a legal perspective, you can get yourself into a lot of hot water in some parts of the world based on what you write.
  • Has IBM incorporated the guidelines into the induction process, if no how long till they do?
  • Has there been communications to managers and HR professionals on how to handle when the guidelines are broken?

3 thoughts on “Blogging Guidelines

  1. Blogs can be a form of corporate communications. You can use it to publish your press releases about your company.

    You can also use blogs to market your product or services, by demonstrating in a storylike fashion how the product or service can benefit your readers.

    To make blogs a form of corporate communications, and to make sure that the posts stay within the guidelines, you need to appoint an editor. IBM is going to have 300,000 bloggers. IBM needs to have editors to where the stories need to be approved before being allowed to be posted.

  2. Interestly, as soon as you provide an editor you have a legal liability in some parts of the world.

    I suspect that IBM is wanting more a product technical focus in the blogs, like Microsoft has done, than generic corporate PR type communication. Only time will tell which it will be.

    Thanks for the comments.

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