Blogging For Bloggers: Learn The Basics

It seems to me that there are a surprising proportion of bloggers who simply don’t understand how blogging works, how the internet works, or indeed that information published on the internet is actuallly publicly available.

Firstly, we had the scaremongering headlines from the BBC and from Out-Law suggesting that more than a third of UK bloggers are at risk of dismissal for their blogs.

Shock, horror, gasp! But before you all quickly close down all of your blogs in a blind panic, it might be worth noting why:

Of those who keep a blog, 39% admitted that they had posted details which could be potentially sensitive or damaging about their place of work, employer or a colleague.Out-Law

So — wait a minute — what we’re saying is that people aren’t risking dismissal for having a blog, they’re risking dismissal if they go public with sensitive information or start disparaging their employers.

No! Really?

The key thing to remember — as the story points out — is that you shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the informality (or in some cases supposed anonynimity).

The surprise for me is not so much that these bloggers are at risk of dismissal, the surprise is the proportion of bloggers who either don’t seem to know that whatever they publish goes into the public domain — where it can be seen by anyone.

Public Sector Forums highlighted this recently, pointing out that even professionals fall foul of this. They discovered that that there was a blog related to DirectGov that was available publicly, and hosted on the Wordpress domain, and they didn’t seem to realise that people could come across the site even if they didn’t tell anyone about it:

Their first fatal error was to put the ‘private’ ‘internal’ blog meant for certain eyes only onto the public-facing, open, viewable, Wibbly Wobbly Web. Their next was to link to articles on external blogs, which someone then clicked on…

Blogger Simon Dickson discovered the ’secret’ blog after checking who was visiting his site. There, lo and behold, in his referral logs, was the web address of Directgov’s hush-hush weblog.Public Sector Forums

So, in short, remember a couple of things:

  • Information on the internet is public. Anything you put on there may be read by anyone, and may be identifiable back to you
  • You can’t always take back what you put on there — archives of whatever it was may be taken at any time

Or in shorter, think before you type.

3 Responses to “Blogging For Bloggers: Learn The Basics”

  1. Steve responds:

    I think it’s a lesson most of us learn after the initial excitement and novelty of having a blog dies down. I’m more careful about not offending friends and family - albeit by accident. I’m too bored with work lately to blog about it.

    And besides - some of us choose not to blog in anonymity anyway :-)

  2. paul canning responds:

    The directgov blog isn’t public. it’s here >

    they must have links in there to my reviews :}

    I’ve no idea what PSF/Simon mean … sometimes the desire to get them must overwhelm all reason ….

    We’re protected by the human rights act just so long as we don’t / are very cautious about what we post related to work. I just don’t, it’s easier. I like to think if the Mail ever did an expose on me (hah!), I’d be protected. *Like to think ,,,, ;]


  3. JackP responds:

    @Paul - what they’re driving at is that initially (apparently) it was public, and not limited to known, logged in users.

    @Steve - that’s the thing. I am who I am, I have my opinions, and I don’t try to hide me. Why should I pretend not to be me? I understand that for obvious reasons (e.g. Bloodbus, Girl with a one track mind), some blogs work better if they’re anonymous — even though ‘girl’ was famously outed but I feel that people are entitled to be able to associate the thoughts, opinions and occassional vitriol with an actual person when they visit my site…

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