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Blogging and Ethics, Part 3: The Anti-Guidelines

1. First, do your best to puncture our stuffy “scholarly” image and show show everyone that librarians are as groovy as everyone else. Dumb down your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, haul out as many formulaic expressions as you know of, and use lots of exclamation points and question marks in a sentence. Y Nott???? Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!!!!!!

2. If youíre short on material, just borrow it from another site, and move around a couple of words so it looks just like you wrote it. They do that at big newspapers all the time.

3. If someone asks whether your blog is advocacy, commentary, or factual information, say whatever feels right at the time. You can always change your story as the situation warrants.

4. However, if you get challenged on a fact, immediately refer to your blog as “commentary.” That way youíre off the hook for how you represent facts or context.

5. When talking to sources, donít mention your blog, and lead people on to believe that your friendly conversation is off the record. Youíll get really good stuff this way. If they get mad, explain that your blog comes first. They will understand.

6. Under no circumstances should you ever stop to fact-check. You are maintaining a blog, by definition a host for up-to-the-minute writing that has to be rushed to the blogosphere like a patient going to the emergency room. With all this pressure to publish, you cannot be expected to check with more than one source or do any research to back up what you’re saying.

7. Avoid citing your sources. What if you get your facts wrong? Your sources will hang you! Besides, this strategy gives you the leeway to use just about anyone as a source, regardless of their qualifications or conflicts of interest.

8. Fudge pictures as needed (tip: Photoshop is great for this). Readers hate it when pictures and facts donít match up.

9. When covering a suite of products and services, only link to the ones you personally like (whether or not you’ve evaluated any of them), and do what you can with your headlines and descriptions to emphasize your favorites. Your readers will get the hint, wink wink, nudge nudge.

10. See if you can accept money for promoting products you like, as long as you donít have to tell your readers about the deal. (My, writing that sentence made me thirsty; wish I had a Pepsi!)

11. If you misrepresent what others say and they get mad, under no circumstances should you correct the record. Tell these whiners they are taking blogs way too seriously.

12. However, if you decide to change a post for some other reason, like you got some stupid “fact” wrong and this lawyer keeps calling you, do it under the radar. No one remembers what you wrote in the first place. Lawyers eventually give up and go away.

13. When you are covering meetings and presentations, check other sites frequently during the discussion and post on their sites, too. If possible, giggle at inappropriate times during the presentation so everyone knows you are a totally cool multi-tasker.

14. Finally, remember that unlike traditional publishing mediums, you are not weighed down with accountability, there are no consequences for what you write, and the squeaking blog gets the hits. Ready fire aim!

15. I must have forgotten a couple of things, so send me a comment. I won’t post that comment, but I will take your idea and make it mine, mine, all mine…

(These “anti-guidelines” were adapted from much less alarming and far more helpful guidelines presented by Cyberjournalist.org, Rebecca Blood, and Michael Stephens.)

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