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Draft Blog Guidelines

Shamelessly cobbled together from several sources (such as LITA’s blog policy and the canonical St. Petersburg College Library Blog Policy), here’s a generic draft blog guideline. Alane, per your earlier comment, I wasn’t sure how or whether to wedge in a statement about not talking about confidential projects, which would be on the lines of OCLC not discussing products. You’d think people wouldn’t spill the beans about grant applications and stuff like that… but should it get spelled out here or are existing organizational guidelines sufficient?

Purpose

The MPOW Libraries are providing blogs to MPOW departments to advance the … [mission/purpose/general big-sky hoo-hah; a functional statement, as opposed to “because we wanted to say we were blogging”].

Blog managers

XYZ will be responsible for overall blog administration [tag, you’re it!]. Technical questions and problems can be directed to XYZ via [email/Request Tracker/3 wise men and a donkey].

Hosting

Blogs are hosted at [blogs.library.MPOW.edu?] . MPOW Libraries blogs run on WordPress MU [at least we hope so]. MPOW Libraries blogs have a design congruent with university guidelines for website branding [as opposed to the blandly ugly blue and white WordPress default template]. The default blog template includes “about page” information and links to other MPOW library blogs. The “about page” may be customized and other pages may be added; however, the “about page” or default link sets may not be removed.

Blog Assignments

For 2007, to conserve bandwidth and ensure a smooth migration to this new service, one blog will be assigned on request to each department at MPOW Libraries. Department heads may share and/or delegate editorial responsibilities for their blogs.

Acceptable Use

It is expected that blog postings will be professional and reflect well on the MPOW Libraries community. Bloggers are encouraged to put a “best foot forward” on MPOW Libraries activities. Bloggers are strongly encouraged to check facts, cite sources, present balanced views, acknowledge and correct errors, and check spelling and grammar before making a post live.

MPOW Libraries reserve the right not to post any blog post, or to later remove it.

Links to related posts are encouraged, but bloggers should post original content rather than reposting entire items from other blogs or lists.

Comments

Comments are open to all but may be moderated by the blog manager. Commentary, opinion, and reaction to posts are welcome and consonant with MPOW’s commitment to academic freedom. Comments should be relevant to the specific post they are attached to. Spam, flaming, personal attacks, and off-topic comments are not permitted. MPOW Libraries reserve the right not to post any comment or to later remove it.

Blog managers and/or bloggers will establish procedures for managing and moderating comments.

Pages

Permanent pages in each blog’s sidebar will be used for frequently requested information.

Links

Links to other MPOW Libraries-affiliated websites and blogs will be provided in the default blog template. Other links to notable websites or blogs may be added to Links or Blogroll sections if the consensus is that they would be useful to readers.

Best Practices

These guidelines may help ensure the success of your department’s blog.

A. Only establish a blog if you plan to maintain it—that is, to post to the blog at least once per week.
B. Determine in advance who will contribute to the blog and how much time you have for this blog. For successful, time-sensitive blogging, consider using “found content” (ready-made data from library email lists, Web news, etc.) rather than drafting original content. Aim for brief, newsy posts with strong opening sentences.
C. Consider a “soft launch” where you post to the blog for a week or two to get used to it.
D. Pictures liven up blog entries and provide informational value to posts.
E. Do not feel compelled to post every day. Post when you have something to share.
F. Determine your audience. Is this a blog for your department? For your users? For library-wide reading? All of the above? Any of these uses are appropriate, but use the answers to this question to guide your content and your marketing.
G. Share your blog in appropriate venues. Don’t rely on being “found.” If you have a blog of interest to faculty, let them know. Use your blog URL in instructional materials. Add it to your signature file.

Copyright

Content on XYZ Libraries blogs is governed by [a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License] [?] Please also review MPOW Libraries’ Acceptable Use and Copyright Statement.

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5 Comments

  1. Alane wrote:

    Existing organizational communication guidelines may be sufficient as long as it’s clear blogging is included in the types of communications covered. There are, we think, some things that are sufficiently different about blogging that warrant particular mention as rules or guidelines.

    The issue of “shouldn’t people just know” what to do or not to do has come up as we’ve been working on guidelines for blogging at OCLC. Most of us said “yes, but….” The “but” includes new employees who may not know that certain kinds of topics are verboten (particularly if they come from a different field); people who think blogging on a personal blog about work stuff is OK; and people who really do need reining in for whatever reasons.

    Once the OCLC guidelines are done (ie, approved) we’d be happy to share.

    Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Walter Underwood wrote:

    I would clearly separate the rules and the advice. Also, think about what it means to break one of the rules. Does the university do something if a blog doesn’t check facts? If it isn’t updated frequently? If a posting is a personal attack on someone else? If an employee’s performance evaluation is posted? Some of these rules may be different for tenured faculty and for staff, some will get you fired, and some don’t matter.

    In the IBM blogging guidelines, the first rule is to follow the existing IBM Business Conduct Guidelines. There is some additional info around that, but the blogging guidelines do not simplify or even restate the general business conduct guidelines. That is a good idea.

    It doesn’t work to have separate rules for blogging, so you need to reference existing organizational guidelines whereever they apply. If those don’t work for blogging, they need fixed.

    The advice is good, by the way. I might separate the “found content” bit into a separate item, noting that information needs to be useful but it doesn’t need to be original.

    You might spend some time thinking of valid blogs that violate one of the rules. The art department is a good place to start. What about a photograph that already has a different copyright and can’t use creative commons? Does that mean they can’t publicize their gallery with university blog?

    Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
  3. Jenny Levine wrote:

    Perfect timing, as I will be writing a best practices document for ALA staff bloggers. Thank you!

    Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  4. kgs wrote:

    Alane, I like your points. Walt, chewing over your input. (Long day. Brain tired. Needs rest. :> )

    Wednesday, January 3, 2007 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  5. Well done. It is very refreshing to read some guidelines that cover new types of policies for a new age. In the Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 world we need to think about all things tied to a concept. The technology is great and very important for reaching our audience, but often we miss the important big picture details and get lost in wow factor of the tool. Thanks for sharing, Craig.

    Friday, January 5, 2007 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

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