Ethics in Blogging

The Blogger’s Conference is coming up quickly… less than a month to go! I had an email from a regular reader asking me if there are ethical guidelines for blogs. She also wanted to know if we would address this topic at the conference? I told her that as far as I could see, the only restraint is one’s own conscience. And although we might discuss the concept informally, it is not on the agenda.

There are so many kinds of blogs out there. Some are beautifully written and some bloggers seem to have trouble      putting together a simple sentence.  Some blogs are upbeat and others are extremely negative. Cooking blogs, travel blogs, writing blogs, every kind of cultural blog, music blogs… Then there are political blogs – a class in themselves. I think there are an awful lot of blogs that are started so that the author can vent.

Blogs are like websites and the internet is pretty much a no-holds-barred place. The writers of blogs that some may find objectionable, quite rightly say, “You don’t have to read it…”  Blogs evolve; there are a few I used to like that I am pretty skeptical of now. So, I just don’t go there anymore. Simple.

As one who posts frequently, I can tell you it is sometimes hard to come up with a steady flow of new ideas. For me, blogging is an everyday writing exercise, and I look at it as such. I know that not everyone will be interested in what I write, every day. And I’m cool with that.

But there are a couple things that puzzle me. Sometimes I will spend a lot of time on a post and will not get very many hits or comments. On other occasions I’ll write a fluffy filler piece and get hundreds of hits and oodles of responses. I think readers know that writers love to get feedback… I’ve heard of lots of bloggers who link to Facebook or Twitter.

At a party I went to, not long ago, a woman approached me, “I l-o-v-e your blog. I read it every day, but I don’t ever comment.” “Why,” I asked, “I spend a lot of time on my posts, and I enjoy getting feedback.” “Oh, I don’t want all of cyber space knowing my opinions,” she said. Even though that’s not the case with me, I could understand her point of view. Fair enough, but she could email, or preface her comment with “Not for Publishing.”

My blog is just a year and a half old, and I love blogging. It gives me a break from my other pursuits and I know it improves vocabulary, punctuation and writing technique. Stretching my mind to come up with new angles is good for me… As well, I have met so many people through my blog.

If you are a blogger, come to the Third Annual Latin American Blogger’s Conference, and share your experiences. If you are not a blogger, think about it… you can get set up for free at Blogger or WordPress. Good luck!

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Ethics in Blogging

  1. I would love to make it to the Blogger Conference, but we don’t arrive in Merida until that evening.
    I, too, get lots of hits and no comments on some posts. I just take it as a sign that the viewer didn’t quite know what to say. Occasionally I am the one reading but not commenting (for a variety of reasons.)

  2. I, too, agree with Aurora. The “energy draining” part must be considered. I often want to post a response, but find that I need to reflect a bit on the content, and hence the “drain.”

    Congratulations to all you bloggers who manage to deal with this, post new comment, and survive. I’m still not sure I could do it, so…

    Thanks.

  3. Hi, Joanna,
    Your piece struck a chord within me because I find so much online that is truly energy draining, I simply cannot return. Not just blog sites but the social sites, all of it. While I am all for sharing ourselves, otherwise, what is a blog’s purpose, I don’t agree with pointless rants and anything harmful to others in any way. I understand the person who does not want to leave their opinions out there but I don’t use my full name online, if ever, only if there is a cheque involved, lol.
    As writers, we bare our souls every minute of every day, it’s out there “naked for all the world to see” and Ralph Keyes’ book “Courage to Write” has the best title ever, in my opinion, nevermind contents. I don’t believe you will ever run out of topics as I only started my blog in spring at the urging of writer friends and I though the same. But as a former writing instructor, Ed Griffin (link on my page: writerswrite) of mine once said, the more you write the more you write. I have found this to be true. It’s as if I cannot stop and if you don’t believe me by now, surely this lengthy post will confirm it, LOL Sorry I blogged on your blog. Thank you for bringing to our attention something I’ve lamented since the advent of technology: online courtesies, manners and ethics. Too often anonymity is nothing more than a shield for abuse. I’l lbe back… soon 🙂
    Janice (Aurora Morealist)

    • Yes Aurora I agree with you. When you say one never runs out of topics,,, that’s true. I have trouble sometimes thinking up something “appropriate”… there’s where the ethics come in. I have strong opinions but I don’t like to press them on people (well… not TOO often!) Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Hi Joanna,

    Blogging ethics is something I debate with myself and sometimes others. Steve Cotton did a nice talk at last year’s conference on legalities of blogging that seemed to touch on ethics as well. But I’m often uncertain about things like using images (is graffiti or street art implicitly copyrighted? Do you need consent to use individuals’ images, or do you have a moral or ethical requirement to get it?); naming people, describing conversations or details about other people. Should you always ask permission, and what if that’s not possible?

    This writer/academic created a nice, concise proposal for a blogging code of ethics. Blogging Ethics

    It’s interesting to see that, like you, he sees commenting and responding and being part of the community as a component of ethics. I never really thought of it that way.

    Happy Canadian Thanksgiving by the way. Tom’s making the pavo today. I’m thankful that that!

    • Se entiende… Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Debbie. When I started my blog I didn’t think about ethics at all… I was too busy trying to remember what I had to do. I still worry more about the “content” of my blog than about the “legal” part. I hope I don’t get myself in hot water with anyone! I think it’s important to not seriously offend… I have lots of STRONG opinions but I don’t put them up because I don’t want to get people all upset. There’s enough for me to write about without doing that… And Happy Thanksgiving to you too! We are having the bird and all the other bits tomorrow… but I am prepping today. I love it!

  5. Thanks for posting this interesting topic, Joanna. (Yes, I was the emailer you mentioned.)

    I did a quick Google of the subject this morning, and found some things out there of interest.

    Although the following link is primarily focussed on plagiarism, there are other relevant threads as well:

    from: http://jrichardstevens.com/articles/webb-blogethics.pdf–

    “Just because blogs are a “free medium” doesn’t mean that rules of playing fair need not apply.”

    My own particular belief is that things that are presented as factual should be done so with a sense of accountability. That’s probably why letters to the editor to such as the Washington Post must be presented by a real person with a real address and email. They will not accept letters submitted by a pseudonym or anonymously.

    I would hope that, perhaps with more education, the public will expect higher standards of bloggers as well.

  6. Lee

    I had really drifted away from writing until I started blogging a few years ago. My first blogs were part of a network of “hyper local” posts for my town’s newspaper, and I started writing about architecture and art. That ran out of steam really fast, and blogging tools were really crude back then. A lack of spam filters would result in embarrassing comments underneath my posts, as well, which would make me angry.

    It took me a while to find my voice, but now that I’m on a roll, I’m really glad I took the time to struggle with the medium and turn it into something fulfilling for me.

  7. I agree, not getting hits and comments is essentially putting the blogger in a virtual Siberia. Without interaction with the readers, it’s very tough to know if the message of the blog is “getting out there.”

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I see that you are into Mexican History. I recently visited Puebla, Cholula, and Oaxaca Mexico, regions infinitely rich with Mexican history. I posted several blog items about it including a piece about the largest pyramid in the world, in San Pedro Cholula.

    I also posted about 100 photographs from that trip on my photo site: http://cdeminskiphotos.shutterfly.com. If you look at the Faces of Mexico page, and the Oaxaca page you’ll see all the shots.

    Best of luck to you on your continuing journey as a blogger!
    Carol

    • Thank you Carol, I don’t mind if readers don’t write but I’m often surprised by what they respond to and what they don’t. Funny that you were in Puebla and Oaxaca at the same time as us last year… they are both beautiful states. I will have a look at your pictures… maybe I’ll see one of my group in one of them!

  8. You have only had your blog for a year and a half! It always seems new and fresh yet professional along with personal, I hope after a year and a half I will still have something to write about.
    Just so you will know, I always read (everyday), always enjoy, rarely comment because, comments before I have had my coffee would make absolutely no sense!

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