Thursday, August 30, 2007

Corporate Blogging versus Internet Blogging

An internal effort to come up with corporate blogging requirements made me think about guidelines or a code of ethics that bloggers should follow, pretty much like there is a code of ethics for writing documents or emails.

Corporate blog guidelines
I don't need to go further than re-iterating the excellent 6 points described in this Groundswell post by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff:

  1. Make it clear that the views expressed in the blog are yours alone and do not necessarily represent the views of your employer.
  2. Respect the company’s confidentiality and proprietary information.
  3. Ask your manager if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog.
  4. Be respectful to the company, employees, customers, partners, and competitors.
  5. Understand when the company asks that topics not be discussed for confidentiality or legal compliance reasons.
  6. Ensure that your blogging activity does not interfere with your work commitments. "
However, I think the guidelines need to be applied differently in two aspe to the type of blogging that people intend to do, i.e. they are highly dependent on whether the targetted audience is behind or outside of the company's firewall. These are about matters of confidentiality and interference with work commitments.

Regarding confidential information

When the audience is restricted to colleagues, one is bound by the company's internal policy regarding handling and sharing sensitive information internally. There are 4 levels in the classification of information in my company:
  • Public domain information
  • Information for internal use
  • Confidential information
  • Strictly confidential information

Essentially, information for internal use can by circulated on electronic environments internally, provided those environments are protected by standard company security. Confidential information can be circulated on a "need to know" basis, to a restricted number of colleagues and strictly confidential information cannot be circulated without express authorization by the originator of the information.

Internet blogging on the other hand, should not include any information for internal use unless there has been explicit authorization to use it outside the firewall.

Regarding interference with work commitment.

Although the statement is to be followed when corporate bloggers talk about subjects that are not directly linked to their work, there is a growing opportunity to use blogging as an alternate means of describing work in process and accomplishments in the scope of work assignments. Potentially, this new means of publishing results can help decrease the overhead in multipurpose email with the outstanding benefits of offering a space to retrieve/reuse/comment on the information at a later date as it has a permanent web address and can be tagged.

For more information about categories of blogs, check the reflections on the learning values of blogs by John Casteldine, an estimated colleague of mine.