Blog Civility

Mom taught us to mind our manners, so that other people would enjoy being around us.  Business blogging, I’ve come to realize, has its own set of "manners".

I don’t mean just what management mavens like to call "best practices", but simple courtesies you wish every blogger would make part of his or her routine. After all, social networking is a form of conversation, and, if for no other reason than we want to do business, we need to make it pleasant for people to stay in the conversation with us. When I say "people", I’m talking about potential customers who arrive at our blog through the search process, fellow bloggers, and business colleagues.

Keeping blog content relevant to the topic and up to date with what’s happening in the field – and in the news – is one courtesy we can extend to our readers. Having a simple navigation path on the blog site is another, so viewers don’t have to play hide-and-seek to connect to your website, contact you, or get more information. Going light on jargon and technical terms without "dumbing down" the material shows respect for the readers’ intellect – and for their time.

Answer comments others post to your blog.  There’s nothing ruder, in my opinion, than ignoring someone’s message. If the comment is derogatory (but not crass, off-topic or using inappropriate language), see that as a chance to "turn away wrath" with a soft, expert, answer. If you don’t want to publish a comment, the least you can do is answer the person via direct email. (Do you like it when someone doesn’t return your phone call?)

Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley, authors of Blogging For Dummies, remind us to respect copyrights, cautioning us that "Anything and everything you see on the Internet is protected by copyright. It’s more than OK to quote another person’s blog post if you take only parts of it and don’t take the credit for creating it. In an earlier blog post (see "Ties That Tell The Truth In Blogging"), I explained the importance of avoiding plagiarism by properly attributing statements to their authors.  Just as I’ve done in this blog post, you can link to another blog that was the original source of a point you’re emphasizing in your own blog.

In fact, linking to other blogs has a built-in reward system. Beside the psychic reward that comes from doing the right thing, it’s nice to know electronic links actually earn "Brownie points" in terms of search engine rankings for your own blog!

Just as Mom always said, "Play nice, and you’ll get asked back."


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