Friday, December 01, 2006

Blogging 101 and Advanced Tips

Just the other day I read that the new President of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), of which I’m a member, has started the President’s blog so as to better interact with the membership at large.

While having a blog is already commonplace among those who work for the computer and software companies, it is still a rarity in the realm of non-profit professional organizations, let alone their chiefs. In fact, blogging by those engaged in the computer industry and software development is overtly endorsed by the respective management as they view it as a sound business/marketing strategy, but with provisos of course.

That’s when codes, policies, and guidelines are drafted to guide the blogging behavior of these resident frontline officers to become assets, and not liabilities.

Here are several, Sun Micro Blog Policies, IBM blogging policy and guidelines, Weblogs at Harvard Law School, and Feedster Blogging Policy, to name just a few.

I’ve skimmed through the guides and note that most of them are also applicable to amateur bloggers like me, i.e., who has no allegiance to any particular product. Therefore, I can blog it as I see it, except commonsense taboos such as no spamming, no falsification, no character assassination, no claiming credit where it is not due, and respecting the privacy of others.

Or if you’re an entrepreneur-blogger, then there are also sage advisories from industry gurus such as this one: Scoble Corporate Weblog Manifesto.

There are also insider tips to better blogging offered here. The tips are sprinkled throughout such articles as (my comments are in parentheses):
  • Finding Your Blogging Voice (What writing style will produce the best results on your blog? You own style pretty much. That's how individuality shines. But do check your spelling, and take care of your grammar, both being not so much for your own gratification, but are a mark of respect accorded to your esteemed readers.);

  • Blogging Best Practices (what makes a blog tick? How to make a blog maximally effective? Pay heed to the various enhancement tools available at your disposal and be a little proactive at embracing them.);

  • The Top Five Myths of Blogging and Five More Common Blogging Myths (the two combine to yield the Top Ten Blogging Myths. Here I would just name one: Can't Blog Because I Can't Write, especially the PAM type);

  • Dealing with Criticism (and yes, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen; or if you can't stay out, then disable the comments facility. Then you will really be blogging for your eyes only.); and

  • When Is A Blog Too Personal? (This is my favorite where we learn that they are three basic kinds of blogs: personal, business, and hybrid, and the litmus test for whether a topic should be in a business blog? The water cooler rule, and you will have to visit the webpage to find out).

(Thanks to my brother in Singapore for all the leads mentioned above.)

OK. I've a change of heart. If you're comfortable talking about a topic with your supervisor hanging around the water cooler or coffee station at your office, it's probably appropriate for your professional blog. But note that I've used the corollary to what is in the article to explain the intricacy of the water cooler rule. And PAM? It's the Perfectionist Author Mode where one spends 90% of the time to do the last 10% of the writing which is essentially cosmetic. I'm no PAM that's for sure.

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