IBM Blogging Policy, Guidelines

With maybe thousands of employees about to start blogging, IBM needs guidelines. Over a period of ten days, IBM bloggers has written them using an internal wiki James Snell writes in his blog (via).

He also publishes the guidelines. Interesting reading, and one more example of corporate blogging policies/guidelines to use if and when you need to write something for your own company.

Guidelines for IBM Bloggers: Executive Summary

  1. Know and follow IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines.
  2. Blogs, wikis and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications. IBMers are personally responsible for their posts. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a long time -- protect your privacy.
  3. Identify yourself -- name and, when relevant, role at IBM -- when you blog about IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
  4. If you publish a blog or post to a blog and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions."
  5. Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
  6. Don't provide IBM's or another's confidential or other proprietary information.
  7. Don't cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval.
  8. Respect your audience. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc., and show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory -- such as politics and religion.
  9. Find out who else is blogging on the topic, and cite them.
  10. Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
  11. Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective.
It's very well written, I think -- even if I would make it much clearer that if they blog for IBM, they represent IBM. For all legal reasons in the world, I guess, points 2-4 has got to be there. But if we're talking about how it's understood in the minds of the readers it's different.

I construct my view of IBM while reading James Snell. I don't care if it's his personal opinions - he's IBM to me. Scoble is Microsoft to me. Schwartz is Sun to me.

This is of course exactly what IBM, Microsoft or Sun wants. That's the power of the personal blog voice. But perhaps policies/guidelines should make this a bit clearer. The IBMers are not seasoned communicators that know this by heart (and they shouldn't be, that's the point of a blogging initiative like IBM's).

Posted by Fredrik Wackå Monday, May 16, 2005
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