Monday, October 24, 2005

Should your company have a corporate blogging policy?

Corporations are seemingly driven by the policy statement. The policy statement lays out certain behaviors and expectations by the corporation of its employees. I suppose they might serve the same role as "laws" in governments.

So, we've entered the brave new world. The latest gift (?boondoggle?) the technological wizards have brought us is the "Blog" (web log).

While blogs are nothing more than websites organized in a specific fashion, they are catching on like crazy. They enable people to more easily publish websites, plus blogs have a built in community-forming system where people can connect blog postings to other blog postings. This has been wonderful to watch, and lowers the barrier to entry of individual people becoming providers of Internet content, rather than just passive destinations to which content is delivered.

'Corporate blogging policy? What blogging policy?' UK bosses keeping staff in the dark about blog behaviour (By Jo Best, silicon.com, Published: Monday 26 September 2005)

The article has its perspective based in the UK, but probably applies to anywhere. Blogging is such a new thing that most corporate bosses might not have caught on. The question is, do corporate bosses really need to care?

I think this question depends on the content of the blogging. And, that the question also is not far removed from other already existing policies governing writings and speach by employees.

There's already a tradition that employees typically do not disclose certain corporate information such as product details, price lists, discussion of defects. That is, unless they're specifically blessed by the corporate bosses to do so. That should apply to nearly any blog written by an employee, just as it would apply to any other employee speech.

At issue is the corporations limitation on what is otherwise peoples right to freedom of speech.

In practice it's a little fuzzy when and where corporations can or should limit their employees blogging. For example if the blog postings are unrelated to the employees work or the companies products, then the corporation should have no control over what the employee writes. But this is just like an employee who writes books in their spare time.

Similarly there's a distinction based on where the blog is posted. If it's posted on a company owned web site, then the employee is effectively speaking on company property as an employee of the company. In such a case one could say the employee is speaking for the company, and anything the employee says can be interpreted as a statement by the company. Hence blogs on a company web site would be under control of the corporate blogging policy.

'How to blog about your boss and not get sacked' New guide aims to turn bloggers into P45 dodgers (By Jo Best, silicon.com, Published: Monday 11 April 2005) ... short article referring to the EFF guide: How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else) (Published April 6, 2005, Updated May 31, 2005, eff.org)