April 25, 2014

Avoid these 9 inadvertent mistakes while blogging

Some people take wrong actions deliberately; they are crooks and criminals. But some do wrong things inadvertently; they are innocent but are not so in the eyes of the society and the law. This post is to caution such innocent bloggers who inadvertently break a law, offend people, hurt the blog’s reputation. 

Do not copy. Do not copy others’ content be it text or graphic or a/v content. In case you must copy, attribute the source but in many cases this will not be enough, e.g. copying a song or photograph or a research document available only to members.

Do not use untested widgets and codes. Putting such matter on the blog could harm the blog in many ways: spurious activity such as stealing private information, key-logging, annoying visitors by forcing them to commercial sites, linking to bad sites, etc. In any case, put only such widgets that will add value to the blog.

Do not give personal information about others. Unless it serves a special purpose and the information given by you will not in any way harm the person’s reputation or privacy, desist from giving information about a person’s family life, kids, schooling, hobbies etc. If the person is known to you, seek his / her permission beforehand.

Do not get personal when criticising others. You may have strong views about an idea being propagated by a person or the person himself, but do not make personal comments or criticise him / her on your blog or any other social media account. 

Do not recommend products unless you are sure. You may review  products on the blog, but ethics demands that you declare whether you have any obligation to the company. You should, for the sake of your credibility if nothing else, not recommend a service [e.g. a course] or product unless you have tested it. Desist from recommending medicines or diets or treatments unless you are qualified to do so. If you are satisfied with something [e.g. service of an airline], do share your experience but in most cases it is better to leave it at that.

Don’t lose civility. Feelings are very important in any form of communication, including the digital one. Be careful about sensitivities of different religions, racial groups, ‘weaker sections of the society’, and regions. Do not use expletives and racial expressions though these might look witty. Avoid four-letter words.  

Do not brag excessively. A bit of self-aggrandisement is OK, but not too much. Don’t assume a fake identity with fake achievements and expertise. Don’t put an artificially bloated stat-counter on the blog. These might not be illegal, but fakes do not shine for long: there is high probability that the fake persona will be exposed one day soon and then he / she will lose all their reputation.  

Do not solicit. Generally speaking we should not ask for favours from visitors or ask for doles. It also looks stupid to ask other bloggers to ‘promote’ us on competition sites, put us on their blogrolls or make favourable comments.   

Do not blog what it is not legal. Blogging by children below 13 years is illegal in most countries. There could be instances when blogging on certain topics is prohibited by governments due to security reasons. In some countries, too personal criticism is taken as libel, and sharp criticism of religions is seen as spread of hatred. In most places, religious and national icons are required to shown due respect, and their inappropriate depiction is a criminal offence. So, be careful.