Multi-author blogging: guidelines

An institution is an individual in corporate law.  As such, each member of the institution are representatives of the single “body”.  For Librarians, this idea of the many representing the one can be keenly felt in multi-author blogs for their own particular Library.

In order to maintain a uniform voice, Libraries with more than one Librarian blogger would be well-advised to develop blogging guidelines for their online presence.  Here are my suggestions:

  1. Establish a blog mission statement.  Ensure that potential posts honour it.
  2. Cite all sources and provide links.  If a source can not be found, then the information is not trustworthy enough to post.
  3. Be accurate.  Consider Karen Schneider’s analogy of a blog entry to a reference question response; make the same commitment to fact checking here.
  4. Be the first to correct yourselves.  If an error has been published, creat a post with the correct information and an apology immediately.  In the offending article, add the newly-discovered truth without deleting the old.
  5. Never edit old posts “seamlessly”.  If a change must be made due to the posting of erroneous content, make corrections apparent.  Consider using a strikeout on the obsolete portions.
  6. Recognize your Librarian bloggers are professionals:  give them the guidelines, then get out of their way and let them blog.  If they are new, a probationary period of sumitting posts for editing pre-publication is valid.  Once a person has proven themselves, however, stop interfering with their timeliness!
  7. Post guidelines for users on comments: what are welcomed, what will not be allowed.  Enforce these.  Be fair.
  8. Be interesting, topical, relevant.  Post on a regular basis, on topics of the sort that will appeal to your users.
  9. Make your blog user-friendly: provide links to FAQ’s, RSS feeds, and other valauble features.
  10. Know your users.  Remember that the blog is for them.

Rebecca Blood says in her post “Weblog Ethics” in rebecca’s pocket:”Think before you publish and stand behind what you write. If you later decide you were wrong about something, make a note of it and move on.”  That’s a strong statement.  I like it.  Accountability will help to improve the value of blogs.  If blogs can be raised in the public perception from shameless vanity sites  and platforms for extremist splinter groups to rant from, a lot of valuable information can be shared, a lot of powerful communities can grow.

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