25 January 2013

Hosting An Ethical Blog

A blog can be a personal diary, corporate communications, journalistic news, opinion articles, product reviews, advice column, etc..  No matter what topic is covered in a blog, it is important to do it ethically.  By hosting an ethical blog, your words will be more believable and trusted and your audience will more likely treat you with respect, and your critics will have fewer negative facts to use in their critiques.

Here are four tips to help you be ethical in your blogging:
  1. Tell the truth. This should be a no-brainer, but it is sad how many people feel justified in stretching the truth, embellishing facts, or outright lying in an attempt to further their agenda, gain favors, or impress their audience.  Unfortunately, once the deceit is revealed, your words will lose impact and your blog won't be trusted by many people.  Yes, some ardent supporters will minimize or rationalize the lies, but eventually even they will fall away.
  2. Reveal conflicts of interest. If you review products, art, writing, etc., and do not reveal that you have or can be perceived to have a hidden reason to like or dislike the item, you put your blog in jeopardy of being seen as secretly biased and untrustworthy. Reasons include:
    • You receive payment or free products from the manufacturer, artist, or writer
    • You receive payment or free products from the reviewee's competitor
    • You are a friend or relative of the reviewee
    • You are an ex-friend or ex-relative
    • You had a particularly good or bad experience with the product or reviewee
  3. Allow critical comments. I strongly recommend moderating blog comments to prevent spam or offensive comments from being posted.  But to disallow comments that are critical keeps the conversation unbalanced and dishonestly positive.  If your blog post cannot hold up to fair criticism, then perhaps it needs to be revised.
  4. Be fair and objective. I think even in an opinion blog, you can take a step back and see if your words can be viewed as fair and/or objective.  Writing flaming reviews in passionate anger may make you feel better for a few minutes, but will you be embarrassed a day, week, year later when you read your hateful words?  After a measure of time has passed, could you see things in a different light?