The Ugly Side of Blogging

I was out of town on Friday (enjoying the Long Island rains, thank you), so I’m a little late on this one, but it’s worth a belated mention.

Blogging Etiquette

Jeremy Schoemaker, the man behind the widely-read ShoeMoney blog, has found himself in a “landmark blog case” after a commenter alleges to have been slandered (though printed defamation is really libel, not slander) by another commenter on Jeremy’s blog. Jeremy, being the owner of the blog, must now hand over blog logs to assist in the case.

Obviously, Jeremy is unable to give readers much detail, but he does say:

“I am sorry I have to be so vague but it appears that I am going to be deposition and logs from my blog will be subpoena for use in a case where 1 person slandered another on my blog. Anyway it looks like 1 of the people is seeking damages for what the other said on my blog. I can not get into any details what so ever about the post or even what state this is in.”

It’s an unfortunate situation for Jeremy and the blogging community, but it’s also an important one. It will be interesting to see who the courts deem responsible for the comments made in Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy (doubtful), the individual who made the comments or possibly even the company hosting the Shoemoney blog. It will be even more interesting to see what kind of precedent is set, and whether commenters will now be legally responsible for what they say online.

It’s sad that a case like this even has to exist, but occurrences of libelous comments and flame wars are starting to make regular appearances in the blog community. Party A insinuates something about Party B, Party B bites back, and suddenly a flame war has broken out while the rest of the blogosphere grabs their popcorn and pulls up a chair. It’s an unfortunate situation in which no one wins.

I think as a blogger you have a responsibility to be both truthful and fair. Realize that what you write instantly becomes public record, and often cannot be taken back. Also realize the laws that exist in the brick and mortar world to protect people also exist in the online world. (Or at least they should, I guess this case will prove if that’s true or not.) Don’t let the anonymous feeling of the Web give you courage you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

It’s easy to read something on the Web, get caught up in the “I’m Right” philosophy and then launch into accusations, hurtful speech or absolute untruths. However, doing so only serves to hurt the blogging community as a whole, and does nothing to strengthen your point. All it does is make you look like a child in a room full of adults. Earn yourself a troublemaker reputation and you’ll politely be asked to take your rocks and go home.

I think most would agree that bloggers are generally supportive of one another. We wave with links and help each other gain a larger readership. However, there’s always a misguided egg in the bunch. Keep your blog useful by keeping it clean. Be vigilant about moderating comments so that situations like this don’t get a chance to arise (not that anyone would blame Jeremy for what happened). If you’re a commenter looking for attention or to settle a score, do it on your own blog. Don’t risk the reputation of someone like Jeremy by doing your dirty work in someone else’s space.

I suppose every industry and profession is vulnerable to situations like these, but I think everyone would benefit from a little blogging etiquette. If you’re looking for some specific rules, there are plenty of them out there. Go read a few.

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FAQ: What is the importance of blogging etiquette in maintaining a responsible online presence?

Blogging etiquette has become an ever-more essential concept in an age when the internet is a powerful means to connect with others, share information, and establish professional or personal brands. Simply expressing opinions online doesn’t promote constructive and respectful interactions – as an experienced blogger, I will explain why blogging etiquette should be crucial for anyone navigating their way through digital life successfully.

The Art of Responsible Expression

Bloggers must abide by behaviors and practices to ensure others respect and hear your voice. It doesn’t mean stifling yourself; rather it provides they listen.

Respect for Diverse Opinions: Respecting different opinions is one of the pillars of blogging etiquette. Online, a wealth of ideas, opinions, and beliefs exists, all of which can be celebrated with respectful dialogue to foster an inclusive digital space.

Building Credibility: Being responsible in your online interactions is essential for building credibility. Bloggers who consistently demonstrate etiquette are often seen as trustworthy sources of information. This trust can result in a larger and more engaged audience.

Avoiding Harmful Content: Resisting the urge to post offensive or harmful material is part of responsible blogging. Bloggers should maximize their platforms by contributing positively to digital environments.

Navigating the Digital Waters

Blogger etiquette is essential in all corners of the Internet, from individual blogs and companies to social influencers and influencers. These guidelines apply whether you’re an individual blogger, company blogger, or influencer.

Professionalism and Branding: For businesses and professionals, maintaining a responsible online presence is critical for branding. An offensive or disrespectful post can severely impact your reputation and customer relationships.

Avoiding Legal Issues: Blogging etiquette also extends to respecting copyright and privacy laws. Violating these laws can result in legal consequences, harming your online presence and potentially your finances.

The Practical Side of Blogging Etiquette

Let’s dive into some practical tips:

  1. Fact-Check: Before sharing information, ensure it is accurate and from reliable sources.
  2. Avoid Trolls: Don’t engage with online trolls or offensive comments; it only fuels negativity.
  3. Use Privacy Settings: Protect your personal information through privacy settings.
  4. Constructive Criticism: If you disagree with a post, offer constructive criticism instead of attacking.
  5. Proofread: Typos and grammatical errors can detract from your credibility; proofread your content.

The importance of blogging etiquette in maintaining a responsible online presence must be considered. It influences your personal or professional brand and shapes the online world. By embracing respectful behavior, fostering constructive discussions, and adhering to legal and ethical standards, bloggers can leave a lasting positive impact on the digital landscape.

Step-by-Step Procedure for Maintaining a Responsible Online Presence

  1. Understand the concept of blogging etiquette and its significance.
  2. Embrace and respect diverse opinions in your online interactions.
  3. Work on building credibility by being a trustworthy source of information.
  4. Refrain from posting offensive or harmful content on your blog.
  5. Consider the impact of your online behavior on your personal or professional brand.
  6. For businesses and professionals, prioritize professionalism and branding in your online activities.
  7. Respect copyright and privacy laws to avoid legal issues.
  8. Fact-check all information before sharing it online.
  9. Avoid engaging with online trolls or offensive comments.
  10. Utilize privacy settings to protect your personal information.
  11. Offer constructive criticism rather than attacking when disagreeing with a post.
  12. Regularly proofread your content to eliminate typos and grammatical errors.
  13. Remember that your online presence reflects your character.
  14. Uphold good etiquette to leave a lasting positive impact on the digital landscape.
  15. Promote responsible online behavior among your peers and followers.
  16. Encourage healthy discussions and the exchange of ideas.
  17. Stay informed about the latest trends and issues related to blogging etiquette.
  18. Continuously assess and improve your online presence.
  19. Seek legal advice if you have concerns about copyright or privacy.
  20. Foster a positive and respectful online environment for all users.

This article was updated on December 6, 2023. 

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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