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Where do we draw the line? (Blogging with responsibility)

I had received an email some time ago from a new blogger who wanted advice. He wanted to write freely about certain things, and yet he was not sure as to how far he should go. Also, he did not want to blog anonymously. Melodrama also writes about the problems that she’s run into as a result of some stuff she wrote on her blog.

We can write just about anything since there is absolutely no one who can really stop us. And especially since it is our ‘voice’ that is responsible for making the blog stand apart from the next one. That doesn’t, however, mean that we should.

I don’t personally feel it is possible to stay completely aloof or impersonal when you are blogging. (Unless, all you post are links to new items, maybe.)

On the other hand, I think that there comes a point of time, when we all wonder where we should say, “Okay this is where I will go, and no further”.

My wake-up call was last year when I had made some flippant remarks on my blog regarding another blogger(s). Unfortunately, it was taken in a completely different spirit to what it was intended. In fact, I had intended nothing, but made some passing remark just for fun. A rather serious allegation was made against me. I was stunned by the incident.

While, I can say it was through no fault of mine, the incident served as a reminder that while my blog is a form of ‘personal expression’, things can be miscontrued and misread, giving rise to rather uncomfortable (and unwarranted) situations.

And while we do make acquaintances and contacts through blogs, we cannot take them for granted. I also realised that while I had built a friendly relationship, I had a while to go before I could make comments of a flippant or fun nature, taking it for granted that he/she would take it in the same spirit.

It made me more careful while blogging. I would call it blogging with a ‘sense of responsibility’. From my experience (please note that these are hardly rules, but more observations that you can choose to take note of) here are 11 tips for you. Take whatever is helpful and discard what is not.

  1. It’s your journal. And it’s your private space. But since it is online (and a part of a public space) – be frank, but don’t be rude.
  2. While you make many ‘friends’ while blogging, remember that it takes a while to build deeper, lasting friendships. A few blog postings and emails exchanged doesn’t mean you have gained a best friend. It might take a little longer than that. And don’t take anyone for granted. Or assume you know blogger ‘A’ as well as anyone else just because you read his/her blog everyday.
  3. Don’t post when you are very angry or ‘pissed’ off; it doesn’t solve anything. Your blog might be your place to rave and rant, but even that can be done with a sense of fairness.
  4. Don’t make references to people you don’t know well and who might take offence at what you say.
  5. Try and avoid blogging about work, your boss, your workmates. Especially if you have only bad or negative things to say about them. Making references like “I was really angry with fat and ugly K at work today”, “I am really frustrated, my work sucks”, is bound to get you into trouble. I don’t think it would take long for ‘K’ to figure out who you are referring to or your boss to find out you hate your work. There’s the all powerful Google for one thing! And in case, you do decide to blog about work, then remember that you will be responsible for the consequences. Don’t cry about it later.
  6. If you do want to get personal about work, people, girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses do be prepared for them finding out. You can’t rant about them, and then complain that they didn’t like it.
  7. If you are unsure about a post (should I, shouldn’t I?) it is best to wait till the next day. Then read it again. If you’re sure, post it. While there is a ‘delete’ button, why risk someone reading it even for the short while it is online, especially if you are unsure about it.
  8. Remember that while posting, you are carrying on a conversation. With the person who is reading your post. Don’t say things that make you uncomfortable and that you might regret later.
  9. Don’t write about people who don’t like being written about and who tell you so. I have someone who specifically said that he does not like his name mentioned. I respect that.
  10. Don’t publish personal emails on your blog. Do ask the sender if he/she is okay with it too.
  11. You’re the editor of your blog. So be a responsible one!


I am sure you will have your own, learnt through your own experiences. And if you’re wondering if these ‘rules’ will make it very hard for you to blog, ‘whatever comes to your mind’, I would beg to disagree. These will only help you become a better and more responsible blogger. And at least you won’t live in regret. Or lose your job, for that matter!

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25 Comments

  1. A great post, Anita .. πŸ™‚

    Indians , especially, face a lot less of this problem as we are , by nature, prudent enough to decide what should go in a blog ..and what shouldnt .. and we almost always tend to keep our identites out in the open πŸ™‚

  2. Great post Anita. It really puts into perspective and summarizes what’s been ailing the blog world these past few weeks. Melo and Sukanya have closed their blogs. two other friends of mine stopped blogging because their in-laws got to know of the blog. Infact, my friend’s sis-in-law would read the blog and call her mother all the way from Toronto with details of what was written. needless to say it caused problems πŸ™‚

    I’ve tried to make my blog an anonymous one but didnt work. i’m faced with the same dilemma as the guy who mailed you. your pointers help …will try and follow that.

  3. Better be anonymous says

    Point.11 sums it all Anita. Problem is, most of the bloggers in the frenzy of posting “often” or “a lot” (including the so-called most popular blog) cross the line many times. If you don’t believe me look at the cartoon posted by this so-called popular blog today. Unfortunately people who solely write about filthy topics do attract visitors, and that gives them reason enough not to adhere to any “editorial guideline”.

  4. I had the same set of rules in my mind as well all the time after a similar feeling of regret after posting. Though my blog will take more time to mature as a full-fledged interesting blog, I have learnt similar lessons as youve mentioned.

    Thanks for making them available for others to read. I will compile a list too sometime soon and post it up…

    Cheers

  5. hmmm.. i think point 2 is a great remainder πŸ™‚ but then all strong friendships start from scratch and somewhere down the line a deep bond is formed… the things u mentioned r just the first steps towards forming that bond…

    it was a great post to read…. πŸ™‚

  6. Shivvi, Resh, LazyDad: Glad you found it useful and thanks for stopping by!

    Abhinav: Yes, we do tend to be open about our identities, though many of us write under different ‘blog names’. Also, I think when we first start blogging we don’t really worry too much about what we’re going to write/whether it will affect others/how much of ourselves we will reveal. So by the time we’re really into it, and we want to open our hearts out, we can’t really try and hide our identities. unless, of course, we maintain a completely different blog, with a different identity. Though that would be really time consuming and too much of a strain, I think!

    Khushee: I am actually! Hope you have a good year too πŸ™‚

    Aqua: Hi. Yes, I noticed Melodrama pulled down her blog entirely and Suku is going to lay low. Quite sad actually, considering they’re such good writers and communicators. But, I think the great thing about blogs is that they’re ‘personal’ and not cut and dried. But as I mentioned that ‘balance’ is the toughest to maintain. And whether you like it or not, you’re writing about your life, so you’re bound to attract feedback. Unfortunately, when it’s negative, it does prove to be a dampener on the spirits. But on the positive side, I think there’s still hope for personal blogs.

    Thanks LL!

    Avlokana: Do send me your link then.

    Sandeep: Glad it inspired you to write more!

    Amit: Yes, definitely you gain great friends from blogging. But what I’m saying is that perhaps we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about people too soon either.

    Patrix: Thanks and do hope it helps!

  7. This is a truly amazing list. I also tried maintaining a public blog and a private one, doen’t work. So now since blogging has become a way of life, i maintain an online dairy on my own computer for my rants and the blog for my raves, πŸ™‚

  8. What a coincidence.Yesterday only I posted my first entry and got an opportunity to go through your blog :).

    Thanx for the info.

  9. Yes we should be careful before writing something or then maybe maintain an anonymous id if one really wants to rant or something…

    Keep it safe, written words can always be misconstrued… if not written carefully,

    sad to hear about melodrama…

    hey ANita, am back from riding trip to Goa, waiting for the snaps … will share them once I upload it, ride was fantastic… the write up in coming on soon !!!

  10. melodrama says

    Anita, am reading your blogs after a long, long time. I’d like to point out something, it is all very well for bloggers to be responsible but what about the readers who read the blogs? Don’t they have some kind of responsibility too? Readers too should remember that just because a blogger blogs does not mean he/ she wants intrusion. One may blog when one is bugged and one may not be very PC when one does that, but that does not mean that the reader construes meanings when there are none or indulges in name-calling and/or the like. If you dont like what you are reading, you have an option: clicking on the cross at the upper rightmost corner of your screen. I’ve closed my blogs, but some idiot has taken over and posted some rubbish pretending to be me. How responsible is that? Anyhow, I have no pearls of wisdom to offer since I do not think I made any mistakes on my blogs but shit still happened to me, meaning that you have screwed up people on the internet too. How hard is it to remember that?

  11. Melodrama: Yes, you do have a point. Readers should be ‘responsible’ of course. And they always have an option. After all, we’re not holding a gun saying ‘read this stuff’. That’s why I’ve never understood why people leave silly comments. But unfortunately, the way I see it, you can’t really control the ‘reader’ and make him/her responsible. So you have to do the next best thing, and watch yourself. And there are screwed up people in the world. Some of them happen to be online. That is a given. We have no option but to deal with them. I don’t think that what we do can be termed as ‘mistakes’. But you do live and learn online too.

  12. jayesh says

    beautiful just beautiful your post sums up the blogging experience.. i feel like taking it and hitting a few nasty people with it for the comments on my site.. which suffice to say geocities in its infinite wisdom….. wiped out oh well πŸ™‚ this just earned itself a dog-eared bookmark πŸ™‚

  13. Yah most of the cases blogger ends spreading vulgarity and attacking individuals when writing about any important article which should not be the case at all.I feel blogger is kind of journalism .

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