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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Responsible Blogging 2013


“The Internet destroyed most of the barriers to publication. The cost of being a publisher dropped to almost zero with two interesting immediate results: anybody can publish, and more importantly, you can publish whatever you want.” (Dick Costolo, current CEO of Twitter)
I blog. And sometimes I refer to myself as a "writer", because I write a lot of blogposts with a bit of a storyline, and because writing is what I love to do. But is that actually the correct term?

Advanced technology and the widespread use of Internet has reshaped the post of "writer". In pre-Internet crazy times, we gathered much of our knowledge of current issues through conventional print media or television and radio.

Being a bonafide "writer" used to mean having articles published in newspapers or magazines, or novels sent out to publishing companies. But with online social media portals, everyone can write and express their opinions, their little day-to-day stories to the public. This has given rise to a growing number of people who publish their writings online without the need of a publisher, also known as bloggers.

The audience perspective has changed as well - people are no longer relying on the printed material or reports on mainstream media, but are now turning to alternative media (i.e. online blogs) to get the scoop on what's hot and what's not. What helps as well is that bloggers are 'real' people they can relate to, or someone they might even know personally.

The number of hits (or reads) on a blog depends very much on the ability of the blogger to market their content, either through Facebook or Twitter, and other online platforms. The amount of traffic they can generate to their site is a great motivator and confidence boost for the blogger, so they would usually write what is considered to be hot, popular, or a crowd-pleaser.

Love them, or hate them, but there's no denying that bloggers are increasingly being recognised as an important factor in marketing a product, or to raise awareness on specific causes. Their reviews can easily make or break a business, especially if they have a lot of loyal readers.

There's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly when it comes to the blogosphere. The Ugly is when blogposts are written (sometime anonymously) to damage the reputation of others, or when bloggers get into trouble for publishing unlawful material. Or even sometimes being to honest to the point of insulting certain parties. For example:-

- in New Zealand, police laid charges against an internet blogger who allegedly posted clues identifying people with court-ordered name suppression, as well as a victim of a sexual offence
- a Malaysian blogger was charged with sedition
- in Singapore, a racist blogger was caught for comparing Malays with rodents

We have a right to express an opinion, but how much is too much? And how can you build a reputation as a credible source of information? Remember, whatever you post online is available to in the public domain and one day could be used against you. As one whose word carries weight in the online community (and beyond), with power comes great responsibility.

Some bloggers are so caught up in being popular, they write provocative things that they would not normally say in person.

This is where Responsible Blogging 2013 National Campaign comes in.

Ninetology, official partner of Crowdpot.coom, is the presenter of Responsible Blogging 2013 (RB2013), a national campaign that aim to promote ethical online climate and ethical advocacy. At the same time, crowdpot.com is also a technology sponsor of the campaign. As a partners of RB2013, they are committed to building a prosperous word of mouth marketing industry based on best practices, measurable ROI, and ethical advocacy. They have also pledged to set an example of high ethical standards for word of mouth marketing, striving for transparency and honesty in all communications.

So what are the traits of a responsible blogger? Here are the golden rules according to Crowdpot:-

1. Get Rewarded/Paid Ethically
As a blogger, I get to have free meals, classes or even cash in exchange for a review to be posted in my blog and circulated to public. This is pretty much the norm. Other ways you could get paid from blogging is through pay-per-click, where you have to do is put some Javascript code or HTML in your pages from a site such as Google Adsense or Nuffnang and activate the advertisement that will appear on your blog. The company tracks how many times the ads have been viewed and clicked and makes your payment at the end of the month.

It actually doesn't pay much, because how much traffic can you realistically generate to your website to make a good return? However, auto clickers can be misused by certain unscrupulous people to generate lots of income, while their blog content may not even be that exciting or interesting.

The campaign encourages bloggers to get rewarded in an ethical manner. Crowdpot provide the by far the most ethical approach to any sponsored blogpost. It is a way of revolutionizing online tipping and responsible blogging for readers to decide on which blogpost (content) to tip based on what they think is good.

2. Do check the verity of your information
Always back-up your statements with hard evidence or real sources, and don't simply make comments based on hearsay or gossip.

You and your blog are one. You represent your blog and your blog represents you. What has been blogged would reflect you as a person. If data and facts are incorrect, it will tarnish your credibility greatly. No one wants to read a blog with wrong information. They’ve got gossip bloggers to do that work for you.

3. Do regard your readers’ opinions
Sometimes we let our emotions run high, and we have a certain distaste for things that we itch to vent out about. However a good blogger with a professional attitude should always write with an impartial approach.

No matter how strongly you hold onto a certain opinion, remember that there are other people who treasure their opinions like you too. Always blog with an open mind.

4. Do know that you are answerable for your blog
We might get carried away while blogging about an issue or just our thoughts on a certain dish, but should you give any wrong information (by accident), just apologize. No harm in saying sorry. Plus, it saves you the time and effort in defensing yourself later.

Also, don't make your negative comments personal. Be objective in your scrutiny.

Personally, I always highlight both the positives and negatives when I write a review. I don't want to appear too overly enthusiastic to please, but at the same time be honest, because that adds value to a feedback.

5. Do be aware of the country’s Copyright Law
Copy and paste? Make sure you ask permission from the owner or at least acknowledge your sources. You would hate if your stuff gets stolen, right?

6. Don’t forget to give credits
Just in case you share from someone else (because the content is too good to not be shared), remember that you should always give due credit to its rightful owner. It’s like saying ‘thank you’ to someone who has just given you a box of chocolates.

7. Do write a Disclaimer
"The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist / writer / blogger"

There's nothing wrong with having an opinion.

However, sometimes we might get carried away with our strong opinions about an issue. If you work for an organisation, it may be a good idea to include a disclaimer to protect you and the company. This is because what you say may be seen as a represents the view of your organisation.

8. Be Transparent With Sponsored Posts
A sponsored post is a post on a website or blog which is paid for by an advertiser.

You do not want to be branded as an ambassador for a certain company because every time you talk
about that brand, your readers will equate you to it and that loses your credibility. Be flexible and be a
friend to all.


And there you have it, the golden rules of responsible blogging. Since we have just only kicked into the new year, how about making that one of your resolutions for 2013?

Remember...

Avec le grand pouvoir vient le grand devoir ...
(With great power comes great responsibility...)
~ Voltaire


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