Blogging Ethics

By on February 25, 2011

It might surprise you to find out that there is a general set of blogging ethics that most bloggers abide by. There has been a lot of debate about it over the years, because most bloggers aren’t subject to the same rules as ‘journo’ bloggers that blog for large companies or news services.

high road low road

Courtesy of vergemagazine.com

Regardless of that fact, some hard and fast rules have arisen, that many good people have now taken to heart. In this way, we have kept some semblance of order and fairness on the internet. Here are a few of the best rules that you should follow if you ever decide to delve into the mad world of blogging!

1. Try Your Best Not To Plagiarize

As you know plagiarism happens when someone decides to claim content that they have stolen from another source, as their own. Throughout the world, this is regarded as the lowest and most despicable thing you can do as a writer.

As a blogger, you are a writer and are therefore technically held to this simple rule. There’s no point plagiarizing on the internet anyway – search engines will notice, or you’ll get a disgruntled email from the original author. Lawsuit anyone?

2. Don’t Make Up Lies of Consequence

It’s one thing to make up a fictional tale for your personal blog, and quite another to report on your news blog that there has been a violent uprising on the streets of New York – when it’s a slow news day. People will read this, rumors will spread around the internet, and soon misinformation will be rife.

If you’re very unlucky, you’ll be found out and blamed – or your blog will be removed off the search engines, permanently. It has been known to happen. Lies and inaccurate information are not to be encouraged!

3. The Make Yourself Famous Blog

There’s nothing wrong with doing a bit of self promotion on your blog every now and then, but there are lines that you shouldn’t cross. Using your blog for repeated, narcissistic posts on how wonderful you are is going to make your blogging career very short and traumatic.

People don’t respond well to egotistical bloggers that can’t shut up about themselves. It leaves your blog empty of any valuable content. If you’re doing it for monetary rewards, save yourself the trouble – only the biggest and best blogs can be monetized.

4. Always Cite The Sources You Use

Don’t take bits of information or images off someone else’s site without citing where you got them from. It’s considered the height of rudeness, and can lead to lawsuits over copyright infringement. Nearly 99% of the time, if you have the courtesy to pop in a URL, or give a special tagline to the original owner, you’ll be safe from legal reproach.

5. Respect Your Imaginary Blogging License

Just because you can write anything you want, doesn’t mean you should. Pretend that the really gross, wildly inappropriate or taboo subjects are out of bounds or you’ll lose your ‘blogging license.’ You won’t of course, because there’s no such thing, but you should respect that idea all the same. Your license to blog hangs in the balance. Make the right choice!

Do you know of any other blogging ethics that we haven’t covered?
List them below!

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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