A World of Speculation

My schedule has become too intense to follow a lot of the big blog controversies, and this one has been going on so long that even a print newspaper takes notice. But if you want to see why people don’t trust the daily papers, take a look at the story and then the first comment which gives the “rest of the story.”

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about a sidebar on the newspaper page, titled “Blogging Etiquette: How to Blog Safely.”

Now remember, this is a sidebar to a story in which a college instructor loses her job because she made repeated death threats against a blogger’s two-year-old. So here are the rules of blogging etiquette:

  • Blog anonymously. Preserve some privacy by shielding your IP address and registering your domain name anonymously.
  • Use a pseudonym and don’t give away any identifying details, including where you’re located, how many employees there are and what sort of business you do.
  • Do not blog while you’re at work.
  • Limit your audience by only allowing a select group of people to read your blog.

Do you notice anything left out from that list? I’ll give you a hint; how about “Don’t say anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say to a person’s face in the middle of a room full of people”? Then you wouldn’t need to hide your IP address and comment anonymously.

In fact the first two rules are, generally speaking, made for people like Deb Frisch, who (presumably) can’t take their (apparent) anger issues out in their everyday life. The third one is probably good employment advice, and the fourth runs counter to what most bloggers are trying to accomplish.

And given the “rules,” the title “Blogging Etiquette: How to Blog Safely” is an oxymoron. Because the rules don’t have to do with etiquette (manners, politeness, civility), but with how to get away with being a complete jerk.

So let me reiterate the one rule that should have been there but wasn’t, that would have saved Frisch’s job if she had followed it: The Internet is public. Don’t say anything there that you wouldn’t want published.