Get tips on setting blog guidelines for your blog community.
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With all the hype around Twitter and Facebook, I think we sometimes tend to neglect or ignore blogs. Social networks are incredibly powerful communication tools, but we shouldn't forget about blogs, which have both the social aspect and are the platform for richer, deeper, and more thoughtful content. But how do you set the right tone for your blog?
What are Blog Guidelines?
I've spent a lot of time searching the Web for blog guidelines to see how others establish the tone and rules of their blogs. I believe that if you want to set some rules, you should put them in writing. I also believe it's okay for bloggers to outline rules for their own blogs, because it is first and foremost their space. But there is a blurred line between owning a virtual space and then opening it up to others so they can feel a sense of ownership. How do you strike a balance between wanting to have a blog where both you-- the blogger-- and your blog community feel comfortable?
Blog guidelines -- more formally called terms of service -- are a document or page on your blog outlining what people can or cannot do and the results of disobeying these rules.
Here are some guidelines you may want to consider for your blog, and the reasons for having them.
Why Create Blog Guidelines?: The Three "Be's"
Let's start with appropriate behavior. I like to call these the three be's.
1. Be kind. All communities can benefit from the Golden Rule. You probably want comments on your blog, but you should ask that people comment on the content of posts or comments, and not on the individuals participating in the blog community.
2. Be transparent. There are many reasons why people want to be anonymous so you don't necessarily have to crack down and prevent anonymous comments, however, be clear how you'll handle any comments that break the Golden Rule. Blog guidelines should not only establish your ground rules, but also establish the repercussions if someone doesn't play by those rules.
3. Be truthful. As a blogger, you probably do your best to fact check what you post, however, chances are you don't have the time or resources to check the comments other people leave on your blog. You can post a disclaimer saying that all comments are the opinions of those who comment so "reader beware," but you should also set up the expectation that everyone be honest when they comment.
More Rules for Blog Comments
Some other rules for your blog community could include:
? Link appropriately. On many blog publishing tools, you can prevent live links in comments, but if you don't want to turn off that feature, establish what you think is appropriate and what's not.
? Don't spam. If you don't allow commercial posts and marketing messages, state this up front. If someone posts about their company, service, or product in a way that isn't relevant to the discussion, what will you do? Remove the post? State that in your guidelines.
? Add value. One person's idea of valuable contribution to a blog discussion might be another person's idea of trashy gossip. As the blogger, what do you feel is valuable in your blog community? Give some examples. Not everyone's comment will be worthy of an award, however, most wouldn't warrant removal, so don't stress if the conversation gets a little silly or off-topic at times.
Make Your Blog Guidelines Visible
Once you've written out your guidelines, upload them to your blog and create a pervasive link to them so people can find the list from any page or post. Make sure you state your list of blog guidelines in your own words, with your own personal touch. Even the tone of your page of rules can help set the overall tone of your blog.
Bottom Line: Don't be too overbearing with rules or you may choke the life out of your blog comments. But a sensible set of guidelines can be a useful tool when you set out to manage a growing blog community.
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Sample Blog Guidelines - http://livingintok.wordpress.com/blog-guidelines/
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