Blogging Good Practices

After promoting blogs and blogging in IFPRI for a while now there seems to be growing interest by staff to try it out. To guide them in planning their blogging endeavors our colleagues asked us about dos and donts of blogging. I started digging in my bookmarks and reader posts to see if I could find a post that sums it all up. I did find a lot of information, but nothing I could just forward to people, so I put together below list of tips. I shared this internally, and I thought it would be worthwhile posting here too.

Do you agree? Did I forget anything? Are there other posts and resources I should point my colleagues to?

One can create blogs for different purposes, and the following tips might not make sense for all possible applications (e.g. closed blog for personal reflection, or archiving for mailing lists), but those blog authors, who want to reach old and new audiences and engage with their readers might want consider them. At the end of this post you can find a list of all the posts I took the ideas from and a couple of blogs that are good starting points to read more.

Writing in the blogosphere is definitely more casual than writing scholarly papers, but also here the number one rule is to give credit to the ideas, quotes and pointers you got from other people. The main way to do that is to link to the original, but you can also name people and thank them in your post. Other tips include:

  • Link to relevant content: It not only gives credit to other’s work but also helps your readers to delve deeper if they want to.
  • Make it easy for people to find what they are interested in: Tag your posts, use categories and add a search box to your blog
  • Be open and embrace critique: If you are not sure about something, say so. Readers are much more likely to engage if they feel that you are interested in real conversation and in learning from and with them and do not just want to broadcast your ideas. That includes dealing with critical comments in the same way you deal with praise. Never delete comments unless they are clearly spam.
  • Ask questions: Questions in your post engage your readers. It helps them to respond with comments or on their own blogs.
  • Watch your language: What you are writing is on the internet for anyone to see, and the internet is a web of connections. So talking badly about colleagues, the own organization or even competitors will come back to haunt you.
  • Only post material when you have the proper permissions: Publications, photos, videos and other materials may be copyrighted. Sharing them on a public website is in those cases not allowed without permission from the person or organization holding the copyright.
  • Search for related blogs in your area and comment: Commenting on others work shows them that you care about their ideas and work and makes them aware that you exist. There is so much going on on the web, that you have to go where your potential readers are to show them you exist.

The posts that I drew on are Tips from a New Blogger, 9 Lessons for Would-be Bloggers, My Blogging Advice to Connect with your Readers, and Weblog Ethics. Good starting points for further reading are ProBlogger, and Beth’s Blog.

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7 Responses

  1. Hi Stephan,

    An excellent start! I find that visiting other blogs in the development area is a great way to see the different ways people are using them. A constantly amazing variety and full of ideas to borrow. I really appreciate the continuing openness of the tools.

    I’m also aware that individual blog posts pop up in unexpected places and services – on the iaald blog the older ones especially still get regular traffic. So I’m also looking for short titles that somehow give meaning. Often difficult to achieve.

    For some euforic projects, we have a wiki introducing the web2 tools we use in our development settings. See http://web2share.pbwiki.com/blogging for example.

    We also collaboratively tag, in del.icio.us, blogs and resources on blogging in the non-profit development arena. Using the tags ‘npk4dev’ and ‘blogging’ – see http://feeds.feedburner.com/npk4devblog

  2. Hi Peter,

    thanks for the comment.

    The post title tip is a great one. It also works the other way around: I often get frustrated clicking on something that then does not deliver what the title promises.

    We too have a wiki to document short training sessions we hold every Friday morning (http://tgiftutorials.pbwiki.com/). Will add your points there.

    St

  3. Those are good points. Here is a link to the posting I borrowed from when setting up our blog (a survey of corporate blogging rules)

    It’s old, but still pertinent:

    http://www.corporateblogging.info/2005/06/policies-compared-todays-corporate.asp

  4. Hi Stephan,

    Britt bravo had a blogpost for writers, but with some tips that apply to all blogs (more technical though, like claiming your blog in technorati) http://havefundogood.blogspot.com/2007/09/blogging-for-writers.html

    Here’s 18 lessons in blogging part II and a link to part I
    http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/11/19/18-lessons-in-blogging-part-ii/

    And my own: 10 ways and quick tips into blogging (with links again)
    http://joitskehulsebosch.blogspot.com/2006/11/technology-10-ways-and-5-quick-tips.html

  5. A couple of additional links I came across:

    Top 5 Ways to Improve Your Blog’s Usability: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/03/08/top-5-ways-to-improve-your-blogs-usability/

    Write like a Blogger: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/04/write-like-a-bl.html

    10 Blogging Tips: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/10-blogging-tips/

  6. Hi,

    Thanks so much for the link. I recently put together this collection of links and resources on this very topic.
    http://howtoblog.wikispaces.com/session2

  7. Thanks for the link. I will be investigating the other links that you and those that the commentors left.

    Also, your audience might find Extension in Social Media http://collaborate.extension.org/wiki/Social_Media_in_Extension and Beginners Guide to Social Media http://collaborate.extension.org/wiki/Beginners_Guide_to_Social_Media_in_Extension helpful.

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