RSS Feed and Blog Etiquette

Citizen journalists and writers have become common place on the web. Perhaps you are considering blogging, but are unsure of how to enter the world of online journaling. As the medium has grown, I thought it might be a good idea to put together some general guidelines for new bloggers and reminders to veteran bloggers about blogging practices.

There is no Emily Post in blogging that offers etiquette advice, or a Miss Manners that details appropriate behavior. That does not mean there are not acceptable and unacceptable actions that bloggers should take. In order to efficiently communicate as a blogger on the Internet, it is critical to understand the unwritten rules of blogging etiquette. If you copy another blog's post should you link to them? Yes, blog manners dictates that you make every effort to credit the original source of the blog post, this should be done through a link. The link should not contain the "nofollow" tag.

Generally speaking the commentary about the quoted post, should be at least as long as the post that is copied. How much can you quote of another persons blog post? Fair use allows for posts or portions of posts to be quoted, but it is generally good practice to only quote what is necessary to retain the context of the post. When posting an excerpt from someone else, it is imperative that the context of the post remain intact.

If someone complains about having a blog post copied, what should you do? The appropriate course of action would be to remove the offending post and replace it with text that explains why the post was removed. Even if you feel the post was simply fair use, and not a copyright violation, net courtesy dictates that you respect the wishes of the original poster and remove the content. Why should you credit your sources? Always credit the sources of your information. Attribution is important, it not only extends your credibility but it also will help build your channel for future content. Sources seeing that you give appropriate attribution will often reward you with additional information in the future.

How do I validate information? As a blogger, reputation is everything. All items should be confirmed prior to posting. Consider using two sources to verify that information is accurate prior to posting.

Also always use credible sources. Second sourcing and relying on credible sources will ensure that posts are accurate. I made a mistake, what should I do? If you have a change of heart, or posted something that is not 100% accurate, apologize to your readers and correct the information as soon as possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, but often feeds or blog posts are syndicated and unless a correction is made the words could perpetuate unchecked.

If the mistake occurs in a blog post in addition to posting an apology, go back to the original post and strikeout the incorrect content and add a comment indicating why the post has been changed. How should my posts be formatted? Break posts into readable chunks. Generally the best posts are broken into multiple paragraphs.

Be careful not to alienate readers by using ALL CAPS, this is considered "shouting" online and is thought of as very rude. Do I have to use proper grammar in by blog? Proper grammar matters, grammar and spelling may be inconsequential when instant messaging with your friends but blogs, immortalize your words, the Internet is becoming an archive for the past. Appropriate grammar should always be used when blogging or posting to an RSS feed. What does off the record really mean? Always respect your sources. If you are told something "off the record" do not report about it, post it or share it with anyone. What exactly is copywritten? Any creative works are copywritten.

In the US and many other countriesm, even if the creator does not apply for a copyright, the creative works are protected by the copyright laws the moment the creative work is created. Unless the creator waives those rights, the creative cannot be reproduced or modified without the creators permission. Copywritten work includes images, text, music, or software.

If posting a controversial piece, is it appropriate to include the opposing view? It depends on the style of your blog or RSS feed, but in general, it is best to include an opposing view point on any controversial items. Let your readers view both sides to the controversy, they will respect the balance your provide. Following basic netetiquette when blogging and posting to RSS feeds will build credibility and a following of loyal readers.

About the Author: Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage a wireless text messaging software company.


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