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June 28, 2010

Blogging Boundries

This past weekend was consumed with celebrating my childhood best friend's wedding.  I sat down to post pictures that I took of the weekend, but after some consideration I have decided against it.  There are too many pictures of people I don't know, plus it is not my wedding so I don't know that it is appropriate for me to start featuring photos without the bride looking at them first.  This got me thinking a lot about blogging boundaries.

When I first started this blog I was very open and posted lots of pictures and wrote about whatever I felt like because, quite simply, very few people read it.  I never sat down and thought about what my blogging boundaries were going to be, but I definitely should have. Over time I have noticed that I have subconsciously become increasingly more private, and have developed a strict set of rules that I always try to blog by: 

(1.) I try to never post pictures of people unless I get their permission first (the only exception to that has been my wedding photos).  I know with the rise of Facebook and other social networking sites pictures are posted freely with no concern for those who are in them, but I try to be more courteous.  If I had a picture I hated of myself and someone posted it on their blog for all the world to see I would be angry.  I have just decided to abide by the golden rule on this one and avoid it.

(2.) I will never, ever blog about work. No stories about work, no disclosing where I work, nothing. It is my personal opinion that you play with fire if you start blogging about your job, even if you don't say anything that is bad.  Employers don't look fondly on it and it is not worth the risk.  The Internet is far smaller then we think it is.

(3.) I wont write anything mean on this blog about anybody I know in real life.  I might say I don't like Angelina Jolie's choice of dress at some award show, but that is about as snarky as it is going to get around here. 

(4.)  I try to stay away from topics that are too controversial.  In the beginning, I wrote a lot about politics, but I have since decided that those opinions are better left around the dinner table and for op ed pieces in the newspaper.  This isn't a blog about politics, and quite frankly my opinions on issues change and I don't know if its a smart decision for me to have them immortalized on the Internet for all to see.  Also, I have unfollowed many blogs that get too political and get my blood boiling.  I don't want anybody to not read my blog because of something as silly as a political disagreement.  I would much rather keep things fun, simple, and non-controversial. 

(5.) I don't publish or respond to mean comments or emails.  I am lucky, because I have received very few since I started this blog, but there are some people who are just cranky and like to take it out on others from behind a computer screen.  I have no respect for it, and I have desire to respond to it. I love the positive friendships and connections that come with blogging and there is no need to ruin it by obsessing over nasty comments from people I have never met. Thus, I chose to just ignore them.

(6.) I never use last names.  I learned that the hard way when I once googled myself and was shocked when I saw that you could find links to my blog and other websites where I had freely used my name and not even considered the "google" ramifications.  I have since cleaned it up but it was something I never even thought about when I started blogging.

It is sometimes hard to abide by these rules because I want to share funny stories or great photos, but I think it is important to have limits and be very careful with what you put out there on the Internet.   

I was curious what other rules people follow when it comes to their blog.  
Is your blog an open book, or do you censor yourself?


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19 comments:

Mojito Maven said...

YES YES AND YES

I learned the HARD way about setting up blogging boundaries and what people expect and feel entitled to versus what you are actually willing to share!!

This is an area in which I am still learning and growing. Maybe someday I'll actually get it right.

newteacherwife said...

I do a little of both. I am in a career field that if parents saw that I went and had a few drinks with my friends on the weekends, they could take it the wrong way. Sad, however, that I have to worry about that. But that's a whole other subject. I also have to watch some things because my husband is about to enter law school and he doesn't want himself posted all over the internet.

I think I follow a few rules, especially the politics one. A few recent events have made me want to blog, but then I think, "What if I offend one of my good readers/someone who I enjoy reading?" I figure I can talk politics in person. (I also just don't want to get super-political people arguing with me...my beliefs are my beliefs)

Wow. This is a long way of saying I agree with you. I also periodically google myself to make sure I'm not easily found.
It's just a balancing act and each person has to decide what they are willing to share!

agalandherdog said...

Great rules! I follow most of the same rules and try to keep things vague. I used to post where I work and things like that, but then I went back and removed the references because you never know who is reading.

Rachel said...

Uh, this is a hard one. I agree with you on your rules. I sometimes find that I disclose too much, but it's hard for me because I am such an open person it's not easy for me to censor myself. I will not say anything about work though although I have quite a few good stories. Show a pic from the wedding if you have one just of you and the hubby!

Michelle said...

Perfect timing! I went from using first initials to trying out using first names recently, and I'm still unsure about it. Especially for my friends that have sort of unique first names. I still usually post pictures I take on my camera, since I just assume that if people are knowingly posing for a picture they assume it will be on facebook/my blog.

Something that's been happening to me recently is that I thought most of my readers were blog friends, like us, who live far away. But SO many Williams people read my blog. I find out about a new one every day. And I blog VERY freely about Williams, or used to. Now I'm not so sure!

katiealange said...

I am like you and didn't think that I would need boundaries at first but am now wishfully thinking that going back in time and removing my last name would have been a better idea. Maybe one day I'll use some free time to block some posts that I should have censored myself on because I totally agree that the internet is smaller than we think.

Natalie said...

Yes, I do censor myself. I am careful about posting pics and I rarely mention anyone's real name on my blog. I got some flack about an entry I wrote 2 years ago and had forgotten about it. It caused some major drama in my life so I have been super careful since then. I also try and keep work stuff off the blog but sometimes I just have to get it out there!

missris said...

I totally censor myself, even though I know it would be/is totally easy to find out my real name. I try to keep things light, not talk about work, and not post pics of people who aren't already reading/who wouldn't be ok with it. It's hard, still, to not write about things that are weighing on my mind!

mm said...

I also don't talk politics (or religion) on my blog, for similar reasons. So far I pretty much avoid putting up pictures of people, although I think eventually I might start putting up pictures of me and/or the husband.

I am extremely sensitive to what I put up on my blog since my husband is in the military. I also don't mention that fact very often, although people who read often will know.

I'm a little crazy about Google, so I'll google myself every once in a while to see what pops up. I happen to have the same name as a playboy playmate, so her sites come up WAY before mine... I don't even think my facebook link shows up until the second or third page. haha

Long comment, but overall I definitely think boundaries are important... even if they aren't the same for everybody. :o)

Amy I. said...

Great post! Luckily, having such a niche (i.e. mostly about food) blog has solved/prevented many of these problems for me. But I do feel like sometimes on twitter I give away a bit more than I should. I've always been far too trusting of people, and I do want to make more of a conscious effort to protect my privacy. You've definitely gotten the wheels spinning in my head!

Brittney said...

I'm the same way about boundaries. Actually, I didn't make a bunch of changes until just recently when I received some odd emails to my blog account who were reading old posts. It made me rather uneasy, so I made my blog private while I went through and edited every.single.post I had ever written. I took full names out, photos that weren't approved by the people in them, etc. It took awhile, but it's all cleaned up and I feel so much better about it.

I'll still use mine and my husband's first name (only) but for others, I just use initials unless I'm talking about another blogger who uses their name.

It's taken awhile for me to learn, but it's so true that the internet is much smaller than we think it is. Great post!

Linda said...

I think I've censored myself too much in what I talk about. I am attempting to be more open but I agree about avoiding work and other hot button issues.

idwsj said...

good rules to live by

lawschoolwife said...

I agree with all of these rules and try to follow every single one on my blog. It's not a secret who I am, but I'd rather not broadcast my whole name and make it that easy. And as lame as my photos with ovals and other cover-ups are, and even though those people know of my blog, I can't bear to share their faces. There's something about the risk I am taking being my own, and I don't want to put my decision on others (my husband's cool with the blog, I mean more specifically my girlfriends).

Rachel said...

Totally agree with your list!!
Ironically, I started out much much more guarded and private, and have since opened up a bit. But no last names, no telling where I work - although I mention from time to time what field I'm in - no pics of people who I don't know. And I take the whole talking about people I know even further. I don't, unless it's my husband or sisters, because ONE TIME I said something about my sister-in-law, she read it, and totally took it the wrong way.

But I have no idea why you wouldn't want to get into political discussions on here... I mean, they can be so much fun!! LOL - just kidding! (I don't even like discussing politics too much in real life!)

Amanda said...

My boundaries are the same! I think there are less than a dozen photos of me on the blog, and I NEVER post anybody else's photo without their permission. I usually don't even ask and just don't do it all. No location, no school, no job information. I'm pretty private for a girl with a blog, ha! :)
My question is always, would I want to have this conversation with my boss? Not so much for the stupid things (like my Bachelorette recaps), but if I posted something controversial or personal, how would I feel if he called me into his office and handed me a printed out copy of a post?
I'm open about my faith, but I wouldn't say I "talk" religion much. My tagline is "nerdy political scientist at heart" and I have a degree in Poli Sci, but it's super duper rare for me to post anything political. People don't understand why I don't, so they assume I don't actually have opinions, ha! It's just not worth the controversy to me, and I'm sick to death of people trying to "convert" me to agree with their policy positions. And like you said, I'm wary of tying myself to one position when I might change my mind down the road.
Sorry for the world's longest first comment :)

tootie said...

Good list! I totally agree on all points! It's better to be safe than sorry, right?

tinkler said...

uuggghhh. i totally should have boundaries. especially since i sometimes (read: often)blog while at work. god, such a big no-no.

d.a.r. said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I think that it is important to have some boundaries, regardless of how many or few. For me, my husband had quite a few concerns about me blogging--he wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing anything that would endanger his military unit (like blogging about the exact date he was going to leave, etc.) and he wanted his personal security protected. He would prefer that I not use our last name, or his military post or rank. And I post pictures of him in his uniform, he requests that I blur out any identifying features. Out of respect, I have no problem doing any of that.

Then, there is my own personal security issues. I don't really want to wave a big red flag of where exactly I am located, my full name, etc. And I agree--regardless, it is never a good idea to blog about work. My law firm is so technologically behind that I have no fear of being "found", but gawd...who would take that chance?? Especially as novice as I am in my career. Not worth it.

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