10 Rules for Responsible Blogging

By Daniel Scocco

There is a ongoing debate around the blogosphere regarding what Tim O’Reilly called the “Bloggers Code of Conduct”. While I do think that bloggers should follow some basic rules I also defend that those rules should emerge naturally, rather than being imposed by a central authority.

Recently I wrote an article for the Sponsored Reviews blog titled “10 Rules for Responsible Blogging”. On the article I list some basic principles that could ensure more credibility and integrity around the blogosphere. Notice that I do not feel like I can dictate what bloggers should or should not do, those are just suggestions:

1. Check your facts
2. Respect Copyright Law
3. Consider the implications
4. Control the comments on your blog
5. Give credit where credit is due
6. Disclose professional relationships
7. Disclose sponsored posts
8. Be transparent with affiliate links
9. Respect Tax Law
10. Avoid “blackhat” methods




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13 Responses to “10 Rules for Responsible Blogging”

  • Roberto Alamos

    I don’t see where’s the relation between ‘Respect Tax Law’ and blogging. That’s a matter of respecting the law, and everybody must do that whether they agree or not. I saw what you wrote on Sponsored Reviews but I believe there’s a way in which you can get paid by US business (for advertisement for example) but you don’t have to pay taxes in the US but in your own country. I cannot assure that’s true, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t have any kind of special knowledge about US laws, maybe I’m just wrong, but I think that by having a single-person Delaware LLC you bypass those kind of taxes (again, is just what I understood from a document I read some months ago, don’t take it as a real advice).

    Now, I agree with all your other points much more than with Tim’s proposed code of conduct (which is filled with things I do not agree like “we do not allow anonymous comments”). It’s much more right to the point and useful. Good work 🙂

  • Daniel

    Thanks Roberto!

    The point about Tax Law is just to remember bloggers that if you are making money with your blog you will probably need to pay taxes. Obviously US Tax Law applies to US citzens (or companies), if you are outside the US you should get informed on the Law of your own country.

  • Cristi

    I know that paying taxes should be “a must”, but some countries are making this almost impossible for bloggers. In my country, for example, you cannot have an official income stream (like making money through a website) if you don’t have a company. An individual is not allowed to receive money other than donations or salary. That’s so stupid, but that’s the truth.

    Not that starting a company is difficult, but it costs you some money you would rather spend on promoting your site in the beginning.

  • Roberto Alamos

    @Daniel. You’re welcome 😉

    @Cristi: It’s possible in your country to work as a freelance for overseas companies? Maybe that’s the legal form in which you have to present your blogging incomes.

  • Cristi

    You can’t do any form of payed work if you don’t have a company.

    The easiest way is to get yourself “registered” as an individual (maybe that’s not the word). This way you don’t have to start a company. But, bureaucratically speaking (yep, firefox did the spell checking on this), the amount of money and time you have to invest to “register yourself” is the same as starting a company.

    In both situations, you have to be over 18.

  • tanguy

    copyright law.
    That’s a good and essential one.

    It’s the reason why I only use copyleft pictures. Concerning movies, usually it is just the trailer of a movie and used within “fair use” policy – I consider this as free advertising (but it usually bring sthg to the msg of my article). I always link to the originated source. There are as well movies that are provided for buzz purposes, sometimes it’s great content and I use this.

    Concerning text, either it’s only extracts (sources being always cited)…

    Well, My POINT : there are tons and tons of ways to use original / copyright content ON A LEGAL WAY. I believe this is important to bear in mind.

  • Daniel

    tanguy, check out this post for copyright law basics: http://www.dailyblogtips.com/copyright-law-12-dos-and-donts/

  • Nathan GIlmer

    I agree with you totally. Blogging is almost a prime example of free speech. This does not however mean it is exempt from simple ethics. I think your list is perfectly acceptable, however, I do not think that any governing authority should enforce any rules. We, as fellow bloggers, should just do our part to keep the blogosphere good the way it is. We should call out to blogs acting in a wrong way and make sure that we abide by the rules aswell.

  • Vincent Chow

    Very reasonable and I almost follow all of them except the tax thingy. I’m just 16 and know almost nothing about tax. Tax? What’s that?

    Yes, know what’s tax but not knowing how to pay. And yes too, even if I know, I will think twice before doing so. Oh..

  • tanguy

    Daniel,

    thx for the link, I have been thru it (comments were great) – without re-opening this topic here (I understood your redirection), as many lawyers said, I believe the topic is much more complicated,… not impossible to grasp, and only reserved to lawyers, but complicated.

    The reason of my previous post is because many bloggers believe that when you are using non-original material, you are infringing copyright law.

    Furthermore, American copyright law is only applicable to American blogs. Rules are different in Europe, and even among European countries.

    Sorry to be so straight (I really love your blog, suscribed to your RSS, and coming often), but I don’t see why I should comply to American rules (even if I do), when my details are elsewhere. It is not because you are blogging in English that you are from this country.

    I believe therefore you should precise your point like maybe : “Respect the copyright laws you have to comply with. Don’t base your business on the exploitation of other’s material if they do not consent”

  • Daniel

    tanguy,

    It is true that most of the points mentioned on the post apply to the U.S. Copyright law.

    As you said it is quite complex indeed, since most countries have signed treaties or conventions (like the Berne one) where they agree to respect some basic principles (most of which were listed there).

    Secondly, what happens if your blog is hosted on an american server even if you live outside the US?

    There are several ramifications of the problem that would make it impossible to provide a unique advice for everyone.

    But yeah its obvious that people should inform themselves about their specific situations.

  • Steve

    I also post the affiliate link directly into my blog posts but I have read that you should hide it in some way so the search engines don’t recognize. I haven’t had the time to come up with a consistent system of cloaking the links.

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