In 2005, the The Center for Teaching at the University of Iowa created a collection of PDF files to support their Social Media & Technology in the Classroom teaching resources. Among the well thought out documents on using blogs and podcasts in the classroom and how to incorporate social media is the Bloggers Agreement (PDF).
For posterity, I’d like to reproduce it here as I think it is one of the most valuable guidelines everyone who publishes anything on the web, including updates to Facebook, pictures and discussions of their lunch on Twitter, and great pontifications (and videos) on Google+, should have printed out and stuck to their wall where they can see it before they hit publish or submit. I use this in my WordPress and blogging training and workshops, as well as in my WordPress college course.
Understanding that blogging is a real and important form of writing and self-expression, student and teacher bloggers must agree to be honest, truthful, and kind. Exchanging and publishing ideas can help people in new and important ways. But in this writing, there are risks and important responsibilities.
To be a responsible online writer, I promise that when I write, I will:
- honestly express truthful thoughts and ideas. If someone asks, I will be able to prove that what I write is true;
- always treat all people with respect. I will never write to cause harm or to hurt the feelings of others;
- never do anything to cause harm to computers I am writing on. I will set a good example for others;
- do my absolute best to write truthful and useful information. If I make a mistake, I will fix it;
- always write in a way that protects the identity of my classmates, my family, and myself;
- always write in a way that brings respect and honor to my school, my family, and myself.
It includes a signature spot for the instructor and the student along with the date as a commitment to follow the agreement.
Personally, I think it’s brilliant.
What’s Your Commitment to Blogging?
Signing that document, the student agrees to maintain moral values and standards as a contributor not just to their blog but to their community – to the world! It’s actually a simple pledge to how we should always live our lives, holding ourselves accountable and responsible for what we do and say. In other words, live the great motto to do no harm.
It begins with a powerful statement: Honestly express truthful thoughts and ideas. It is reinforced with “If I make a mistake, I will fix it.” Be truthful but willing to admit your boo-boos, and be able to change your mind and your work.
I’ve carried this around with me since 2005 and run across every once in a while. I think about how I could improve it. I’m not sure how. The only thing I would add is to not copy thy neighbor’s work (or anyone else) and commit to creating original work. Yet, in a way the agreement reinforces fair play and copyright enforcement.
If you were to make a blogger’s agreement with yourself or others, what would be in it? Is this enough for you?