It’s time to talk about policies in Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course. While every website, personal or professional, requires some policies, learning how to publish policies on a WordPress site involves learning about WordPress Pages as a content type, customizing the navigation menu, using jump links, creating lists, customizing links in Widgets, and a good lesson in content structure and organization.
In general, working with policies teaches you about where to put what when in WordPress.
Policies are the guidelines, rules, regulations, terms of service, and self-protection for your site. Policies may involve legal terms and references and be supported by the laws of your community or country, or respected by international laws, or may just be the rules for your virtual sandbox, instructing your readers how to play in it.
Noted blogger Paul Boag said:
Polices and procedures are not about control and limitations, but about ensuring that nothing is missed and quality is maintained.
Typical website policies include:
- Terms of Service
- Reprint and Permissions
- Social Media
- Event/News Posting
- Content Quality and Limitations
- Advertisements and Endorsements
Website policies differ based upon the purpose, content, and demographic needs of the audience. Policies define rights, access, security, liability, responses, moderation, control, and protection of the site.
Sites representing a specific business or industry have policies related to their business such as a medical office, which would require publishing their HIPAA, insurance, and other medical-specific policies. Businesses working with a government are required to comply with policies as set by their government agencies and laws.
In our WordPress School course, we are going to focus on the four most commonly used policies. You will publish each of these on your experimental site to learn how to structure and organize the content within the site.
These policies should be on every personal and professional site, and additional policies added to meet the needs of the site.
Why do we need these policies?
First, we must protect ourselves as the owner of the site. We must protect ourselves from the things our readers might do, and defend our content through copyright and liability policies.
Second, we must obey the laws. Most countries, including the United States, Canada, and the UK, require disclosure of sponsored blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, and any other online or print media. This disclosure also includes influence as well as compensation. If you are blogging as an employee of a company, that company may have rules about what you say online as a representative of that company, or not, thus your blogging is influenced by your employees rules. You need a Disclosure Policy to state whether or not you receive compensation or are influenced in any form when publishing on your site.
Last, we need policies to set the ground rules. What content will you allow or not allow within your site’s comments? Will you allow swearing? Mean talk? What about copyright? What is your definition of Copyright Fair Use allowing others to quote and cite your material in theirs before it crosses your copyright violation line? You need to set the rules for how your site and your content is to be used by others, and what the consequences are if they don’t tow the line.
Policy References and Resources
To help you get into the thought process of policies, the following are articles about various policies and policy writing advice and references. More specific examples and information will be included in each post about the various policies.
- The exciting world of policies and procedures – Boagworld – Web & Digital Advice
- Code of Conduct – Press Publish
- Open Source Bridge Conference Code of Conduct
- Writing About Policies, Rules, and Guidelines – Information Services & Technology
- How to Write a Social Media Policy – Inc.com
- Developing Organizational Policies on Web Accessibility – W3.org
- Federal Laws and Regulations – HowTo.gov (Laws for sites working with government agencies or offices)
- OMB Policies for Federal Public Websites – HowTo.gov
- Best Practices for Government Websites – HowTo.gov
- US Government Outline for Web Policies Document (PDF)
- Web Policies and Procedures – HowTo.gov
- Web Governance Policies and Procedures – Site improve
The following is a list of examples of site policies representing a variety of industries. Do not directly copy their policies. Let them serve as examples as you write your own.
- BBC – Editorial Guidelines – Guidance – Social Networking, Microblogs and other Third Party Websites: BBC Use – Guidance in Full
- Article types and Editorial Guidelines – BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal)
- CNN.com – Terms of Service
- Terms and conditions of use policy – Mayo Clinic
- Publishing guidance – The National Archives of the United Kingdom
- Enron Creditors Recovery Corp. – Terms & Conditions (now defunct company)
- Temple University WebHelp
- US Social Security Website Policies & Other Important Information
- US FDA Website Policies
- Online Database of Social Media Policies
In the next series of posts, I will go into detail about each of the core four policies, Copyright, Privacy, Disclosure, and Comments. However, article in this mini-series on policies will cover how to integrate this content into your site in greater detail.
There is much information to cover and I want both of us to take it in small steps.
Before you start modifying your site and adding policies, do the following:
- Write down the four policies: Copyright, Privacy, Disclosure, and Comments.
- Make notes under each one about what you believe is important to add to each policy.
- Think about how you wish to integrate these into your site:
- Are they important enough to feature as a top-level menu item?
- Do you want to bury them in the footer or somewhere off the main menu but still visible?
- Do you think you will need just one Page for all the policies, or one for each policy?
- What additional policies does your site need? Liability? Terms of Service? Contributors? Accessibility? Consider your site’s topic and its industry. Are there specific policies required? Write down each of these.
In the next post, you’ll learn the two main options for featuring policies on a WordPress site and how to choose between them.
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see: