Blogging is growing at an unprecedented rate. As this happens, the chances of corrupt blogging practices increase too.
Therefore, bloggers should be made aware of the do’s and don’ts of blogging, both, the new and seasoned ones.
Fulfilling this need, I bring forth a framework of the norms of ethical blogging to inspire every blogger, especially the newbie, to help become ethical bloggers.
Are you an ethical blogger?
Before even trying to answer the question you must be thinking what in the world is an ethical blogger?
Everybody reads about probloggers and hears volumes on professional blogging. Seldom do we talk about ethics in blogging.
I am not talking about the blogging etiquettes. They are important too. But ethics is more about what is right or wrong.
In fact, the basis of both, etiquettes and ethics of blogging can be very subjective.
Bloggers may define or interpret them differently. Just like the ethics and etiquettes differ considerably in different cultures and societies.
However, can we still come to a common ground of what’s right or wrong in blogging?
I mean what bloggers should do or should not do to maintain the ideal spirit of blogging, which is to genuinely help others.
(I hope we all agree on the premise that blogging is all about keeping others first.)
So, let’s start by understanding the term – ethical blogging.
What is Ethical Blogging
According to the dictionary, ethical would mean conforming to accepted standards of social or professional behavior.
Being ethical is to adhere to ethical and moral principles.
This imperatively means that the norms of ethical blogging will change as and when the standards and morals of blogging change with time.
However, for now, we need to define the present aspects of ideal blogging.
Few of the essential aspects of professional blogging, just like any other profession, are honesty and transparency.
Sometimes we need guidelines to remind us how to be honest and transparent in our profession, isn’t it?
Many professional services have their code of conduct for that purpose.
Ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath for doctors?
It clearly outlines the do’s and don’ts of the medical profession that should be remembered and practiced by all medical professionals.
This ethical oath has changed with time, and there is a modern Hippocratic Oath in use now.
It is not just the medical professionals, but different professionals like teachers, managers, scientists, bankers, journalists, social workers, and others also feel the need of a Hippocratic Oath for their profession.
Its main aim is to provide ethical guidelines and discourage people from malpractice.
Do you feel blogging also needs an ethical guideline?
A Hippocratic Oath For Bloggers
We all know that there are no eligibility criteria for blogging. Anybody from any academic, cultural, or economic background can become a blogger.
All bloggers are free to blog as and what they want. Since most bloggers blog to earn money, they try every way and everything in their power to earn a handsome income, passive or not passive.
When it comes to dealing with money, sometimes people get carried away and get involved in unjust practices that may bring them easy and quick money.
All good and professional bloggers know that blogging is not a get-quick-rich scheme.
Blogging involves intelligent planning, careful implementation, dedicated hard work, and sustained efforts.
On top of it, you need to build quality relationships, a positive image, and an expert authority reputation.
To accomplish this, you need to win the hearts of people and create a good impression on fellow bloggers.
The best way to do that is by following an ethical guideline and making sure that you are trusted and revered by fellow bloggers.
Hippocratic Oath for bloggers is all about the do’s and don’ts of blogging.
I’ve written a draft on my blog, and I invite you to read it and suggest any changes required.
There will be varied views, but I am sure we can meet on some common grounds and lay a guideline for all bloggers.
Let’s go on further and know the various ways to become such an ethical blogger.
5 Ways To Be An Ethical Blogger
In your effort to be an ethical blogger, you can follow the following suggestions.
Though, I am sure you are already a responsible blogger and must have implemented these recommendations as part of your blogging ways.
Nevertheless, I’d still want you to give me your feedback, so it helps the newbie bloggers.
1. First, Do No Harm
Though not a part of the original Hippocratic Oath, this phrase [First, do no harm] is often assigned and used along with it. However, for the influencing powers that bloggers have, it is of utmost importance.
a) Do not deliberately spread any information that can cause harm to innocent people. It should not result in the commotion that is mentally disturbing and emotionally traumatic for all or some readers.
b) Adopt tolerance and refrain from racist remarks or treatment.
The Blogosphere is a common ground where bloggers from different cultures, nations, and religions meet. They need to be respected for who they are and where they come from.
c) Never use any tactics with the aim to cheat people. Be fair and just in your dealings and promotions. Do not try to befool or mislead people for your selfish motives.
Blogging is to help, not hurt. This has to be emphasized because blogging is a powerful tool. It is capable of creating revolutions, spreading hatred, or running scams.
Ethical bloggers will never indulge in such kind of blogging.
2. Present The Real Facts
As a blogger, you are free to report your experiences and project your opinions. Most of your loyal readers are going to trust your word and believe it to be true.
a) If you review a product, plugin, site, or service – reflect your real experiences. Do not hide any fact and be frank about the pros and cons, so it helps the readers.
b) If you are expressing your opinions about any matter, let that fact be evident. The readers should know that it is your personal opinion and not necessarily a de facto matter.
c) Do not make false claims. First validate, and then write.
Present the real facts about yourself and your blog. Any false information will be deemed as an act of misleading and breach of trust by the other bloggers or readers.
It will be in your and your readers’ best interest that you state nothing but the truth.
If the truth in your blog posts helps the readers, you would not only gain repute and trust, but also word of mouth promotion by the readers.
3. Use Disclaimers and Disclosures
Your readers should know the motive behind your post or your authority on the subject matter.
a) Was your post sponsored by some person or company? If so, then state it.
Have you written a review about a product or service that you were paid for or received it for free? Reveal this fact to the readers in good faith. Believe me; your readers will begin to trust you more.
b) Did you use affiliate links in your post?
Well, it is not wrong to do that, and almost every blogger does that. Some reveal this fact in their blog pages like “Disclaimer” and “Privacy” or at the end of the post itself.
You can choose what best suits you, or devise your method of revealing this information.
c) Do you give advice on matters that you are not legally authorized to do so? Put up a disclaimer and suggest the readers to consult a certified authority on the matter.
Remember, prompting people to take the wrong action by providing misleading information may also land you in legal trouble.
Never keep the readers in the dark. If you are found hiding any fact or information, it will be a blow to your integrity as an ethical blogger.
4. Give Due Credit
How would you feel if somebody copies your post without your permission? Moreover, on top of it brandishes the post as her or his post! Not good, I know. 🙂
a) If you are publishing any information in part or full from any other site, you should credit it within your post in words or/and with a backlink to the source.
b) Even the images that you use may require attribution. If they do, then do not forget to fulfill their conditions of acknowledgment.
c) Acknowledge and respect the rules of the blogs you visit or comment on. It is all about following the golden rule of reciprocity – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.
Duplication of content or using images without permission or due credit results in plagiarism and abuse of the intellectual property rights. Give what is due, and gain respect!
5. Standby Your Ethical Stance
If you have decided to become an ethical blogger, then stay determined to be so. This may not be an easy path to tread, but it is rewarding and satisfying.
a) Do not let your content or views be influenced by bribery offers of gifts and money. As an ethical blogger, you should stand firm on your policy of truth and transparency.
b) Understand and accept your obligation to fellow bloggers and readers of your blog. Always publish and promote what upholds the spirit of blogging and maintains the credibility of the blogosphere.
c) Invoke your conscience and inspire others to follow the right path. It is easy and tempting to tread the wrong path, but for ethical bloggers it is not the matter of money, but values that count.
Remember that your personal integrity is responsible for the credibility of the bloggers in general. Being an ethical blogger, it is your values that make you strong, important, and happy.
Are You An Ethical Blogger
Only you know the answer to this question. I hope it is a positive one. 🙂
Now, you know what it takes to be an ethical blogger and how to become one. If you are interested, there is more to read at the post about the Hippocratic Oath for Bloggers on my blog.
Probably you have more ideas and thoughts to share. The beauty of blogging is that we can cooperate and work collectively for the general good.
All bloggers need to be responsible for what they write. Accuracy and accountability will force them to produce quality content that is helpful, don’t you agree?
The medical Hippocratic Oath is not mandatory or legally binding for the doctors. It is up to the doctors to follow and practice it accordingly in their profession.
Similarly, the Hippocratic Oath for bloggers is not enforcing. You can choose and adopt what you like, modify it as per your case or circumstances, while maintaining the spirit of ethical blogging.
Let’s pledge to maintain high standards of blogging and be bloggers of integrity and value. Let’s be ethical bloggers for our readers.
Over to you –
Do you feel there is a need for an ethical guideline for bloggers? What more would you add as suggestions to be ethical bloggers? Share your experiences and views in the comments. Thanks.