Five Commandments Civilize the Blogosphere

November 18, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Technology News
If the blogosphere is the new clubhouse where the influencial hang out, then Paul Gillin’s “Five Commandments of Social Media,” as defined in his new book "The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media," are the club rules. This set of standards and conventions have shaped an amazingly civilized blogosphere. And it happened without a vote, representation, or governing committee. Instead, a collective vision of ethics, moral behavior, and community has emerged.

As the model evolves certain standards are being embraced. Here are Gillin’s Commandments:
• Thou Shalt Link: Links are the manifestation of the culture of attribution that pervades blogging. It’s an unwritten rule that you never steal content. You can quote, elaborate upon, annotate, and comment upon someone else’s writings all you want, but you must always attribute and link to the source. Links have a secondary advantage. Many lesser-known bloggers live for the beneficence of a link from an A-list player. Top bloggers know that the more links they bestow upon their fans, the more benefits accrue to the smaller players beneath them and the more gratitude they accumulate.
• Thou Shalt Not Diss: Blogs have a reputation of being crude, disrespectful, and crass. And while some are pretty obnoxious, the reality is that the vast majority of influential bloggers practice an almost parliamentary civility. The ethics of blogging, as defined on thousands of blogs and in dozens of corporate blogging strategies today, is to defer to one’s critics, engage with them in a conversation, and respect their point of view.
• Thou Shalt Be Transparent: “Transparency” is a word bloggers use a lot. It’s kind of a mashup of principles that include honesty, integrity, humility, open-mindedness, and fairness. The idea is that blogs, like diaries, should lay bare the thoughts of the author and chronicle the development of his or her ideas over time without revising the process that got the person there. Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media. In the blogosphere, transparency is about a lot more than just not lying. It’s about opening yourself to inspection, analysis, judgment, praise, and ridicule.
• Thou Shalt Comment: Commenting is a core part of blogging protocol. In blog culture, commenting is considered an essential part of the conversation. Posting a comment on another person’s blog is a way of inviting a direct interaction with that person. Comments can create new relationships that spark more blogging.
• Thou Shalt Not Blather: The subject of length is frequently debated by bloggers. The rule of thumb is that short is better than long. Many A-list bloggers rarely post entries of over five hundred words, believing that milestone to be the threshold of a reader’s attention span. The key is that readers have less tolerance with words on a screen than they do with words on paper.
Gillin is the former editor-in-chief of both Tech Target and Computerworld. "The New Influencers" is available at bookstores, online bookstores, or by calling 1-800-497-4909.