Weblog Policy: A number of…

Weblog Policy:  A number of people at Groove have started blogs, and I’m really trying to encourage more to do the same.  The more we live it, the more that we’ll learn from it, and the more that we’ll learn through it as we’re engaged in conversations with our customers.  And thus, the sooner that we’ll be able to improve our products and services based upon what we learn.  Of course, there are many questions that arise when an employer encourages employees to operate more “in the open”, and so our counsel, Jeff Seul, has taken a first pass at creating a “blog policy”.  Check it out.

As an employer, this gives me many things to consider.  About a year ago, many of us witnessed as an employee of one company lost his job because he allegedly disparaged the company and some of its employees online.  But it doesn’t seem appropriate or possible to mandate and codify “reasonable behavior” in a policy.  On the other hand, people will be increasingly challeneged to be aware of what they should or shouldn’t say online – particularly with regard to intellectual property – and maybe reminding them to be aware of this is a good thing.

Furthermore, consider things like this.  Jeff says, I’ve added a paragraph about limitation or suspension of website/weblog activity during SEC-mandated quiet periods. You may recall that the SEC postponed Webvan’s IPO because it considered certain activity on Webvan’s website to be a violation of the pre-IPO quiet period. Although we view employee weblogs as a personal activity, the SEC could potentially impose a cooling-off period on us if it considered employee weblog activity to be sanctioned by the company or something we’ve turned a blind eye toward. There’s a risk that they could view employee weblogs to which we link (or have linked in the past) as company-sanctioned.”  Fascinating.

Perhaps we can learn from one another: are there any other companies that have done similar things?  Can you provide links or stories?

Personal Website and Weblog Guidelines


Some employees who maintain personal websites or weblogs, or who are considering beginning one, have asked about the company?s perspective regarding them.  In general, the company views personal websites and weblogs positively, and it respects the right of employees to use them as a medium of self-expression.


If you choose to identify yourself as a company employee or to discuss matters related to the company?s technology or business on your website or weblog, please bear in mind that, although you and we view your website or weblog as a personal project and a medium of personal expression, some readers may nonetheless view you as a de facto spokesperson for the company.  In light of this possibility, we ask that you observe the following guidelines:


?         Please make it clear to your readers that the views you express are yours alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of the company.  To help reduce the potential for confusion, we would appreciate it if you put the following notice ? or something similar ? in a reasonably prominent place on your site (e.g., at the bottom of your ?about me? page):


The views expressed on this website/weblog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.


If you do put a notice on your site, you needn?t put it on every page, but please use reasonable efforts to draw attention to it ? if at all possible, from the home page of your site.


?         Take care not to disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the company or to any third party that has disclosed information to us.  Consult the company?s confidentiality policy for guidance about what constitutes confidential information.


?         Please remember that your employment documents give the company certain rights with respect to concepts and developments you produce that are related to the company?s business.  Please consult your manager if you have questions about the appropriateness of publishing such concepts or developments related to the company?s business on your site.


?         Since your site is a public space, we hope you will be as respectful to the company, our employees, our customers, our partners and affiliates, and others (including our competitors) as the company itself endeavors to be.


?         You may provide a link from your site to the company?s website, if you wish.  The web design group has created a graphic for links to the company?s site, which you may use for this purpose during the term of your employment (subject to discontinuation in the company?s discretion).  Contact a member of the web design group for details.  Please do not use other company trademarks on your site or reproduce company material without first obtaining permission.


Finally, please be aware that the company may request that you temporarily confine your website or weblog commentary to topics unrelated to the company (or, in rare cases, that you temporarily suspend your website or weblog activity altogether) if it believes this is necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with securities regulations or other laws.


If you have any questions about these guidelines or any matter related to your site that these guidelines do not address, please direct them to the company’s Vice President of Communications or its General Counsel, as appropriate.

[Ray Ozzie’s Weblog]