A story this morning on milblogging.com caught my eye for a couple of reasons: it involved the Army Corps of Engineers (my branch) and it involved what I'll term "defensive blogging". The story is about allegations by the website Levee.org that Corps of Engineers employees left comments "targeting citizen critic using tax payer money" and were "re-writing history" (the news report by WWL TV can be seen here.) I have no idea if this is an organized effort by the Corps of Engineers, but it certainly highlights one way that the military can (and, I'd argue, should) engage the blogosphere - by leaving comments on blogs to correct or complete a story.
It's one thing to manage your own blog as an individual or an organization. The Chief of the Corps of Engineers does have his own blog, though it appears to mainly be for internal communication rather than public engagement. But simply posting your own ideas or editorializing on news only gets so far - it only is read by readers of your own blog. Posting comments on other blogs is a way to get your opinions (or facts) out to a brouder audience. This is particularly important if incorrect information is being posted and discussed in blogs. I'd argue that we, as military members, have an obligation to set the record straight when when we see incorrect information floating around.
You may recall stories about CENTCOM's blogging activities from a while back. They do not maintain their own blog; rather, they actively engage other blogs by leaving comments. They are required to be completely open about these posts - which it sounds like these Corps of Engineers employees did not do - which seems a very reasonable requirement. From the stories about CENTCOM, the comments they leave have been received rather favorably and part of that is due, I imagine, to their upfront manner.
Having a small organized team with the task of trolling the blogosphere and correcting or completing stories about your organization seems a very valid and important use of resources. This seems to be something most major commands in the Army (at a minimum) should consider. It's probably not practical or necessary to have an organized team like this at the battalion or brigade level. At those levels, though, we could empower Soldiers to perform the mission. This is, admittedly, a bit more risky because it is not controlled. But if we provide them with information, power, and trust, then I believe they won't let us down.
So, as the Army continues to wrestle with how to best engage the blogosphere, this is one very important tactic - defensive blogging. This is probably a tactic best used by the PA folks around the Army, but there's no reason that it shouldn't be in every Soldier blogger's arsenal.
When you're reading other blogs, or even stories on main stream news websites, do you feel free (and obligated) to correct anything that is untrue or does not present the complete story?