21 November 2008

Toward guidance Soldiers would use ...

In order to encourage Soldiers to take the plunge into the blogosphere, we certainly must provide them with useful, readable, clear guidance. Other bloggers have useful tips on their sites. Mike, a friend here at ACSC, recently shared some "axioms" from his blogging experience over the past couple years and is kindly allowing me to post them here (Thanks, Mike!). Is there anything on this list that you disagree with based on your own experiences? Any you would change/reword/etc? What would you add? Also, if you've got a list of your own or know of another useful list please leave it in the comments to this post - I plan on compiling a "best of" list to include in the final report for this project (I'll ensure you get proper credit, of course).

Mike’s 25 Axioms of Blogging
  1. You think blogging is like emailing your family and friends – it’s not. It’s much more like publishing to the world, and that changes everything.

  2. Don’t believe me? Give your link to any intended small circle, and despite your best efforts to keep it contained, it will escape.

  3. Even if your link’s not “leaked” by a friend, Google knows about your blog –- and therefore, so does the whole world.

  4. People will read your blog without your knowledge (“lurk”) -- many will be people you didn’t intend to read it, and some you probably don’t really want to.

  5. The degree to which people keep up with your blog may not reflect at all how much they love you. Your sister won’t read it, but her best-friend’s cousin’s roommate will...religiously.

  6. Blogs are “pull” not “push.” Your readers will control when they get (“pull”) the information, which is cool. If the info needs to be read, it should be “pushed,” so use email.

  7. Based on above two, no one likes to hear “you should know that already...I put it on my blog.”

  8. Your blog is more like emailing than like snail-mailing – any post or portion of a post can be forwarded, printed, and put into your boss’ (or the NY Times editor’s) inbox in a moment, without your knowledge.

  9. "Every careless word will be called to account” – based on #8, be very careful about anything negative you say about anyone, especially those in authority over you or in subordination to you.

  10. Mis-interpretation is inevitable – just like email, be careful with sarcasm, “irony,” and humor – they’re not as clear as you’d think without voice inflection or body language, especially given your broad audience.

  11. The more contentious a thing you say, the more likely #8-10 will happen

  12. Your friends & family love you, but they mostly want to see pictures, especially ones of you, rather than read tons of prose.

  13. Pictures contain more than you think – what (or who) is in the background?

  14. People don’t like finding their picture in a public place without their permission – and can you blame them?

  15. People ordinarily don’t like reading about themselves in a public place without their permission – and can you blame them?

  16. If you violate the above two, people will start refusing to have their picture taken with/by you and may change their behavior around you.

  17. Consider your postings “permanent” once you post them – erasing out of cyberspace may be impossible

  18. Blogging after your normal bed time is a bad idea -- do I even need to mention alcohol?

  19. Use the delay-postings option if you have any reason to think you might regret something you said. That way you can review it in the morning

  20. Blogging is inherently personal, but the blog does not need to know your (or anyone else’s) personal details

  21. Remember OPSEC -- bits of personal information (your town, a picture of your house, a picture of a co-worker, your full name) posted earlier can be tied together with other information (“I’m partying in Aruba!” Or “The Office is in DC this week”) to bring vulnerability to you or others

  22. Ditto with negative things – “my boss is a jerk” posted one day (thinking “no one knows who he is”) gets tied to “here’s a picture of my boss and I in Aruba” gets tied to “in my work at General Motors” on a 3rd day...which leads to trouble...

  23. You will receive hurtful comments on your blog -- the only way to mitigate (but not stop) it is to disallow anonymous postings, which limits your comments, which is no fun

  24. You do not need to reply to every comment, but regular readers and commenters would likely appreciate a follow-up comment sometimes – and the same rules apply as to a posting.

  25. Mitigating all the above the above requires password-based controls on your blog, which are no fun


  1. I think the axioms are brilliant -- clear, concise, accessible, pertinent in every situation. He should write a book.

  2. As the wife of an AF officer (and friend of Mike), I would like to add a few thoughts.
    1. Many bloggers use codenames. These don't change the content of the information, it merely protects the writer and the written about.
    2. Consider the reason you are blogging, and your audience, with every post you write. Are you writing to tell your family about your awesome trip to Madrid? Write it that way. Or are you an aspiring author testing the waters by writing for cyberspace? Write from your heart.
    3. Always be true to yourself, and BE yourself. When you are writing to please (or impress) someone else, then you are no longer blogging for the right reasons.
    4. When it becomes a chore or a burden, take a break from blogging. Few people want to read about how much you hate blogging.
    5. Mike said it in a few axioms, but remember: What you put on your blog IS available to everyone with Internet access. If you don't want random people to read your post - don't post it. You cannot control who reads your blog EVEN IF you make it private (anyone can share their password, right?).
    6. You are trained to protect the physical realm in ways I'll never know, but don't let your guard down when it comes to your blog. Your blog is a valuable territory you must protect and defend. (You don't want to learn this one the hard way.)
    7. Have fun with it!

  3. Good rules, that Mike guy is in fact a genius.

  4. Thanks for the added axioms, Melissa. Your #2 and 7 are key - ones that we must ensure not to diminish as we determine ways to encourage more Soldiers to share their stories through blogs and other new media outlets.