As ex-Waterstone's and Google employees can testify, blogging about your workplace can often have unfortunate consequences — including the odd P45. In order to help would-be bloggers stay on the right side of the law — and their bosses — the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has now launched a guide for blogging in the workplace.
The guide warns that it won't just be anonymous readers who can chance upon blogs, friends and colleagues can too — but anonymity can protect bloggers from the fallout. "Anyone can eventually find your blog if your real identity is tied to it in some way. And there may be consequences. Family members may be shocked or upset when they read your uncensored thoughts. A potential boss may think twice about hiring you," the guide says. "But these concerns shouldn't stop you from writing. Instead, they should inspire you to keep your blog private, or accessible only to certain trusted people."
Among the tips are preserving anonymity by disguising your name but also keeping quiet on any details that might allow people to guess your identity — the location of your city, for example, how many employees there are or the colour of a boss' cat.
The guide also recommends not using work resources for blogging: "You could get in trouble for using company resources like an Internet connection to maintain your blog, and it will be very hard for you to argue that the blog is a work-related activity. It will also be much more difficult for you to hide your blogging from officemates and IT operators who observe traffic over the office network," it says.
The EFF advisory also recommends using anonymising technology as a cloaking device — it also suggests that those who don't want to be discovered steer well clear of allowing their posts to appear in Google's rankings.
While blogging can land the unwary in legal hot water, even the most business sensitive of subjects aren't necessarily off-limits — blogging can be valuable in exposing corporate wrongdoing at large companies, but bloggers are advised to go to the authorities before going to their keyboard and posting.
"You need to report the problems to the appropriate regulatory or law enforcement bodies first. You can also complain to a manager at your company. But notify somebody in authority about the sludge your company is dumping in the wetlands first, then blog about it," the guide says.
The guide can be found here.