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IBM Urges Employees to Blog With Care

Big Blue is encouraging its 320,000 worldwide employee to join the blogosphere. They are also being warned to be careful.

In a post to the company's intranet site today, IBM posted draft rules for employees when they write on IBM-related topics, whether at work or on their time. On official IBM blog sites, employees are encouraged to use them in a way that "adds value to IBM's business."

For IBMers hosting their own blogs on company-related topics, the post recommends using their best judgment and to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are theirs alone and don't necessarily represent the official views of IBM.

According to the post, IBM's internal blogging service has grown in 18 months to approximately 9,000 registered users. Externally, the company hosts more than 20 blogs on a variety of developer-focused topics.

Post author James Snell, a member of IBM's Software Standards Strategy Group, said with IBMers "blogging both inside and outside our intranet environment," IBM felt it was time to "formalize [its] support for what many of us had been doing for quite some time."

Most notably, the IBM draft guidelines focus on how IBMers can blog and still keep their jobs.

"The core principlesare designed to guide IBMers as they figure out what they're going to blog about so that dont end up like certain notable ex-employees of certain other notable companies," the post states.

IBM says employees should a disclaimer that states the author is an employee of IBM but the opinions contained in the blog are solely the author's. In addition, company proprietary information is off limits to bloggers and clients, partners and suppliers should not be referenced without their opinion.

"IBM believes in dialogue with among IBMers and with our partners, clients, members of the many communities in which we participate and the general public," Snell wrote. "We believe that IBMers can both derive and and provide important benefits from exchanges of perspective."

However, Snell notes, "IBM trusts -- and expects -- IBMers to exercise personal responsibility when they blog. IBMers should not use this medium for covert marketing or public relations."

Snell said IBMers should avoid some of the more common practices of blogging, including hiding behind anonymity. IBM, Snell said, believes in transparency.

"If you are blogging about your work for IBM, we encourage you to use your real name, be clear who you are and identify you work for IBM," Snell wrote.

"Nothing gains you notice in the blogosphere more than honesty -- or dishonesty."