A couple days ago word was making its way around that it was Back to the Future Day.* The date set in Doc Brown’s Deloreon.
That’s the thing about the web. We share a lot of information that isn’t quite right. We don’t do our homework.
We just click and share. Click and agree. Click, click, click.
When I started If Emily Posted in January, I wasn’t sure where it would lead. From the very first IEP, I wanted to begin a conversation about setting the bar higher – at the very least setting a bar – a universal one.
I’m thrilled by the conversations that have started. Encouraged by change I see taking place. Excited by people expressing a desire to make this community the best it can be.
There are so many resources for bloggers on how to make their blogs more “successful.” How to increase page rank. How to improve SEO. How to market yourself. How to use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the social sharing machine to bring people to your site.
The resource I didn’t see, the one I wanted to see, was how to successfully build a blog that played by the rules, both the written and unwritten ones. A code by which we, as a community of content creators and curators, have to behave or this web just might end up a tangled mess of SPAM and scraped content and junk mail.
People often have the best of intentions. They can say that they blog ethically, but ethics are subjective. It’s why I feel that the FTC standards that require of American bloggers such a high level of transparency may seem unfair in comparison to other forms of media, but I think they’re crucial. And yet, even with the FTC guidelines, there’s a whole lot of gray area.
I believe bloggers are writers. I don’t like the elitist nonsense. But I also believe bloggers need to realize there are rules they must follow. Some are about the law. Some are simply about doing the right thing.
Unlike most other forms of media, this one lacks oversight. Film, radio and television have the MPAA, Standards and Practices, the FCC.
The blogosphere has, eh, not so much of these things. The FTC speaks of disclosure and bloggers know that they shouldn’t use what isn’t theirs. And yet, I see sites that don’t disclose and bloggers using intellectual property belonging to others.
Six months into writing If Emily Posted, reading and asking questions and researching and speaking to so many people, I’m planning the next chapter.
The conversations will remain here every Friday, but I am working to create something portable and indexed and easy to use. Nothing as large as the Chicago Manual of Style, but with the same intent.
To be a great paperweight. To create consistency. To educate and inform.
I believe in coloring outside the lines, I do. But there aren’t enough defined lines right now. More like watercolors bleeding into one another.
We don’t have to tear down the web and rebuild it. That’s the beauty of it. We can make edits and improvements upon what already exists. We don’t have to start from scratch. We simply need to give things a polish.
Here’s to the future.
I highly recommend this article by attorney Sara Hawkins on Defamation and Social Media. Please read and keep it in your blog toolkit. It’s valuable information.
I think this post on the IFB, Stop Whining, Start Shining: A Manifesto For The Modern Blogger, is really something that all bloggers can learn from. I especially loved this line: “It will be your individuality, expertly expressed through a well-done blog that gets you to the top of the heap…”
*Back to the Future Day is actually October 21, 2015. Mark your calendars, but don’t expect flying cars.