Thursday, July 27, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Blogging at work

I know this is obvious to anyone who regularly reads or maintains a blog: Whether or not they choose to remain anonymous, bloggers always run the risk of compromising their careers - or, at worst, getting fired - because of what they may write online.

Increasingly, employers are paying attention to what employees publish on their free time. If they feel that the supposedly personal comments of an employee are painting the company in a negative light, they're only too happy to take immediate action.

I thought it would be cool to cross over, so to speak, by writing about the world of blogging in my newspaper column.
Fingers burned at a mouse click
Published Thursday, July 27, 2006
The London Free Press

Every few months, the blogosphere – the virtual, online world of blogs and bloggers – kicks out a story about a blogger who made the mistake of writing about work and ended up getting fired.

The latest celebrity victim is Catherine Sanderson. Publishing anonymously on her blog, La Petite Anglaise, the British secretary took online potshots at her Paris accounting firm bosses. She never named names, but when her employers made the connection, they sent her packing.

She’s doing the usual things a fired blogger does: suing her ex-employer and making noise about a book deal. Don’t lose sleep over her future prospects.

This incident illustrates the discomfort most businesses have with employee bloggers who can easily air the company’s dirty laundry with a click of a mouse. Most firms simply fire them when there’s trouble.

This gives me pause, because I work full-time and maintain a blog. I carefully measure every word before publishing to avoid compromising my career.

Then again, global publicity and a book deal sound like a fun combination. Hmm…

-30-
Your turn: Do you blog at and/or about work? Do you feel this puts your career at risk? Why/why not?

38 comments:

cmhl said...

I do AT work, not necessarily about work. but, it makes me nervous, I must admit..

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Well, I hope this is never going to be a problem for me because I do not have a "JOB" Job....There is no "BOSS" to get pissed off and fire me...I certainly do try to be careful about revealing certain things about certain people because I don't feel it is my placde...or, I do not want to hurt anyone intentionally....But I honestly do not have the problem you mention in this post Carmi...

A BCer in Toronto said...

I restrict my blog writing at work to lunch hours, or make up the time elsewhere if needed. I do, however, refrain from blogging on topics related to work. And I don't mention my employer, although it wouldn't take a genius to figure it out. Just google.

surcie said...

I'm a stay-at-home mom, so that issue doesn't really apply to me. . .But I think blogging at work is a slippery slope. I can only imagine what blogs have done to employee productivity in the US.

kenju said...

I do sometimes talk about my clients or various situations, but since I am my own boss, I can do that. I don't think I am at risk, as long as I don't use names.

moon said...

I work at home caring for mentally and physically handicapped adults, I have 2 that live with me full time. I do at times blog about some of my very difficult days...it helps me vent but I have also blogged about my frustrations with the 9 to 5 paper pushers who work at their desks deciding how we should care for these clients when they have never spent a 24 hr period with any of them themselves. I realize logically that we all choose our jobs, but somehow we get told outragiously stupid things by many of these ppl. ...I do love my job, I would not have lasted 11 yrs working 24/7 if I didn't...my blog helps me with those very special days..I try to get my frustrations out and lighten the experiences with some laughter. It helps..and I never mention names..oh and one other thing...everyone with whom I work, whether it be clients or caseworkers...ALL SPEAK FRENCH...I have yet to meet one bilingual caseworker in my area so I am safe there too lol....
So there u have it Carmi, sorry I took so long to spit it all out lol.

rashbre said...

best to keep things separate IMHO.

Catherine said...

I only blog at home, and rarely mention work. I have briefly mentioned what I do, and once very briefly mentioned a co-worker - no names. But then, I don't tell stories about my family, either. I think it's rude to complain about anyone on a blog, family, co-workers or whatever. And it could potentially expose you to a libel suit.
Michele sent me.

kenju said...

See now, not only do I blog about my work - I show photos of the place I do it! Michele sent me back to tell you that.

Grins said...

I don't blog while at work and I don't blog about clients. I do talk about the boss though. Of course I'm the boss though. ;-)

Paul Sveda said...

Working for myself I can honestly say my boss sucks and is a sadistic slave driver. Well, ha, I am posting when I should be working :)

I think if you post about your work in a negative manner on a blog which is a public pulpit you assume the risks. Obviously this woman has no sense of personal responsibility or she wouldn't be suing but then its a French firm so it should surrender in a few weeks.

Seriously though, if you stood up at a public event and criticized your boss in public without announcing your name and your boss was there would you expect anything else?

Thanks for stopping by.

cheers,

Paul

Viamarie said...

Nothing to worry about. Rarely post anything about my work.

Here from Michele.

patricia said...

It's not an issue with me because I work at home, for myself. If I say bad things about my boss, what am I gonna do, fire myself? Heh. But seriously, I would certainly never say anything negative about any of my clients on my blog. That is just stupid, unprofessional behaviour. And I am very careful about what I write about on a personal level, because I have to consider the feelings of my family and friends.

Quite honestly, I have absolutely no sympathy for Petite Anglaise, and I have never understood the guru-like worship of her blog, or her self-involved writing. I read her from time to time out of a morbid fascination with this blogger-worship phenomena, I must confess. It's like reality TV. She is a single mother (by choice, after leaving her common-law husband for another guy whom she met via her blog, who in turn dumped her a few months later) who put herself at risk by blogging about issues at work, and at time criticizing her boss. People commenting on her blog even warned her about the dangers of blogging about work, and blogging at work, and still she continued down this path of idiocy. Those are the actions of a selfish, immature person who desperately needs constant affirmation. That all these people rally behind her saying how unfair it is just boggles my mind.

Karen said...

Well, since I'm a stay-at-home mom, my greatest fear is that I'll say something about my family that they'll hate. So I made a promise that I'd never write anything that they shouldn't read. It is a grey area. Just like e-mails that are sent through work e-mail addresses. I don't think most people consider that their company has a right to read them. Interesting topic, Carmi!

Michele sent me here today. Hope you're having a great Friday!

susie said...

I would never blog about work, or let anyone at my work know that I blog. It's none of their damn business, since I do not discuss work.

That said, none of my family or friends reads my blog because a)they are not technically inclined, b)they see no point in the cyberworld (LOL They are a bit old-fashioned, eh?), and lastly c)I would never tell them the address! But I do feel the need to censor myself sometimes when writing about my friends and family, which I think beats the whole purpose of blogging in a sense.

chrysalis said...

Yikes, I'm always e-moaning about my job.
Hi from Michele's.

Florence said...

My blogs are my work. They're an intergral part of my arts practice. My behind the scenes blog is more direct and it is good for us artist to voice our opinions about the state of the arts in our region. Though we are open as to who we are and aren't hiding ourselves. Still some self censorship is unavoidable when your trying to manage a profile.

Theo said...

i seldom blog about work. i don't think that anything i have said might upset my work situation, however, it IS possible that some of the very personal revelations i place on my blog, could cause my employer and/or colleges to question my stability, sanity, and general health.

it isn't something i really worry about.

Theo said...

and, Michele sent me.

Mrs. Fun said...

I am a sahm and very part time photographer. So i blog about my work all the time, doubt my kids will fire me over it ;) but my husband might :)
As far as my clients, i try to only blog about the photos not the client.

Yo Tambien Te Mando Besos said...

Hi Carmi,

I would probably get fired for browsing google for nude pictures to post at my blog... but I don't really "talk" in my blog. So I think I'm safe.

Well, if you ever write the book, please let us know! Michele says hi. Great weekend!

Tara said...

If my kids ever saw what I wrote about them, I'd be fored for sure.

queen of light and joy said...

I think the reason why there is issue with Blogging about work/or work like things is that it takes control out of one hand and puts it into another. Although I feel that blogging about company policy or what ever you signed the confidentiality contract on is a no no, yet I don't think that saying something on your blog that you would tell a neighbour or friend is out of bounds. Now, do companies have the right to fire you for Blogging? They have the right to fire you for wearing something inappropriate to work. Is precedence forming in the blogosphere? My big question is how do companies find these Blogs and how do they prove that the blog is actually an employees, most bloggers take the initiative to keep there identity secret. I think someone is being sloppy. *coy smile*

Tara said...

Since I couldn't even spell 'fired' in my last post, I probably shouldn't be blogging at all, lol.

Here from Michele's this time!

barbie2be said...

i blog at work, but not about work. plus i don't use my name or anyone elses. partly because while i want to have my own space in the blogosphere, i still want a little bit of privacy. and partly because i hope i learned something from dooce. have a great weekend, Carmi!

Im Chele In LA said...

I don't blog at work cause I can't.. I am a stagehand..
I do blog about work though.. I don't blog anything that would hurt me job wise though my job is to important.............
Over from the other Michele's

Shan said...

If I wanted to complain about work, it probably wouldn't be an issue. My criticisms wouldn't be that harsh and I think my usefulness would outweigh any negative impact my words could have.

Miss Cow is a Cow said...

I do AT work, not about work usually.

Here via Michele's this time. I'm sure I'll be back today. hahaha

rampant bicycle said...

I have blogged, in the very very vaguest of possible terms, about work, but for the most part I avoid discussing it. (Though today was one of the rare exceptions. :)) Not worth the fuss it would generate, mostly.

carli said...

no comment, and not really. the only people who really read my blog are people I work with, and they don't have to relive the work day on my blog!
Michele sent me.

Nikki-ann said...

What happens at work stays at work. I don't write at work (though I may note down a website or something) and I don't write about work.

Sarah said...

I don't write about work, mainly because nothing interesting happens. It wouldn't matter too much if I got fired. After all I only work at the Gap. It's fairly easy to find another retail job once you've had experience.
Oh and Michelle sent me.

Shephard said...

Carmi, I don't have that worry... but I never mention my partner's name, because his job is high profile. Sooo many issues there for "us." I also rarely if ever comment on his company, though sometimes the industry.

An interesting dilemma. I always err on the safe side.
~S

colleen said...

I bet you had lots of readers looking for your blog out of curiousity. I don't think I ever write negative stuff about anyone. (Not even my xhusband!)

h&b said...

I didn't have a blog when I was in paid employment .. but I know me, and I would have blogged in those unpaid early and late working hours when I had the office to myself.

And knowing my workplace, I would have been reprimanded for doing so.
Not because I blogged about work, but just because I dared to use my computer for anything else than preparing quotations and entering orders. No thanks for working hard for the man, on my own time .. bah !

shpprgrl said...

I have never blogged about work. I've been my own boss, so there was no problem with blogging at work. Now with my new one? Quite simply never either way. Others in my same occupation do, but they shouldn't.

Terri said...

I found this entry very interesting, because I've been reading Petite Anglaise's blog for about a year now and have been following her latest mishap.
At first I agreed it was wrong of them to fire her for mentioning some anecdotes about her boss/company. But when I read the article in The Guardian, I realized she was in fact blogging on "company time." Call me old-fashioned, but she wasn't being paid to use that time to fulfill her creativity. However, had she only confined her blogging to her "off" time at home, on her own computer and had kept names private, I see nothing wrong with mentioning some tidbits about one's job or place of employment.
Doing it on company time though, in my opinion, crosses over our entitlement to free speech.

Matt said...

Being a gradaute student I usually blog whenever I'm between classes and during office hour when nobody come. All that is to be blogged about work is reading. I don't want to blog about my students to preserve privacy.

I do blog, unanonymously, about my gay life because I'm virtually out to everybody, My friend used to warn me about about openly blogging about my orientation might compromise my career - but it never occurs to me that might be a problem, as long as I don't post nude pictures of porn stars!