Top Blogging Rules to Avoid Trouble

Rules apply to every blogger. The top blogging rules are particularly important because bloggers who don't comply could find themselves at the center of negative publicity or in legal trouble. Understand and protect yourself by being aware of and following the rules that cover copyright, plagiarism, paid endorsements, privacy, libel, errors, and bad behavior.

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Cite Your Sources

Young Woman Writing by Computer in Apartment
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It's highly likely that at some point you'll want to refer to an article or blog post that you read online in your own blog post. While it's possible to copy a phrase or a few words without violating copyright laws, to stay within the rules of fair use, you must attribute the source where that quote came from. You should do this by citing the original author's name and the website or blog name where the quote was originally used along with a link to the original source.

02
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Disclose Paid Endorsements

Bloggers need to be open and honest about any paid endorsements. If you are paid to use and review or promote a product, you should reveal it. The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates truth in advertising, publishes an extensive FAQ on this topic.

The basics are simple. Be open with your readers:

  • Clearly label content that is advertising.
  • Disclose affiliates. Either label links that drive your readers to your affiliates or build a page that explains your affiliates and relationships with them.
  • To not pretend to be an objective third-party if you are not. If you work for a company, state that fact in any content that refers to it or its products or services.
03
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Ask Permission

While citing a few words or a phrase and attributing your source is acceptable under fair use laws, it's important to understand that fair use laws as they pertain to online content are still a gray area in courtrooms. If you plan to copy more than a few words or phrases, it's best to err on the side of caution and ask the original author for permission to republish their words—with proper attribution, of course—on your blog. Don't plagiarize.

Asking permission also applies to the use of photos and images on your blog. Unless a photo or image you plan to use comes from a source that clearly gives permission for you to use it on your blog, you must ask the original photographer or designer for permission to use it on your blog with proper attribution.

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Publish a Privacy Policy

Privacy is a concern of most people on the internet. You should publish a privacy policy and adhere to it. It may be as simple as "YourBlogName will never sell, rent, or share your email address" or you may need a full page dedicated to it, depending on how much information you collect from your readers.

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Play Nice

Just because your blog is yours doesn't mean you can have free rein to write anything you want without repercussions. Remember, the content on your blog is available for the world to see. Just as a reporter's written words or a person's verbal statements can be considered libel or slander, so can the words you use on your blog. Avoid legal entanglement by writing with a global audience in mind. You never know who might stumble upon your blog.

If your blog accepts comments, respond to them thoughtfully. Don't get into arguments with your readers.

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Correct Errors

If you find out you have published incorrect information, don't just delete the post. Correct it and explain the error. Your readers will appreciate your honesty.

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