Pondering a blog? Interested in having it included in the Voices section on the university home page? Typically, only blogs hosted by the university are selected for inclusion in the Voices section of the site. Contact the Web manager to initiate a university-hosted blog, or if you have an off-site departmental blog you want to alert us about. Blogs hosted off site may be selected to be included in the Related Blogs list on the right side of the Voices page.
All the standard recommendations for other forms of social media apply with blogs:
- Use a role-based e-mail address.
- Establish more than one administrator.
- Nothing is ever confidential on the Web, and everything lives forever, so think before you post.
- Be professional, but have personality. You are a representative of University of Puget Sound.
- Use appropriate icons and graphics.
- Choose your blog name carefully.
But blogs in particular beg some additional consideration. Writing fresh blog content regularly is a much more challenging concept than putting together a few 140-character Twitter posts each week. Crafting a successful blog takes time: your time to write and post regularly AND time for it to grow a following.
One technique for building a dynamic blog without carrying the constant weight of crafting content yourself is to have a multiuser blog where more than one person in your department may be responsible for writing occasional posts. For example see the Career and Employment Services blog (http://blogs.ups.edu/cesblogs) or the Adventures Abroad blog (http://blogs.ups.edu/studyabroad). Having more than one poster can help ensure you have more consistent fresh content without always having to create it yourself. However, even if your writers commit to posting regularly, expect that they won’t always do so, and you may have to spend some time sending reminders.
We use an online journaling agreement we ask participants to sign as a commitment outlining our expectations. Consider drafting a similar agreement outlining your expectations of your participants and documenting the cases in which you will edit or remove their posts. Also, if you plan on inviting students to participate in the blog, be aware that they should be approved by the dean of students office first, and consider if there are any other requirements you wish to set, such as a minimum GPA level.
For most of the university’s Voices “blogs,” we’ve set a minimum requirement of three committed posters before we’ll launch the blog. This helps ensure we consistently have fresh content on the site. We also developed a commitment that outlines the journaling agreement that participants must sign before being given posting information. However, while signing commitments sometimes encourages parties to follow through with their promised actions, we find that we often have to prompt our users to post more regularly, so we often err on the side of having many more than three potential posters to try to ensure a goal of weekly fresh content.
So why is the word “blogs” in quotes when we refer to the Voices “blogs?” Well, typically, a key component of a blog is the fact that the public can submit comments on blog posts, to which the author may respond. For the official university Voices “blogs” that we set up for groups such as students studying abroad, we elected not to put our students in the position of accepting or responding to comments, therefore we decided we shouldn’t officially call them blogs. We have termed them “Voices Online Journals.” However it is important to note that while we have elected not to allow comments on these student-oriented online journals, other university-hosted blogs could be established that allow comments if required by departmental blog needs and the department is prepared to moderate and respond to comments.
An issue that is often more of a question in the realm of blogging is ownership. While conceptually the content posted on a university blog is theoretically copyrighted by the university (though not ostensibly marked as such), it is understood that the content posted on a blog may be easily passed on via electronic means such as RSS feeds. If you have students or employees writing for your blog, they may want to provide said blog posts as writing samples. Consider outlining a guideline for blog posters at the outset and making it a part of the agreement or commitment they sign to become part of the blog. For instance you might state that while the blog is copyrighted by the university and their posts therefore become the university’s intellectual property, they have the right to share the text with attribution to the university or to list it as a writing sample with similar attribution.