Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thoughts on blogging: What would you do if someone took issue with your blog post and think you should take it down?

I guess it had to happen sometime. I'm referring to the situation where a reader of your blog takes issue with your post, and you have to decide whether to take down the post.

Let me clarify that (1) this is NOT a rant or a complaint, (2) the post was taken down willingly. No law or employee rules were broken. I'm discussing this as an issue relevant to blogging. Besides, a few people have asked me about it, so I'm pre-empting any unnecessary speculation.

OK, preamble over -- I'm referring to my previous post about some ungracious library users. (To those who didn't get a chance to read it, too bad. I've had comments that it was a fun piece).

The details of why the post was "discomforting" isn't the issue here. What I'm sharing are the thoughts that I went through. I view this as part of continual learning.

So what did I learn or observe from this episode?

1) If you are prepared to post it, also be prepared to take it down -- I decided to take it down because it was making some people at work uncomfortable (no, things didn't get ugly. All very civil). It was an easy decision for me to take down the post. Basically it had the potential of being blown out of proportion so you could say it was a "tactical withdrawal".

2) The "Principles of Pragmatism" works for me -- meaning, if I write about work, I have to give weightage to the opiniions my colleagues and employer. The post was meant to be entertaining and informative but if it made people uncomfortable, it's better to take it down.

3) This is no blog-crusade -- It's all an experiment. And in experiments, you need to step back, evaluate, review, and try again.

4) "Blog Smart" applies to the post, and after -- It occured to me that Microsoft's "Blog Smart" guideline for its blogging employees makes sense here. Being "smart" means that sometimes, to advance forward, you gotta take two steps back.

5) It would really help if the organisation had some guidelines on blogging -- that way, we cut down the "gray" areas, reduce subjectivity and ambiguity, increase clarity etc. It all adds up to productivity and empowering the employee.

6) In my case, not being anonymous helped! I think matters would have been worse if I blogged anonymoysly. Being upfront (about what I was blogging about, and who I was) helped prevent pointless prying and speculations over who wrote what. "Honesty is the best policy" is what I learnt from young.

7) If you don't dare to put your name to the post, you're probably better off not posting it. Enough said.

Oh, I'm IMing with a librarian from Sugargrove PL right now (Ms. B). Incidentally, she mentioned my post. We were discussing if a post like mine could have painted the library in a bad light. Here's an excerpt of what she shared (posted with permission):
it is a fine balance.

so many "Professional" lists dis-the customer and in the back room we each share stories. all under the "need to know" this situation and how i dealt with it heading.

it is likely (that the post was) too close to personal with the photos and too public for the comfort level of some.

all that said I STILL loved it. hope it wasn't too UGLY for you at work

Yeah, I thought it was a fun piece too. And no Ms B., things didn't "get ugly" at all. As I said, it was all very civil. I guess librarians tend to be that way : )



  1. I'd agree the big picture consideration was important. Still an early age for niche blogging and you are trying to evangelise the powers that be, along with your colleagues, aren't you?

    BTW, see this post in

  2. Hi Siva, no I'm not evangelising. I was to some extent in the beginning but had to take a different approach. I consider myself experimenting and sharing. Someone's got to try it and see where we can take this to, that's how I see it.

  3. I'm sorry to see the blog on romance readers go. It was one of the most fascinating and educational blogs that I have ever read in a librarian's blog. I thought it was a great topic for discussion and sharing of ideas to ameliorate the situation.

  4. i really liked that post. yes it was a v fun post but i guess talking abt it is not as explicit as putting up pictures...
    perhaps without the pictures it would have been passed off yet still able to enlighten folks like me about this segment of readers in our society

  5. Hmm. I wish I had read this controversial post of yours. It sounds interesting.

    But I agree with you, if you are willing to put it up, be willing to take it down. Anonymity for me means I won't ever blog about the specifics of my work. I may gripe about work, but in a very general way.

  6. It saddens me (a blog reader) each time to see a post taken off because of this reason.

    Are we only allowed to show off the good and hide the 'bad'? I agree with you boss, yes, you are right boss, oh and of course, you are the best boss.

    Why should one visit the blogs when we have access to ALL the information at the offical site, well, at least ALL the information they want us to know.

    "Be respectful of your colleagues", the no 1 guildline at Yahoo! Personal blog guidelines: 1.0, I guess, afterall, I'd do the same thing as you but at the same time, never give up, dear (blogging) librarian!

  7. I am sorry that you felt you had to take it down. I enjoyed it immensely. It is true that the pictures might have added to creating discomfort among some of your colleagues. At first, I was angry that you took it down (being a big proponent of freedom of expression and whatnot) but yes, if you are going to let your colleagues at work see your blog and you are going to blog at work, I agree, you are accountable to them. The way around this would be to not identify the library, not identify the city, not identify you... and that would take alot of the fun out of your particular blog! Thanks for your interesting posts!

  8. it's unfortunate that not everyone "gets it". but keep experimenting, and keep pushing the boundaries.

  9. Thanks to all for the comments. I've posted a revised version that I think will still be fun, and yet address the concerns raised by some of my colleagues when they read the original post.

    I have to be mindful that the concerns of the many outweigh the optimism of a few (i.e. me, myself and I).

    The issue of postings about library customers is touchy, but I can still do that by writing from a different angle.

    To Librarianontheloose: Figuratively speaking, "We can lose a few battles but still win the war" :)

  10. i see that you took down the photos :) well that might be the best compromise in the end
    leave it to our vivid imagination the war between the desperate housewives and their precioussss :D

  11. Ivan,

    Interesting issue. My personal opinion is that a blog posted is a blog kept. First off, the blog remains alive with all the people who subscribe to your post through RSS. If I were mean-spirited, I could post it on my own blog and cause a ruckus. Second,part of blogging's magic is that we bloggers are very human. We get irate. We get argumentive and belligerant. We say things we regret and then have to post apologies. But once you start a conversation, you cannot backtrack and try to erase what was said, without lose just a wee bit of your authenticity. Just my point of view, that's all.

  12. Hats off, Ivan! For both the original post and the post on the withdrawal btw...

  13. Would have loved to read your original post (considering I am a chinese romance novel addict) but its true that one has to consider the bigger picture even though the internet should be about total freedom.

  14. To Shel - I know about the RSS copy as well as any cache versions. That's a risk I accept when I hit that submit button for any post.

    I could've that line of argument -- that someone might just repost the piece -- but it's hard to convince non-bloggers of that kind of logic. Besides, what I could control was the act of taking it down on MY blog. I cannot control what another person post on their own.

    In anycase, I'm glad no one else re-posted it because it would just have hurt what I'm trying to promote here. Not to mention that it would cheese me off really badly.

    As for possible loss of credibility -- again it's something I accept. It helps to be rational and balance the pros and cons.


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