Ethics. We’ve all heard of that word, but do you really know what ethics is? Simply put, ethics is defined as:
- a. A set of principles of right conduct.
- b. A theory or system of moral values.
Ethics applies to personal and professional life – including blogging. Yes. Blogging. The goal of running a successful blog is to build readership and revenue. While originality and content drive your site to succeed, without ethics, you are setting yourself up for failure.
I have seen so many issues lately regarding unethical bloggers. It made me realize that there isn’t a code of ethics for bloggers – nor one that we can even refer to in order to ensure we, ourselves, are being ethical. Thus, my research began.
I began to draw from my own personal experiences. I asked other bloggers for input as to what they felt was ethical (or unethical) when it came to blogging. The list was quite staggering, so I narrowed it down and combined issues so that I could have my own code of ethics to follow.
Site Name. When it comes to determining the name for your site, many factors come to mind. Something that explains who I am, what I do and is easy to remember. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it goes deeper than that. You should conduct thorough research to ensure a name you have chosen is not trademarked.
If you happen select a name that has been trademarked, your site may be shut down before it even has a chance to get started. If you don’t change your name, you could even potentially find yourself in a law suit.
It isn’t only a legal issue. If you choose a name too similar to another blogger, because you admire them, are you being original? Or, rather, are you hoping to piggyback off of their success? Think about how you would feel if someone started a site using a spin-off of your own name.
Content. This is the one that seemed to create the biggest area of concern when it comes to ethics. If you happen to be a frugal blogger, you know that deals are ALL over the place. They are on so many sites that it is next to impossible for one person to watch all of them.
When you find a deal and post it, the first thing is to be sure that your information is coming from a reliable and trustworthy source. For example, if the coupon is a .pdf, is it real? Or, did you get it emailed you from a friend of a friend? Does the coupon reflect another party’s name or email address? Be sure the content you post is allowed to be shared and was not intended for one time use by the recipient.
If you find information another blogger’s site, be sure to give credit. This means including a link to the deal, or at least, to that blogger’s website. Be sure that the credit can be easily viewed – meaning don’t make your font so small that no one can even tell it is there. Bloggers give credit, which is how we all grow.
When you find photo you like on another site, do not directly link to that photo. Bloggers pay hosting fees, which includes memory. When you link to the photo, you use up memory that they need to pay for. Instead, you should save the photo to your computer and use your own photo hosting site to upload the photo…..with caution.
By that, I mean, make sure that you have the right to use the photo. If it is an original photo taken by the blogger, you will need to get permission to use it – and then should post photo credentials. Remember that photos can be copyrighted as well.
There have been a lot of questions of WHO gets the credit – the person who found the deal or the site where you found it. Both are actually acceptable practices. A blogger can give credit either way – as long as it is done.
That also brings up the issue of posting content on your site. Copying and pasting is not acceptable. I’ll admit that I might copy a deal so I get all of the facts – but then I will EDIT it, so it is original before I pass the information along to my own readers. When you post exact content from another site, without editing it, it is copyright infringement.
Sharing Posts. Of course, everyone wants links on other sites – that is how we all grow. Do you remember the boy who cried wolf? The same holds true in blogging. When you share too many so-so deals or posts, you may be overlooked because you share everything. Then, when you find that really hot deal, the blogger you sent it to misses it because it gets mixed in with the other 10 deals you recently sent. Also keep in mind that bloggers are on Facebook, Twitter and reader and keeping up, so there is a chance they’ll find your deal there too!
When you find information that you would like to share with other sites, be sure that it is a deal you found yourself – and not from another blogger. Many times, I find a deal in my inbox and when I open their post, I see that the blogger did not even find the deal themselves – as they have a credit post in their blog.
Confronting Bloggers. I don’t like confrontation, but sadly, I must do it from time to time. You have probably all heard the saying “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” That could not be more true.
For example, if you find a blogger copying and pasting your content, you can (and should) contact them. Here are two examples of an email:
I noticed you posted a deal about ABC Wipes. You copied and pasted my post without my permission and that is a violation of copyright infringement. You need to change our post immediately or remove it from your site. Failure to do so could result in legal action.
I noticed you posted a deal about ABC Wipes. In doing so, it looks like you copied and pasted my post. I wasn’t sure if you realized that you should edit the content to be original, since my site is copyrighted. I would just hate for the wrong person to see you do this and end up causing you much turmoil. Thanks for understanding.
When it comes to sharing content, don’t assume the worst. Don’t assume they intentionally stole your deal – whether emailed or not. As mentioned before, there are so many resources out there, deals can be found in many places. So think before you type.
Ethics can quite easily be summed up in just one word – respect. While bloggers are competing for readership, being nasty and rude to one another helps no one. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t steal. Plain and simple.
After all, we are all in this together and should help build one another up, rather than trying to tear each other down.
Tracie can be found blogging at Penny Pinchin’ Mom. She lives in Missouri with her 3 young children and husband. She loves sharing deals and how to save money – which is how she helped her family eliminate over $37,000 in debt in 27 months.