I’ve grown up reading Tom Clancy and probably most of you have at least seen Red October, so this book caught my eye when browsing used books for a recent trip. It’s a fairly human look at what’s involved in sailing on a Trident missile submarine…
I’ve been blogging for a while now. I’ve thought about blogging quite a bit. I’ve even done quite a few blogs about blogging. I’ve talked about blogging problems, and I’ve talked about deciding what to blog about. I even have my own list of blogging ideas posted publicly for others to use.
You know what I’ve never blogged about before? What NOT to blog about. It’s not something I particularly worried about at first. I was more worried about finding new ideas. Besides, who was going to read it anyway? Now though, I’ve gotten a bit more popular and I get the odd person at work saying “Nice post” or “Hey, I read that post of yours this morning, do you think that would work [here]?”
It got me thinking. People are actually reading what I write. People who may know me in real life. People who may know who I’m writing about. I’ve written the odd rant before, what if someone read it and put two and two together? What if I truly hurt someone’s feelings over something I wrote? I’d feel terrible. I do my best to live by the motto do no harm. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been careful to obfuscate as much as possible, and I would certainly never name names, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always gotten it right.
So we have our first winner.
Never write about people in any specific way that could be taken as a negative about them.
A rant is fine, as long as it’s a rant about say, auto shrink, and not about The guy at work who always uses auto shrink. In other words Andy Mallon is stupid because he likes auto shrink is bad. This guy I know is stupid because he likes auto shrink is better, but still bad because if Andy reads it he’s going to know I’m talking about him. You shouldn’t use auto shrink because [well thought out reasons] is best. Technical blogs (IMHO) should be informative, readable, even fun and enjoyable. Never mean.
Ok, so what else. Who else could possibly be reading your blog? Current and future employers. This leads to a couple of thoughts.
Don’t talk negatively about management
Disagreeing is fine. I have a post I’ve been thinking about writing soon about managing timesheets. Yes, it’s about my company, and yes, I disagree with how my company does things. On the other hand, it will be very respectful, display my point of view, and I’ve even checked to make sure it’s ok to write. You want to be really careful here. It would suck to walk into work and have a ticked of manager waiting on you. Not to mention someone else reading what you wrote and deciding not to hire you, that you are a problem just waiting to happen. Burning bridges is a bad idea. Burning potential future bridges even worse.
And last but not least
Be careful what you say about your company
Let’s say your company is selling off a piece of business, and you happen to mention it in a blog post. What if it hasn’t gone public yet? You could actually face real legal charges for a blog post. Now, ok, it’s not overly likely, but still, is it worth the risk?
One final point. These are my opinions about my blog in specific and technical blogs in general. If your blog is all about yelling at people, go for it. In general, though, think about what you write, and the possible consequences for both yourself and others.