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Blogger Ethics and Guest Posting

There has been a lot of talk about blogger ethics in light of the FTC rules enacted in December, 2009. Although how the new regulations will be interpreted and enforced is still in question, there is no doubt that behaving ethically and transparently is in the best interests of bloggers, regardless of the law.

One way bloggers are being transparent is with a disclosure policy. Most disclosure policies explain the bloggers’ positions on things such as advertising, affiliate links and receiving freebies. If a blogger has never considered his approach to these issues, establishing a disclosure policy will cause him to think about how he wants to operate. The policy then lets readers know what to expect from the blog.

But what about when you are hosting a guest blogger on your site, or guest blogging on another site? What are the best practices for guest blogging? Here are some thoughts on how you can be ethical and above-board as a guest blogger or when you are hosting guest bloggers.

When you are the guest blogger
Read and follow the host blogger’s disclosure policy. How do they handle things such as affiliate links? Do they identify each affiliate link, post a notice with any post containing an affiliate link, or just rely on the disclosure policy to state that some posts may contain affiliate links?

Use links that are clear, and do not try to mislead the host or his readers about what you are linking to.

Do not make recommendations solely for the purposes of inserting an affiliate link. Your reputation is on the line here, just as it is on your own blog. Only make sincere and warranted recommendations.

Do not disguise any involvement you have with a product or service you are reviewing or recommending. Using someone else’s blog to recommend your product by blogging under a false name is unethical no matter how you look at it.

When you are the host
Make guest bloggers aware of your policies and requirements. Do you not allow affiliate links? Do you require that each post disclose any affiliate links, compensation or possible conflict of interest? If so, let guest bloggers know they must make these disclosures in their posts.

Check links to make sure they go where they appear to go. This is your site, so verify that any links in posts are what they say they are.

Consider adding a disclaimer, such as, “Posts by guest authors represent the ideas and recommendations of the guest authors, and I do not necessarily share these opinions.” This can be added to each guest post, or made a part of your overall disclosure policy. Although it may not function as a legal defense, it lets readers know that your publication of a post does not mean you endorse it.

In short, whenever you publish a post as an author or host, be honest and transparent. Your name is your most important asset. Protect it by always blogging with integrity.

This is a guest post from Cathy Stucker. Cathy runs a free service to connect bloggers and guest posters at http://BloggerLinkUp.com/.

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5 Responses to “Blogger Ethics and Guest Posting”

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anthony Kirlew. Anthony Kirlew said: Blogger Ethics and Guest Posting http://bit.ly/9xlpdW […]

  • I like this, but I question why anyone would allow a guest post on their blog that they didn’t agree with. Even if they wanted to present a different point of view, why not have that other person write on their own blog and then just link to it?

    So far, I haven’t had to worry about affiliate links either way; guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it.

  • Mitch, Perhaps Cathy will have a different response, but my take is that often people can have a different view point that is not ethically wrong or inaccurate and it can help the bloggers audience to get a fresh perspective. The answer to part two is that it can be time consuming to produce quality content to having guest blog posts can help with that.

    Thanks for stopping by. If you want to stay connected, please subscribe to the blog.

    ~ Anthony

  • Mitch, it depends on the blog.

    If you are doing a personal blog then you might not want to have guest posts that do not represent your point of view. However, if your plan is to develop a blog that may eventually have many contributors, you will out of necessity include people who do not always agree with you.

    Some bloggers want to stir up controversy and discussion, and will feature posts that are contrary to their positions to do so.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Cathy

  • I guess that’s the part about ethics and guest posting that you’re talking about. I like to assume that most people won’t be talking about controversial issues, but I guess it could even be something as benign as debating on SEO tactics. To me, that wouldn’t be a debate that would mean all that much, so if someone had something to say that I disagreed with I might allow it, unless it was discussing black hat tactics.

    Still, I find it a much better practice to have guest posts that have something to do with the topic at hand, and to do the same if you’re going to guest post on someone else’s blog as well. That’s the courteous thing to do.

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