Week 6: Blogging as Social Engagement

For this assignment, you have two options:

1) Respond to the Week 6 Prompt, written below. [100 words]


2) Respond to at least two of your peers’ responses to the Week 6 Prompt. [60 words each]

No matter which option you choose, make sure to tie your responses to our course readings (from Week 6 and/or previous weeks).

Prompt: Thinking over the time you’ve spent looking at blogs so far this semester – those you’re following, those you’ve found via classmates’ posts, those you’ve stumbled across, or even your own – which of Rebecca Blood’s six rules for ethical blogging conduct ring the most true for you, and why? Do you believe the blogs you’ve seen generally adhere to these rules, or no? Or – are there other rules you think are important that Blood leaves out, based on what you’ve seen? Whatever your answers, illustrate your response with references (and links) to one or two blog posts.

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I am a lecturer for the Sweetland Center for Writing and the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.

21 thoughts on “Week 6: Blogging as Social Engagement”

  1. The rule that I found most striking of Blood’s 5 rules of weblog ethics was rule 4: “Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.” As a young adult who is generally very cautious and careful about posting things to social media, it is a bit frightening for me to post my thoughts and reflections to such a permanent and public platform as a blog. But I am beginning to acknowledge that while I am the writer, my blog posts are not just for me. They are also for other people to enjoy and come back to if they choose, and I know that I wouldn’t want any of my favorite blogs to suddenly disappear. I think that the blogs that I follow do generally adhere to the rules outlined in Blood’s post, however, not all of them are easy to point out as being followed as the blogs that I follow are mainly personal reflection, narration, or advice focused blogs that aren’t dealing with a lot of concrete facts.
    While I did not find any posts that show an obvious adherence to Blood’s rule about permanence and making edits clear, I did find a post that showcases another of her rules for blogging ethics: full disclosure. On the blog Fixin’ Leaks and Leeks, one of the posts https://fixinleaksnleeksdiy.blog/2018/01/14/shop-drop-and-roll-clothing-sales-and-cautionary-tales/ is about a clearance rack shopping venture. In this post, the blogger discloses that she has not received any compensation or special treatment from any of the stores or brands that she mentioned in her post. This is an important note that adds to the credibility of the blogger’s opinions.


    1. I think it’s really interesting that you mention social media as not a permanent platform, as I have always taken anything I publish online as being out there for “forever” (as my parents so successfully scared me into thinking). I agree with you that this is one of the most important rules, and that it is for the audience – by sticking to what we write, we are creating an environment of transparency and consistency. Before taking this class, I noticed that a lot of blogger’s Instagram accounts were filled with pictures (in the stories) that had at first the picture with incorrect spelling, and then an updated photo where the incorrectly spelled word was crossed out and the correct spelling was placed. I always wondered why they didn’t just delete the first photo, but now I realize it has to do with transparency and admitting they made a mistake, but not erasing that mistake.


    2. Jessica Johnson, Were you at office hours with me yesterday? This is a good portion of what I discussed yesterday and that the internet and any forms of published material on this medium are permanent. There are no way to hide your mistakes. Someone recently said on a talk show, “You can edit and delete all you want but screenshots are forever.” These notions along have prevented me from being like other social media-sharing millennials. It didn’t help that Blood’s article from week two mentions/touches on how it is interesting to see how other bloggers originally posted compared to the present. The idea of Blood noticing this and documenting this- sent some fears down my shy spine. But, in office hours I came to realize that permanently documenting your journey about your personal life experience/ realization about a blog is different than permanent Facebook posts akin to drunken texts. Blogging is about evolution. So what if it is documented.


  2. Rule 2: If material exists online, link to it when you reference it. This is an essential rule in the blogosphere, that is, to cite while you write. A formal bibliography is not necessary, but specifying the authors or providing the original links along with your posts is the proper conduct as social engagement. Same as academic papers, citation can support or evidence for the content as well as build your credibility. Most of the blogs I’ve been followed comport with this rule. Aspyn Ovard’s blog that I mentioned before is a fashion and beauty website, sharing her favorites and experiences. She would attach the links to the online stores of every recommendation, such as in this blog where she introduces several cute spring break outfits (http://aspynovard.com/spring-break-outfits-50/). Also, in another blog I am following called “Food Politics”, the same practice has been adopted. Here is a blog discussing KFC’s cause marketing (https://www.foodpolitics.com/2011/06/more-fun-with-cause-marketing/). The author illustrates his points while citing several other opinions from different sources to stimulate discussion. I think this is an ethical and motivated move in order to connect with readers and other blogs.


    1. I also find the Blood’s second rule as important. I think it adds credibility to the blog, but even more than that, it offers a way for people to derive their own opinions about things. I’ve seen this mostly popping up in health food blogs I follow – for certain references to food facts, they post links to studies where they have found their information. One surprisingly striking thing I keep seeing pop up is the “health” of eating eggs. There are strong opinions on both side of the debate, and specifically for this argument, it is important to read the works they are citing. I’ve read a few from both sides – one reported article was from some sort of anti-animal-killing site and the other was from an egg farmer. This also relates to Blood’s rule 6; it is important to note questionable or biased sources when using them (as both these articles were obviously very biased and each produced a skewed view of the argument).


    2. Linking to outside sources is definitely important! Your post reminds me of something that we talked about at the very beginning of the course (I think it was day one): A characteristic that separates blogs from other mediums is the ability to hyperlink and essentially create this huge context cloud of information and data from other sources. With this component, however, comes a great deal of power for the blogger. As Blood mentions, selective linking on the blogger’s part is unethical and basically an abuse of the blogger’s position as a resource.


    3. Jinyu mentioning Rule 2 brings up another fear in me, which is the nagging question I always have which is, “Did I cite that?” I am already thinking back to my People magazine article picture on my blog and how I didn’t say image provided by so-and-so. It is good that a formal bibliography isn’t necessary with blogs, because I cannot say that I was ever good at providing that for papers. But, the exercises we practiced a few weeks ago citing pictures was tricky enough for me. I wonder though that if I mention any brands in my posts- do I have to cite them as well? Can you mention brands so freely? Blood’s rule 6, ” it is important to note questionable or biased sources when using them” somehow rings a bell every time I mention a brand. My blog’s name has a brand name in it .( And my most recent post about my Dad and clothing has 20 brands named in it) I realize that by just mentioning a brand is not the same as mentioning questionable sources- but in just mentioning the brand’s name- I wonder if a link to the company site should mentioned. Blood doesn’t mention, mentioning company sites when brands are named- but if quesionable/biased sources should be named perhaps company sites should be, too. It seems to me to be a form of citing. Or maybe I am just nervous from years of not citing well in papers, and doing so on a public forum makes me even more nervous. Thoughts anyone?


  3. When I first began to read Rebecca Blood’s article on the six rules to ethical blogging, I was hesitant to accept that blogs should even have any rules at all. However, after finishing the article, I am less skeptical; it seems as the Blood’s rules cover the right topics, while being mindful not to be too overbearing or far reaching. In my opinion, the most important of Blood’s rules is the fourth: “write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.” I think this is most important to me because while I have been learning about blogs this semester and making my first attempt at writing one myself, I have been thinking of the process as a public journal forum, something that cannot be rewritten or advised. Thinking of it this way has really helped me to open up and adopt a more colloquial tone, and step away from the very professional tone required of most academic texts.

    Most of the blogs I’ve been reading seem to adhere to these rules, with especially an emphasis on crediting people,/sources where they deserve credit. For example, in The Blonde Abroad (https://theblondeabroad.com/2018/04/10/why-you-should-invest-in-your-skin-in-your-20s/), this blogger writes a blog about caring for your skin, but for one section she goes a bit further and talks more specifically about sunscreen. In this part, she mentions how she herself is not the expert, but provides many links to other sites where she got her information. More specifically, she makes the facts she writes the actual link to the site, so she doesn’t have to break her tone necessarily to cite someone, but rather just hyperlinks to them, giving them credit.


  4. Within the article by Rebecca Blood, I found a multitude of her rules extremely obvious, as I am someone who has to abide by these rules when writing for a newspaper. However, I think rule four “Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete any entry,” spoke to me the most. I’ve never truly thought about this when writing my own blog, as I, (a) assumed only maybe 4-5 people would read it so if I deleted something/changed something no one would notice, and (b) I never actually wanted to delete a post thus far. Ironically enough, I did think about it just today before reading this post. I felt as if my first post was lacking the voice that I believe I’ve created and continued within my other posts. But as blood states, “History can be rewritten, but it cannot be undone.” So, I decided to leave it, because this post, is in a sense, apart of my blog’s “history,” and as we always should, I decided to learn from this history, but not repeat it.

    Furthermore, I think that most of the blogs I read follow these stated rules. Within my own blog I cited the images I used from google in one of my posts titled “Stassie,” allowing the reader more information on that image/topic if needed, while also claiming it to not be my own. Furthermore, in Indie Is Not a Genre, on their “New Album,” section, they gave credit to the artist that made the art for the heading image. They also implemented many links to artists’ website, to all together allow the site to be deemed as ethical and allow readers to find the artists that they have reported on or gave their review of. In essence, I believe that remaining ethical within one’s blog is integral to the success and reputation of a blogger and his or her writing.


    1. I agree regarding the value of not altering old blog posts. I know that for the purposes of this course, Scott said that we’re welcome to edit our old blog posts, but I respect your decision to leave them the way they are. The nice thing about readers having access to old blog posts is that it allows them to understand better the blogger’s journey. Being able to review this timeline may lead readers to feel more connected to the blogger as a human being — someone who’s actually there in front of a screen, typing furiously as they strive to create another enjoyable blog post for their readers.

      Of course, when it comes to keeping blog content up, there’s Blood’s point about the generally agreed upon rule that once something is published to the internet, it is expected to stay published. This is especially important if someone wants to refer to your work — they must be able to find it in the future.


  5. I think Rebecca Blood’s most important ethical rules is #4: Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry. This one speaks to me the most because if someone disagrees with something you published and you don’t completely stand by it, then why publish it in the first place? They are your thoughts and there is nothing wrong with them. Someone is always going to have something to say, but that doesn’t mean you should delete something you believed. I get changing your mind or correcting yourself, but completely deleting is not fair and is sketchy as a blogger. I think blogs I have read are very particular and plan out what they’re going to post in order to avoid any type of flak they may receive. The blogs I look at most are food, travel, lifestyle etc. and there isn’t much to be disagreed with there. It’s someone’s life and they should post what they want to post without being bullied into deleting something. I don’t think Blood left any out. I like how she made the distinction between journalism and blogging but also showed how they very much overlap. The two blogs I linked here are from two of the blogs I have been following throughout this class. They both represent how blog posts can/should be updated, but not deleted. Being certain of yourself is probably the most important part of blogging and that is taken away when people delete their work.


    1. I completely agree with this. I love the way you said it; why publish it in the first place? I think it’s incredibly important to stand by your convictions when writing a blog. The whole world will never be in total agreement, and unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) blogs are no different. Because of this, you’re absolutely right that you need to be certain of yourself and confident in what you’re writing. Thus, her rule is true that you should really sit down and think about what you’re posting, because once it’s out in the blogosphere it’s pretty hard to delete it forever.


  6. I have found that the blogs I’ve surfed do generally stick to Rebecca Blood’s rules (found in an rticle called “Weblog Ethics” (http://www.rebeccablood.net/handbook/excerpts/weblog_ethics.html) on her blog (http://www.rebeccablood.net). However, I must note that many of the blogs I follow are personal sites; places used by the authors to put their feelings and relatively innocent and random observations about the world around them. What has intrigued me about the work of these bloggers is how differently so many people perceive the same day to day conditions we all live in.

    Anyway, I have found that Blood’s second rule–“If material exists online, link to it when you reference it”–is particularly relevant to the blogs I follow. An incredible post that I found on Monica Byrne’s blog called “Dear Microsoft: absolutely not” (https://monicacatherine.com/2017/04/05/dear-microsoft-no/) discusses a Microsoft commercial that encourages young women not to drop out of STEM fields. Instead of encouraging young women not to drop out, she argues passionately, Microsoft would be better off encouraging men not to make STEM a hostile environment for women on the basis of their sex. She writes this incredible paragraph:

    “Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to serially sexually harass their students? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignore, dismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically significant lower rate? Not to refuse to take women on field expeditions, as did my graduate advisor, now tenured at University of Washington? Where’s your ad campaign telling institutions not to hire, shelter, or give tenure to serial harassers or known sexists, as UW and countless others have done? Where’s your ad campaign encouraging scientific journals to switch to blind submissions and blind peer reviewers? Or to pay women at the same rate as men? I could keep linking articles all day. But I’m tired. Everyones’ noses have been pushed in these same data for decades and nothing changes.”

    Unfortunately, as this is a comment on a post, I can’t include her hyperlinks–but each question she asks provides a link to reputable sources (including the American Association of University Women (https://www.aauw.org/2015/04/14/women-shortchanged-in-stem/) and the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/opinion/science-has-a-sexual-assault-problem.html?_r=0)). The use of legitimate sources highlights Byrne’s point that women should not be told to stay in the field; rather, men should be called out for being sexist and making the field somewhere that women are scared to be for their bodies and personal safety.

    Blood is right. I don’t think I would have initially seen the Microsoft commercial through the same lens that Byrne did. However, Blood says that linking to outside material “empowers readers to become active, not passive, consumers of information”. I feel that I was able to make a personal call on whether or not I agreed with Byrne based on the information I found in the linked articles. I do not know that I would have completely changed my personal opinion had I not been able to quickly access so much legitimate proof to prove her point.

    Personally, I’ve found that linking within my own blog is a great way for readers to learn a little bit more about me, in a sort of roundabout way. When I wrote about the inspirational women involved with “A Wrinkle in Time”, I was able to link to articles about those women. For example, the link I provided about Reese Witherspoon was to an article where she talks about the importance of fostering ambition in young women. I hope that people then read those words and get a bit more of a sense of who I am and what I value as a woman in college.


    1. I can’t stress how important this post is!! The whole world has a different way of seeing things, since no one person experiences life the same exact way. Being able to link to different sources and acknowledge their works allows your readers to see a viewpoint other than yours. The opinion is probably the same, but it’s a new way of looking at a certain topic. This absolutely relates to Blood’s statement that by putting the links right in front of the readers, we make them look beyond just our viewpoint, and push them to be more active readers and consumers of information.


  7. In the world of sports blogging, honesty is everything. Everyone can spread a fake rumor, but in order to gain a devoted following, there needs to be a trust in the news being reported. Rule #1 hits home with that for me as Blood suggests that a blogger should publish as fact only that which you believe to be true. Often times, big story breaks can be fabricated quickly, as the internet is swirling with fake news. Even those impersonating important personalities in sports media sometimes get coverage they don’t deserve because of bloggers and other online personalities (some even with the Twitter verification check) share this fake news like it’s fact. Deadspin (https://deadspin.com/report-seahawks-cancelled-colin-kaepernick-visit-over-1825215023) does a good job in covering potentially questionable reports by tying in some aspects of Rule #6, Note questionable and biased sources, specifying the fact that it’s a report, but still having confidence in the source of the report, Adam Schefter, an ESPN football analyst. The post’s author, Tom Ley, associates the report with Adam and not taking any credit for the claims being made, protecting both his name and the blog’s name in case of failure.


  8. For me personally, I think that Rebecca Blood’s fourth rule (write every entry as if if could be changed rather than deleted) is the most pertinent to blogs that I follow and my own personal blog. As I look back on some of the more successful blogs, like Cup of Jo and Cupcakes and Cashmere, I am see a united vision among many different individual writers. However, many of these writers either have personal blogs or progressed from a personal blog before contributing and working for these big time blogs. So, they all have a little bit a different tone and voice which are very present in the posts when they just joined the blog team, but now they reflect the same tone as the overall blog which can be seen here (https://cupofjo.com/2017/07/julie-orourke-rudy-jude/) Additionally, if you look at the author’s personal blogroll ( https://cupofjo.com/author/megan/page/2/) can see this progression as well. This relates back to the fourth rule because these contributors didn’t immediately change their tone and their personality, but instead wrote their posts with the mindset that they could be changed later down the road or that their writing style could change later down the road.
    Additionally, Cupcakes and Cashmere just had a recent post (https://cupcakesandcashmere.com/series-stories/new-things) about this idea and how it is important to think about being open to the progression process of blogging. In an anniversary, post the author reflects about her experience and even tells the readers many of the same ideas that Blood talks about. Personally, I think that this is the most important of Blood’s weblog ethics and I think that this idea is very different from the others. Many of the others talk about common courtesy while this one talks about developing as a writer through blogging. So, far in the blogs I have been exposed to many of them have adhered to these rules but I am curious to see if less professional blogs (like my own) adhere to these rules too! I think moving forward with my blogging that I will take more time to consider these and maybe subtle upon some more common courtesy practices.


  9. I think the most important rule for ethical blogging according to Rebecca Blood is rule #2: If material exists online, link it when you reference it. The Internet is just a connection of ideas and news that people have been putting out for years now. Many bloggers get information and new ideas from other things they see on the Internet, whether it is a blog, a new site, or a store. Referencing other material prevents plagiarism, which we all learn how not to do throughout school. Referencing other material also creates “a vast, new, collective network of information and knowledge”, as Rebecca Blood writes.

    From the five blogs that I’ve been following, it seems like the authors have been pretty good at adhering to this rule. Take Dooce’s latest post. The post is more of a personal post, reflecting on a part of her life. She references artists and online deals that have helped her get through writing her book. She didn’t need to link them, but she did which gives credit to those people, while also adding to the network of information.


  10. This was a question I had to make while writing my recent post My Natural Hair Journey (https://threeqeenstwoperiods.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/my-natural-hair-journey/ ) . Towards the end I talk about the pressure to straighten my hair in of corporate America. When I write this sentence I knew that I would need to link to a website that talked about this. So naturally I linked to an article that supported my point of view (http://www.ebony.com/style/fighting-for-our-hair-in-corporate-america-032) . This creates an extremely biased opinion. It would’ve been more substantial to link to an article that expressed both ideas or state specifically that this was my experience and how others never felt that pressure. In future posts I think it will serve me better to link or express my ideas in a way that touches both sides of the argument.


  11. The rule that is most striking to me is the 4th rule of writing each entry as if each entry cannot be changed. In general, I find that most bloggers adhere or these rules. Or rather, I don’t notice when they *don’t* adhere to these rules. I think in this day and age, most people will tend to edit their writing, especially on microblogging sites such as Instagram or facebook, however when it pertains to blogging I think the writer contradicts the very goal they are trying to achieve, in that they are probably trying to make themselves look “better” by editing something, but as a result they only look less credible. I think with my blog since it’s so experienced-based, there are less opportunities for me to require linking to something, although noting biases is something that I always keep in mind due to the content of my blog (https://thetransatlanticgirl.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/fresh-off-the-boat/). I think I sometimes tend to be wary of what my biases are when writing about my experiences and how I phrase things so as to not to step on anybody’s toes.


  12. I think it’s important to site where you information is coming from – there is bias out there. I believe Rebecca Blood’s second rule “if material exists online, link to it when you reference it” is ethical because it provides legitimacy. A blog post that does not do this and should is Livestrong’s “ What Fruits are High in Antioxidants” (https://www.livestrong.com/article/231490-what-fruits-are-high-in-antioxidants/). Claims are backed up by studies but they are not linked, nor linked down below. It prevents readers from going to the direct source in case they want to make their own opinions. Arguments are made exponentially clearer and viewed as more authentic when there is a link woven into the post such as Self’s article “The 13 Best Superfoods, According To Registered Dietitians” (https://www.self.com/gallery/the-13-best-superfoods-according-to-registered-dietitians). In this post reader can find the links to registered dietitians, other blogs, and studies about each food. When blogs contain linked sources I feel like I have the chance to form my own opinion. Also, I am more likely to fact check as well if its a perspective I’m more likely to disagree with or don’t quite believe. Again, the rule “if material exists online, link to it when you reference it”, should be considered by every blogger.


  13. I think this one stands out compared to the other ones because people should always write and be proud of their work. The author wrote it for a reason, so they should not be ashamed of their work to change or delete anything just because a few people out there have a problem with what they wrote. I agree that people should be able to add in case they forget to say some things or just have more to add. Like Blood said, if things are changed, they should explicitly say so. That way if readers go back to the same post, and it is not the way they remember it, they can see that the blogger clarified that the post has been changed.


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