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Blogging for Dollars

Once the domain of the disgruntled and demented, Web logs are being embraced by business executives.

Frank and Buried

Still, marketing and legal departments do have their place. As corporate managers start putting more of their innermost thoughts online, they’re rediscovering the downside of unfettered disclosure. More than one business has inadvertently revealed information that might have been best left unblogged. “It’s not a risk-free medium,” grants Shipley. “Companies that use blog tools must really have a tremendous amount of courage and trust in their people.”

A few companies have already created guidelines that spell out what an employee may, and may not, include in a blog. Staff who cross the line — whether that line is delineated in a corporate policy or not — often find themselves looking for work. Microsoft, for example, reportedly fired a contract worker whose blog included a photograph of Apple computers being unloaded at the Microsoft campus. And in August, community-builder dot-com Friendster apparently axed an employee who posted some fairly benign comments about the company on her blog.

The episode generated a heap of bad publicity for Friendster — not surprising given that the company is in the social-networking business. Nevertheless, a growing number of corporate executives believe blogs are well worth the gamble. “It’s a little bit scary for us here at Sun now that the number of employees speaking independently to the world is over 650 and climbing fast,” says Bray. “But we wouldn’t consider going back for a microsecond.”

If they did, there’d probably be a blog about it the next day.

John Edwards is a freelance writer based in Gilbert, Arizona.

Who Let the Blogs Out?

Blogs have become a big part of the virtual landscape. Note that 8% of the survey respondents have posted material to corporate Web logs.

17% have posted written material on Websites

13% maintain their own Websites

10% have posted comments to an online newsgroup

8% have contributed material to Websites run by their business

7% have contributed material to Websites run by organizations

Source: PEW Internet & American Life Project

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