I have always had a personal rule to never attack another person, book, publication, or other entity in my professional blog. Mostly because I acknowledge that a REAL HUMAN BEING is on the other side of that comment, and I do not want to be responsible for another living, thinking, being’s emotional trauma.
However, I recently happened upon several irresponsible and libelous online articles.
When I say libelous, I do mean legally, in that facts were misrepresented in order to reinforce the negative viewpoint of the individual.
Opinion is not disputable, it is something that can be freely spread without fear of legal ramifications or negative consequences.
It might not be nice, but it is an opinion.
Once a blogger crosses over into the realm of the “untruth” that is where things get ugly.
Online blogs, publications, and comments often do not have real people’s full names associated with them, and because of this the contributor’s feel that they can post pretty much anything.
First, consider that your internet service provider and web host have, and can release this information, if issued a court summons.
Two, that libel laws can effect you! You personally can be sued, and basically bankrupted by such a suit. If you run the site without the legal protection of a corporate entity or LLC, it is, for all intents and purposes, your personal website, and your personal legal liability.
Three, even if you feel or are legally untouchable, lies are immoral, they are irresponsible, and they undermine your credibility. There is a LOT of room to be negative without being outright false, and crossing over into falsehoods is not going to help you or your publication gain respect.
J.A.’s rules of online posting:
Do not lie (Untruths are never okay).
Do not misrepresent or imply false statements to be true (For example, implying that your bank is criminally fraudulent when it is not, is false, even if you don’t agree with their policies or believe they are unfair.)
Do not randomly attack (If you find yourself disliking one thing after another consider the possibility that you are NOT being reasonable and should take a physical or mental step back.)
Always post factual corrections as submitted without additional attacks. (If someone contacts you to correct a mistake you should not make the situation worse by trying to “disprove” the correction or be unprofessional and snarky about it. Post the correction, and let the reader decide.)
Present the FACTS as FACTS, OPINION as OPINION. (For example, “this is a book about…” is a fact, “I did not like the voice/editing/story/etc…” is an opinion.)
Opinion is just as valid, and can be important, but it should not be presented as fact no matter how strongly that opinion is held!
Please blog responsibly!