How to be a successful blogger? Be discreet, avoid silly actions.

In the second post in this 2-part series on mistakes that come in the way of success in blogging, let us discuss indiscreet acts that can put the blogger into legal difficulties, embarass him, or make him/ his blog unsafe.

1. Copying content and pasting it into one's blog

Most new bloggers think that copying others' content does not matter. But many bloggers have  faced legal action for indiscreetly using others' content.

Don't copy others’ content, be it text or images or videos. In case you must use others' content, ask permission. 

On social networks, you are more likely to get away with copy-pasting from other places in the web, but blog is a more permanent space and you must be much more careful. 

Very old creations, content on 'public domain', CC0 copyright certification and 'fair use' (when a small block of text is used for the purpose of quoting, etc) are some situations in which you can copy-paste content into your blog. 

Please also remember that attributing the copied content to the source is not enough. That is no legal defence but only a courtesy you showed to the creator of that content.

[If you are interested in further details about the legal position on copy-pasting others' content into your blog, you can refer to The Manual of Blogging.]

2. Using untested themes, widgets, plugins and code 

There are hundreds of free (and paid) themes, plugins, widgets and codes available on the web -  but not all of them are safe. The harm they can do ranges from diverting traffic to stealing data and involving you secretly in malicious/ criminal activities. 

Therefore, before you put any code into your blog, be sure of its genuineness. For example, if you have a Wordpress blog, apply Wordpress verified plugins; if you have a Blogger blog, use only its own themes or use others' themes after thoroughly checking their code.

3. Sharing personal information about others

Unless it serves a special purpose and the information given by you will not in any way harm the person’s reputation or privacy, desist from giving information about a person’s family life, kids, schooling, hobbies etc. If the person is known to you, seek his/ her permission beforehand.

4. Recommending products without testing them

You may review  products on the blog, but ethics demands that you declare whether you have any obligation to the company. You should, for the sake of your credibility, if nothing else, not recommend a service [e.g. a course] or product unless you have tested it. Desist from recommending medicines or diets or treatments unless you are qualified to do so. If you are greatly satisfied/ dissatisfied with something [e.g. service of an airline], do share your experience but in most cases it is better to not make too strong value judgements.

5. Getting personal or indecent when criticising others

You may have strong views about an idea being propagated by a person or the person himself, but do not make personal comments or criticise him / her on your blog or any other social media account. 

Feelings are very important in any form of communication, including the digital one. Be careful about sensitivities of different religions, racial groups, ‘weaker sections of the society’, and regions. Do not use expletives and racial expressions though these might look witty. Avoid four-letter words.  

6. Bragging excessively

Promotion is fine, but not when it is excessive. A bit of self-aggrandisement is OK, but not too much. 

Don’t assume a fake identity with fake achievements and expertise. Don’t put an artificially bloated stat-counter on the blog. These might not be illegal, but fakes do not shine for long: there is high probability that your fake persona will be exposed one day soon and then you will lose all your reputation.  

When you are a new blogger and you indulge in excessive self praise or fake experise, you will expose yourself. If you are an established blogger, your blogging success will come from genuine expertise, not faking. 

7. Blogging outside legal/ safe zone

Blogging by children below 13 years is illegal in most countries. 

Blogging (or any other form of media/ social media communication) on certain topics is prohibited by governments due to security reasons. In some countries, too personal criticism is taken as libel, and sharp criticism of the state religion is seen as spread of hatred. In most places, religious and national icons are required to be shown due respect, and their inappropriate depiction is a criminal offence. So, be careful.

Most nations have enacted laws relating to information technology. However, their implementation is usually very faulty, and authorities are known to misuse them - many times in their zeal or ignorance. That is another reason why one should be careful when being unreasonably critical <and without proof> about a person, organization or rulers. One should also avoid intemperate language that is prone to misinterpretation. 

Many bloggers have faced persecution and some have lost their lives taking on criminals through their blogs or other social media accounts. Be conscious of dangers and take adequate precautions if you venture into this area.

Just to recap, I am leaving you with this small infographic: 

blogging: success without silly mistakes
Click here for the first part of the series, For success in blogging, first correct mistakes

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