IBM has made their corporate guidelines for social computing available. Of course, it was created via a wiki so that IBM’s own employees could contribute to the content! One comment is particularly telling:
“In 1997, IBM recommended that its employees get out onto the Internet—at a time when many companies were seeking to restrict their employees’ Internet access.”
This is certainly true – I was working for IBM at the time, and can remember many friends outside of IBM being shocked that an organisation which had such a conservative public image would be so open to allowing staff access to this “internet-thing” which was seen as a time-wasting activity with questionable business value. The parallels with social software are striking! This is similar to a theme I noticed recently around the ROI debate – if the ‘I’ is small enough those companies which simply embrace the concept and get on with it without worrying about ROI will gain the advantages whilst their competitors spend time thinking about whether or not they should embrace social computing.
Anyway, back to IBM’s guidelines. There’s some good detail which you can check for yourself but the executive summary is pretty good:
IBM Social Computing Guidelines: Executive Summary
- Know and follow IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines.
- IBMers are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated media. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.
- Identify yourself—name and, when relevant, role at IBM—when you discuss IBM or IBM-related matters. And write in the first person. You must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.
- If you publish content to any website outside of IBM and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with IBM, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.”
- Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws.
- Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information. Ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal to IBM.
- Don’t cite or reference clients, partners or suppliers without their approval. When you do make a reference, where possible link back to the source.
- Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in IBM’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion.
- Find out who else is blogging or publishing on the topic, and cite them.
- Be aware of your association with IBM in online social networks. If you identify yourself as an IBMer, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself with colleagues and clients.
- Don’t pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.
- Try to add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective. IBM’s brand is best represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on IBM’s brand.
Fundamentally it seems to say “don’t be stupid”!