What Multnomah County Library (MCL) learned from early tries with blogging:
- be afraid
- you must moderate comments
- only let people comment for a specific period of time
How to get the public what they want without getting the library into trouble? There are rules for behaviour in the library, those could be extended to library blogs.
The three major policy issues related to allowing public comment on blogs are:
- 1st Amendment rights and responsibilities of the public and library staff
- Public records retention
- Liability - copyright infringement, libel, etc.
Post a purpose statement on the blog that defines the limited public forum. Write a social software policy for the library and post disclaimers on the blog as well. Comment guidelines also appear directly where users would post their comments to the blog.
Comment moderation helps avoid spam. There are two reasons to reject a comment - if it's unlawful, or off-topic (this is where it's important to have a purpose statement to help define what is on-topic or not). Keep any comments you don't post, in case of a legal challenge.
Re: public records retention - this is one reason why it's better to host the blog on your own server, rather than having it hosted by another site.
Re: liability - make sure staff have clear guidelines for writing posts, think about having a social software policy especially for staff, and make sure it's clear how to deal with copyrighted material. It's really easy to post images and video that may be under copyright.
Presentation materials online