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Friday, July 29, 2011

Teacher Blog Etiquette

I am pretty new to the blogging world and have been seeing lots of posts from other bloggers about their pet peeves and frustration with those who are unfamiliar with the rules (spoken and unspoken) of blogging. So, I decided I would research the topic and see what I could find.

Here it is along with some of the resources I used when compiling this list:
Posting and Creating
  • Celebrate your Followers! Offer a giveaway or a freebie every so often. :) I've seen many follow the general rule of offering 10% of their creations as freebies. That being said, some teachers don't sell anything at all and offer everything for free! I am somewhat torn. I would love to offer everything for free and just share, but I am currently unemployed... so there you have it. :/
  • Post ideas, free items, items you have posted on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook.
  • Post pictures of progresses and successes you have had in the classroom.
  • DO NOT post pictures of children or give their names. You can cover their faces with blurring, smiley faces, hearts, or some other icon to keep their identity safe.
  • Post your own pictures, not someone else's.
  • READ the TERMS OF USE for fonts and clipart, etc. Some allow their items to be used only for the sharing of free items, some allow only for selling items in a certain format, some allow for a few freebies, some allow use of some of their items under one use and others under completely different rules. Almost all ask that you state "Font by___", "Clipart by ___ " on each and every item or page and offer a link to them on your blog.
  • Just because you see someone else using clipart that you thought was not allowed for their purpose, doesn't mean they are wrong OR that you can do it, too. Many sites offer the exact same clipart/fonts under different terms of use and for different prices. DO YOUR RESEARCH!
  • Posting should be respectful to all people at all times in all situations. It is okay to express frustration towards a SITUATION, not a PERSON. It is okay to ask advice on how to handle a SITUATION, not make complaints or attacks on a PERSON. Confrontations should take place privately and only between the parties involved.
Linky Parties
  • Link up to Linky Parties, but be sure to follow the Party Host's Rules. This gets visitors to your blog and is a GREAT way to build your resources and share with others.
  • Link up to Linky Parties ONLY if you share something regarding the Party's topic. Linking up just to "plug" your own blog is in bad taste.
  • Link up to Linky Parties by linking the post that describes the topic- NOT directly to the home page of your entire blog. Again, this is considered bad taste because it's more of a "plug" for your blog and it makes it difficult/frustrating for readers to find the topic they clicked after in the first place!
  • Be sure to give a wink and a nod to the Linky Party host by including a link back to the host's blog and thank them for hosting the party- hosts often offer an easy way to link back to their blog with a "button code"- it's like a backstage pass you add by copying and pasting their "button" into the "HTML" tab on your blog's post.
  • If there isn't a "button" to add to your post- mention them by name and link their web address to it. ALWAYS find a way to link back to them.
  • For more information regarding Linky Party Etiquette, visit Jen at Finally in First and read her post about Linky Party Etiquette.
  • The Teacher Wife also did a nice post on her personal Pet Peeves regarding the Do's and Dont's of Teacher Blogging.
Inspiration vs. Stealing
One question I find asked most often on other blogs, but never really answered is taking someone's idea as inspiration and tweaking it to meet the needs of your classroom. We all know there's nothing new under the sun. Believe me, many bloggers (even top, seasoned bloggers) are biting their nails and losing sleep over this as illustrated in some comments I have read- and made! I have found it frustrating to see this question not answered so I guess I'll try. Here's what I've been able to gather so far:
  • It is okay to make something similar to someone else's idea BUT YOU MUST LINK BACK TO THE ORIGINAL IDEA and give proper credit or "much props". :)
  • It is NOT okay to basically copy someone's work and pass it off as your own idea.
  • It is cause for a lynch mob to be gathered in your honor if you take someone's idea without linking back to them and sell it- especially if they are giving it away for free! (That will get you sent directly to jail, do not pass go...) Phew! You thought Mama Bears were fierce about their babies- just try to steal a teacher blogger's "idea baby"!
  • If you like someone's idea and design, but want the same thing in a different color/theme- it is okay to create it yourself as long as you link back to the original designer and do not offer their idea lumped in with yours- just link back to them OR ask the original designer to create one for you by leaving a comment on their post. Most are more than willing to accommodate you.
  • There is still some gray area regarding making something and offering it for free that the original designer is selling. In general, it is considered bad taste and undercutting, but the argument is why would you pay for something when you can make it for free? Basically, it has to be a significant change- not just making the same frog clipart in purple instead of green. Do you get my drift?  ALWAYS CLEAR IT WITH THE ORIGINAL DESIGNER AND LINK BACK TO THEIR ORIGINAL DESIGN.
  • If someone takes an idea of yours and you don't feel proper credit has been given or the changes were not significant enough, it is your right and responsibility to POLITELY let this person know that you would prefer them to change the item more or give you credit. Always assume that the person did not mean to offend you and is not aware of blogging etiquette. We don't automatically assume our kiddos are evil at heart; the same terms should apply for our peers.
The Bottom Line

The main theme I have seen is to celebrate each other's successes and ingenuity, just like we do with our students in the classroom. You wouldn't take some kid's drawing and say you did it, but you may say, "I really like what so and so did in his/her picture and I'm going to try to do it THIS way. If you would like to see it or learn how to do it, ask so and so. They are the expert (not me)".

Everyone likes to be praised and teacher blogs are a forum to praise one another and spread the word that someone has something that will make this job a little easier for everyone.

If you have anything you would like to add, please feel free to leave a comment. I would really like to make this post a one-stop resource for new (and seasoned) bloggers! :) 

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