May 07, 2005

Bloggers And Jobs

It's all in the extended entry.

Over the years that blogging and journaling have become more popular, we hear more and more about how some bloggers and writers are finding themselves without a job "because of the blog".

Here is a website devoted to collecting names of those who fell prey to this demise:

Bloggers Who Have Been Fired

This sort of situation answers those who write that they think it's wrong to post a blog using a psuedonym and not your real name. These are personal sites. Everyone knows what a journal is. A blog is nothing more than a collection of posts with entries containing links one found on the web in addition to personal entries. (This is what makes blogs and journals different by the way for those who are obviously confused about what to call their own site. If you don't link on a regular basis to things you find on the web? Guess what? You have an online journal. Not a blog.)

Regardless, again, they are personal web sites and one does not have to use their real name on these websites no matter who thinks that gives the writer less standing. It is actually smart not to use your real name on your site unless you are actually getting paid to write because not only do you have to worry about every schmuck who comes by knowing your identity, you also have to worry about your job.

You see, you don't even have to write about your job or anyone who works there to get fired from your job because you have a site. All you have to do is write and if it goes against anything management wants to see, you run the risk of being pulled into an office and lectured before they state, "We are going to let you go."

There are a few ways to prevent yourself from getting fired from your job for having a website and I'd like to take a moment to inform you of what others have done to get fired from their jobs because of their blog or journal so that you don't have to weed through the entries to find out what they did wrong. I will not be naming who did what, merely, compile a list of what I have learned along the way:

1) Do not blog at work.

Most companies now have the ability to view absolutely everything that goes on on your computer. They know what sites you've looked at, they know what you write in emails, they know what you've written in Word, they know if you have written on your site. And it is perfectly legal for them to know this. In fact, most people have signed a waiver stating that they will not use the computer at work for personal things. Yet, most people seem to think that they can get away with doing so. If you actually think that management won't go through and look at your computer from their location and "spy" on you while you are at work, supposedly doing things that they are paying you for, you are a fool. The company is not paying you to type out what you did last night, what show you saw this weekend, where you spent your honeymoon or anything of that nature. They are paying you to work and if you get busted writing in your blog at work? They have absolutely every right to fire you. Some complain that they didn't receive a warning. Guess what? You are not entitled to a warning. You can't sit there and honestly tell me that you have absolutely no idea that using a company computer for your personal use is wrong. It's stealing. Whether you like that term or not, that is what it is. You are stealing from the company and you don't need nor deserve a warning for stealing from the company. So, if you want to have a personal site, have one. But do not write in it, view it or read other sites while at work.

2) Do not take pictures at work and post them on your site.

One guy lost his job at Microsoft because he took photos of a truck in the loading dock full of computers. Despite that there was no recognizable, identifying information that would point this photo to Microsoft, he was outed. And he lost his job. You have got to be a real moron for doing this and not understanding why it's wrong. Some companies are very private and have their employees sign waivers discussing this privacy and to take a photo at your company, even without showing the general public where it is and what company you work for, the company will find out. You will be out of a job. And you do not deserve a warning.

3) Do not tell people you work with about your site.

Almost everyone makes buddies at work but the thing to remember is, at any point in time those buddies can turn on you and report you. It happens all the time. Maybe they want your job. Maybe you two are competing for the same job. Maybe some stupid rumor got started via gossip, (WHAT? Gossip at work? No! It can't be!), and they are now upset with you and since most people don't have the fricken balls to actually confront you and ask you for your side of the story, rather, believe anything they hear and run with it, you run a great risk by exposing anything personal about your life to co-workers no matter how "buddy-buddy" you think you are. Too many people give out way too much information about themselves and then have the audacity to act surprised when that information is revealed later. If you don't want people knowing something about you, don't tell anyone! If you feel you just have to get it out of your system, go seek a counselor or write it out. Just don't do it at work, on company time using company posessions.

4) Do not write about your job or co-workers on your personal site.

If you do so, you will be discovered one day and you will pay for it. People think that the internet is so large and over run by sites that there is no way anyone would find you. That's plain naive. If you actually think that no one will ever find your site, you have much to learn. It only takes a creative Google search or a check on the "WhoIs" site to track you down. And that's another thing, "WhoIs". They say it is legally required for those who have a site to have their name and address entered for all to see. You can find a hosting company who will put their information in the "WhoIs" data base while retaining your records on file. That way, should you have broken a copyright law or done some other sort of illegal thing with your site, those who need to find you can contact the hosting company and the hosting company will then divulge your information. You do have to have your name in there somewhere but it does not need to be displayed for absolutely everyone to see. All you have to do is write one little entry that will piss someone off, they will do a search, find out who you are and where you live, even possibly where you work. Guess what happens next? Why don't we ask Moxie Pop? Someone faxed her employer and she got fired. Granted, she was blogging from work so it's her own damn fault but the person who went through the trouble to gather this information and then fax her employer is a fucking panty waste who needs to be beaten in a dark alley. You do not fuck with someone's job just because of something they wrote, which is an opinion dipshits, no matter how pissed off you get. All you need to do is click your offended and self righteous ass right off their site and never return.

5) Do not write about the use of illegal drugs.

A very well known blogger did just this. He wrote about a vacation he took and wrote about the use of illegal substances and promptly lost his job because of it. Now we can sit here and act defiant and state that no one, damnit, will prevent me from talking about myself and my adventures! I have the right! Yep, you sure do. And they have the right to can your ass when they get through reading all about your pot smoking, heroin shooting, cocaine snorting escapades. Same holds true if you decide to go out and get completely shit faced every weekend and then write about it. If you wouldn't talk about it freely and openly at work, you probably shouldn't be blabbing about it on your site. If you do, prepare to suffer the consequences. And don't bitch and whine when you are handed your sentence.

6) Use a generic site to vent .

If you absolutely must complain about work or your co-workers, use a site geared for this that keeps your identity a secret. For example, you can always go apply to write at Cubic Hell. There you can rant and rave and carry on as you get it all out of your system and no one will be the wiser. (As long as you don't make your entries at work. I can't stress that enough.) At this particular site, you are referred to only by a cube number assigned to you, you make up fake names for your company and the co-workers you wish to bitch about and you never give any sort of identifying information about your job. You do have to keep it discreet but it's not impossible and it can alleviate the urge and desire to let the whole world know what a stupid little bitch you have to sit next to every day or just how gloriously stupid your boss truly is. If you have done something that may be frowned upon, go to Group Hug and tell the whole world what you did. No one will ever know it's you. The people at Group Hug won't even know it's you. There is no way for anyone to track you down via that site. You go there, click "Confess", enter your dirty deeds into a little box and click submit. Your confession will be assigned a little number but the only person who will know that number belongs to your confession is you. No one knows your name, your email or where you live. (Unless you are stupid enough to do this at work.)

7) Do not use your blog email as your personal email.

If you are looking for work, get another email address. Do not use your blog email as your contact email on your resume or applications. In fact, if the company has no reason to know your email, don't even bother giving them one. Some think that by not providing one they are telling the company that they don't have internet access and may not get the job because of that but that is not the case. Employers ask for your email because they want another way to contact you but it is not necessary. You do not have to provide them with one. A phone number is all they need. If you insist on giving them an email address, go get a GMail account or some web based email and use that address soley for business purposes. This means that you don't make up a cutsie name for it. Make it professional and do not give it out to others.

8) If you write about anything remotely controversial, don't post your photo.

A lot of bloggers and journalers like to put their photo up on their web page to give others the feeling of comfort by knowing they are reading the words of an actual person. Well duh. Of course these sites are written by real people. Ya think the monsters from under the bed or the closet are writing these things? Unless you are writing about how cute your pets are on a daily basis or how you cleaned your house all day or went to the quilters club again, chances are, you're going to eventually write something that pisses someone else off. (Oh, and those quilters and knitters aren't exactly immune either. Have you read their sites and how some get really angry because they wouldn't do it that way! That way is wrong! And there have been some really heated arguments over fricken knitting for God's sake! People will argue about anything!) If you piss someone off good enough, they can get the information on you and expose your site to your employer, complete with your photo which leaves no question that it's your site and BAM! You are cleaning out your desk and handing in your security badge. Why help them try to destroy you?


I repeat this because it is so very important. I know many people do it and many people won't stop doing it because they have gotten away with it for so long. All I can say to that is: You have been warned. If you can't learn from the mistakes of others, you have only yourself to blame when the axe falls on your neck.

As many have pointed out on so many sites, there really aren't that many rules set forth for those who blog and write because it's all still relatively new. In the days of Usenet it didn't really matter although this sort of thing happened back then too. But now that we have our personal sites, the "attacks", (for lack of a better word), are becoming more personal. Don't be so quick to dismiss these warnings as there are a number of people who can telll you that they were innocently blogging one day and unemployed the next. There are even some who were turned down for jobs because of their sites. I'm not saying stop blogging or even to censor yourself. What I'm saying is use the same common sense on your site that you would use in the office. If you would not call the boss, "The biggest dipshitted prick to ever live" in the office where others can hear you? Don't say it on your site. If you wouldn't go telling your co-workers how you "made it with 6 different whores last month while going on a bender and sniffing up half an 8 ball of cocaine", then don't say it on your site. If you wouldn't write about your political beliefs in an office email, watch how you write it on your site. Or, find a place where you can write and remain anonymous. Use your head, don't give out so much information about yourself and remember, everything you write, someone is looking at it somewhere. Just hope it doesn't fall into the hands of your boss.

Posted by S. Faolan Wolf at May 7, 2005 04:16 PM

That is good advice F. It amazes me how many people lack common sense - especially about the photo and blogging at work. No 5 - yeah the company has every right to come down on you if you do those things - you are representing them. Cry me a river.

Posted by: Ruth at May 7, 2005 11:33 PM

Great post, but I'm still amazed how often common sense is uncommon!

I have friends who feel they have the *right* to blog from work, the *right* to say anything about anyone with zero fear of repercussions, etc. And what kind of moron is going to publically comment on their illegal activities, whether is drugs or something else?

Apparently lots of them . .

Posted by: Ted Demopoulos at May 9, 2005 10:45 AM
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