Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blogging lessons from the EPA

(beautiful representation of blogging using Moo cards by mexicanwave)

With thanks to @barbchamberlain on Twitter today (even though she works for the enemy, go DAWGs) I learned about a great blogging guidelines resource that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees consult when writing for their group blog, Greenversations.

I want to know who wrote these guidelines because s/he desperately needs to be heard by other .gov agencies who have group blogs. The more I think about it, these need to be heard by every blogger, not just those participating in .gov or other group blog situations! Do you blog for work or tackle issues in your blog? Substitute your employer or own identity in for the EPA and consider their guidelines. In particular, these points resonated strongly with me (bold mine):

For each post, consider the following questions:
  • What's the nature of the problem you're working on?
  • How does your personal or work story relate to the problem?
  • What are you doing to come up with a solution? What are the benefits to the reader? (essentially, why should the reader care?)
  • What progress has already been made?
  • How does this fit into EPA's overall mission of protecting human health and the environment?
  • What can the reader do?


You should not:
  • Simply repeat EPA Web content or use your entry as a new EPA Web page
  • Announce program activities or opportunities unless you are coordinating with a news release or other mechanism
  • Mimic news releases
  • Overwhelm the reader with facts and figures. Keep it simple and link to more details.
  • Violate the cautionary areas {discussed in PDF}

Greenversations is a blog of beauty not only due to visual design and helpful information and navigability, but a venue I'd love to see more often that includes a clear About section that includes

This blog is written by EPA employees (and occasional guests) about the things they bring to their jobs every day. The opinions and comments expressed in Greenversations are those of the authors alone and do not reflect an Agency policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy of the contents of the blog.
To put it another way, this allows EPA employees to be themselves and not press release & policy-spouting clones of their employer. The employees still follow very straightforward, clear and sensible guidelines subject to official review that does not include censorship of their personal ideas, yet still gives them the credibility to blog as an EPA.gov.

I'm not an expert about group .gov bloggers but I'm going to do some more research to see if I can find similar ones with clear guidelines and freedom of expression. If you already know of some, please share here?