To blog or not to blog in public

John Robb, who's been publishing his blog under his name for quite some time, gives wannabee bloggers some controversial advice, i.e. Don't Blog in Public:

Open note to people who are thinking about writing a public weblog:  it will, in the vast majority of cases, impair your chances of getting your next job.  If you do start one, don't put your name on it (anywhere).  If you do, it will likely cost you economically for the rest of your life.

His stance sounds quite manichean to me and as usual the issue isn't just black and white. Of course you need to be careful about your publications because the internet has an awfully long memory, but I remain optimistic about the positive side of blogging, such as increasing your visibility, your network and get new opportunities. I've experienced all of that since I started this blog, so my experience is the opposite of what John depicts. Plus I'm an engineer, I belong to one of those technical communities where communicating with your peers is a necessity, part of the normal (even expected) behavior, and there is no mystery why they are over-represented amongst the "oldest" bloggers. Doing that anonymously would be counter-productive, if not ridiculous.

Surely, there are things I've published here (and probably more on my French blog, which is more personal than this one) that can irk some visitors, but then they are not likely to be the kind of people I want to do business with anyway. Being upfront and open is a conscious choice for me, or more correctly a natural trait of my personality, and I see no reason why I should act differently in public wether it's face to face or on the web. Or may be I'm just fed up with the "politically correct" world of faceless masks with corporate suits, and the blogs are a new haven where I can breeze some fresh oxygen. Something tells me I'm not the only one looking for a change to the conventional wisdom that to be happy, you'd better remain hidden.

6 Comments

I couldn't agree more with you, François. I've always been the open type on my site and have a VERY LONG and highly visible history on the internet. There is nothing I have ever written that would stop me from getting a job at a place where I really want to work. That last part is the key really.

When I was in my last job and I was trying to hire some people, I never "Googled" their names to find out information about them. It never even crossed my mind to see what might be out there. But, now that I have a web log and I have created it using my real name, I am starting to wonder if anyone has ever googled my name when I have been interviewing. Maybe that is a little too narcissistic of me.

Jason, I don't think it's narcissistic, actually we have now reached a point where both the interviewer and the interviewee can search each other on the web before their first meeting. Personally, I find that a huge improvement over one page résumés and 5-lines job postings.

I recognize the movement and I am very enthousiastic about the posibilities of Internet publishing. But I do not agree that googling for someones name is a rare action or mostly positive movement. I know it happens, and especially by people who want to start action against you or your company. I know that it is one of the first steps in a proper security test (or hacking attempt, depending on the color of your hat) and I know sales people who first google on a contacts name to find personal information of use. It is amazing what you can learn by simple googling. Another example is finding arguments to sack people, which is what I think has overcome Patrick Savalle at Centric. That is why I think clear guidelines should be communicated by a company who stimulates or tolerates personal blogs by employees. Like the ones Ray Ozzie posted in his Groove days.

I followed the link to John Robb's page and didn't see any writing like you indicated? Is the link right? Did it get pulled?

Ah, interesting, yes the post seems to have disappeared.

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