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Is sharing information in a blog wrong for your company? An ethical dilemma

Guy is a new blogger, and he just posted a very deep and complex question:

“I think most of us sign a confidential agreement before we start to work for our employer,in which we are obligated to keep any knowledge (sometimes it's called opinions) we get during our daily work private.

For example - you find a great tip while working with one of the ASP.NET controls at your work office. Can u share it with other? Is it absolutely right to do so? After you find this amazing tip you have changed your opinion on this control - can you share it with other?

Another example - you found a great web site after 1.5 hours of searching in the net at your work office. Then you browse in the site content for another 1.5 hour and read its articles which you find helpful (again - in your work office). Can you share it with other?”

This is indeed a deep and tough question. I can't say I have'nt thought about it myself. I guess it all comes down to some simple rules:

  • Is what you are about to write confidential or NDA?
  • Is the information you are about to publish about to hurt the company you are working for(financially, losing a customer)
  • Do you have pieces of actual code developed inside the company that are not already public property?
If the answer is yes to one of these, you might have a problem. If not, share with others. But tell him about it first (not every time, just that you intend to blog about tech stuff)
You boss benefits from your blog many times over when you post good technical content:
  • It's great publicity - you reflect on your company (if you affiliate with it) and if you look good your company looks great
  • You become a source of information - and the next time someone has a problem, your company will be a source of solution (or at least in the minds of people)
  • The networking aspect of blogging - this is social software at its best, is the greatest benefit of all. I can't tell you the amount of people that I've gotten to know from this blog, and just how safe I feel even if I encounter the toughest problems. Let's face it, the technical blogging scene is like a technical mafia - if you're part of it, you're never alone. If you have a problem, you can be sure someone out there can help you fix it, and you will do exactly the same for others when asked.
  • Now take that last point, and ask your boss what he would pay for an employee with enormous resources of information at his fingertips.
  • The thing is - the more you blog, the better you get, the better your company gets for hiring you, the more you share the more information you get back, the more credibility you get the bigger the network you are part of = it is all a big circle of information, and a company should be thankful they have employees as part of this network.
  • If your boss thinks they have enough information inside the company that the outside world does not count, he is wrong. Look at the information scene today. Do you know how many times in the past months I've search for information only to find most of it somewhere in blogs? Imagine if everyone felt the same way. There would be far less blogs, and far less information, and everyone would benefit less from it. Right now, everyone wins.

Falafel Bloggers?

Running The Regulator on .Net 1.0