As a shareholder of Google, I read the Owners Manual for Google Shareholders. Both Larry and Sergey emulated the same technique that Warren Buffett employed with Berkshire Hathaway in his owner’s manual for shareholders. Essentially, it is a manifesto of their guiding principals for their business. It solidifies their long-term approach to business decisions and their pledge to their shareholders. It is also where the infamous phase, Don’t be Evil, came about:
We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.
How does this translate into starting a blog?
The ease and low barriers to entry inevitably equates to lower quality of information, often rippling throughout the blogosphere. Content is often copied in summary or literally in plagiarisms, and pasted into the thousands of blogs on the Internet. As such, it brings to question the validity and quality of information presented in these publications.
Here is a short list, but not complete, of ways that having an Owner’s Manual for a blog may help bring forth credibility to a blog:
- Full disclosure – It tells the readers the vested interests of the writer, any potential conflicts of interest, and potential limitations of the information presented. If the blog is for profit, how can monetary incentives affect the objectiveness of the writing? Is the profit for a living or is it to subsidize the cost of the publication (e.g., to pay for hosting services)?
- Purpose, values, and mission – What drives the blog. What motivates the writings of the blog and what is the great thing that the blog is reach for.
- Quality control and business processes – What mechanisms are in place to ensure that posts are reviewed for accuracy and completeness? Is the blog a “dear diary”, opinion, or resource? Because most blogs are actually one-man operations, there aren’t any formalized policies and procedures in place.
Over the next few weeks, I will start drafting this “Owner’s Manual” for my own site and developing a set of policies and procedures for posts. It will also document the work flow process and the QC/QA process. I envision the development of a set of standards and “best practices.” Long-term, I also see the blogosphere getting together to create a certification process that certifies blogs that meet these standards.
We need to differentiate blogs that taken the steps necessary to ensure that their content is original, contains unique analysis and thought, and have vetted its information back to credible sources.