Bloggers Need Not Apply

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  • #1
Evo
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We often don't realize how something said online can affect a person's career and/or academic life.

After seeing a spate of members admitting to illegal behavior here on the forum, I thought it might be an eye opener to let people understand that what they put online could affect their lives. They may not use their own name, but someone that knows them and refers to them in their blog could inadvertantly lead to their downfall.

Just use some common sense.

Bloggers Need Not Apply

http://chronicle.com/jobs/2005/07/2005070801c.htm [Broken]
 
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  • #2
radou
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This is nothing new. Just another form of irresponsibility. :rolleyes:
 
  • #3
Astronuc
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This is nothing new. Just another form of irresponsibility. :rolleyes:
Or stupidity in some cases. :rolleyes:
 
  • #4
Evo
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This is nothing new. Just another form of irresponsibility. :rolleyes:
Unfortunately one that can be viewed worldwide by anyone. :eek:

Just last month, someone my older daughter worked with got turned in for their blog by a jealous co-worker and got fired.

Anyone really dumb will think this doesn't apply to them, so I figure I'm not helping anyone unworthy. :biggrin:
 
  • #5
radou
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Just last month, someone my older daughter worked with got turned in for their blog by a jealous co-worker and got fired.

Wow, the entry in that very blog must have been really evil. I mean, getting fired, for christ's sake! :bugeye:
 
  • #6
SticksandStones
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The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself.
Any place that thinks like this is somewhere I don't want to work.
 
  • #7
verty
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I don't think all blogs are necessarily bad. No one is what I call a superman. I call a superman that individual that employers are hoping to find in their applicants. Undoubtedly they possesses qualities no one possesses. You know the type: "knows X, Y, Z, W technologies, self starter, bubbly personality". Uh, yeah right. That person would have their own business by now.

So if a blog shows that one isn't a superman, that should be expected. Certainly if it shows that one is irresponsible or prone to destructive behaviour or even that one has fabricated information then it certainly is bad. It is all evidence to your character. However, I think a well written and considered blog can be a positive endorsement.
 
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  • #8
Evo
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Wow, the entry in that very blog must have been really evil. I mean, getting fired, for christ's sake! :bugeye:
No, they posted public articles that put the company in a bad light. The legal reason for firing the person was "inapropriate use of internet", although the person hadn't actually blogged on company time. His manager told him it was his blog and that they were considering legal action for the content in the blog, which won't happen, the information posted was in the public domain.
 
  • #9
Evo
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Certainly if it shows that one is irresponsible or prone to destructive behaviour or even that one has fabricated information then it certainly is bad. It is all evidence to your character. However, I think a well written and considered blog can be a positive endorsement.
Yes, that's what the article said, a "good" blog is actually viewed as a positive.
 
  • #10
ZapperZ
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I'm always aware of what I blog, because I know that in many instances, what I do at work, and the conversation that I have were not meant to be made public. So most of my blog are really issues that I have with the field in general, rather than specific activities or issues that I have at work that should not be made public. This is even more so when we are working on specific projects that other groups are also working on. It would be extremely silly to make public initial results and description just so others who found the blog would be able to judge the rate of progress and could easly scoop one out of a new work.

Zz.
 
  • #11
Moridin
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Worst come to worst, change the folder of the blog, have it not getting indexed by SE's from the start, don't post any hyperlinks to or from it and ban access from computers other than your own laptop. But then what you have is some sort of mangled diary, so go figure.
 
  • #12
radou
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and ban access from computers other than your own laptop. But then what you have is some sort of mangled diary, so go figure.

Couldn't you, in that case, simply use Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad? :tongue:
 
  • #13
SticksandStones
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No, they posted public articles that put the company in a bad light. The legal reason for firing the person was "inapropriate use of internet", although the person hadn't actually blogged on company time. His manager told him it was his blog and that they were considering legal action for the content in the blog, which won't happen, the information posted was in the public domain.

Perhaps I'm just ignorant, but doesn't that seem rather...stupid? Honestly, is there anyone who HASN'T complained about their place of employment at some time during their employment? Have you ever been in a bar and said "...my job stinks, the boss is evil..." or something of the sort? Maybe you mentioned that they polluted the environment a lot, or something.

Now, granted, I don't know what specifically this person had put in his blog, but firing someone (who otherwise may be a great employee - again I don't know) because they said something bad about the company? That just seems really excessive.
 
  • #14
Evo
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Perhaps I'm just ignorant, but doesn't that seem rather...stupid? Honestly, is there anyone who HASN'T complained about their place of employment at some time during their employment? Have you ever been in a bar and said "...my job stinks, the boss is evil..." or something of the sort? Maybe you mentioned that they polluted the environment a lot, or something.

Now, granted, I don't know what specifically this person had put in his blog, but firing someone (who otherwise may be a great employee - again I don't know) because they said something bad about the company? That just seems really excessive.
It's a person that does the hiring and firing. The employee's personal blog upset the Human Resources person enough that they looked for a reason to dismiss the employee. It just goes to show how something like a PERSONAL blog can hurt you. It was a knee jerk reaction by a person at the company that had the authority to terminate them.
 
  • #15
Moonbear
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No, they posted public articles that put the company in a bad light. The legal reason for firing the person was "inapropriate use of internet", although the person hadn't actually blogged on company time. His manager told him it was his blog and that they were considering legal action for the content in the blog, which won't happen, the information posted was in the public domain.

If it wasn't done on company time, and the employee was otherwise performing their job appropriately, it sounds like they'd have cause to sue the company for unlawful dismissal. They couldn't fire you because you were photographed on the street corner at a protest by a local newspaper, so why would your blog, written during non-working hours be any different?

In the article in the original post, I can see there being issues when someone puts their blog right in their application information or cover letter. That's pointing it out to the people interviewing you and asking them to read it. No different than stapling a copy of the police blotter showing your arrest for protesting as a college student to your resume. But, to go looking for that information when it's not provided, or to factor it into decisions after the employee is already hired, that seems like unethical business practices.

If someone's CV comes across my desk, looking for a job, I'm basing my decision on the contents of the CV and their interview. I know people write all sorts of odd rants and raves and personal views in their blogs that have nothing to do with how they will conduct themselves in a professional environment, and as such, unless they point me directly to it, I have no reason to want to go looking for it.

I think this may be a generational clash, that people in older generations aren't used to so much personal information being made freely available, so hold it against the person, rather than realizing that everyone has skeletons in their closets and their own personal opinions on all sorts of things, and that many of these things have always been stated in public fora. The only difference is the ease of access to that information. I know of quite a few faculty who would have never gotten jobs if their "youthful indiscretions" had been found out by their future employers, but because the local police blotter was not published online for anyone to find, that didn't happen. And, their youthful indiscretions have had no bearing whatsoever on their competence as faculty. If anything, it means they're more understanding when students come to them with similar problems and need help dealing with them.
 
  • #16
Evo
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If it wasn't done on company time, and the employee was otherwise performing their job appropriately, it sounds like they'd have cause to sue the company for unlawful dismissal. They couldn't fire you because you were photographed on the street corner at a protest by a local newspaper, so why would your blog, written during non-working hours be any different?
They could try to take it to court, but the employer used a legitimate cause as grounds for dismissal. The blog was not legal grounds for dismissal, but it was the catalyst. This is a 21 year old in an entry level job, they had another job within a week.

I wish I could find the article, I think it was in the WSJ in careers, there was a grad student that lost a job offer due to his myspace blog. He admitted his blog was stupid but never imagined the employer would actually do a search and find it. We had a thread on it here last year. I can't find it.

People need to realize that their personal blog is public information and prospective employers are doing online searches now. That's the way it is. You may never know why you didn't get that job.
 
  • #17
Cyrus
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I don't understand the point of blogging. It's like talking to yourself-only everyone on the internet can read your thoughts.

The only cases where I can see it as being (somewhat) entertaining is if someone in a place like Iraq having a blog and talking about living conditions(provided you believe what you read).

I don't know, it just seems silly to me. Nothing something I would do.
 
  • #18
Moonbear
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People need to realize that their personal blog is public information and prospective employers are doing online searches now. That's the way it is. You may never know why you didn't get that job.

I strongly disagree with the ethics of an employer who searches for blogs and weighs that in the job application process (just as I'd disagree with an employer who directly asked personal questions that have nothing to do with job performance), but it is true that blogs ARE in the public domain. While I don't care much what someone's political views are or what movies they've seen and their opinions of them, or what sort of new technological gadgets they find fascinating (something the original article seemed to think negatively about, which made little sense to me...so what if someone is really into new technology?), but certainly blogging about illegal activities is foolish...it's the equivalent of a public confession. That's where I draw the line. If you can read in someone's blog about illegal activities, then it's unwise to hire them. If their blog just has their personal opinions on things like politics or anything else that's perfectly legal to share, then it shouldn't factor into hiring or firing decisions. If it puts the company in bad light, but was otherwise public information, and is true (i.e., not libel), then tough tabookies...the company should watch their step, not the other way around.

I'm glad things worked out well for your coworker in the end, but the company doesn't own her. If she hates her employer, but still manages to show up every day and do her job, so what? She's no different than an awful lot of corporate employees. If the corporation doesn't like that, too bad, that's the real world.
 
  • #19
Evo
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I don't think it's right either, it feels like an invasion of privacy. I think people need to be aware it's being done though. I have changed my blogs accordingly.

A lot of young people that are still in school, or haven't changed jobs within the past couple of years don't realize what employers do now.

When I changed jobs in 2005 I had to agree to a background check, not only did they ask if you had ever been convicted of a felony (acceptable) they asked if you had ever been arrested of even a misdemeanor and NOT been convicted (unacceptable in my opinion), I mean if you're not convicted, you're probably innocent, right? I had to agree to a credit check (what, if I am late paying a few bills I can't do my job?) and of course had to submit to drug screening within 24 hours (they also had you sign an agreement that if after you're hired they find out that you lied about doing drugs or had a poor credit history you would be fired immediately.

The only right I had was to forbid them to contact my current employer. In my job it's highly competitive and there is intellectual property and luckliy my prior employer had failed to have me sign intellectual property or a non-compete. At my new company I had to sign both. Basically it says that I cannot work for another company in this industry for 10 years. I think I can fight that in court, maybe.
 
  • #20
Moonbear
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I don't think I could survive the corporate world. As soon as they told me a credit check was part of the application process (not that I have anything to hide there...just on matter of principle), and that I couldn't work in the same industry for 10 years, I'd have told them to go *expletive omitted* themselves. I think I was more surprised to hear of this happening in an academic institution from the article in your original post than that it happens in the cut-throat corporate environment. From my perspective in academics, we know college students do stupid things all the time and it's part of the growing up process. I wouldn't hold it against them later in life...I expect that people mature, some a little later than others.
 
  • #21
Gokul43201
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Wow, these HR folks do spend an awful lot of company time reading blogs! Can they be fired for that? :tongue:
 
  • #22
Moonbear
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Wow, these HR folks do spend an awful lot of company time reading blogs! Can they be fired for that? :tongue:

:rofl: Now that's the spirit! :biggrin:
 
  • #23
verty
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The only right I had was to forbid them to contact my current employer. In my job it's highly competitive and there is intellectual property and luckliy my prior employer had failed to have me sign intellectual property or a non-compete. At my new company I had to sign both. Basically it says that I cannot work for another company in this industry for 10 years. I think I can fight that in court, maybe.

I don't think I would have signed that.
 
  • #24
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I have never written nor visited a site with a blog on it, in fact I don't even know what they are other than some sort of diary by a user. Any material in the public domain is your responsibility though. If I type out some rather contentious information here, and it is then used against me, there's no one to blame but myself for putting it in the public eye.I agree with the OP it's up to you to use your discretion.

The Pope is a Muslim by the way:wink: :smile: j/k
 
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  • #25
radou
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The only blogs which make sense are picture blogs or comic blogs or whatever, i.e. simply places on the net where one can display his/her creativity. But these are definitely not the majority. :wink:
 
  • #26
Moridin
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One can still copyright material, removing it from public domain, thus making it illegal to copy, print or redistribute it, depending on what license one uses. If you get fired and the employer uses prints for evidence, sue him :tongue:
 
  • #27
ZapperZ
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Wow, these HR folks do spend an awful lot of company time reading blogs! Can they be fired for that? :tongue:

Not just the HR people, but others as well.

In my Disney blog, I occasionally get visitors from Disney.com domain. Now granted I probably caused this myself because I sometime link to stuff at their site. However, even long after that, I still get hits from them, sometime several times in a day. I'm guessing that they do scour the web, especially blogs, to see if any copyright violation goes on.

What is more ... er... interesting is that, sometime, in my Physics Blog, I get hits from pentagon.mil! Now I know for a fact that I make zero link to them! So I have no idea how or why they even found the blog.

:biggrin:

Zz.
 
  • #28
Doc Al
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What is more ... er... interesting is that, sometime, in my Physics Blog, I get hits from pentagon.mil!
Uh oh... they are on to you. :bugeye: Time for evasive action!
 
  • #29
ZapperZ
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Uh oh... they are on to you. :bugeye: Time for evasive action!

Er... should I also be concerned with hits from army.mil and navy.mil? I've had those as well.

:uhh:

Zz.
 
  • #30
dontdisturbmycircles
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They are spying on you ZapperZ. :biggrin:

I would personally say that using blog entries as acceptance criteria for any sort of situation is simply silly. It could have been a friend who 'hacked' into the account and posted some stupid blog, or the person in question might be into coming home from the bar and writing blog entries before bed, you never know. Although of course this world is not perfect and you cannot expect that people will not search for your blog/name on the internet and form opinions through that information.

In response to Evo, in Canada you don't have to share information regarding crimes you were charged with but never convicted of. I don't know how it works in the US but I'd just tell them that it wasn't an appropriate question. If it was a dream job I might just say "no". (Assuming that I was arrested but not convicted, which I haven't been :P)
 
  • #31
arildno
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I can well understand the basic attraction about blogging:

Finally, YOU get the chance to be somebody for someone else, rather than a nobody for just about everyone else. Your thoughts are read, even appreciated by someone, and that is a good feeling.

However, at times at least, you would prefer to have control over who gets to know what about you, even if you want someone, but not everybody, to know about some particular aspect of your personality.

Conclusion:
It is better to have friends than blog-readers. :smile:
 
  • #32
robphy
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What is more ... er... interesting is that, sometime, in my Physics Blog, I get hits from pentagon.mil! Now I know for a fact that I make zero link to them! So I have no idea how or why they even found the blog.

:biggrin:

Zz.

Um.... [Dana Carvey's voice] could it be.... via GOOGLE [on some topic you blogged about]?
And if google finds it, then so might the wayback machine at archive.org [which sometimes has a good memory (http://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.physicsforums.com/")]
(On a side note, from its description, this is an interesting program: http://www.cs.odu.edu/~fmccown/research/lazy/warrick.html )

If you are concerned about all of this, then this might help [a little]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots.txt
 
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  • #33
SticksandStones
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They are spying on you ZapperZ. :biggrin:

I would personally say that using blog entries as acceptance criteria for any sort of situation is simply silly. It could have been a friend who 'hacked' into the account and posted some stupid blog, or the person in question might be into coming home from the bar and writing blog entries before bed, you never know. Although of course this world is not perfect and you cannot expect that people will not search for your blog/name on the internet and form opinions through that information.

In response to Evo, in Canada you don't have to share information regarding crimes you were charged with but never convicted of. I don't know how it works in the US but I'd just tell them that it wasn't an appropriate question. If it was a dream job I might just say "no". (Assuming that I was arrested but not convicted, which I haven't been :P)
Furthermore, you don't know if the person on the blog is the same person applying (without pictures, of course). There are plenty of people with my name, and I go to school with three girls who all have the same first and last name, and even the same middle initial!

Just because "John Smith in Virginia" has a blog doesn't mean it's the same John Smith from Virginia who is applying for your company.
 
  • #34
Astronuc
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When I changed jobs in 2005 I had to agree to a background check, not only did they ask if you had ever been convicted of a felony (acceptable) they asked if you had ever been arrested of even a misdemeanor and NOT been convicted (unacceptable in my opinion), I mean if you're not convicted, you're probably innocent, right? I had to agree to a credit check (what, if I am late paying a few bills I can't do my job?) and of course had to submit to drug screening within 24 hours (they also had you sign an agreement that if after you're hired they find out that you lied about doing drugs or had a poor credit history you would be fired immediately.
The telecommunications industry, like defense-related aerospace and nuclear industries, subject employees to more rigorous scrutiny than most industries. This is because of the nature of the technology and implications for customer privacy and national security. The concern about financial responsibility is that anyone who has financial problems might be susceptible to blackmail or inclined to engage in criminal activity in order to obtain financial gain. Similar background checks are given to those seeking to obtain security clearance in the DOE complex. Even unpaid traffic or parking tickets can lead to revocation of clearance and suspension or loss of job.

The only right I had was to forbid them to contact my current employer. In my job it's highly competitive and there is intellectual property and luckliy my prior employer had failed to have me sign intellectual property or a non-compete. At my new company I had to sign both. Basically it says that I cannot work for another company in this industry for 10 years. I think I can fight that in court, maybe.
Ouch! Talk about signing one's life away. The previous company where I worked had a similar but less restrictive agreement. Basically, one is restricted for 6 months from soliciting clients with whom one has worked or been materially involved for the preceeding 12 months - which is reasonable. We've had a lawyer look at it and it seems to be enforcible. I don't if a 10-yr restriction is valid, unless they argue that one accepted 'in consideration' for employment. Consideration is key in contract law - as in employment contract.
 
  • #35
ZapperZ
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Um.... [Dana Carvey's voice] could it be.... via GOOGLE [on some topic you blogged about]?
And if google finds it, then so might the wayback machine at archive.org [which sometimes has a good memory (http://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.physicsforums.com/")]
(On a side note, from its description, this is an interesting program: http://www.cs.odu.edu/~fmccown/research/lazy/warrick.html )

If you are concerned about all of this, then this might help [a little]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robots.txt

I'm not concerned, I'm just amused. And it wasn't just a one-time visit either.

I also don't doubt that other bloggers covering the same type of subject might also get the same type of hits.

Zz.
 
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