Blogging And Work: Don’t Let Two Worlds Collide

ELAINE: Yeah. Why not Susan. I should be friends with Susan. (smacks
her forehead with hand) Of course! Susan! Oh! OK, I’ll see you
guys. Huh. (rushes out the door.)

KRAMER: That’s gunna be trouble.

JERRY: Why?

KRAMER: Jerry, don’t you see? This world here, this is George’s
sanctuary. If Susan comes into contact with this world, his world’s
collide. You know what happens then?

(Kramer raises his hands into the air and slowly brings them together in
an explosion. He’s holding some food in one hand, so when his hands
come into contact food flies all over)

KRAMER: Ka shha shha shha Pkooo (exploding sound)” — Seinfeld

There is a lesson in that quote for bloggers: Do not mix your work-life and your blogging life because it will only lead to complications. Put another way, don’t tell people where you work that you blog and don’t give people on your blog the information they need to make problems for you at work.

That’s because over and over and over again, scenarios like this keep happening in the blogosphere:

“Paul Deignan is a 41-year-old mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate, with master’s degrees in math and mechanical engineering, a background in military intelligence and a wife and three kids.

Since taking up writing his own blog, Info Theory, in September 2004, he’s blogged about nuclear annihilation, mutual information between random variables, and suicide bombing. He’s also noted that the M6805 Athlon-based notebook “may be upgraded to 2GB despite the product specs’ claim that 1.25GB is the limit.” In sum, as his site motto says, he likes to apply information theory to the political and social problems of our day.

…(O)n the morning of the 2nd, Deignan visited B*tch Ph.D.’s blog about academe and politics where, by that time, the anonymous blogger had written about her distaste for President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito Jr.

Deignan soon responded to B*tch Ph.D. on his own site with a long comment that ended: “Now, note that your definition of sovereignty is actually anti-sovereignty. We are never sovereign if it is by permission of others that allow us to make decisions. Note also that a woman cannot spontaneously create life. She may only nurture preexistent life.”

Then he posted a seemingly innocuous entry on the B*tch Ph.D. site: “Your linking talking points w/o analysis. Already I see several points that are exaggerated and misconstrued without even needing research…”

Feeling that this comment and subsequent ones from Deignan did not qualify as “substantive debate,” she soon deleted his comments and banned him from her site. Her policy states, “Comments are great; obnoxious comments get deleted. Deal.”

…What might have ended there as an everyday online spat was only the beginning. A frequent visitor to the B*tch Ph.D. site, the University of Northern Iowa history professor Wallace Hettle, felt obliged to defend B*tch Ph.D.’s liberal end of the blogosphere. Hettle found Deignan’s curriculum vita at Info Theory, which lists his academic advisers, the Purdue mechanical engineers Galen King and Peter Meckl, who will play a big part in deciding if he will ultimately receive a Ph.D. Hettle e-mailed them, indicating that Deignan’s comments were “unprofessional” and “contrary to the spirit of free enquiry.” Hettle announced his actions within the comment section of B*tch Ph.D.

“Yes, we received an e-mail,” King confirmed on Wednesday. “It said that Paul was exceeding his bounds, if you will, on what is essentially a private site. He’s been asked to refrain, at least until he’s [graduated from Purdue].”

But escalation, not restraint, has marked the ensuing days, in which Deignan, Hettle and B*tch Ph.D. have hurled accusations of various kinds at each other. Both Deignan and B*tch Ph.D. have hired lawyers. Hettle wouldn’t comment on whether he has done the same.

Deignan said he is prepared to begin a lawsuit as soon as possible. He accuses both Hettle and B*tch Ph.D of libeling him — Hettle because of the e-mail he sent to Deignan’s professors, and Bitch Ph.D. for saying that he may have used a technique known as “IP spoofing,” which is a form of hacking, to try to determine who she is. Deignan denies having done that.

Bitch Ph.D., said that she feels somewhat threatened by Deignan. “I don’t know if his attempts to track me down represent a real threat, either in terms of my identity or in terms of a physical threat,” she said via e-mail Wednesday. “I don’t know if what he’s doing counts as cyberstalking. It’s certainly upsetting.””

Personally, I think Hettle is a creep for trying to get Deignan in trouble, B*tch Ph.D is a huge drama queen (for her comments in the last paragraph quoted), and I’d also add that it’s silly for Deignan to sue, but you see what sort of problems can be caused for a blogger who, “lets worlds collide?”

Trust me, if you let people know where you work, someone will eventually get mad at something you’ve said and try to get you into trouble. On the other hand, blogging can open up all sorts of cans of worms at your place of employment. Will your employer be constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not blogging on company time? Will they pass you over for a promotion because they think you’re more interested in your blog than putting in long hours at the company? Will they be worried you’re going to post something embarrassing to the company on your blog? Will a boss who feels strongly about politics hold your ideology against you?

It’s just a minefield of potential issues and that’s why it’s best to avoid the problem completely by not talking about your blogging at work or your work when you’re blogging. Remember, don’t let those two worlds collide and or it can make your life much more difficult.

Hat tip to Protein Wisdom for the story.

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