Understanding Blog Policies

Have you ever scrolled ALL the way down to the bottom of a website and noticed a bunch of small text links? There us usually an about us and a contact me but there is also usually a privacy policy, terms or service or other long documents. If you frequent other blogs, perhaps you’ve noticed a disclosure, giveaway policy/terms, review policy and/or comment policy. Have you wondered what the difference is between all of these and which ones if any you need? That’s what this post is about.

NOTE: I am NOT a lawyer. If you own a business or are selling products or services, I suggest you check with a lawyer in your city to find out what you should have and what is required. Also I do not claim to be an expert. If you see that something I say here is wrong, please correct me. Thanks.

Understanding Blog Policies | Biannual Blogathon Bash

Privacy Policy

This policy states how your website treats the visitors privacy. Does it collect information and how? What is it used for? Does the site make use of cookies (not the edible kind, computer cookies.) Unless you are catering to those under age 13 (at least in Canada) it seems you are not required by law to post a privacy policy (1), even if you sell something. However it’s a good idea. You can get help generating a privacy policy at a few sites: Free Privacy Policy.com, Privacy Policy Online or Generate Privacy Policy. Here is my Privacy Policy if you are interested.

Terms of Service

Terms Of Service Computer Key In Blue Showing Website Agreement And ConditionsTerms of Service (TOS) or Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions are rules that a user must follow to use your website. You generally find TOS on websites that you join or input information into (online shopping, social network etc.) TOS are legally binding as long as they are properly written.(2) Most bloggers would not need TOS but if you run a site that has users such as a forum or something similar, you should probably have them.

There are some TOS generators but be aware that if you need them, you should probably have them made up or looked at by a lawyer. Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Generator, TOS Generator or Terms of Service Generator.

Image © Stuart Miles | Dreamstime.com

Disclosure Policy

Disclosure means making it clear when there is a possible monetary interest in something you blog about. In the US, bloggers are required to follow the FTC Guidelines for disclosure. I suggest you read the full documents but basically it means if you are paid money to do a post or are paid in product or services or a free trip, you need to disclose that fact so readers know. Many bloggers who don’t live in the US also use disclosure policies because they feel it is right to be up front about any monetary relationships. Some bloggers disagree. If you are not bound by the FTC laws, do what feels right for you. If you NEVER accept payment or free materials from a company on your blog, you do not need a disclosure policy. If that changes though, you will need one.

You can generate your own policy at Disclosure Policy. Please note FTC guidelines (plus this one) state that one site wide disclosure is NOT enough. You will need to follow their rules about how to disclose in your blog posts and social media accounts although it may be wise to have a site wide disclosure policy as well that explains more in detail. For more help with the FTC Guidelines see Social Media Explorer.

Comment Policy

commentA comment policy is giving potential commenters information on what is acceptable and what is not while commenting on your site. I don’t think every blog needs one, especially if you aren’t getting that many comments. However sites with a large and engaged following or anyone who posts controversial content may want one. The Blog Herald has the best post that explains more about comment policies and how to create one. If you do create one, I suggest linking to it above the comment box.

 

© Dslaven | Dreamstime.com

Review Policy

This only applies to those blogs who might be hosting reviews on their site. When you start getting lots of offers in your email you may find that you are repeating yourself a lot on what you will accept for review and what your guidelines are for reviewing products. For example many bloggers have minimum values. They won’t accept a review unless they receive at least $25 (for example) in product. This is to make it worth all the work a review takes. A review policy might mention the types of products they are interested in, that they have to be able available for sale in the country they live in and that the items will NOT be returned. It might mention that the blogger is not responsible for shipping fees and if a product comes C.O.D. it will be returned.

Book Bloggers International has a post about writing a review policy although it sort of mixes a disclosure policy with it. On my blog Callista’s Ramblings I don’t have a separate Review Policy but do have a Review Section on my Work With Me page.

Giveaway Policy

Whereas a Review Policy is more for the companies you work with, a Giveaway policy would be more for your readers. If you want to include information for brands on what you are willing to do with regards to giveaways, include it in your review policy or on your work with me page.

A giveaway policy is more about how giveaways are run on your site. It’s a F.A.Q. for readers who may be newish to entering online giveaways. You may want to include whether each giveaway will say what countries it’s open to or whether they are open to one country unless otherwise specified. You might include that only one person per household may enter or one entry per person per day. You might state that you are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prizes.

Examples of Giveaway Policies:

Your Mini Challenge

    Now that you know the differences, decide which ones your blog needs. Create or Revise AT LEAST ONE policy for your blog to complete this challenge. Comment below telling me what policy you created or revised and share a link to it on your blog.

Footnotes:

(1) source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy_policy
(2) source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terms_of_service

Kathleen Garber-Bailey

http://www.biannualblogathonbash.com

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