Guidelines and Best Practices

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Abilene Christian University provides blog service in support of communications conducted by the university community. It is a collaborative effort of the Adams Center, Information Technology and University Marketing.

ACU reserves the right to limit this service to blogs that are academic in focus or related to the mission of the university. The service is available to ACU classes, groups and professionals with the goal of engaging the ACU community or general public in research, learning, news, expertise or experiences related to their work at ACU. The following definitions apply.

  • Class blog – An official ACU class blog intended for communication between instructor and students enrolled in an ACU course.
  • Group blog – An official ACU organization-level blog intended for communication between ACU groups and their readers. Such groups are divided into different types.
    • College, department or office
    • Center, special program or publication
  • Professional blog – An individual blog that is an extension of an employee’s job description or ACU-related expertise and that is intended for communication between the professional and his or her readers.
  • Student organization blog – A university-sponsored student organization with a faculty or staff sponsor and approved through the Student Organizations Office.

Currently student portfolios are in testing phase only.

ACU does not provide personal blogs to students, faculty or staff.

Registration

ACU faculty or staff members are eligible to request a Class, Group, or Professional Blog by submitting the request form at blogs.acu.edu/campus-blogs/request. Each request will include an ACU username for the blog owner as well as the approval of the department supervisor.

General Guidelines

  1. Legal Liability
    Write in a polite, civil and professional manner. The contents of all blogs are solely the responsibility of the page authors or contributors, including all posted text, images, media or links to external web sites. Individual bloggers can be held personally liable for commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libelous.
  2. Other People’s Information
    All blog authors and contributors should be aware of applicable policies regarding copyright, fair use and student privacy. Before posting someone else’s material, check with the owner for permission to do this. Additionally, all quotes and excerpts taken from other sources must be attributed to their author(s), and those taken from electronic sources, such as blogs or Web sites, must be linked to the source. The university reserves the right to delete content, at any time, at its sole discretion, that it deems in violation of local, federal and state law or that violates the letter or spirit of these guidelines.
  3. ACU Policies
    Blog use and entries must not contradict or encourage misuse of ACU policies. The university reserves the right to delete content, at any time, at its sole discretion, that it deems in violation of the letter or spirit of university policy. These policies include, but are not limited to:
    -  ACU Blogs Terms of Use and Comment Policy
    -  ACU Intellectual Property Policy (PDF)
    -  ACU Responsible Use of IT Resources policy (PDF)
    -  ACU Intellectual Property Policy (PDF)
    -  ACU Standards of Conduct and Corrective Action
  4. University Privileged Information
    Any confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information is obviously off limits for your blog. Anything related to ACU policy, products, services, financials, student information, etc. that has not been made public cannot appear in your blog or in your comments on other blogs under any circumstances. Disclosing confidential or proprietary information can negatively impact our business and may result in regulatory violations for the university.
  5. Citing Coverage of Speakers and Events
    Blog authors must confirm that events are on the record before posting quotes and transcripts on their blogs. All quotes and summaries should be as accurate as possible. When in doubt, ask the speaker for permission before posting.
  6. Press Inquiries
    Blog postings may generate media coverage. If a member of the media contacts you about an ACU-related blog posting or requests ACU information, contact the ACU Office of Public Relations. Blogs must not mimic news releases or speak in any way on behalf of the ACU Administration unless authorized to do so.
  7. Promotion and Advertisement
    Blogs may not be used to promote any commercial or personal business activities. Commercial or non-profit advertising on ACU blogs is prohibited. Use of the ACU name or logo to endorse or promote any product, opinion, cause or candidate is prohibited when it is not associated with the blog purpose or ACU.
  8. Moderation
    The blog administrator is expected to moderate blog posts and comments before publication. ACU does not endorse or take responsibility for content posted by third parties. It is preferred that all content be posted by registered users of a site in accordance with accepted terms of use and comment policy.
  9. Design Options
    Several templates that allow some customization are provided. Except by special permission from University Marketing, official ACU organizations will use one of the provided templates and the ACU logo provided for their blogs. The ACU logo and trademarks will only be used according to ACU brand guidelines.


Comment Guidelines

  1. In the case of public blogs, off-campus users are free to contribute comments that include their name and email address. No anonymous comments.
  2. Remove blatant advertising and spam.
  3. Do not post comments that contain personal attacks, obscenity, defamation, false statements of fact or invasion of privacy. This includes vulgar language or offensive terms that target specific ethnic, gender or racial groups.
  4. Do not post comments that are out of context, far off-topic, or make unsupported accusations.
  5. Refer all questions from reporters to ACU’s Office of Public Relations at press@acu.edu, and always refrain from answering on behalf of ACU.
  6. If Avatars are inappropriate, do not post comments.

Privacy Guidelines

ACU blogs will be private by default, but individual administrators can make them public to individuals, to the ACU campus or to everyone across the Web. Use the following guidelines to determine when and if a blog should be made public.
For Class Blogs
Generally, if students will be posting content, keep the blog private, but if the instructor will be the main contributor to posts and pages on the blog, he/she may open up access.

  1. Blogs should remain private (with class access only) when faculty allow students to also post content.
    - Students who post must use their ACU username.
    - Students’ faces may be used as avatars next to their posts.
  2. Blogs should be private (with ACU campus login) for multi-section classes. (Example: U100, Freshmen Composition).
  3. Blogs can be public to everyone across the Web when the professor is the main contributor and is using it as pulpit, a class resource or a supplement to the textbook. If class blogs are made available to the public, the blog administrator should notify his/her department chair or dean and Web Communication.

For Group or Professional Blogs

  1. Blogs should remain private (with registered member access only) when the content is intended for registered members only. Registered members who post must use their ACU username. (Example: Residence Hall)
  2. Blogs should remain private (with ACU campus login) when the content is intended for larger internal ACU audiences. (Examples: First Year Common Reading, Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Training Center, University Marketing News).
  3. Blogs can be public when the content is intended for everyone across the Web. (Example: ACU Today Magazine, Digital Media Center, Alumni Reunions, Mobile Learning, ACU in Oxford)


Best Practices for Writing Blog Posts

  1. Plan to write at least one post per month. Write your own posts.
  2. Include a brief biography page on your blog about your department or yourself, including name, relationship to ACU, and pertinent facts that will illuminate your blog entries. A small digital photo will personalize the blog.
  3. Write in an informal, personal tone. Use your professional experiences and perspective to engage the reader.
  4. Create a title for each post, and include it at the top.
  5. If this is your first entry, provide a 2-sentence biography. Mention what you do at ACU. If you work in a department or office, mention the name. If there are several regular bloggers, include links to blog editors’ bios somewhere on your homepage. Include a small image for personalization when possible.
  6. Include at least one Web address on ACU’s site where the reader can go for more information about your topic or organization. More links are better. You may also link outside ACU’s site if appropriate.
  7. When linking in your blog post, include keywords in the link text that describe the link – not the words “click here.”
  8. Suggest keywords/tags for each post. Keywords help readers find your post.
  9. Have your manager review your post for legal or policy concerns to be sure you’re not violating procedural requirements.
  10. Verify that all images are free of copyright issues: they should be either public domain, you own the copyright, or you have a license to use them.
  11. Upload very large images, videos, PDFs, documents and other files to your ACU files system (webfiles.acu.edu), and then link or embed them in your blog entry. You may upload smaller images and files directly to WordPress.
  12. Review comments made on your posts, and approve them as soon as possible if they meet the Comment Policy. Respond to comments in the form of further comments or a personal email when appropriate. Not everyone will feel comfortable making public comments, so provide a way for readers to give you off-blog feedback.
Adapted with permission from the social media guidelines at DePaul University.