Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Do we need a Professional Bloggers Association?

Several weeks back I had a long chat with Radiant Marketing's Paul Chaney about the Professional Bloggers Association he is spearheading.

Since then I have also seen a post or two deriding the idea.

I've been thinking about it and think there is a value to an Association, although the conversation I had with Paul doesn't map 100% to the content that ended up making it to the PBA web site.

First, I think it's great that they're defining prospective "professional bloggers" as something beyond popular bloggers who want to make some cash off of ads. Rather they mention those who are paid to blog for businesses, who consult about blogging ,and who provide tools for bloggers.

And let me say, yet again, that there are business ethics and journalistic ethics and those should apply no matter the medium.

When I spoke with Paul we discussed four primary uses for a professional bloggers' (and indeed any profession's) trade association:

1. Networking
2. Guidelines
3. Education
4. Promotion

All of these seem useful and some of them seem needed.

Unfortunately, they've now defined "setting ethical standards" as one of the Association's purposes. I've expressed myself on the topic of a Blog Ethics Committee before (here's a hint...I'm agin' it.) I don't mind setting "best practices." Just don't create any phoney-baloney seal of approval, OK?

I've also said before that blogging can be part of a business, and so treating it like a business for people who plan to do business that way is a highly reasonable idea. But this requires us all to remember that blogs do not represent one monolithic kind of content. Blogging is a tool and a technology, even a channel if you prefer. What's in the blog defines what it is and what guidelines it needs to follow.

So, I say go for it. I say I'll probably join. And maybe I'll even get more out of it than I've gotten out of many of the other Associations I have joined in my life! (But, as is usually true, I would imagine you get out what you put in, and I've never been a big Association giver...maybe I'll try it this time around!)

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