Blog responsibly: a public service reminder for dispute resolution bloggers

I’ve been blogging about dispute resolution for over 5 years now. When I first launched my blog, you could count ADR blogs in single digits. You can still find these early adopters online – folks like my predecessors, blogging role models Bill Warters, Colin Rule, and Tammy Lenski – who continue to produce worthwhile content.

Slowly at first, then more steadily, our numbers grew. I soon began tracking them, eventually launching, which catalogs blogs from around the globe, organizing them by country and by topic. I’ve been serving as the unofficial taxonomist of the dispute resolution blogosphere since June 2006. today lists over 230 blogs from 31 countries, all discussing conflict resolution, negotiation, or various forms of ADR.

During 5 years of blogging and almost 4 years of tracking blogs, I’ve seen ADR bloggers come and go. Some, like Geoff Sharp’s iconoclastic Mediator Blah…Blah…, which flared and burned brightly for far too short a time, I miss a great deal. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which ones will have staying power, and which ones will quietly (and deservedly) fade into obscurity.

Which do you want your blog to be? If the former, it’s pretty simple. There are really only three things you need to remember:

  1. Create good content.
  2. Be social.
  3. Don’t plagiarize.

I will amplify on each briefly:

1. Create good content.

Write about what you love and know well. Share information useful to your audience. Make your readers think, change their minds, or even laugh. Don’t just copy and paste content or news you found elsewhere; tell your readers what you think about it. Be of help.

2. Be social.

I’ve said this before: ADR is fundamentally about conversation. So is blogging. If you, an ADR professional who blogs, aren’t going to link to other blogs and participate in the conversation online, why are you blogging? My old friend Geoff Sharp in an email to me once called it “the paradox of blogging” – you confidently send readers away to other sites to encourage them to return. If you want your blog to sink below the surface of search engine results, then don’t link. It’s that simple. By the way, linking is just one way to converse – remember to comment on other blogs. Contribute to the discussion.

3. Don’t plagiarize.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but unfortunately some folks are still not getting the message. If you use another blogger’s content as a source or inspiration for your writing, give them credit by a) naming the blogger; b) identifying their blog; and c) linking back to their post. Do not pass off someone else’s content or ideas as your own. The best ADR bloggers I know care about their writing, putting time, thought, energy, and, yes, heart into their posts. For me personally, blogging is an expression of my identity as lawyer, mediator, and writer; it is my own voice speaking out of these ones and zeros. Use your own voice, please, when you blog, not someone else’s. (While ADR bloggers are generally nice folks, some of us won’t hesitate to use our BATNA: filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act infringement notification.)

Looking for role models? The following are but a few examples of bloggers who make the ADR blogosphere a great neighborhood to hang out in, consistently honoring these principles:

By the way, in the spirit of neighborliness, allow me to extend a very warm welcome to these promising new additions to

16 responses to “Blog responsibly: a public service reminder for dispute resolution bloggers

  1. Thanks for another great blog post — and for including me in it! Made my day, Diane.

  2. Diane,

    Thanks so much for the great advice, and for mentioning so many accomplished ADR bloggers. I’m flattered that you included me among them!


  3. So glad to see you blogging this, Diane, and really looking forward to our Cafe Mediate discussion on the same topic! It’s important that those of us who’ve been doing this for a while reach out and help make newcomers both welcome and ethical netizens (net citizens) ’til they know the ropes.

  4. Thanks for including me!

    I definitely don’t do #3. whewww!

    Now I really must start working on #1 & #2 🙂


  5. I’ll add my thanks, as well. Also, since I recognize that it might be awkward for you to include yourself in the list of role models, I’ll do so now!


  6. Folks, you’re very welcome! And John, that’s most kind of you. Thanks to you all for how much you contribute to the blogosphere.

  7. Diane–

    You are one of the bloggers I studied closely before I jumped in to the blogosphere, and you’re one of the bloggers I continue to follow. This post is a great example of why. Thank you, Diane.

    John DeGroote

  8. Thank you for the mention, Diane!

    We are big fans of your blog and enjoy your thoughtful posts.


    Victoria VanBuren
    Disputing: Conversations about Dispute Resolution

  9. Thanks, Diane. I’ll add to the chorus of bloggers who follow your lead.

  10. Diane, this is a great post. I’m going to highlight it on my blog later this week. Advice and blog recs are both terrific.

    Take good care,
    David Yamada

  11. A couple things Diane (though it will undoubtedly end up being 3 or 4 knowing my propensity for tangents :))
    1. I love your style friend! So often your blog entries just make me smile and giggle all the way through. I am genetically predisposed for this to begin with I admit, however, your warm, friendly style always makes your work worth the read for that reason alone;
    2. Holy timely topic Batman! Long story short my husband has been encouraging me to start up a blog to track my own personal reviews of books written by Canadian authors. I went looking for advice and voila here you were to my rescue again. Even though I am an ADR professional by day, and Crime Fighting Scarlet Arachanid by night (allusion to Two and a Half Men episode #19 of Season 4), I’ve decided to give up the latter to do just as he recommends. Your 3 point success advice is an excellent model to keep in mind and help guide my efforts, and in fact, my very first post (hopefully coming quite soon);
    3. Just to prove I never keep it to «a couple of things,» I’ll share the reason for my husband’s suggestion for this kind of blog. Though as a good mediator, and online friend of mine, I’ll bet you’ve hunched it already. I’m passionate about being Canadian, serving Canadians and just down right celebrating my Canuckness, and
    4. «Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.» par Blaise Pascal. Which in English is: «I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.» by Blaise Pascal
    P.S. I had 4 links but I can’t hyperlink in a comment box apparently; otherwise this comment would have been far more Rule 2 compliant. 🙂

    • Reba, I was so psyched to see your comment! And congratulations on your plans to launch a blog – let me know when you do. I’m really eager to read it. Thanks for the reminder about Pascal’s quote – I’m familiar with these words of wisdom, a sad and witty truth about writing and writers.

      And sorry about the hyperlinks – if you want to provide them, I can help you with that. WordPress does allow for the use of links in comments.

      Thanks for your visit, as well as the kind words, Reba. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you, whether here or on Twitter – and who knows? Perhaps one day in the real world as well – something to look forward to!

  12. Pingback: Mediation Channel on good blogging and recommended ADR blogs « Minding the Workplace

  13. Hi Diane,

    Thanks again for mentioning me in this distinguished list of bloggers. I am constantly inspired by the way you write and uphold professional standards. Thank you for the example you set.