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Every job will have days that makes a person miserable. Maybe a mean commuter on the way to work was the first domino to fall, or maybe you spilt coffee or maybe the co-worker you thought was a jerk, really is a jerk. The best way to get over it is to rant and get it out of your system Ė than move on. But using blogs as a venue to rant can get employees in trouble.

An employee named Jessica Zenner recently lost her job at Nintendo of America when she anonymously blogged about a dislikable co-worker on her blog. Even though Jessica wrote under a pseudonym and used no company or employee names when talking about her work she was still found and fired.

Delta Air Lines fired a flight attendant because of a employee blog and Friendster, Google and Microsoft are all known to fire employees or contractors when a manger reviewed a personal blogs and considered the content unacceptable. As search engine tools become more complex and precise, intra-company tiffs will cause more people to be fired.

List of frequently asked questions about blogging at work

Can my employer fire me if I blog from home on my own time? Yes. The odds of your company perusing your blog is slim. "But if your boss should see your blog and be offended by something there, in most states you have virtually no protection against being fired," says Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton, N.J.

Can I blog anonymously? Yes. If you ruffle enough feathers though, your company could file a "John Doe" lawsuit in an effort to unmask you by sending a subpoena to the blog hosting company. To shield yourself from lawsuits and other legal worries, posting to your blog through a service like Anonymizer.com might be a safer choice.

Am I protected by ďfreedom of speechĒ? The First Amendment protects you only from censorial governments. However, union employees generally are protected from being fired without "just cause." Translated, that means you would have to do something pretty evil on your blog--like divulge confidential company information.

The best way to blog and still preserve some privacy is to do it anonymously. But being anonymous isn't as easy as you might think. When you write about your workplace, be sure not to give away too many details. These include

  • Where you're located
  • How many employees there are
  • What industry you work in
  • What people look like

Even general details can give away a lot and donít post any pictures of the actual people.

If you donít want your co-workers to find your blog, do not blog while you are at work. You could get in trouble for using company equipment to maintain your blog, and it will be very hard for you to argue with unemployment about why you were fired. It will also be much more difficult for you to hide your blogging from officemates and IT operators who observe traffic over the office network. If you donít want them to know donít do it at the office.

There are a number of technical solutions for the blogger who wishes to remain anonymous. Invisiblog.com is a service that offers anonymous blog hosting for free. You may create a blog there with no real names attached. Even the people who run the service will not have access to your name.

For people who want something very user-friendly, Anonymizer.com offers a product called "Anonymous Surfing," which routes your internet traffic through an anonymizing server and can hide your IP address from the services hosting your blog.

Use Ping Servers

If you want to protect your privacy while getting news out quickly, try using ping servers to broadcast your blog entry for you. Pingomatic is a tool that allows you to do this by broadcasting to a lot of news venues at once, while making you untraceable. The program will send out notice (a "ping") about your blog entry to several blog search engines like Feedster and Technorati. Once those sites list your entry Ů which is usually within a few minutes Ů you can take the entry down. Thus the news gets out rapidly and its source can evaporate within half an hour. This protects the speaker while also helping the blog entry reach people fast.

Don't Be Googleable

If you want to exclude most major search engines like Google from including your blog in search results, you can create a special file that tells these search services to ignore your domain. The file is called robots.txt, or a Robots Text File. You can also use it to exclude search engines from gaining access to certain parts of your blog. If you don't know how to do this yourself, you can use the "Robots Text File Generator" tool for free at Web Tool Central . However, it's important to remember that search engines like Google may choose to ignore a robots.txt files, thus making your blog easily searchable. There are many tools and tricks for making your blog less searchable, without relying on robots.txt.

Blogs are getting a lot of attention these days. You can no longer safely assume that people in your offline life won't find out about your blog. New RSS tools and services mean that it's even easier than ever to search and combine blog entries. As long as you blog anonymously and in a work-safe way, what you say online is less likely to come back to fire you.

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