By Amy Lupold Bair, Susannah Gardner

The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. As a blogger, you should think about what you write before you publish it, as well as afterwards.

Okay, some bloggers have a code of ethics. This loose set of ethics and standards, to which many serious bloggers adhere, developed as blogs matured from a new medium into a more established one. For most old-school bloggers, the word to think about is transparency, which represents a whole range of ideas:

  • Truth-telling and honesty: In keeping with the diary format of a blog, being transparent on your blog has a lot to do with telling the truth about who you are, why you’re blogging, and what you want to accomplish with your blog. You want to communicate openly and honestly on a blog, dealing straightforwardly with your topics and ideas, and with your readers.

    This idea of honesty doesn’t mean you need to reveal information that you’re not comfortable disclosing online — quite the contrary. But it does mean that you don’t intentionally mislead your readers.

  • Admitting mistakes: No one’s perfect, and you’ll eventually make a mistake. Whether you post something that you heard that turns out not to be true, or you blog while angry, the real test is how you respond to making a mistake. In the blogosphere, you need to own up to your words, apologizing if you need to and making corrections when they’re necessary.

  • Maintaining a dialogue: A good blogger is aware of, and responsive to, his or her readers via the comments that those readers leave on blog posts. A blog isn’t created in a vacuum. In fact, many bloggers feel that you can use a blog to build real relationships with people.

The idea that you can use a blog for meaningful interaction is the revolutionary element in blogging. At the core, blogging is about real people talking with each other and sharing real knowledge and experiences.

Of course, a blog isn’t necessarily great literature — and that’s fine. But transparency comprises worthy ideas, especially if you plan to blog about personal and sensitive topics. Read on for more details.