It started as a series of jet-lag and annoying-comment induced tweets. Now it’s its’ own post, wordsmithed and expanded. For posterity, the Rules of Aid Blogging:
Aid Blogging Rule #1: Own your own opinion. The number one rule of aid blogging comes in two parts. Have your own opinion. And own it. Reposting lengthy excerpts from articles or other blog posts with one sentence of tepid analysis is not blogging. Use Twitter for this. Link, shout-out, and give credit where credit is due. But have an original thought, write it down, and claim it as your own.
Aid Blogging Rule #2: Don’t equivocate. The second you write something even remotely interesting or controversial, your comments thread will fill up with people trying to pick you apart. Acknowlege good points if there are any. But don’t be badgered into changing your opinion. Think Tom Petty: “You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down…”
Aid Blogging Rule #3: Don’t feed the trolls. Most aid workers are pretty nice people. But some can be the most self-righteous, petulant and offensive people on the planet. Don’t bend to their level. Don’t encourage them. Don’t acknowlege them.
Aid Blogging Rule #4: Don’t allow yourself to be called out. Your blog is your space where you set the rules of engagement. Only take on the issues that you want to take on. Not every idiotic or malicious comment deserves response. Pick your battles. You don’t have to argue with everybody.
Aid Blogging Rule #5: Don’t demure from controversy. Everyone has an opinion about what “the poor” need. Many of those opinions are dead wrong. It’s okay to say that. Aid blogging is about discussing the issues, raising the (sometimes) unpleasant points, and pointing out things that need to change. By contrast, aid blogging is not about making everyone like you. You have your friends, and you have your readers. And while those two groups may overlap a bit, they are not the same thing. Don’t go trying to offend people in order to generate traffic. But say what you have to say, even when you know it may lead to trolls clogging your comments thread.
Aid Blogging Rule #6: Be Honest. Don’t front. Don’t be a poseur. Don’t make yourself out to be more or (importantly) less than you are.