The Oracle Social Media Participation Policy

Earlier this week, Sun employees received a copy of Oracle's Social Media Participation Policy (which covers blogging, twittering, web video, et al). Today, I am beginning to see some posts (example) that cast this policy in a less than positive light, when compared to the Sun policy.

The Oracle policy and the Sun policy are really quite similar in that they hold a common principle: "Use common sense." (Nope, commenting on future earnings or disparaging competitors is not a good idea.) To prove my point, I have pasted the Oracle policy below (with some legal gobbledygook removed).

There are two differences of note:


  • Purely "personal" blogging on Oracle infrastructure is discouraged. Yes, the line between personal and professional is often blurry, but it's reasonable that blogs (wholly) dedicated to personal interests like hiking, cooking, music, etc. belong on public infrastructure. (Added 1/29: To clarify: a mixture of professional and personal is perfectly OK! In fact this is encouraged. We want bloggers to be personable, just not completely personal.)

  • Manager approval for a blogging account is required. This applies only to Oracle-hosted blogs, and only to the account as a whole - not to every post!

If you are at VP level or above (i.e. a company officer), there may be additional considerations. But for the rank and file, that covers it.

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please leave them here - or, even better, join the Bloggers Group on Oracle.com. I and my colleague Marius Ciortea will be participating there.


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SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION AT ORACLE

As a company, we encourage communication among our employees, customers, partners, and others - and Web logs (blogs), social networks, discussion forums, wikis, video, and other social media - such as Twitter - can be a great way to stimulate conversation and discussion. They're also an invaluable tool for experienced Oracle users who want to share information and tips on the use of Oracle products.

The Oracle Social Media Participation Policy applies to:

• All blogs, wikis, forums, and social networks hosted or sponsored by Oracle

• Your personal blogs that contain postings about Oracle's business, products, employees, customers, partners, or competitors

• Your postings about Oracle's business, products, employees, customers, partners, or competitors on external blogs, wikis, discussion forums, or social networking sites such as Twitter

• Your participation in any video related to Oracle's business, products, employees, customers, partners, or competitors, whether you create a video to post or link to on your blog, you contribute content for a video, or you appear in a video created either by another Oracle employee or by a third party.

Even if your social media activities take place completely outside of work, as your personal activities should, what you say can have an influence on your ability to conduct your job responsibilities, your teammates' abilities to do their jobs, and Oracle's business interests.

REQUIREMENTS
This section describes the requirements that are most relevant to Oracle employees participating in social media of various kinds (Oracle hosted and external). It is extremely important that you follow these requirements. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of your employment with Oracle.

Follow the Code
The Oracle Code of Ethics and Business Conduct and Oracle's corporate policies - including the Acceptable Use Policy, Information Protection Policy, and Copyright Compliance Policy - apply to your online conduct (blogging or other online activities) just as much as they apply to your offline behavior. Make sure you're familiar with them.

Protect Confidential Information
You may not use your blog or other social media to disclose Oracle's confidential information. This includes nonpublic financial information such as future revenue, earnings, and other financial forecasts, and anything related to Oracle strategy, products, policy, management, operating units, and potential acquisitions, that has not been made public.

Protecting the confidential information of our employees, customers, partners, and suppliers is also important. Do not mention them, including Oracle executives, in social media without their permission, and make sure you don't disclose items such as sensitive personal information of others or details related to Oracle's business with its customers. Third party social media services use servers that are outside of Oracle's control and may pose a security risk. Don't use these services to conduct internal Oracle business.

In addition, you may not publish (nor should you possess) our competitors' proprietary or confidential information. You may make observations about competitors' products and activities if your observations are accurate and based on publicly available information. Take care not to disparage or denigrate competitors.

Don't Comment on M&A Activity
You must not comment publicly on Oracle's M&A activity, including potential and pending acquisitions. This applies to potential acquisitions regardless of their status - in diligence, announced but not closed, etc. Any commentary on what a transaction or potential transaction may mean to Oracle, positive, negative or neutral can be problematic.

Don't Discuss Future Offerings
As a general rule, don't discuss product upgrades or future product releases. Because of potential revenue recognition issues, it is especially important that we do not give the impression to customers or potential customers that a given product upgrade will include specific features that will be incorporated into the product within a specific time frame. See Revenue Recognition Guidelines. Any exceptions must be approved by senior management, Legal, and Revenue Recognition.

Refrain from Objectionable or Inflammatory Posts
Do not post anything that is false, misleading, obscene, defamatory, profane, discriminatory, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, or embarrassing to another person or entity. Make sure to respect others' privacy. Third party Web sites and blogs that you link to must meet our standards of propriety. Be aware that false or defamatory statements or the publication of an individual's private details could result in legal liability for Oracle and you.

Don't Speak for Oracle
Remember that you are not an official spokesperson for Oracle. Make it clear that your opinions are your own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the corporation. See Policy Regarding Communications with Press and Analysts.

For this reason, Oracle employees with personal blogs that discuss Oracle's business, products, employees, customers, partners, or competitors should include the following disclaimer in a visually prominent place on their blog:

The views expressed on this [blog; Web site] are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.

Similarly, if you appear in a video, you should preface your comments by making it clear that you are not an Oracle spokesperson and your opinion doesn't necessarily reflect Oracle's.

Don't Post Anonymously
While you are not an official spokesperson, your status as an Oracle employee may still be relevant to the subject matter. You should identify yourself as an employee if failing to do so could be misleading to readers or viewers. Employees should not engage in covert advocacy for Oracle. Whenever you are blogging about Oracle-related topics or providing feedback relevant to Oracle to other blogs or forums, identify yourself as an Oracle employee.

Respect Copyrights
You must recognize and respect others' intellectual property rights, including copyrights. While certain limited use of third-party materials (for example, use of a short quotation that you are providing comment on) may not always require approval from the copyright owner, it is still advisable to get the owner's permission whenever you use third-party materials. Never use more than a short excerpt from someone else's work, and make sure to credit and, if possible, link to the original source.

Use Video Responsibly
Remember that you may be viewed as endorsing any Web video (whether hosted by YouTube or elsewhere) or other content you link to from your blog or posting, whether created by you, by other Oracle employees, or by third parties, and the Social Media Participation Policy applies to this content. Also, recognize that video is an area in which you need to be particularly sensitive to others' copyright rights. You generally cannot include third party content such as film clips or songs in your video without obtaining the owner's permission.

Stick to Oracle Topics on Oracle-Sponsored Blogs

Blogs that are hosted or run by Oracle should focus on topics that are related to Oracle's business. Take care to avoid subject areas that are likely to be controversial, such as politics and religion.

Don't Misuse Oracle Resources
Personal social media activities must not interfere with your work or productivity at Oracle. Don't use company resources to set-up your own blogging environment, even if you are blogging about matters related to Oracle. Oracle resources, including servers, may be used solely in connection with formally authorized blogging environments that have been established following consultation with Global IT, GIS, Legal, and Oracle Brand and Creative.

Comments:

Thanks for posting this!

Posted by Matthew Montgomery on January 28, 2010 at 02:19 AM PST #

Interesting that it took acquiring Sun to get Oracle's policy published; as I recall Sun's was published from the beginning. Maybe some much-needed transparency will result from all this?

Posted by The Contrarian on January 28, 2010 at 02:27 AM PST #

Contrarian, it's been available internally since the beginning, with no controversy. Nobody external has ever expressed interest in it before.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 02:33 AM PST #

"Nobody external has ever expressed interest in it before." The bit about not having personal info and the quote above sure define the philosophical differences between the two organizations.

Posted by Matt Ingenthron on January 28, 2010 at 02:49 AM PST #

Matt - sure, Sun was more idealistic, Oracle is more pragmatic. To say one approach is more valid than the other is purely a matter of personal taste.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 02:52 AM PST #

Thank you! This is a big help.

Posted by Walter Bays on January 28, 2010 at 02:53 AM PST #

It should be pointed out the the Oracle community is represented by both employee and non-employee blogs. Only employee bloggers are subject to the policy Justin has published -- and that hasn't cramped anyone's style. There is a small army of non-employee bloggers/tweeters who regularly share their Oracle-relevant insight and expertise -- and their occasional frustrations. Together, these two camps offer a broad, open, and transparent view of a huge community. Lists of employee and non-employee bloggers and tweeters are available on the Oracle Wiki. Blogs: http://tinyurl.com/4bd44s Tweeters: http://tinyurl.com/2he7k7

Posted by Bob Rhubart on January 28, 2010 at 03:08 AM PST #

Hello everybody! I was working as a Sun Campus Ambassador till last week. Last week they closed the entire program and as a result I am out of Sun/Oracle now. I had a blog at http://blogs.sun.com/gautam and it wasn't removed though my e-mail id had been deactivated. Will my blog be now taken out because of the Oracle policy. If yes, is there any way to save the entire blog structure so that I can re-host it somewhere else?

Posted by Gautam Muduganti on January 28, 2010 at 03:10 AM PST #

It's not a matter of "idealism" and "pragmatism", Justin. Sun's approach - aiming for natural voice in communications, along with at least the appearance of transparency - has always seemed to be the ideal way to work with developers like me. No-one asked Sun to publish its policy; it was just the obvious thing to do. Oracle's instinct seems to be to keep secrets until it's necessary to do otherwise. That's going to be a tough change to swallow.

Posted by The Contrarian on January 28, 2010 at 03:12 AM PST #

Gautam, I'm not speaking for blogs.sun.com but it's probably an oversight that your blog is still out there. I would do an export right away.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 03:14 AM PST #

Contrarian - are you calling me "unnatural and opaque"? I'm insulted. :) I don't really want to engage in a tit-for-tat with you because actions speak louder than words. Why don't we see how things go, and then you can make your judgment?

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 03:20 AM PST #

Justin, What Gautam describes was Sun corporate policy. My old blog is *still* hosted at b.s.c. So is *everyone's* who ever blogged there.

Posted by Danese Cooper on January 28, 2010 at 03:21 AM PST #

Danese, thanks for this info. In that case, I don't have any information right now about blogs in this category (i.e, written by ex-employees).

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 03:27 AM PST #

Hi Justin! You are right. I am able to see my blog but cannot login into blogs.sun.com :(

Posted by guest on January 28, 2010 at 03:42 AM PST #

How much control will there be on blogs.oracle.com for changing the look & feel of individual blogs?

Posted by guest on January 28, 2010 at 04:22 AM PST #

I had started 2 social networking groups - one on Oracle Mix and other on Linkedin. Both were 'acquired' by Oracle. Not that I mind at all. Oracle has more resources to manage the groups. I am waiting for my blog to be 'acquired' too! Folks at Oracle are very helpful. The openness with Web 2.0 policy is awesome. The Oracle Social Media Participation Policy is a best practice to adopt. I even follow that for all my Web2.0 communication (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Blogs etc)

Posted by Mohan Dutt on January 28, 2010 at 04:32 AM PST #

You can have any colour you like, as long as it's Red.

Posted by guest on January 28, 2010 at 05:27 AM PST #

@Mohan: Nobody doubts that "Oracle Social Media Participation Policy is a best practice to adopt". However, I'm afraid you'll find very few Sun people who think it's *the* best practice.

Posted by guest on January 28, 2010 at 07:32 AM PST #

Sun policy: blog about personal things on Sun infrastructure Oracle policy: blog about personal things on public infrastructure Trick question: Which is more reasonable?

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 08:07 AM PST #

@Justin: If you want your engineers to appear human and engaging, then (a). If you want them to appear to be corporate automatons, then (b).

Posted by guest on January 28, 2010 at 08:13 AM PST #

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was an either/or. It IS possible to blog about technology and be personable - not be an "automaton" - at the same time. To think otherwise is a failure of imagination. Can everyone achieve this? No. But that's the blogger's fault, not the policy's.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 28, 2010 at 08:23 AM PST #

I'm afraid anonymous is 100 percent right with answer (a); there is no trick with this question, and it's something which Sun "got" right from the get-go. There is more marketing value here to customers such as myself in that answer than perhaps you appreciate. I'm sure it's possible to blog about technology and be personable -only that it's that much harder when the corporate policy is against you. And I'm afraid that's borne out by the tiny number of personable tech blogs out there. Lastly, and especially compared to BSC; your color scheme is awful. It's like viewing the web through glasses which filter out everthing except black, grey and red. I appreciate this is the design upon which Oracle marketing is based (i.e. it ain't ever gonna change), but that doesn't make it any easier to look at for extended periods of time...and doesn't really alter the corporate heavy perception which others such as Danese are latching onto.

Posted by Gaz on January 28, 2010 at 09:30 AM PST #

Hello, Justin. I'm a Sun blogger and I'm unsure what to do. I mix personal and professional posts and have done so for 5 years. Also, the community I work with (OpenSolaris) can be found on opensolaris.org, blogs.sun.com, linkedin, facebook, twitter, flickr, and dozens of other online venues. And, of course, I participate in many communities (Linux, Web 2.0, photography, etc) personally where I also mix in OpenSolaris relationships, events, and content. It seems to me that the blending of personal and professional is natural when building communities. I've interacted with thousands of people for whom this is quite normal. Now, there's a line, of course, and Sun has always trusted me to not cross that line (and I think those cases are obvious, and the Sun policy addresses them just as the Oracle policy does). I suppose I could apply for an Oracle blog for my OpenSolaris-related activities when we have the ability to do so, but that does not solve the issue of my interactions with the community in many other venues around the world. For instance, I have about 5K OpenSolaris images I host on my personal Flickr site. Do I need to move those images if I want to post them in blogs on Oracle's blogging platform? Any advice? Also, are we allowed to license our content under Creative Commons? I want people to reuse my stuff and contribute their changes back because that's helpful to building communities as well. And who owns the content? If I post on Oracle's site about OpenSolaris do I own the content and assign joint copyright to Oracle (as I do with Sun currently), or does Oracle own the content entirely? And finally, I have thousands of OpenSolaris posts. If I wanted to get a new Oracle blog, could I import all of my OpenSolaris-related posts automatically? Sorry for all the questions. Any help would be must appreciated. Best, Jim

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on January 28, 2010 at 01:43 PM PST #

Yes, while Sun had a slightly different perspective on blogging, i think Oracle's policies are fair. We need to understand and adapt. I have a mix of largely professional posts and few posts that are not directly related to work. I shall move these away from the company blog shortly. Meanwhile, thanks for clarifying the policy. It is useful.

Posted by John Morrison on January 28, 2010 at 06:33 PM PST #

Jim, John: There is *no issue* with mixing personal and professional posts. The problem arises when the blog has no other purpose than personal interests (playing chess, coin collecting, etc. - probably rare). We encourage bloggers to be *personable*, just not completely personal. No, you do not need to move your Flickr images. I use Flickr all the time. As for copyright issues, I'll have to look into those because I don't want to give you the wrong answer. Don't worry about moving your blog right now. In fact it's possible that we'll do a reverse-migration, of Oracle blog content to Sun's platform.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 29, 2010 at 12:35 AM PST #

Gaz, We'll have to agree to disagree. If, as a customer, you think that an Oracle employee blog, for example, 100% dedicated to Civil War history is useful to you as well as to Oracle, I have no counter-argument. As for corporate colors: That's a little out of my control. :)

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 29, 2010 at 12:38 AM PST #

Welcome to Blogs.sun.com! This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything. -- Any questions about the difference?

Posted by Anonymous on January 29, 2010 at 03:25 AM PST #

As a former blogs.sun.com blogger - my take on this is there's quite a bit of style difference. You are trying to spin this in the best light, but this policy comes from a very different attitude than Sun's policy did.

Some specifics... Don't Speak for Oracle While I largely agree with the point, some people who might be blogging are for example managers in charge of a particular product and anything they say would be certainly definitive for the product they're in charge of. Yes? During Sun's time frame those people would often use their blog to make official postings. I, for example, launched a worldwide contest using a Sun-hosted blog (over on java.net). Probably people who are in those sorts of roles know who they are and were chosen for those roles because they know how to conduct themselves. However it makes me wonder whether under Oracle's ownership the site formerly known as blogs.sun.com would no longer be hosting official blogs of people who have official roles with actual products. e.g. would the Aquarium blog (of the Glassfish project) continue being run as a blog? They made official announcements concerning Glassfish via that blog.

Don't Discuss Future Offerings One of the useful attributes of Sun's policy on blogs.sun.com is that developers and staff working on a product might often discuss features they're developing for a future release. This is known as transparency but the policy above says to stop being transparent. By writing about upcoming features it builds interest in those features, right? And it builds engagement with the customer base. Okay, yes, it's tricky to discuss a feature which might or might not go into the product and you're absolutely right it's a bad idea to mislead the customer base into thinking a given feature would go in. I don't know where the balance is but the policy above is a hard right turn into opacity.

Stick to Oracle Topics on Oracle-Sponsored Blogs All I'll say about this is that all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.

Posted by David Herron on January 29, 2010 at 12:40 PM PST #

Jim, I think you are parsing out differences where none exist. Don't Speak for Oracle If you read the policy, you'll note that by simply adding the "My opinions are my own disclaimer", the blogger becomes exempt from the issue raised by the policy. If your concern were valid, how would this very blog exist? Don't Discuss Future Offerings The "balance" you seek lies in the temporal. Discussion of "future functionality" is usually OK, provided it is not tied to a specific release or timeline. Stick to Oracle Topics on Oracle-Sponsored Blogs Not much more to say on this. I'll stick to my previous statement: it is possible to be personable without being too personal. I like to think I achieve that fairly well myself.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on January 29, 2010 at 11:25 PM PST #

Justin ... thanks for the additional info, and I appreciate the fast response. Looking forward to talking more.

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on January 31, 2010 at 12:31 PM PST #

@justin. I'm not a Sun employee but worked at Sun 2 decades ago when Sparc/Solaris/OpenLook were launched. I can understand the frustrations of the ex-Sun (now Oracle) employees; the environment at Sun has always been freewheeling. I attribute many of the comments from ex b.s.c bloggers to 'transition' pain and frustration and nothing more. They're having a hard time letting go of the past. I'm not thrilled at the http://www.sun.com redirecting to http://www.oracle.com; compare this to the alternative Sun employees had just 9 months ago. It'd have redirected to http://www.ibm.com/dev/null ;-) To my ex-Sun brethern, let go of the past; you're Oracle employees now and abide by the policy. It can't be that difficult to rehost your blog on blogspot, blogger, wordpress, and ...

Posted by Anantha on February 01, 2010 at 09:26 AM PST #

I strongly suspect that those accusing Oracle bloggers of being impersonal automatons have spent little time reading those blogs. Of course, doing so would require a hefty chunk of time since there are hundreds of them. But even a quick scan would reveal hundreds of distinct voices and viewpoints. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must transform back into a truck and chase Megan Fox down the freeway.

Posted by Bob Rhubart on February 02, 2010 at 04:20 AM PST #

@Bob Rhubart. It's not that there's "hundreds of distinct voices and viewpoints" .. it's simply that so many of those voices and viewpoints are dry and frankly boring without the occasional personal point of view, individual style, formatting differences, freedom to post whatever you wanted, or color you had available to you at sun .. a quick example would be to compare/contrast/drill down into planetsun.org links vs blogs.oracle.com/recentposts/archives .. nothing against communism/socialism per se, but there's a fair amount of color and freedom missing

Posted by .je: on February 05, 2010 at 03:34 AM PST #

Hi Justin Thank you for sharing valuable information regarding Social Media Participation Policy of Oracle. System Admin like me, working in SCADA systems & IT Integrations, gave me insight view regarding implementing & regulating social media policy within a company. This article will definitely help me to assist my IT team win in my organization to come-up with time relevant SMP to fit my organizations requirement. Regards Raju System Admin Willowglen Services Pte Ltd Singapore

Posted by Raju Sharma on February 07, 2010 at 02:55 PM PST #

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