Internal Blogging at RISD: An Exercise in Community Discussion

Becky Bermont, Vice President of Media + Partners at Rhode Island School of Design, writes about blogging as a conduit for internal discussions, as opposed to its more recognized role as an external marketing tool. Her example: two.risd, the blog that hosts an ongoing, internally-focused conversation for the school’s community:

When it was first launched, much of managers’ anxiety about this new communication channel focused on the blog’s unmoderated nature — the fact that anyone in the community can post without passing through a filter. But after more than a year, even in a culture that doesn’t shy away from conflict, we can count on one hand the number of inappropriate comments that have violated our rules and needed to be pulled down.

Controversial, pointed, and opinionated? Often. But actually breaking the “rules?” Rarely. It seems we learn over and over with new communication channels that human behavior is strikingly constant. People who misbehave are the exception rather than the rule, no matter the medium.

RISD presents the guidelines for acceptable conduct on the blog in a manner that feels approachable and human, but balanced – it doesn’t overstate or undermine their importance:

Mom’s Guideline: Please refrain from swearing and other behavior that might make your mother (or father, or guardian) disappointed in you.

Vegas Guideline: What happens in two.risd, stays in two.risd.

Catchup Guideline: Start from the very beginning of the posts/comments to best acclimate yourself before posting.

Lawyer’s Guideline: Everything posted on two.risd needs to comply with the law.

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