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ibm.com Community Guidelines and Terms of Use

(Terms of Use updated on 20 January 2011)

Participation in IBM's online communities enables you to share insights and express opinions with a globally distributed group of colleagues, partners and experts. Welcome!

It is your own decision whether you choose to participate in social computing, such as through a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion. When doing so, following these guidelines will help you protect yourself and others.

In addition to the following guidelines, by using the ibm.com Community platform you are agreeing to the Terms of Use for that site. (Participants in China are agreeing to additional country-specific ibm.com Community Terms of Use for China.)

Exercise personal responsibility in social computing activities. Each tool and medium has proper and improper uses. While individuals are encouraged to participate in this social computing environment, it is important for those who choose to do so to understand what is expected and required when they discuss company-related topics, whether at work or on their own time. Individuals must exercise personal responsibility whenever they participate in social computing. This includes not violating the trust of other participants.

Be clear about who you are and protect your privacy and that of others. Anonymous postings and the use of pseudonyms or false screen names on social computing platforms are discouraged. We believe in transparency and honesty. We encourage you to use your real name, be clear who you are, and, if you are discussing your company or company-related matters, identify the company that you work for and include your role at your company. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, be the first to point it out.

Be smart about protecting yourself and your privacy. What you publish will be "public" in the social computing environment and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully and also be judicious in disclosing personal details about yourself. Do not disclose personal information of others unless you have their permission.

Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks. The lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred in social computing environments. By identifying yourself as employed by or associated with a particular company within a social computing environment, you are now connected to your colleagues, managers and clients. Ensure your profile and content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself. If you identify yourself as employed by or associated with a particular company, make sure what you say and post is consistent with your company's social computing practices and guidelines.

Use a disclaimer. When a company wishes to communicate publicly as a company - whether to the marketplace or to the general public - it usually has well established means to do so. Only those officially designated by a company have the authorisation to speak on behalf of the company.

You should make it clear when you're expressing your own views that they are not necessarily the views and opinions of your company. For example, consider including the following standard disclaimer: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent [your company's] positions, strategies or opinions."

Respect copyright and fair use laws. For your company's protection as well as your own, it is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others, including your company's own copyrights and brands. Use appropriate symbols to mark the first occurrence of trademarked terms. Do not include images in your content unless you own the exclusive rights to display the images. Do not include another's materials unless you have the right to do so. And it is good practice to link to others' work. Keep in mind that laws will be different depending on where you live and work.

Protect confidential and proprietary information. Social computing blurs many of the traditional boundaries between internal and external communications. Be thoughtful about what you publish. Do not provide confidential or proprietary information of any person or company in any social computing environment. For example, ask permission before publishing in a blog a conversation that was meant to be private.

Do not discuss business performance. You must not comment on confidential financial information such as future business performance, business plans, or prospects. This includes statements about an upcoming quarter or future periods or information about alliances, and applies to anyone including conversations with Wall Street analysts, press or other third parties (including friends). Do not comment on or entertain rumours in any way.

Protect clients, business partners and suppliers. Clients, partners or suppliers should not be cited or referenced without their approval. Be sensitive to who might see your content in social computing environments. If an organisation or individual hasn't given explicit permission for their name to be used, think carefully about the content you're going to publish and get the appropriate permission where necessary. It is acceptable to discuss non-confidential, general details about kinds of projects and to use non-identifying pseudonyms (e.g., Client 123) so long as the information provided does not violate any non-disclosure or intellectual property agreements that may be in place regarding that organisation or individual.

Respect your audience. Participants in social computing platforms reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. Do not engage in offensive conduct. This includes not only the obvious (e.g. no ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity), but also proper consideration of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory - such as politics and religion. Avoid these topics and focus on subjects that are business-related and within the scope of IBM's social computing environment. Always use your best judgment.

Don't pick fights. If you see misrepresentations made about yourself or your company by media, analysts or by others, you may certainly point that out. Always do so with respect, stick to the facts and identify your appropriate affiliation to your company. Also, if you speak about a competitor, you must make sure that what you say is factual and that it does not disparage them. Avoid unnecessary or unproductive arguments. Brawls may earn traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don't try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates. Make sure that what you are saying is factually correct.

Be the first to respond to your own mistakes. If you make a mistake, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. In a blog, if you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so.

Use your best judgment. You are personally responsible for the content that you publish in any social computing environment. Remember that there are always consequences to what you publish. If you're about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, review the suggestions above and think about why that is. If you're still unsure, and it is related to your company's business, get advice from a trusted resource such as your manager.

Review Terms of Use on third party sites. Before accessing and using Web 2.0 technologies hosted by third parties (like YouTube, LinkedIn or Facebook), you should review the Terms of Use applicable to those technologies and consider whether they are acceptable. Some Terms of Use provide broad licence rights to the site host/site operator. If you plan to post information about, or materials belonging to, your company on any third party Web 2.0 technology, please confirm that you are authorised to do so and that you're not relinquishing rights to your company's materials to such third party.

Don't forget your day job. You should make sure that your online activities do not interfere with your job or commitments to clients.

Make sure your content is appropriate. Do not upload, post or otherwise transmit content that:

  • is inaccurate, harmful, threatening, obscene, pornographic, defamatory, discriminatory, racist, violent, offensive, harassing, or otherwise objectionable;
  • includes confidential or proprietary information of IBM or any other party;
  • violates or infringes anyone's intellectual property rights (including trademark, copyright, privacy, publicity or other rights);
  • violates any contractual agreements you might have with another;
  • contains personal information of any other party or other participants, particularly contact information or personal information that is of a sensitive nature;
  • violates (or encourages violation of) any local, state, national or international law;
  • consists of marketing materials, advertising or solicitations or that constitutes Spam;
  • advocates violence or provides instruction, information or assistance in causing or carrying out violence;
  • contains any software code; or
  • contains software viruses, worms or other computer code or programs designed to harm, destroy or adversely affect the social computing media or the equipment on which it is run.

IBM may change these guidelines at any time. IBM will give notice of material changes by posting a notice of such changes on this site for thirty days.