Monday, December 10, 2007

Navigating the Maze of Online Site Policy

Rather than posting the handout as a Word document, I thought I'd post it here, so people can comment on it, and so I can add and/or change things more easily after the presentation to add any additional good suggestions.

My presentation is focusing on how to help educators and technology specialists work with sites (and understand more of where site policies come from) when resolving problems.

The handout:

Why are there problems?

  • Competing demands and expectations from internal and external culture.
  • Many different kinds (and sizes) of sites.
  • Sites constantly face new issues or concerns.
  • Many factors shift quickly (public attention, legal pressure, etc.)
  • Many reports are unclear or don’t give enough verifiable evidence.
  • Limited information about policy issues available.
  • Some people have unreasonable expectations of sites.
  • Specific features on a given site can affect how people approach issues.

What you can do:

  • Develop polices and internal resources for your school or community.
  • Keep aware of emerging sites and technologies.
  • Spread the work, find people willing to learn specific high-use sites in more detail.
  • Develop resources and training for parents, students, and staff.

When you have a problem:

  • Use your common sense! Don’t panic.
  • Don’t delete information until you’re sure it isn’t needed for site action.
  • Look for information on the site about what they need to act.
  • Follow their process: there’s likely a good reason for what they need.
  • Keep notes. This will help both in this case and future ones.
  • Be practical (give them time to respond, take physical safety steps, etc.)
  • Be polite: it’s easier for sites to work with.
  • If these don’t work, then you can escalate to higher-ups in the site, or seek help from online safety resources.

Where to look:
Need help on a site? Check for links on the front page of the site saying:

  • FAQ
  • Help
  • Report Abuse
  • Contact [us/sitename]
  • Safety Tips
  • If You Have A Problem
  • Protecting Yourself Online

Some Links of Interest: :
Excellent and focused articles about various issues. Forums include commentary about how site policy sometimes has to work and will give you an idea of the kind of information people initially provide when asking for help.
Information specifically for educators and librarians, includes assistance if working with the site isn’t enough. Provides general information more than details, but does have a significant volunteer presence who assist with further help.
From Internet industry corporations and public interest groups: provides an overview of different issues. General information rather than specific.
Excellent and tightly focused information from the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use. Includes information on two detailed and specific books.

Cyberbullying links:
A few sites focus specifically on cyberbullying issues. :
Specific information and advice for handling cyberbully issues.
Focuses on cyberbullying issues: has specific information about identifying and dealing with harassment.

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