Do you find your blog disclaimer boring? “Too bad so sad!” as my dad would say. I have to confess, I yawn when it comes to the legal stuff. So it is a good thing Kalen Smith offered to write this post as a part the blog landing pages series. He came up with great examples I would have never thought of.
Guest Post By Kalen Smith
Most bloggers don’t understand the importance of including a blog disclaimer on their sites. Disclaimers may seem like a small thing to think about, but they are one of the most crucial things you should include on your blog.
You may not even know what a disclaimer is or when it should be used. Here are a few situations where they may be needed, and some disclaimer examples. If you fail to make certain disclosures, you may be subject to prosecution.
Are you an expert on what you write about?
It is one thing to give readers advice on a topic outside your field. It is another to pretend that you are an expert when you aren’t. This is especially true if you are giving medical or legal advice (something you should really think twice about even if you do provide a disclaimer).
However, any site needs to know that it may be held liable for making certain statements and should be provide a disclaimer. Experts can get in trouble for their advice as well. In fact, if they give advice which leads to a tragedy, they may even be held to higher standards than a layperson if it looks like they acted negligently.
Generally, a disclaimer a blogger may use if they are not a professional in the field they write on may look something like this:
- “The authors of this site are not physicians and the posts here should not be taken as medical advice.”
Experts may also need to limit the scope of their expertise in some cases, as they know they are not qualified to speak competently on every topic in their field. If a lawyer was writing a blog, he may have a disclaimer that read something like this:
- “Given that laws may vary significantly between jurisdictions, the legal advice given on this site should not be considered all-encompassing and applicable to all readers. Please consult an attorney in your own jurisdiction if you need legal advice. The information on this site is just meant to be a guide.”
The wording may be a little different, especially with a lawyer. Generally, you need to at least establish how much confidence a reader can have in your posts and how much they should take your advice to heart.
Misrepresenting another person.
Bloggers often make statements that are not consistent with the images of the organizations they work for. This may or may not be allowed by their employer, but they either way they should separate themselves from their company to protect themselves and their company’s image.
Matt Cutts from Google has a disclaimer on his blog that demonstrates that the words on his blog are not representative of Google. The bottom of the blog reads:
- “Just in case. If I say something stupid in the future, it’s better to be able to point out that the stupidity is mine, and mine alone. My stupidity! You can’t have it!”
Statements like these protect bloggers from being fired or sued (at least from being sued in most situations) by their employer. Of course, they still have to be aware of any contracts they have with their company and be careful not to say anything that significantly damages the company’s reputation.
A disclaimer is not a guarantee of protection.
How are you getting paid?
One of the biggest things bloggers have to disclose is when they get paid to write or promote content. The FTC actually requires that bloggers state when they are endorsed to promote content of any kind. As bad as it may sound to get sued by an employer, getting in trouble with the FTC is probably the last thing in the world you want to do.
If our blog ever started taking endorsements or sponsored posts rather than offering Medifast coupons or Nutrisystem discounts, then we would want to disclose that to our readers.
Play it safe and disclose any monetization strategy that you are implementing.
How to play it safe.
Always know what information you need to disclose on your blog. Omitting a disclosure can be a lot worse than forgetting one of your ads. If you are running a serious business and are not sure whether you need to disclose something, you may need to speak with an attorney.
Kalen Smith provides resources for online business owners. He is also a passionate diet and weight loss blogger who share information about Medifast Coupon Codes for 2011 and the coupon for Nutrisystem food.
Note: Here are some disclaimer samples you can use. But as Kalen has warned, there is no replacement for advice from your attorney. (See, I just learned how to add a disclaimer.)
Thanks Kalen! You actually made the legal stuff interesting.
P.S. Do you have your legal information where you readers can easily access it? Are you sure what blog disclaimer you need?