Transparency is a funny word. I would guess that usage of it has gone up dramatically since the blogosphere began to mature. But, I don’t use it very much. I’m an honest guy and if you ask me a question, I’ll give you the best answer that I can. I don’t know what to call that outside of honesty and professionalism, but if it’s transparency, that’s fine, too.

There have been a couple of notable … staffing changes in the blogosphere in the last few days that I don’t need to talk about and the mention of the word has just gone up. But, it’s being used in ways that I never took it to mean. It’s being meant to say that, more or less, “airing dirty laundry = transparency”. SCREECH. If that’s what it means, I never knew that and I, myself, won’t be transparent. Being transparent, if that’s the meaning, is all fine and dandy, but there are issues of professionalism and right and wrong that have to intercede.

Pouring out every detail about every issue just isn’t cool. In some cases, even pouring out little detail isn’t cool. It’s not professional. Just because people are curious about something doesn’t mean it should be put out there. Plus, you’re in trouble no matter what you do. Say “too much” and you’re petty. Say “too little” and you’re hiding something. The old damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

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