https://insidegovuk.blog.gov.uk/2013/05/24/gov-uk-blogs-how-to-get-one/

Getting a GOV.UK blog

We’ve published updated guidance about blogging on GOV.UK. Please go to the new guidance pages to find out how to request a new blog and how to manage a blog. You may also find it useful to read the Government Digital Service (GDS) style guide.

We want to make it as easy as possible for people in government to blog about their work. Blogging helps to open up government; dialogue with our audience improves our own thinking; and often through our work we learn things which can help people grappling with similar problems.

Last month, we launched the GOV.UK blogging platform with a blog on government history.

Now, we’d like to tell you a bit more about what’s involved in getting your own GOV.UK blog.

Who gets a blog?

This decision will largely to be down to departmental Digital Leaders, in the contexts of their digital strategies, rather than GDS. We simply provide the platform.

We would advise, however, that government blogs work best when their purpose is clear; successful examples include those that:

  • explain the inner workings of an organisation or team
  • focus on developing practice and theory in a particular field

As Neil mentioned previously, generic corporate blogs (eg a ‘Cabinet Office blog’) tend to work less well.

All blog content is owned and coordinated by departments. It is, however, a condition of having a blog on the GDS platform that you:

  • Commit to posting regularly. A few interesting articles do not make a blog by themselves (though they may be posts on a blog). If you’re not regularly updating your blog, we’ll ask you to archive it.
  • Ensure content is distinct and unique. In particular, don’t overlap with content elsewhere on GOV.UK, or for which there is an existing format (eg news article or policy).
  • Follow our points of style.

Running a blog - who’s responsible for what

Every blog must have a named owner, who’ll be the main point of contact with GDS. Often they’ll be within the department digital team (or if not, we'll expect the digital team to ensure that blog owners are meeting their responsibilities).

The blog owner will need to:

  • Manage and maintain the blog on WordPress. We’ll set up a new blog on WordPress for you, using our standard templates. But you’ll need to do everything else - for example, manage the IA and categories, find images, etc
  • Co-ordinate, schedule and quality assure blogposts. The blog owner should ensure that all posts have a named author, and that posts abide by GDS standards and the civil service code.
  • Help contributors publish their work. WordPress is pretty easy to use. But you’ll need to teach contributors to use it, we won’t be able to offer training courses
  • Establish moderation principles, and ensure contributors abide by them (see below)
  • Manage user accounts. We’ll create an administrator role for you, so you can add and manage accounts for your blog editors and contributors.
  • Evaluate. We’ll set you up with a Google Analytics account for your blog - use this to find out what works and what doesn’t.
  • Promote it. In particular, tweet about it, and get retweets from accounts relevant to your blog's audience

GDS will:

  • Maintain the availability and security of the blogging platform
  • Manage and prioritise requests for change and additional functionality on the platform
  • Signpost or publish technical guidance to digital teams on using the platform
  • Set up new blogs and administrator accounts
  • Create a Govdelivery account for your blog, so your users get an email each time there’s a new post

Comments and moderation

For the time being, all blog comments should be pre-moderated - that is, read and assessed by you before they are published. Moderators should review and/or publish all comments as quickly as possible.

Each blog should link to:

  • guidelines to commenters - these are common across the GOV.UK platform, and will be linked to from the blog footer (they’re currently hosted here)
  • a moderation policy to explain the approach taken and likely speed of response (you’re welcome to copy the GDS blog policy)

Blog names and URLs

Blog URLs are in the form xxx.blog.gov.uk.

Your blog name needs to be clearly specific to your organisation. So, for example, the Department of Health’s blog about communication strategy is called healthcomms.blog.gov.uk rather than commsstrategy.blog.gov.uk.

Our default is for non-hyphenated blog names.

How to get a blog

The process for setting up new blogs is as follows:

  • Department team asks their Digital Leader (usually via the digital comms team) to approve their request for a blog
  • Digital Leader or SPOC uses the internal support form to request that the blog is set up, giving brief details and indicating priority
  • We discuss the request with you and then ask you to provide more details on the blog request form
  • We approve the request, checking that its proposition doesn’t clash with other parts of GOV.UK, and that its name is consistent with our URL naming convention
  • We let you know when your new blog is being scheduled for

Need extra support from GDS?

If your blog proposal potentially involves GDS support above the levels indicated above, please submit your request via the standard PMO process.

What about moving blogs that are already live?

Transition of existing blogs should be managed as part of your overall departmental (ALB) transition programme.

Phew. Sorry for the long post. Hope this is all clear, but do fire away with any questions.

4 comments

  1. hudl forum

    Blogging should be a two way process, in my opinion and shouldn't be a passive pursuit

    It's not just about the blogger saying what they want to say but it's also about the blogger listening to comments from visitors and actually taking them on board. Only by listening can the true power of a blog come to life.

    I sincerely hope that all Governmental blogs are encouraged to utilise the comments section, as this excellent blog has done!

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    • Graham Francis

      Excellent point - I've updated our guidance to reflect your comments.

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  2. simonfj

    Hi Graham,

    I take it you're still getting inbound mail from these old blog posts. So this seemed to be a good place to start, especially after hf's comments above about "Only by listening can the true power of a blog come to life."

    I've only discovered your insidegovuk recently, after almost 2 years of hanging around the GDS.cabinetoffice aggregation. The revelation came from this one by Carrie. https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/02/22/weekend-links-flood-help-social-sharing-beautiful-data-and-more/

    That is, after using this directory as my orientation. https://blog.gov.uk/ I'd never seen a link to insidegov before, so my orientation has been thrown out again. https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/01/16/a-new-home-for-the-gds-blog/

    I've never known a publishing group to be so incapable of thinking from a user's perspective. And these users' perspective starts here. https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved

    OK. Water under the bridge. And I've just been going through insider's 17 pages which, if I'd known, would have helped me shaped some more useful responses to the GDS blog (which is the only attempt aggregating the topics/teams).

    So do us favour will ya? can you put a link 2 the insider's blog at the top of the "get involved" list. No one can get involved in history. (why it's there only a geriatric would know)

    Or you could just link to the "all blogs" directory. You're condemning people to sift through a lot a chaff, but at least one would know it's ALL the chaff (at a point in time).

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    • Graham Francis

      Hi Simon - thanks for your message. Well aware that the blogs.gov.uk index of govt blogs leaves a lot to be desired in the usability stakes - we're working on a way of better integrating this into the main GOV.UK site, in a way that lets users filter the whole list of blogs, and also allows for better promotion of individual blogposts.

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