The CU Skeptic, Mel Gibson, bankers and blog paranoia

A very smart, politically plugged-in blog reader from the U.S. tipped me off to something that I had never considered.

Insert deep movie announcer voice here. Could blog comments by credit union employees be used for nefarious purposes by the banking lobbyists in Washington in an attempt to topple the U.S. credit union movement?

Whoa, I deleted my first blog comment!

Are you still with me after my cryptic, heavy-duty intro? Other than spam, I have never removed a blog comment from our blog until yesterday. I am proud that our readers have kept things extremely civil in all 500 plus comments that this blog has received in the last 14 months.

After speaking with this caring reader, we both agreed to remove her comment and suggest an edit to one of the comments above her's. I checked with the commenter in question and we all agreed that a change would be prudent. With permission, here is the instructional comment that was first removed.

"We can all guess about The CU Skeptic, but here’s a blogging best-practice reminder. If you have your own CU blog or even just dabble in comments on other blogs remember your credit union should have a blogging policy that discourages: 
    1. Disclosing business performance or financial information.
    2. Disclosing confidential or proprietary information (research from trade association events that require registration).
I’d hate to see your public comments end up as written testimony at a Ways and Means Committee hearing on credit union taxation.
I’m sharing this reminder to ensure positive outcomes for everyone. Thus far I’m enjoying The CU Skeptic’s work as a catalyst to ensure we deliver on the seven principles, even though he sounds a like Keith Leggett's puppet."

Say what?

I read this comment and the preceding comments and I didn't understand what could be used against the credit union movement.

Here's why. I am a Canadian credit union cheerleader with my feet firmly planted in both the Canadian and the US credit union systems. My knowledge of the political workings of Canadian system is very deep, while my knowledge of the political workings of the U.S. system is at the kiddie-pool level.

Up until yesterday, I considered this to be my real advantage. I'm that Canadian renegade who can spout off about crazy ideas without being mired in the realities of the governmental-red-tape-laden U.S. credit union system. In Canada, credit unions just do crazy creative stuff, pay their taxes and beg forgiveness when they step on the big bank's toes!

The reality for my U.S. credit union colleagues is very different.

The common refrain

Everybody talking part in the credit union blog-o-sphere can agree on one thing: we are passionate people who want to bring about positive change to propel the credit union forward. Sometimes our passion gets the best of us and we drop comments that we might regret later on. I know I've done it.

For example, what could happen if someone left a comment like this on an industry blog?

"We can keep doing things the way we have been and keep growing and keep under serving our members and the country or we can do something about it and make the changes so that we can make a difference and take the CU movement to the next level."

On the surface, many might slam their fist on the table and say, "hear, hear!" But think about this. Our banker counterparts are certainly using Google and the like to find statements like this. They could use this statement to prove that things need to change in a very different way than was intended by the commenter. It could be grossly misrepresented as a statement suggesting that U.S. credit unions need to be taxed. We need to collectively be careful on how we nudge our beloved credit union movement forward.

Here are some sample blogging policies from my friends at JayRay to consider for all of us.

Bloggers should:

  • Know and use your credit union’s general conduct guidelines
  • Identify and speak for yourself and use a disclaimer
  • Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws
  • Be personally responsible
  • Protect privacy
  • Protect your credit union's clients and suppliers
  • Respect your audience and co-workers
  • Know and reference other bloggers on the site
  • Check your facts and correct your mistakes
  • Don’t alter others’ posts without informing them
  • Use in a way to add value to your credit union's business
  • Be interesting
  • Write about what you know
  • Pay attention to quality of blog content

Bloggers should not:

  • Disclose business performance or financial information
  • Disclose confidential or proprietary information
  • Pick fights

Paranoia? I don't know—I'm just that renegade Canadian credit union cheerleader that doesn't want to become that renegade Canadian credit union cheerleader that helped bring down the U.S. credit union system!

Leave a comment if you dare. You never know who's watching. Pardon my conspiracy theory overtones. Not only am I known to be a cheerleader, I am also known to be a bit of a smart ass!

Tim

UPDATE: The CU Skeptic has an excellent response on his blog. + More