The initial set of articles is a mix of recent newsletter items and new posts: A welcome from the Editor, Jennifer Schneider; A letter from the IOA President, Ilene Butensky; Recaps of the annual conference and recent training sessions; Committee and Board updates; and Articles on practice issues by distinguished Ombuds. Mary Conger gets credit for leading the move to the new format. (IOA News.)
The new blog is outstanding from a graphical and editorial perspective. It is modern and well organized. The illustrations are appealing and draw attention to the articles. The secondary column offers links to upcoming events, a word cloud of tags, recent IOA tweets, and other social media. It's a definite upgrade from the old format.
Then, it's obvious that a lawyer was consulted. The guidelines include boilerplate contract language, like waiver, revisions, entire agreement, and choice of laws clauses. The asserted right to revise the guidelines without notice or consent may be unenforceable. Other terms are out of step with what is common practice in the blogosphere.
Most egregiously, IOA expects readers to indemnify the organization if their comments violate any of the guidelines. Specifically, readers must:
... agree to indemnify, defend, and hold IOA and its officers, agents, and employees harmless from and against any third-party claim arising from or in any way related to your posting on the newsblog, including any liability or expense arising from all claims, losses, damages (actual and consequential), suits, judgments, litigation costs and attorneys’ fees, of every kind and nature.This includes reader comments that violate antitrust laws or third parties' trademark and intellectual property rights. Most bloggers simply include a disclaimer to avoid these issues.
Also, the TIV guidelines restrict republication elsewhere, so there won't be much about it in the future on this website. (This post, including criticism and commentary, of course, is permissible "fair use.")
It would seem that IOA has chosen to hide its light under a bushel. The beautiful new blog will be read only by insiders, who will be reluctant to engage in a conversation.
Related posts: IOA Seeks Newsletter Contributors; Call for Articles: Fall 2009 IOA Independent Voice; IOA Annual Report: Association Builds on Strategic Plan in 2015; IOA 2016 Annual Report: Financial Success Supports New Programs; Journal of IOA Moves to Piecemeal Publication Schedule.