IBM Sets Virtual World Rules for Employees

    July 27, 2007

IBM’s guidelines for employee bloggers are fairly well known among people who pay attention to such things. Now, IBM has become (as far as I know) the first company to establish a policy for employees who venture into Second Life and other virtual words.

According to an AP article, some critics are blasting the move, suggesting that avatars can’t be controlled by policies. For its part, IBM asserts that “having a code of conduct is akin to a corporate stamp of approval, encouraging workers to explore more than 100 worlds IBM collectively calls the ‘3D Internet.’”

IBM already has several islands in Second Life, many for strictly internal purposes. The company is also looking at building its own proprietary 3D world for training and other internal activities.

IBM’s rules fit the “common sense” mold, including…

  • Don’t discuss intellectual property with unauthorized people.
  • Don’t discriminate or harass.
  • Be a good 3D Netizen.
  • (Be) especially sensitive to the appropriateness of your avatar or persona’s appearance when you are meeting with IBM clients or conducting IBM business.

The guidelines state…

Building a reputation of trust within a virtual world represents a commitment to be truthful and accountable with fellow digital citizens. Dramatically altering, splitting or abandoning your digital persona may be a violation of that trust. … In the case of a digital persona used for IBM business purposes, it may violate your obligations to IBM.

I wonder which company will be next to establish guidelines for employee involvement in virtual worlds?

Hat tip to Michael Zimet.