I've attended a couple of conferences, and just standalone public talks held at universities and I've found the topics interesting, so I've written a summary on my blog to share with others (and also as a way to help myself remember the content).

It just occurred to me that I'm potentially "stealing" someone else's IP. I always mention the name of the person / people giving the talk, so I'm not passing it off as my own research, but perhaps the presenter may not want this information shared via a channel other than their own. Some of them aren't just presentations, but may involve a panel of experts answering questions from a presenter / the audience.

What is the general etiquette when it comes to writing about this on my blog? Is it enough just to cite the author(s), or should I contact them beforehand and ask if they mind me writing about them?

(I don't know if it's relevant, but I get about 4 people a day reading my blog, so it's not famous or anything.)

  • 2
    Blogging about conference talks is accepted everywhere I've been. (Student seminar talks might be another story.) Sep 12, 2017 at 11:23
  • 11
    There are some conferences where blogging and social media is forbidden by default. Perhaps most notably Biology of Genomes meetings.cshl.edu/policies.aspx?meet=GENOME&year=17#media
    – MJeffryes
    Sep 12, 2017 at 11:44
  • 5
    There are conferences and talks where the content may be shared or published but not attributed. For example some of the Royal Institute of International Affairs meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule. Sep 12, 2017 at 14:45
  • Another general rule-of-thumb is that the conference presentation itself is open, but Q&A is not... for example, at many events, the presentation is filmed, but the Q&A is not
    – Andrew
    Dec 17, 2018 at 12:17
  • I've known some bloggers who have sent their descriptions of talks to the presenter to check that they are happy before publishign.
    – Flyto
    Feb 11, 2020 at 15:16

2 Answers 2


My general rule of thumb in these matters is the following. If you don't want to communicate your results yet, you should not be talking about them in a public seminar. Or, at the very least, you should put out a disclaimer initially that you will be discussing confidential material (I have seen some company talks that started with a similar disclaimer, but probably more for legal reasons than because the presenter themselves cared deeply about it). Barring such a disclaimer, I think it's a fair default assumption that the presenter does not mind their thoughts spreading.

Another safety line you can take is, after you published your blog, making the speaker aware of it. I have found that Twitter works very well and non-intrusively to that extend:

.@coolprof summarizes topic X, feels more research is needed on Y. Summary: http://my.blog.edu

In that case you can assume that if the speaker really does not want your summary, or parts of it, on the Web, they will tell you.

  • 3
    It is unlikely that open talks at a university would be covered by an NDA, so they would be public disclosure no matter what weasel words folks might say. So you really are back at your bolded sentence only, which is the right answer (except in those cases mentioned in comments above where some meetings seem to feel they are so important that only they can blog about the talks there).
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 12, 2017 at 13:44
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    @JonCuster Maybe you are legally in the clear to blog out the results even if a speaker asks for confidence in the beginning of the talk (for whatever reason), but I would have a hard time seeing this as ethical.
    – xLeitix
    Sep 12, 2017 at 15:07
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    If you don't want me to talk about your ideas, then ask me to sign an NDA prior to sharing them with me. If you wait until the beginning of the talk before requesting confidentiality then I don't know what I would do except to say that I would probably be pissed. I mean I probably supported my request for conference funding based on the dissemination of ideas and now I have to go back to my employer with nothing.
    – emory
    Sep 12, 2017 at 16:33
  • @emory I agree with you. If the NDA was there during registration, and everyone was able to sign it in advance, that's different than throwing it in my face before you start talking. If I don't want to sign it, I'm out all the time and resources to go to the conference.
    – Nelson
    Sep 13, 2017 at 2:53
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    on some institutions NDA towards seminar representations is part of initial contract and thus default - allowing speakers to talk freely and test ideas and narratives and to present very new research; If no NDA is handed out people should be aware of the specifics of their contract and whether it had a short NDA clause on (invited) seminars
    – tsttst
    Sep 13, 2017 at 4:52

Biology/paleontology talks can be particularly difficult to blog about if the presenter is introducing a new taxon name, because priority is attached to whoever uses the name first. If the name is not introduced in the print abstract before your blog post goes up, your blog post could become the "authority" for the name.

This is rare and people will understand what is meant, but taxonomy is a by-the-book discipline because there needs to be a way to make sure everyone is working from the same definition of a new organism description. As such, most people will avoid introducing new names in abstracts rather than peer-reviewed papers, but it has happened in the past.

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