101 for CPAs
Guido L. Geerts and Myunghee Kim
- In its most basic form, a weblog (blog) is an electronic
diary published on the web. The following FAQs should help
you better understand all the hype.
technological skills do I need to create and use blogs?
None. You don’t even need to know hyptertext markup
language (HTML). You
need only an Internet connection and a web browser.
can I put in my blog? Text, links, pictures,
charts—almost anything found on the Internet can go
into a blog.
is in charge of my blog? You are. You decide
everything, including the content, whether readers can comment,
and who can access the blog site. Most blog software offers
a variety of tools to manage ownership.
audience do I reach? Blogs are published on
the Internet and allow you to reach millions of readers.
Two easy ways to get noticed are to submit the blog at www.google.com/addurl.html
and to add it to blog lists (e.g., www.blogger.com)
and blog directories (e.g., www.blogarama.com). Syndicating
is another way to increase readership. Syndication means
publishing the content of the blog in a standardized format
(e.g., Really Simple Syndication, or RSS) so other applications
(e.g., websites, newsreaders, and other blogs) can read
your posts and present them in the format they want.
you don’t want lots of people to read your blog, software
allows you to define who can and cannot access your blog.
makes blogs special? Can’t all of this be done with
websites, newsgroups, and other existing web technologies?
Blogs blend features of different web technologies
into a new form. What makes blogs unique is that they are
inexpensive, easy to create, and dynamic. The big thing
is that blogs make creating dynamic websites available to
is, however, no free lunch. You need to consider at least
You may face risks if you outsource a software application
(e.g., a blog) for free. What if your blog becomes popular,
even generating revenue, and then the software becomes
unavailable? Software like blogger.com is probably here
to stay, but a blogger who doesn’t want to take
the risk might want to install other blog software. Also,
free blog software often adds advertisements to blogs,
and not all bloggers want such advertisements.
Maintaining a blog takes time and requires content. The
blogger needs to update it frequently with meaningful
content that others are interested in. A sloppy or outdated
blog might do the blogger harm.
There are legal issues. The blogger should establish guidelines
on information that can and cannot be discussed on the
Is Right for Me?
are personal blogs, service blogs, and corporate blogs.
Personal blogs are currently the most common. They provide
information about the interests, thoughts, and activities
of an individual or a particular group of people. Service
blogs are informative and often topic-oriented. For example,
the service blog sox.weblog.gartner.com informs you about
the latest developments regarding Sarbanes-Oxley. A corporate
blog, created and maintained by a business entity, is used
to provide information about the company’s products
and services and to interact with clients and customers.
Corporations also use blogs for internal communication purposes
or as knowledge-management systems. The latter are known
as K-logs or knowledge logs—blogs used as an environment
for knowledge sharing.
blogs take the form of a diary, with content listed as text
entries in chronological order. Text can be supplemented
with links, pictures, audio messages, and even movies. Interaction
with a blog, and thus communication, is accomplished by
allowing readers to add comments to posts or to create their
Your Own Blog
fictitious CPA firm Brady, Monk &White decides to use
the service Blogger to create its own blog.
A designated member of the firm goes to the website www.blogger.com
to create the blog. The website states that she can create
her own blog in three steps: 1) create your account; 2)
name your blog; and 3) choose your template.
Create the account. The Blogger website will lead you
through creating an account. You will become the administrator
of your blog and use a username and password to access
n Name your blog, defining its name and location. Our
fictitious example could use its company as the name for
its blog: “Brady, Monk & White CPAs.”
The location refers to the blog’s URL—how
you get access to your blog using the Internet.
Choose your template. Blogger lets you choose among many
different predefined templates. The template defines what
the blog looks like, including the background color and
where comments are listed. You can switch templates at
those steps and clicking on Continue, Blogger will create
your blog and you’re ready to start delivering content
using content management tools. There are various options
for formatting text, inserting links, inserting pictures,
and setting whether readers can comment on posts.
software provides tools for customization without programming.
Using Blogger software, this is done through the Settings
menu. Blogger’s Basic settings allow you to change
general information, such as the name of the blog, and to
include your blog in Blogger’s listing. The Publishing
settings allow you to determine where to put the blog. The
Formatting settings help you adapt the appearance of some
blog elements to your specific needs, such as how the date,
time, archives, and other information appear. The Comments
settings help manage comments, including whether comments
will be shown, and deciding who can comment (i.e., anyone,
or only registered users or blog members). The Archiving
settings let you determine the archiving frequency (e.g.,
monthly or daily). The Site Feed settings let you syndicate
your blog (i.e., make the content available to other applications,
such as newsreaders). The e-mail settings are for specifying
readers to be notified when you add new posts to the blog.
These settings also make it possible to set up an e-mail
address by which you can post to your blog. Finally, the
Members settings let you add members to your blog and assign
them specific privileges.
Information from Blogs
are two ways CPAs can effectively integrate blogs into their
Use a blog as an additional information source, and
Use a blog to improve communication with clients, or as
a knowledge-management tool.
blogs are helpful information sources for an accounting
practice. Some blogs provide up-to-date accounting information.
The Financial Accounting Blog (accounting.blogspot.com/)
provides updates on accounting-related articles that have
been published in magazines and newspapers such as the Wall
Street Journal. The Accounting Observer Weblog
deals with accounting topics in the news. Several blogs
provide the latest news related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act
nonaccounting blogs might be of tremendous use to accounting
firms as well. For example, many practices use QuickBooks
or MicroSoft Excel software. Blogs provide the latest news
as well as tips and tricks on a continuous basis. An Excel
blog can be found at
a QuickBooks blog can be found at quickbooks_online_blog.typepad.com.
about using blogs as an information source: Often, blogs
are created and maintained by a few individuals, and the
content is not subjected to any kind of review. Therefore,
readers should check out who maintains the blog. Official
corporate blogs such as the aforementioned QuickBooks blog
are generally more trustworthy than those created by individuals.
new blogs are constantly being created, signing up for a
newsreader such as Bloglines (www.bloglines.com) can help
blog aficionados organize their blogs in one place, get
update notices, and search all their favorite blogs at once.
here to see an Exhibit.
L. Geerts, PhD, is an associate professor of accounting
and MIS at the University of Delaware.
Myunghee Kim is an MBA Student at the University