How to find the interesting and non-promotional CSR / Sustainability articles

One of my goals for 2011 when the New Year arrived was to be more critical of the things I am reading and listening to when it comes to CSR / Sustainability communications and literature. One thing in particular is really starting to annoy me more and more: Most articles on CSR / Sustainability nowadays are commercially driven and most of the time only serve one purpose and that is to sell the product or service of the author, website or business.

For me it therefore very important to spend my time wisely during the day to not read something that in the end turns out to be a promotion for a product/service or business in general.

So the question for me is: How do you sort out the interesting, ie. non-commercial and non self-promotional blogs/publications or tweets from the the general and overly commercial noise of the CSR / Sustainability world?

I would really be interested to hear from you about how you do this. This is what I do at the moment.

1) I only skim my Google Reader RSS feeds in order to find interesting articles. Going into detail while browsing is very time consuming and can disappoint you very soon.

2) I only follow the people on Twitter that I feel deliver the most interesting and non commercial information. I call it my best of the best list.

3) I DO NOT sign up for newsletters anymore. Period.

4) I only join the major social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. More social networks is my experience will only confuse you and make your life even harder in terms of finding an interesting CSR / Sustainability article / post.

5) I use a separate email address for anything where my email address is needed in order to get some further information. Never use your main email address otherwise you will never be left alone. That is my experience.

These are five things I am doing to try to limit my exposure to the commercial and self-promotional blogs/publications or tweets.

What do you do?

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  1. It's certainly not an easy challenge. The volume of output is increasing, so good filtering is increasingly important.

    I like #3 on your list. I'm increasingly hesitant to sign up for ANYTHING. That includes newsletters, but it also includes blogs that (unlike this one, thankfully) require that I sign up just to post a comment. Anything that increases the amount of overhead (including junk mail) is to be avoided.

    1. Totally agree with you Chris. I have not seen one newsletter in the past 12 months that I did not delete after 5 seconds…….

  2. Great post, and a mighty challenge. Even LinkedIn is feeling overcrowded these days but I'm a sucker for a good, challenging debate..sigh. Another thing I do: Google reader search by keyword. And of course, I am a permanent follower of your "best of the best" list!

    1. Thanks Aman. Interesting comment about LinkedIn. I have not been using it that much lately but will have another look. Good tip about the Google Reader keyword search. Will try that as well starting tomorrow. 🙂

      1. Hi Aman & Fabian!
        Really interesting post and tips! I'd like to have your insights on the Google Reader keywords you look up for. I'm wondering what keywords bring the most pertinent info with the less spam ? I've tried some "CSR" or "Sustainability" but it brings a lot of spam or not related info.

        Thanks in advance for sharing.

  3. hi fabian, I follow loads and loads of CSR blogs, and I check them out using the sidebar on my own blog which always tells me when something new has been posted. I also use Google Alerts to my email for a whole range of important things. I sign up for loads of newsletters and blogs, but after a while, I route the the rubbishy ones straight to junk so they dont bother me. I tend to use RSS less, because they just get cluttered up and it's hard to find relevant stuff. Oops, and I always use my own email. Guess I am not a good role-model for avoiding clutter 🙂

  4. Interesting thoughts Fabian .. I've been pondering a reply while, er, going through my RSS feeds for the last few days (a bit behind 😉 ).

    Two email addresses is pretty de rigeur these days, and I too now only sign up to newsletters if there is no RSS feed available (ie. it's a very small NGO).

    A couple of thoughts which spring to mind:
    — find a good aggregator like Accountability Central and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. You get news and other stuff mixed in, but it's largely free of self promotional puff.
    — also there's the NGOs, academics (hat tip to Chris) and SocEnts. May be a little periphery (eg. I follow a couple of FCPA professors) but they're generally hooked in one way or another so have good leads and are again usually free of puff.

    It's difficult because alot of what I follow isn't strictly CSR .. economics, social justice etc … and I often have to dig deep to find what I'm after. However I hope this helps.

    BTW this comment window isn't scrolling despite reloading the page. Odd.

  5. Thank you for the article Fabian.
    Very relevant challenge for articles on CSR and sustainability. I personally find that trust is a key element. E.g. when I follow a user on twitter and I trust that they post quality, non self promotional stuff, I am more keen to open their links instead of others'. Also, I trust sources, articles where practitioners talk with each other as peers, not as teachers or marketing people. One example is when people add to the information they produce on sustainability also challenges, gray areas, uncertainties. That's a sign of intellectual honesty that I value a lot.

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