Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For a blogging code of conduct?

Interesting piece all over the news today about the suggestion that blogs should have a code of conduct. this has been suggested by two 'gurus' of the Internet - Jimmy Wales and Tim O'Reilly - and you can see their full version here.

Behave!The blogosphere can be a robust, fucking horrible place at times and I've always had a hard nosed attitude towards those who've posted abusive, racist or generally rude stuff here. These aren't people I'd have a conversation with in real life, so why would I let them interrupt my online conversations?

On first reading the seven rules look like an excellent guide to blog-etiquette. Take responsibility for what you write, don't say things on line you wouldn't say in person, take action when you think someone is being picked on,and so on. Of course like all etiquette we agree in principle and then fall short occasionally, but you soon get to know who is sound and who flies off the handle at the slightest thing.

They also say you should disallow anonymous comments - and that's something I've been toying with for a while but am reluctant because although 80% of anonymous comments are snide, illiterate and valueless there are also people not used to the blogosphere, first time visitors et al who might be put off if they have to create an account etc. So I'm in two minds about that. But the general principles I'm certainly for.

Not everyone agrees of course. Some posts against can be found here, here and here. On the whole the objections seem to revolve around censorship of opinions that don't agree with yours but as the Huffington post suggests "if someone deletes your hate speech from their site you are free to start your own, or post to the multitudes of sites that encourage such talk. No one accuses the New York Times of censorship for not publishing indecent hate-rants against Maureen Dowd"

There's a big difference between a civilised discussion where people disagree, which can be enlightening and enjoyable and tolerating putrid rants and unacceptable tantrums. I'm sure we'll see where this discussion leads us but, alas, I'm pessimistic about the chances of actually cleaning up the blogosphere's act - but in the meantime there will still be one corner of civility - welcome to the Daily (Maybe).


Peter said...

I view a blog a bit like a pub - it's a space maintained by a private individual that they choose to open up to the public.

We the punters then get to know which pubs are pleasant, and which we're likely to get lynched in.

There are a few things I disagree with about the code of conduct:

I don't always regard knowingly false comments as unacceptable.

I don't always regard infringing on a copyright or trademark as unacceptable.

I don't always regard violating the privacy of others as unacceptable.

The first two are often engaged in satire. The third can be in the public interest.

I think it's perfectly fine to say things online that one wouldn't say in person. Many people adopt slightly different personas online.

I often don't mind anonymous comments.

So I disagree with about half of this code.

Daniel S. Ketelby said...

I think it's perfectly fine to say things online that one wouldn't say in person. Many people adopt slightly different personas online.

Yes - the Internet can be a great place to try out different facets of one's personality... and what's wrong with that if you're not doing anything immoral?

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