Friday, April 13, 2007

Blogger's Code of Conduct

The geekWife forward this on to me. I'm not sure I agree with all of this, but it would help. The only problem I have with the whole thing is it deals with civility and ignores truth.
Two leading citizens of the Web, Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales, have proposed a "Bloggers Code of Conduct." The reason for this code is the phenomenon of people posting extremely nasty verbal comments about other people on Web sites devoted to political and social commentary. For Mr. O'Reilly, a publisher and activist for open Web standards, the last blogospheric straw involved a friend whose suggestion that it was OK to delete offensive comments from Web sites earned her a backlash of vitriol on several sites, with one posting a photo of her alongside a drawing of a noose.

It is appropriate that this line should be drawn in the ether of the World Wide Web, whose controlling ethos up to now has been that speech and expression should remain free, unfettered and--the totemic word that ends all argument--"democratic." As it developed, too many of the Web's democrats, for reasons that have provided much new work for clinical psychologists, tend to write in a vocabulary of rage and aggression.
The admission of need for something called a Bloggers Code of Conduct is about more than just the Web. The deeper import of what may be happening here should be evident in Mr. O'Reilly's remark, which was the final sentence in a long New York Times article on the subject last Sunday: "Free speech is enhanced by civility."

It is difficult for me to imagine a more revolutionary sentence. One might call it "subversive."

"Free speech is enhanced by civility." The revolution comes at the end of that sentence. Free speech we know about. Civility we have forgotten. Ask Don Imus.

Subsets of civility would include courtesy, respect, politeness and deference. Civility is a public virtue. Like oil or wheat, it is a necessary social commodity that allows society to function.
I must say that I'm generally more civil on the blog than I am in person. Frankly, I don't suffer fools lightly, and those that know me understand that. From the traffic at this site, I don't have a lot of worry about having conflicts often.

I looked up the BCC and had a read of their proposal.
Here's the first draft:

We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation. But frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. We present this Blogger Code of Conduct in hopes that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation.

1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.

We are committed to the "Civility Enforced" standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we'll delete comments that contain it.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:
- is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
- is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
- infringes upon a copyright or trademark
- violates an obligation of confidentiality
- violates the privacy of others

We define and determine what is "unacceptable content" on a case-by-case basis, and our definitions are not limited to this list. If we delete a comment or link, we will say so and explain why. [We reserve the right to change these standards at any time with no notice.]
I suppose I agree with most of that. If you're just out to attack someone, then you're not really worth reading. I'm a bit uncomfortable with the "just delete it" attitude though. This ignores that someone may actually have a factual argument, though their delivery may be abusive. So I'll go with the reserved right to change the standard to my liking. If you're just abusive, screw you. If you have a point, I'll leave well enough alone, though I may ask you to be a bit more polite.
2. We won't say anything online that we wouldn't say in person.
Hell, that's easy. I'm already more civil in the blogsphere then in the real world.
3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.

When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the blogosphere, we make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved--or find an intermediary who can do so--before we publish any posts or comments about the issue.
Well, that depends. If you're a raving jack-ass, you get the barrels right away. If you're just a light weight jerk, ok.
4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.

When someone who is publishing comments or blog postings that are offensive, we'll tell them so (privately, if possible--see above) and ask them to publicly make amends.
If those published comments could be construed as a threat, and the perpetrator doesn't withdraw them and apologize, we will cooperate with law enforcement to protect the target of the threat.
I guess this one comes to the line of figuring out what is really hazardous and what is hot air. If it's not just wind, then I agree. Though I'm not going to parse the words to a level where I start trying to psychoanalyze what's being said. "Unfairly" is a very slippery term. Life isn't fair, and if you're a dolt, you shouldn't be protected. (Hmm. I wonder if that is something like blogger Darwinism.)
5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post, though we allow commenters to identify themselves with an alias, rather than their real name.

Valid email address? Right. That's about as big an allowance for anonymity as you can get. Hell, my nom-de-guerre is my email address on this blog. Gets you pretty much no where. Lame rule.
6. We ignore the trolls.

We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel. We believe that feeding the trolls only encourages them--"Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it." Ignoring public attacks is often the best way to contain them.

For the most part this is good advice. Though I see little harm with kicking a pig once in a while. Especially if it's my blog.

This all really comes down to a point that I think SayUncle puts fully into perspective, and these codes seem to ignore.
Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.
If I stop enjoying this, I'll just stop. I don't go to blogs that I don't find informative or at least interesting. SayUncle also points out in a recent entry why people blog.
Some say: But uncle doesn’t write much original content. They’re right, I don’t these days. This post and many others acknowledge that. I just ain’t feeling it. I think there are stages of blogging:

Stage 1: You start the blog because you got shit to say.

Stage 2: You say your shit, no one cares.

Stage 3: Having said your shit, you start criticizing or praising other people’s shit.

Stage 4: People notice you criticizing or praising their shit. People start to care.

Stage 5: You realize you get more input and affirmation when criticizing or praising other people’s shit. And it’s easier. (I think SayUncle is about here)

Stage 6: You just link shit and occasionally talk about shit you got to say.

Stage 7: You’re weary of talking shit. Same shit, different day.

Stage 8: You no longer have shit to say.

And that’s that.

So, the bottom line is: Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you. If it no longer entertains me, I’ll stop.

Clear as mud?

Update: Anon in comments recommends Stage 9: you give up blogging, then occasionally post something insightful on other peoples blogs.

And and the SSDD reference in Stage 7.

This is key perspective that I completely agree with.

And the thing that is ignored in this whole BCC is truth. Far too much of what comes into blogs is frankly factually challenged. The really good ones you can depend on to have their facts straight. The really bad ones are not worth reading in any case. Let's be honest and have a bullet that states if you can't back a statement up with a link to a reliable site, then it's not a fact. This should leave the burden of proof on the person making the statement, and not the blog where the comment pops up.

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