Thursday, 12 April 2007

A code of conduct for bloggers

Tim O'Reilly, the man behind Web 2.0, has called for a code of conduct for bloggers. The suggestion is a response to extreme and anonymous cyber-bullying directed against his friend Kathy Sierra.

I sympathise entirely, and I much prefer self-regulation to legal obligation - but I'm not sure what a code of conduct is supposed to achieve. There's already a perfectly decent voluntary code of conduct; it's called good manners! If people have so little respect for others that they're prepared to send anonymous death threats and offensive pictures, what good will a voluntary code do?

In the Independent, Terence Blacker suggests that malicious behaviour on the net simply reflects the fact that there are some rather unpleasant people out there. Short of a compulsary niceness test when setting up a new blog, there's not much we can do about it!

3 comments:

Alex said...

Have you seen Unreliable Witness's take on this?

hastalavistavista said...

Absolutely. A code of conduct is only any use if it's enforceable. Newsvine, the mutual blogging club masquerading as a source of news/"citizen journalism" operates the Newsvine Code of Honor. Yes, without the "u" - it's American, OK? Anyway, the Newsvine founders can and do expel Viners (participants) who don't abide by the Code. OK, they can probably reregister by a different name but their historic brownie points restart at zero.

You can't though, do the same thing with the blogosphere as a whole. Wordpress and, I guess, blogger have systems for reporting abuses but that only applies to blogs they host.

In any case, the O'Reilly code was provoked by noxious comments and if you are going to allow anonymous comments on your blog you can't stop people posting nasty stuff. The answer, if you are a prominent blogger, is to make commenters register for the privilege. They won't post death threats if they can be traced through their email address and ISP.

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