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Do We Need a Blogger Code of Conduct?
By: Terri Wells
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    Table of Contents:
  • Do We Need a Blogger Code of Conduct?
  • The Proposed Code
  • Why a Code?
  • Legal Issues

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    Do We Need a Blogger Code of Conduct? - The Proposed Code

    (Page 2 of 4 )

    The proposed Blogger's Code of Conduct, and the events that led up to the proposal, date from March and April of this year. Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales have created a wiki to build and revise the code. O'Reilly talks about the "lessons learned so far" in this blog entry.

    One of the lessons O'Reilly learned was that the original code wasn't "modular" enough. There are some bloggers who would be willing to adopt some parts of the code but not all of them. For example, many would agree with O'Reilly's advocacy of taking responsibility for your words -- but not with disallowing anonymous posts. Indeed, there are certain situations in which permitting anonymous posts can be a good idea, though the ability to post anonymously can also lead to the rude behavior that is all too common in some parts of the web.

    Here are the original seven points of Tim O'Reilly's proposed Blogger Code of Conduct.

    1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
    2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments. 
    3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments. 
    4. Ignore the trolls. 
    5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
    6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so. 
    7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

    The modularized version of the Blogger's Code actually lists ten modules. While many are the same as those listed here, it also includes "Do no harm," "Encourage enforcement of terms of service," "Keep our sources private" and others. Some of the modules are restatements of the ideas listed above, and may cover more than one idea.

    There is also an alternate version of the Blogger's Code of Conduct on the wiki site (http://blogging.wikia.com/wiki/Alternate_Code_of_Conduct), which is based on the Gentoo Linux code of conduct. Another proposal suggests a "scale of conduct" rather than a blogger's code, with a draft scale that looks like this:

    1. No Holds Barred -- anything goes at the risk of legal intervention.
    2. Raw Meat -- no explicit death threats, but ad hominae permitted. 
    3. Robust -- no ad hominae, but mild abuse permitted. 
    4. Civil -- no abuse, but vigorous debate permitted. 
    5. Text Book -- only proven facts, with scholarly opinion permitted.

    Debate about the code and its elements is likely to be ongoing. In the next sections I'll discuss the code itself in greater detail and look at some of the issues it potentially raises.

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