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Do We Need a Blogger Code of Conduct?
By: Terri Wells
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    2007-08-15

    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? - Why a Code?


    (Page 3 of 4 )



    When you think about all of these points, they seem to add up to common civility. But the combination of the ease with which one can create an anonymous identity online and the lack of accountability such an identity gives the user has led to some really abusive behavior. In such a climate, the vigorous debate that is treasured in many online communities can degenerate into "a race to the bottom," according to O'Reilly.

    The code's policies are designed to discourage this kind of behavior by striking at some of the causes. This is why it proposes that adherents consider eliminating anonymous comments. It also suggests ignoring the trolls to avoid bringing about that race to the bottom in the first place. To paraphrase a common saying online, "Don't wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, but the pig likes it."

    The code also recognizes that even the best of us may be tempted to behave churlishly. That is why it encourages adherents to take responsibility for their own words and to never say something to someone online that you wouldn't say to their face. It's also why the code includes an encouragement to take the conversation offline and either talk directly or through an intermediary; when you are dealing directly with someone in a private venue, and working to iron out your differences, you are less likely to try to "grandstand" and play to an (online) audience.

    Basically, O'Reilly wants to enlist the blogging community to enforce a different, more civil standard of discourse online -- or at the very least, to let readers of (and posters to) particular blogs know what to expect. It's purely voluntary, of course, but community standards do have a certain strength behind them when lots of people agree on them. And he believes it is necessary because without it, the best parts of the Internet experience -- the stimulating discussions, the vigorous exchange of views, the interesting perspectives on various topics -- might become lost.

    Kathy Sierra wrote a widely-read blog on coding which apparently helped many people write better programs. As a result of the cyberbullying she experienced, she not only cancelled an appearance at a tech conference, but considered ending her blog for good. She would not be the first online voice silenced, nor the last, but that doesn't make it any less of a tragedy.

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