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Is it Time For a Blogging Code of Conduct?

 6:23 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Among those calling for a bloggers' code of conduct is Tim O'Reilly - one of the web's most influential thinkers.

He told BBC Radio Five Live that it could be time to formalise blogging behaviour.

"I do think we need some code of conduct around what is acceptable behaviour, I would hope that it doesn't come through any kind of [legal/government] regulation it would come through self-regulation."

Blogging Code of Conduct [news.bbc.co.uk]

What do you think - can it work, will anyone adhere to it if it were created?



 6:31 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tempest in a teapot. Sierra fell to pieces and it got all the little blogwumps teary-eyed.

Such nihilism and anger have led her to consider hanging up her blogging software for good.

Might be a good thing. She seems a bit frail for the Web. Damn good thing she never logged on to Usenet.

Self-regulate? Code of Conduct? As if the people making death threats would adhere to it.

>>one of the web's most influential thinkers

Apparently he left the 'thinking' bit behind for this current bit of nonsense.


 6:38 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just what the world needs: more unenforcable regulation.

How about this: bloggers who lack the appeal necessary to captute and hold an audience, don't. That's the effect of the free market, and it works with zero administrative overhead... whether you want it to or not.


 6:47 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

What we need is the Blog Police. Perhaps they can taze you via USB if you act up :)


 6:54 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

A code of conduct? That's laughable. What's really needed are bloggers and forum operators who are mature enough to moderate/censor/whatever comments that are clearly inappropriate-like very graphic representations of, and suggestions of death threats. If these people cannot take on even that bit of responsibility what makes you think a "code" of conduct will be useful? The only thing that will work for people like that are more laws.


 6:59 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think that there are already legal and technological things in place to take care of this stuff. If I kept getting repeated death threats by phone, I could take legal action. A few restraining orders and criminal charges slapped around would probably make a world of difference. Suddenly, it's not so fun to do anymore when you have something to loes by threatening someone.

Why is it different online? If you can't take legal action because they are in another country, well then unless they were really dedicated, they can't act on the threat. And if they are that dedicated, they would have offed somebody with or without the internet.

Bloggers need to stand up for themselves. Deleting comments like that would go a long way to helping. Critisism is different from threats and it is pretty clear what the difference is. If you take away half the thrill, of the comments being public, then most hacks lose interest pretty quick. Make it so you can't post anonomously and tracking IPs just makes sense if you are stirring up the coals under hot topics.

Movie & sports stars deal with these kinds of threats all the time. It is just part and parcel of being famous.


 7:48 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is nothing new. Those of us who first got active in computer conferencing twenty or more years ago have seen this from the get-go - it only gets more and more attention as more and more people communicate online. I myself have taken out two PPOs over that period because of online threats. There have long been calls for some way to regulate behavior, and it never works.

Somehow there's this expectation that people should behave better online than they do out in the world. It doesn't work that way.


 8:15 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

The article talked about a code of conduct but, as others have stated, there are already laws to protect people if they recieve death threats online or offline. A blogger should be in a good position to prosecute since they may very well have logged the IP of the person who made the threat, etc.


 8:39 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tim O'Reilly - one of the web's most influential thinkers

The irony made me chuckle.


 8:51 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

No they won't adhere to it if it's created, but I believe it might work to stop the kind of abuse that's just been highlighted. It might help make influential blog owners take responsibility for their content (or security!)

Obviously IP's can be traced (except proxies?) but I don't think we're talking about "comment spam/harassment" in the case highlighted in linked article, we're talking about actual blog content, a new or existing blog with an influential author - So if it were possible that blogs could be suspended immediately by an interim court order it would spoil the "game" and at the same time make it imperative for influential bloggers to mind/moderate their content/security in order to avoid such suspensions

I agree that the famous or the highly visual people had always had to put up with it, the first thing a highly visible personality needs to do is hire security, and that security has to have some kind of law or conduct to adhere to why should being a high profile web personality be any different


 8:56 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

Dean - forget usenet and the past - just go hang out in IRC these days.


 8:59 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can understand that the same laws assuring the safety of our everyday lives be ported to (applicable to) the web, but a 'web code of conduct'? Not.

The days of inner-culture 'morals' are over, especially where the wide-reaching web is concerned: acceptable web conduct should be a civility based on rationality (examination of motives, tone, fact, fiction, obvious flame, etc)... but this exists already! By means of a natural consensus, the web will govern (and protect) itself - and shape its own communities.

If 'web conduct' reaches beyond the web to physically endanger any party, our 'physical safety' laws are already there to help.

Predetermined 'web laws' enforced by (no doubt many self-appointed) 'policemen' will be a wrench in the works - pre-formatting is a form of sterilising - or sterility - for rational thought. I would not be surprised if one day such laws were used (abused) to this very end.

[edited by: Josefu at 9:00 pm (utc) on Mar. 30, 2007]


 9:33 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is funny, the whole idea of a blog is for freedom of speech.

Why are we even having this converstation?


 9:51 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

I really hope O'Reilly and his ilk come up with a code of conduct, and that they all get together and sign it.

Because as soon as they come up with one, and a group to go along with it and try and enforce it, they'll become a a part of an establishment, an elite, and eliminate themselves from relevance.

People have been listening to him dictate from up high on Mt. Ego for far too long anyway. Hopefully he'll get Cuban to sign up too, so everyone will add Mark to the universal ignore list.


 9:59 pm on Mar 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

O'Reilly is a tool. This is DOA.


 12:37 am on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>whole idea of a blog is for freedom of speech

Freedom of speech has some limitations. I can't yell "Fire!" in a theater, and I can't phone you up and say I'm going to come over and shoot you. Certainly, most speech is protected. Death threats aren't.

Sometimes, of course, the line between satire, hyperbole, and realistic threats may get blurry.


 12:53 am on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I can't yell "Fire!" in a theater, and I can't phone you up and say I'm going to come over and shoot you. Certainly, most speech is protected. Death threats aren't."

With all due respect, that is not 'freedom of speech' - the above are not a voicing of opinion; they are expressions of intent, examples of what I meant by 'intent' - if an expression of intent threatens or leads towards physical harm, our existing laws already apply. Even in blogworld.

I agree that this isn't much worth discussing.

[edited by: Josefu at 12:56 am (utc) on Mar. 31, 2007]


 7:01 am on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

What a load of tripe.

If she's getting threats, turn it over to the cops, file a complaint.

The police take those things seriously already.

Here's a clue lady:
If you don't want undo attention then shut your pie hole and stop posting on the 'net.

There, how hard was that?

[edited by: incrediBILL at 7:02 am (utc) on Mar. 31, 2007]


 12:52 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

"There is an unwritten rule in the blogosphere that it is wrong to delete nasty comments. It suggests that you can't take criticism but now there is a sense that this is nonsense," she said.

I think this is part of the problem. There are these "unwritten" rules that some people feel they need to stick by. Deleting nasty or otherwise unwanted comments has caused me no qualms and has kept me out of trouble.

I don't know what exactly it is you have to do to get a death threat, but none of my writing naturally lends itself to that kind of thing. If it ever did occur, I would go to my local authorities rather than some code of conduct police...

The idea that the people who are issuing death threats would abide by this code of conduct is laughable.


 7:41 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Regulating thought. Hmmm...the irony of the very group of people who rightfully denounce politically correct speech now wish to apply the same to intellectually challenged bloggers.

Let the idiots write what they want and if they have an audience of like mind...so be it. Let the blind lead the blind.

Yogesh Sarkar

 11:21 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Donít know what really is her problem, if she is receiving threats via comments then it makes sense to delete those comments. There is a difference between freedom of speech and threats, as far as I am concerned my blog/site/forum is my property and no one can come on my property and threaten me!

If they wish to engage in constructive criticism then they would be most welcomed, but say some thing nasty and you will kicked out, its as simple as this.

If she canít even stand up for herself and that too on internet, then I donít think she should be near a computer!

Or maybe we all are getting this wrong and she is just looking for publicity and enjoying being in the limelight.


 11:33 pm on Mar 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just don't see how a code of conduct would help in the slightest. The people who cause problems on the internet are exactly the ones who don't adhere to social norms in the first place.

I also don't see any solution to the problem of aggressive or threatening emails. Death threats and libel are already illegal in most countries, with penalties including jail time, and yet these emails still get sent.


 12:41 am on Apr 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why are we even having this converstation?

Because the mainstream media told us to!

To me, it's not an issue - as others have said, laws are in place to work against out-of-control behavior, whether it's offline or online.

Trying to make something that's already illegal, even more illegal, does not work.

What needs to happen is that people need to stop reading the useless blogs. There are way too many blogs out there that write and engage in "extreme" behavior simply for the traffic. People go and read them so that they can tell their friends "OH MY GOSH, DID YOU SEE WHAT THIS PERSON WROTE?".

In other words, the trolls are being fed and they feel they have a little power, and they decide to exercise it against the lady in the article. Yes, there could be one or two or three that are dangerous, but then again, many people on the internet are only talk and just that - I've seen people act like 6-foot-6 320 ex-football players online, only to find out they are 5-foot-5 140 pound scrawny types.

One thing I think some should think about it, and we've talked about this in other threads, is that many of us do use the privacy features when registered our domains, and we generally tend to keep personal information off of our blog. One could have a "personality" on their blog, without telling the world where they live, if they have kids, what they drive, etc.

Because we can reach many countries in the world, outside of the Chinas and North Koreas and parts of the Middle East (depending on our blogs), we also have a little bit more insulation. Even if we reveal our names and location. Somebody who gets angry half way around the world has little chance to do anything.

Now if you are blogging locally, or you make yourself a lightning rod, and you travel around to various events, it can get dicey if you are giving out your personal information.

It's a complex issue, but more regulation is not the solution. Common sense is.

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