Will You Adhere to the New Blogging Code of Conduct?

Note: This post was guest blogged by me, Mitchell Harper of www.HarpzOn.com. I’m filling in with a few posts while John’s out and about on his well deserved Canadian holiday πŸ˜‰

Tim O’Reilly (cited as the founder of the Internet) has put together a blogger’s code of conduct. It includes 9 modules and can be seen here:

1. Responsibility for our own words
2. Nothing we wouldn’t say in person
3. Connect privately first
4. Take action against attacks
5. a) No anonymous comments OR b) No pseudonymous comments
6. Ignore the trolls
7. Encourage enforcement of terms of service
8. Keep our sources private
9. Discretion to delete comments

The thing that gets me is that blogs started out as a way for people to start a personal journal online, and now that they’ve become serious business tools Tim and his working group feel that there’s a need for us bloggers to abide by a code of conduct.

Personally I wont be following a bloggers code of conduct. I write my blog in whatever way I feel like and I’m sure that’s how many of you are as well. I know that when I don’t like a comment I’ll reply back. The replies wont always be nice, so that defeats #4 from the list above. I’m also happy for people to leave comments anonymously so there goes #5.

What are your thoughts on the blogging code of conduct? To me it seems as though it’s a way to voluntarily limit the free speech impact we’ve come to expect from bloggers.


86 thoughts on “Will You Adhere to the New Blogging Code of Conduct?”

  1. dk says:

    Hey Mitch,

    I tend to agree with you. Once someone comes to your blog its almost like the come to your house. If someone can’t behave according to the owner’s rules (whatever those happen to be as there are some bizzare blogs out there πŸ˜‰ ) he/she deserves to be put in line.

    Cheers
    Dan

    1. HMTKSteve says:

      This is nothing but a scam to get a bunch of free link backs from people linking to his code of conduct!!!

      1. Aaron Cook says:

        I agree with Steve.

        And as for following a certain “code of conduct” for blogging…NO WAY! It’s my damn blog and I’ll do with it what I want.

        Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I heard something so asinine. I think Tim needs to break the pills in half the next time he takes them. πŸ˜›

        Shine on,
        Aaron

  2. uncle sha says:

    1. Responsibility for our own words
    –> i think the moment we setup a blog we’re liable for anything

    4. Take action against attacks
    –> define attacks?

    5. a) No anonymous comments OR b) No pseudonymous comments
    –> i’m with Mitch, i’m ok with anonymous comments. no harm there unless it’s spam. akismet covers that

    6. Ignore the trolls
    –> Forgive my english. but what is this?

    7. Encourage enforcement of terms of service
    –> for me its a personal blog, i’m not a businessman. TOS?

    1. dk says:

      I think trolls are those one word unhelpful comments often of a vulgar nature we all can live without.

      Cheers
      Dan

  3. Jeff from LA says:

    This blogger code of conduct is completely ridiculous. Obviously some people don’t understand the free/anonymous culture of the internet/blogosphere. If users wanted to be so restricted, they wouldn’t bother to come to this venue/medium to do so.

    1. well you wouldn’t say the same thing if you are the person receiving death threats.

  4. Sha: Trolls are people that just bug you and post pointless comments on your blog and send you pointless emails asking you to checkout their blog, etc.

    For terms of service I think it’s just silly. Maybe you can have a few guidelines on your blog such as no links in comments and no swearing, but anything else takes away the nature of free speech that is blogging+commenting.

    1. uncle sha says:

      thanks for that explanation Mitch πŸ™‚

      Yeah i think the code of conduct sounds like so ‘stifling’, kinda crammed my style of blogging if that rule was followed

      1. Marc says:

        I don’t find it that stifling, but I do find it absurd. There’s this unfortunate misconception that if you own a blog you’re considered a journalist in some respects…

        We’re not. We’re people with websites. This is the Internet. Use at your own risk.

    2. Dave says:

      I agree with you Harper, you need a few rules, but you shouldn’t cramp free speech.

      1. well the internet should be free (according to many) but a few rules that benchmarks on respect is not bad too.

  5. I see no point in a blogging code of conduct seriously. Why would i adhere to such a code? When i was yonger i had my parents telling me what to do (and not do), i had many employers/boss telling me what to do and how to act, and on and on and on… i blog cause i love it (and i earn some money doing so, which is always welcome), and i respect other bloggers, i think the blogosphere is in no need of a code of conduct. Simple respect is more than enough. Free speech, like Mitch said, i totally agree with that! my 2 cents! πŸ™‚

  6. Ed Lau says:

    Psh, I’ll play by my rules, not theirs. I hate how people try to regulate things that should not and will not be regulated.

    1. Marc says:

      Don’t worry Ed, the only regulations that work are those that are enforced. They could never hope to enforce these rules given the current structure of the Internet.

      1. Dave says:

        This rule seems kinda shady and open to interpretation:

        8. Keep our sources private

        So , if I get an idea from something you wrote on your blog, I shouldn’t list you as a source or original source?

        Seems self serving to me.

        1. uncle sha says:

          I prefer to credit my source … yeah kinda ‘shady’

  7. Gath says:

    Some of these are good suggestions – but what about “Connect Privately first”?

    1. Matt Jones says:

      Yeah what does that mean? Anyone?

      1. I think what it means is that if you have anything to say to a person, you should tell them directly without involving others. Tim O’Reilly mentioned something about taking a conversation offline or finding a third party to mediate if only to avoid miscommunication and unnecessary public humiliation.

        1. Matt Jones says:

          Ok that makes sence,… unless that person had donesomething worthy of inflicting great humiliation! πŸ˜›

        2. which is way much better compared to sending death threats through email or comments in a blog.

      2. Rehuel says:

        He mentions Kathy’s case, where she started name calling some people who were outraged afterwards, because they can’t understand why she’s charging them.

        So he says, instead of flaming people online, in the same conversation, take it offline, contact the person directly, or use some mediator. Else you may be flaming the wrong person, or even attracht unwanted attention to yourself.

    2. uncle sha says:

      isn’t a blog meant to be a public potray of your ideas & writings … “Connect Privately first” thats sounds like a dating thingie, haha :mrgreen:

  8. No, I will not adhere. No way. I can’t take them as suggestion, but not as rules.

  9. TheAnand says:

    And violators go to Askaban? gimme a break:!:

    1. Askaban — first time I smiled since I read Mitch’s post, that was classic.

    2. Marc says:

      Of course not, don’t be silly. You’ll just be fired… Out of a catapult 😯

      1. Dave says:

        That will be easily enforceable….internationally. No problems there! πŸ˜€

  10. uberum says:

    This is a great idea to talk about on my blog. I knew that reading John would inspirate me some ideas πŸ˜‰

    Why always the freedom scares so much people ?
    Why does exist such obsesion to regulate things ?

    If this were a poll, I would say NO.

  11. Vijay says:

    I wouldn’t seriously be adhering to this.. Maybe a few which I was already doing, i would do. Otherwise certainly not

    1. Marc says:

      I also already happen to follow some of these and will continue to. Those I don’t follow I see no reason to start at the moment. That may change in the future, but for now this is just a wish list written by one individual.

    2. it is just a practice of ethics anyway. so why not?

  12. I agree with Mitch and everyone thus far; I think implementing a blogging code of conduct is farfetched and idealistic. While mere guidelines are plausible, a strict set of rules would utterly defeat the purpose of blogging — speaking one’s mind, throwing both wise and nonsensical opinions out into the void, hoping someone else might understand you.

  13. Matt Jones says:

    It would be impossible to spread that code of conduct to every blogger yet alone enforce it. Anyway as everyone has said regulation is not what blogging is about. It you don’t like the way someone manages their blog don’t visit it again.

  14. You simply adhere to the standards you set for your own blog. And as far as comments go, you adhere to the guidelines set by other publishers on THEIR sites — that’s the most people can do really…it all boils down to respect.

  15. uncle sha says:

    I wonder what’s John ‘evil’ 😈 Chow view on this

    1. Marc says:

      You mean John Chow, the guys who keeps getting in trouble because he breaks the rules?

      I think we know where he’d stand on this… 😈

  16. Rehuel says:

    3 comments:

    1: These “rules” are only a few notes mentioned. “In a discussion the other night at O’Reilly’s ETech conference, we came up with a few ideas about what such a code of conduct might entail. These thoughts are just a work in progress, and hopefully a spur for further discussion.”

    2: Mitch, when you see a comment that you don’t like, especially if it’s virtually calling you a hypocrite, do you reply back (nicely or not) or do you just delete the comment?

    3: When you’re using information, make sure you use the correct information. The list you mention is from Blogging Wikia. I see no affiliation to Tim on that site (maybe I’m not looking at the right places). I do find this link on the page you linked here, which IS to Tim’s version of this story: http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2007/03/call_for_a_blog_1.html

    Please make sure you provide correct information, you might get yourself or John sued.

    PS: this “code of conduct” came up after Kathy Sierra was blatantly harassed and was sent several death threads.

    1. Marc says:

      I’d be entertained to see a lawsuit like you suggest go forth πŸ˜†

      Good luck with that.

      1. Rehuel says:

        No, no, no, I’m not saying I’ll sue!! πŸ™‚ There just seem to be a couple of people being sued online for misconceptions they created by not providing the whole (or correct) story.

  17. Rehuel: It depends what mood I’m in. Generally I will reply to the comment and not delete it, but if someone goes too far I will delete the comment, because it’s my blog.

    The links you posted are just extensions of the list with Tim’s comments included. I’m totally for people being able to choose what they stand for on their blog and which policies they implement, but I don’t believe that Tim should be the one to come up with the list, no matter if he’s trying to enforce it or not.

    In regards to John or I getting sued – I don’t think so. I haven’t misrepresented anything. Just sharing my views on this.

  18. jhay says:

    The code is fine as long as no one would go around shoving it down blogger’s throats. πŸ˜†

    1. exactly. if you don’t want to follow it, go ahead. if you want to follow it, then good for you.

  19. Larry Keiler says:

    Geez, everybody take a pill. 😯 I don’t see anything in those guidelines that limits freedom of speech, except limitations which already exist under law. You can write anything you want in your blog as long as it’s not slanderous or libellous, which, if you don’t know what they are, you better look ’em up.

    Basically, they’re saying, get your facts straight, if you’re blogging factual information…follow some journalistic principles, like having corroborating sources. Maintain a personal level of civility…didn’t yer mom teach ya manners?…no matter what the trolls may be doing. And delete comments if they’re really offensive, because it is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it, right?

    1. Marc says:

      “it is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it, right?”

      See I would worry that such a code would change that…

      I do delete comments that are offensive. I also link to sources but I don’t consider my blog to be related to journalism in any way shape or form. I see it more as some guy who’s talking on the grass in a park and often enough people stop by and listen.

      Who you ask for corroborating evidence from this person?

  20. Marc says:

    To me it’s a completely pointless exercise. The only people who would follow a “code” would be people who are already behaving.

    The need for a code of blogging comes from people who don’t behave online. What are the odds that they’re going to suddenly see the error of their ways and follow a newly founded blogging code?

  21. Armen says:

    Rehuel,

    Thank you for the sources that allow us to see more clearly what is going on. With all due respect to Mitch, it appears that Tim has been misrepresented.

    In a sense it would appear that we have right before us, one of the reasons this is being promoted.

    Stop getting over excited guys, the blogging code is put forth in the, “hope that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation.”

  22. Sabrina says:

    I blogged about this very thing on April Fools’ Day, I personally think this is just a buzz because no one likes to be told what to do. People that are hateful, rude and uninformed in their blogging I wouldn’t assume end up very successful anyways, so I would think they get what’s coming to them by way of no readers, thus no reinforcement.

  23. Angela says:

    I think ignoring the trolls is the hardest of the list.

    1. Alex says:

      Trolls – piss off 😈

    2. At first, I thought bots were most annoying; I was wrong — trolls are far worse. We’d all build troll-immunity sooner or later.

    3. it is the worst. especially those people who troll just to get people visiting their site.

  24. Rehuel says:

    I just wrote an article about this whole thing in my blog. http://www.rehuel.com/2007/04/16/code-of-conduct-or-guidelines/

    Hopefully this will clarify some stuff.

  25. Leftblank says:

    I’ll not follow anything Tim O’Reilly says, really, haven’t seen much ‘new’ or whatever coming from his side. These ‘rules’ practically prevent anyone from expressing his or her opinion about this that might be risky when done in real life – which is NOT good.

  26. Derrich says:

    Keep sources private? Why would you do that? Unless they specifically request that, showing your sources proves that you didn’t just blogerize someone else’s content. I would #1, 2, 7 (sorta), and 9 are a part of everyone’s “common sense” blogging code of conduct.

  27. I think that the code of conduct is nothing more than a publicity tool itself. The code has no purpose in the real world. You can’t go crying to the police that somebody broke the code of conduct and please arrest them. This has all been borne of the Kathy Sierra incident (a horrid event that I don’t think for one second anyone condones). What people have to remember though is that if somebody harasses or threatens you seriously then there are already real laws in place to deal with this type of behaviour. Asking for the blogosphere to be policed and sites to practically be badged like censor rated films is a ridiculous and purposeless activity. People will always read and write what they want. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. It’s simple, I just wish people would stop trying to get something out of it for themselves…

    1. Joshua says:

      Exaaactly πŸ’‘

  28. Dax Desai says:

    I stick to it. The best rule of thumb is would you say it in person. If the answer is no AND you try to be anonymous then you have a bit of thinking to do before spitting out those words on the net.

    1. although, most people will not do the confrontation thing since being anonymous gives people more courage to do such things.

  29. Amanda says:

    I think people take a lot of things and think they are hot crap on the internet. It’s annoying going around and seeing people just rip others to shreds because of it. It happens a lot in the teeny world however most of my sales come from there so I have to stick to it. Sometimes its like highschool all over again.

    Bah

  30. it’d take too much trouble (especially for you john) to moderate all the comments…

  31. Dave says:

    I won’t be following it…

  32. adam says:

    I think everyone has their own self-imposed set of blogging rules. but that’s how it should be. We don’t need someone else imposing their own code on to us.

    1. uncle sha says:

      Maybe they have too much time on their hand?

  33. Blog censorship is going to be tough because anonymity is inevitable. Anyone can say anything about practically anybody. It is then up to us as individuals to filter out the bad and absorb the good.

    1. uncle sha says:

      Do ya know in Malaysia (Southeast Asian country) they’re trying to get the bloggers to register! Hahaha i wonder how many will signup. The plan was proposed after the gov recently has spate of ‘blog attacks’ about how the gov runs the nation

      1. dk says:

        Register and than what? Issue them with some kind of “blogging licence”?

        That’d be pretty sad really.

        Dan

      2. Aaron Cook says:

        It never ceases to amaze me how idiotic governments can be. Instead of wasting precious time thinking up plans for having bloggers register, they should be spend it actually thinking of ways they can run the nation better!

        More proof that politicians suck everywhere.

      3. And if the locals don’t sign up they’re blogs go poof and turn to dust? I honestly doubt it; there are more pressing national issues that governments should worry about.

  34. Sara says:

    Personally, I think creating some sort of set code of conduct defeats the entire founding purpose of a blog. As Mitch pointed out, blogs began as very personal. Although they’ve become business tools, I see no reason to start forcing etiquette upon the medium.

    Obviously if someone is trying to use their blog for a business they’re going to write appropriately for that business. If they don’t, their blog won’t appeal to their customers and there’s no point in writing it anyway. I think O’Reilly’s ideas are just that: his ideas. If that’s how he wants to run his blog then let him. I personally agree with most of his ideas for my blog, but if I was writing a blog about anarchy or political debate, I sure wouldn’t hold myself at a distance from my readers who are commenting.

    People love blogs because they’re free-form and honest, they don’t want to read more stiff PR babble.

    Sara

  35. James says:

    I’ll follow it-when it serves my blog and readers. Just like always. If it doesn’t – who cares.

  36. Joshua says:

    Anyone in Canada, or anyone familiar with the infamous Gun Registry, will see the similarities between the criminals that will never register their guns, and the irresponsible bloggers and/or anonymous users that will not change their foolish ways.

    The morons will continue to be morons, as the ‘good’ people will continue to be good people.

    Laws (in the real world) aren’t usually what stop people from doing things, as you’ll note with most jails being overcrowded, etc.

    Attempting to put pseudo-laws down on the internet is just silly. The more freedom you enjoy, the more responsibility you must put on your shoulders. This goes for real life too!

    We enjoy reading and writing in blogs due to that exact ‘freedom’ of speech. The personal and unique nature of blogs make them attractive to us, in a world filled with censorship and calculated marketing moves.

    It’s a shame that the death threat case has been used so much in promoting this nonsense. Not to trivialize her plight, but we have many horrible things going on in the world, and there will always be fools trying to screw with you. There are many paths to take in resolving the issue, and perhaps the wrong one was chosen?

    Everyone so outraged about this one single case should realize the collective power they have, to help shine light on things that matter. It’s a waste to spend so much time on something that will not matter in the long run (re: the code of conduct, not Kathy’s case).

    Look at 9/11 and how that tragedy was used for leverage against the freedoms of the people. See where it brought us, as a world…and remember it, for ***** sake!

  37. Stephanie says:

    While I run my blogs in a similar fashion to that code, I would not want to see it formalized. I like being able to allow people to comment as they see fit, and with whatever name they like. Setting up such barriers formally would be counterproductive.

  38. I wonder if people who are supposedly smart are really naive enough to believe that something like this ever will be universally followed?

    Stuff like this is regularly suggested and it never catches on.

    And i think the blogosphere is one of the places which there is relatively good conduct, if you wanna see real trolling and hatred check out newsgroups or even youtube. πŸ™‚

  39. I am unalterably against any form of “code of conduct”. Heck, you could spend a year in useless international meetings just arguing about “what is a blog?” if you want to get down in the weeds. The appeal of blogging to me and to many is the freedom to publish as we wish … and the other side of the coin is that those who don’t share my tastes don’t need to read or even visit. Should be nothing else needed.

    I’m particularly fascinated though by the reference to Tim O’Reilly being “the” founder of the Internet. I know history is a weak subject for most North Americans but please … First, there is no single “founder” of the Internet. The Internet as we know it today evolved from various US Department of Defense experiments and development contracts for a network called DARPA Net (later ARPA Net). Educational users and then the general public were allowed access bit by bit and the government internationalized control of the ‘Net and commercialized the access costs, gradually weaning the network away from tax-based support. I have no idea where O’Reilly was in this activity but I cab guarantee he didn’t do it himself.

    His contribution, if you can call it that, was to claim to have coined the name Web 2.0 (whatever the heck Web 2.0 really means) and then to run around suing people who tried to use the phrase it in order to protect his antiquated paper publishing company which has tried to position themselves as somehow being the “owners” of Web 2.0.

  40. Miriguy says:

    I feel funny. I mean, these guidelines or so called blogging code of conduct are just.. common sense.

  41. A fixed, carved-in-stone law may be too much, but I must admit, we have been doing some of the things on the list there anyway. The point is that putting a blogging leash on every single blog out there is, well, pointless.

  42. The whole concept is utterly ridiculous, not to mention severely lacking on so many levels. For example, it could never be universally enforced, if it could be enforced at all.

    In fact, it’s so brainlessly stupid that I posted a “Fight Club” version of it on my blog. Hell, it was either make a joke of it or blow my top over its unending stupidity. πŸ˜›

    Shine on,
    Aaron

  43. I posted about this too before and all I got are positive reactions.

    @Aaron
    well because of that fight club, don’t you think your blog’s traffic increased?

  44. Forget this man… The blogging world is supposed inspire freedom of speech, at its fullest extent.

    Why do we need rules?

    -Sam from MarketMatador.com

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