Draft Code of Conduct

You might remember the reaction when a Director of the Press Complaints Commission suggested a code of conduct for blogging.

But what if the code were to be developed by people who have a proper stake in the live-web rather than by outside regulators?

From a British blogging perspective Tim’s been trying to get us to think about our behaviour as political bloggers (with the sort of aggressive left-field approach that he’s known for) but otherwise things have – as far as my reading goes – gone a bit quite on this front.

But apparently the same sort of questions – anonymity, trolling, abuse – are equally prevalent in the wider ‘sphere.  I’d seen Nancy’s take on the developing idea, and now The Guardian have picked up on a draft blogger’s code of conduct that has been put together by Tim O’Reily and Jimmy Wales.

Personally I quite like much of the draft:

  • taking responsibility for what we allow on our blogs;
  • only saying things we’d be happy to stand up for offline;
  • using private channels to question what others are saying before going public;
  • challenging behaviour we think unacceptable;
  • being wary of anonymity; and
  • ignoring the trolls.

Then I live in a very quiet bit of the ‘sphere where we are pretty polite to each other and only a few people don’t provide a proper email address – which I do think is a bit naughty, but hardly a hanging offence.

What I can’t see is that this will be immediately compelling for those who don’t find being polite and considerate the sine qua non of blogging.  Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try but I suspect that we’re beyond the tipping point and there are enough readers and bloggers who quite like the apparent freedom to slag and bully to make putting that genie back in the bottle quite difficult.

Update: Euan has a pithier version of the code.

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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5 Responses to Draft Code of Conduct

  1. Robert says:

    this whole code of conduct is very boring as it will come to absolutely nothing and is just going to get blogs linking to blogs about blogs that link to blogs, ad nauseam.

    This may be good for technorati “points” but actually harms the nature of blogging itself as it makes the process appear even more clique-like and self-serving, turning away those who should become more engaged.

    Most people are “good” and some people are “bad”, and not all the good ones are always saintly, and not all the bad ones have three heads, spit blood and eat kittens for breakfast. Nothing that blogging agreements, technology or anything else is going to change that.

    What we should not do is give the misguided attention-seekers, who started this process by hounding Kathy Sierra, any more exposure.

    You have to remember that this is not really a universal blogging discussion, but another “Free Speech” turf war skirmish between Americans.

  2. andrewkbrown says:

    I don’t know enough about the back history of this attempt at a code, but I found it interesting that there seems to be a parallel conversation taking place about netiquette here and in the States.

  3. Lone Ranger says:

    Well I’m alright I don’t have a blog.

  4. Robert says:

    well, yes, speaking about the same topics is interesting, but I suspect we are not having the same conversations.

    Parallel is a good word – similar, but never merging.

    codes of conduct mean nothing unless they are enforced (British politics should amply demonstrate that to someone like you who knows) so what is the point of the most recent one?

    sorry to be cynical, but I think this has a lot more to do with certain people wanting to cement their role at the centre of ANY popular conversation than to fix the problem – mainly because this is not a problem that can be fixed, and everyone knows this. Even Kathy Sierra, who started the latest tiz has distanced herself from it. It is no suprise that it has come from two people already at the centre of “Web 2.0” and a lot to gain from more talk about it.

    Americans routinely have a fight over “freedom of speech” issues and very few things ever get resolved. Airing views is great, and posting one’s own view is great, but I don’t think any of this will actually change anything.

    Is this not exactly the same thing that was said when the WWW first started, then when discussion fora emerged? I think we survived them did we not?

  5. andrewkbrown says:

    Like you, Robert, I’m not sure that anything will change and it looks like your history on the net is longer than mine (I’m afraid I’m too young to have fought the forum wars ;-)).

    That said the occasional reminder of how to behave on “the perfect medium for bullies, liars and cowards” (as an Iain Banks character describes the internet) can’t be all bad, can it?

    Particularly when one particular paradigm is seen as “the way” by the mainstream media.

    In the case of British political blogging we’re currently being offered the Westminster circle jerk of gossip, smear and vandalism – perhaps reflecting the glorious instincts of so many political reporters as much as their readers.

    And while this exercise may a bit self-referential and a rage against the dying of the light I still see a value in saying these things from time to time. Perhaps as much to try to keep myself on the straight and narrow as for others.

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