Bloggers Code of Conduct: Should We Censor Ourselves?

When Tim O’Reilly drafted a Bloggers Code of Conduct, it sent waves through the so-called blogosphere. While O’Reilly encourages open discussion on this draft, it begs the question: do we even need a code of conduct at all?

The concept of blogging has enjoyed a comet-like rise to stardom in the mainstream media. Suddenly it was easy to guage the opinions of thousands of “normal people” worldwide. I didn’t think I’d ever hear a journalist on CNN say “What do bloggers think about this?”, but last year: there it was.

This very same mainstream spotlight makes it profitable to write about blogging. So that’s what O’Reilly did. The code itself is pretty much what you’d expect: Be nice and be politically correct:

[..] frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. We present this Blogger Code of Conduct in hopes that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation.

We are committed to the “Civility Enforced” standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we’ll delete comments that contain it.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that: – is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others – is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person, – infringes upon a copyright or trademark – violates an obligation of confidentiality – violates the privacy of others

My frank and civil opinion on this is that it can only come from someone who has absolutely no connection to the community he’s writing about.

But wait, this is my own blog, so I can also write this: Fuck your code of conduct O’Reilly. If you want to badge your site so it’s soccer-mom-safe go right ahead, but a draft of rules won’t make a vibrant community less scary for you. In fact, I predict zero effect.

Blogs come in as many sizes and shapes as LEGOs, cookies or faux impotence pills. Some blogs are like the weeds that break through the sidewalk; not quite as society intended, but tiny oases anyway. There are subcultures. Plural. It is useless to even ponder a code of conduct. Either there are already unwritten rules and secret handshakes, or actual laws that govern each country of blogger origin.

The utter futility of this draft is quite expressed. Of course we are responsible for what we say: if I threaten someone, I can be brought to justice. If I infringe on copyright, I either know I’m doing it and do it anyway, or it’s techinally a copyright infringement but no-one cares.

Blogging is an easy and accessible way to utter actual opinions. Trying to box it up and label it is not only moot and moronic but also a blow to free speech and an impossible task. Good luck with Myspace. Not that anyone cares if you succeed.

13 thoughts on “Bloggers Code of Conduct: Should We Censor Ourselves?”

  1. Kevin Cannon says:

    Absolutely, it sounds like a waste of time. Who’s signing up for this ‘code of conduct’? This whole notion of the blogosphere is a load of hogwash. The only thing that’s the real blogosphere are the core design/technical bloggers who look at blogging and are filled with self importance.

    Everyone else who blogs doesn’t really care and just do it for themselves.

  2. lm says:

    are they going to test all people on “normality” or so?

    The whole point of blogging is to say whatever come into ones mind, whatever rubbish or pearls would it be.

    😀 i rather test your comments feeds now – whatever you done with it, i see that there are 2 comments but i see only the last one.

  3. Joen says:

    Everyone else who blogs doesn?t really care and just do it for themselves.

    Exactly.

    The whole point of blogging is to say whatever come into ones mind, whatever rubbish or pearls would it be.

    At least there is and should be room for that.

    😀 i rather test your comments feeds now – whatever you done with it, i see that there are 2 comments but i see only the last one.

    Hmm… Seems to look okay — is it slow to catch on? Maybe it’s because it’s being cached?

  4. lm says:

    it seems ok but in feed you have 3 comments but on a page self is stated:

    Comments(4)

    I thought either one get missing or i dont see it for some reason 😀 Or it is another trick.

  5. Joen says:

    Oh, right. That’s because it counts the pingback.

    I’m too lazy to fix it right now 🙂

  6. lm says:

    Ok now i know i didnt miss some valuable comment that could of change the course of …( at this point i dont know yet what to put here: a day, year …) 😀

  7. I’m liking FSteve Jobs’ coverage of this matter: here & here.

    Also, I think I’m the first person to actually say “fuck you Joen” on his own journal.

    By his invitation.

    If that isn’t standing up for free speech, I dunno what is.

  8. lm says:

    well it is kind of rather sad that example of free speech is excessive using of f-word.

    😀 we know at least one quite recent example of one outstanding blogger who said this word publicly – sorry i forgot how many times -in one post(10000?) and then completely gave up on blogging ( i heard he is successfully twittering now somewhere with a lot more words in his lexicon).

    Personally i have no objections to any words but it would be not funny if this blog will run out.

  9. lm: I think you’re thinking John Oxton, but he’s great!

  10. Joen says:

    Also, I think I?m the first person to actually say ?fuck you Joen? on his own journal.

    Now that I think about it, I think you’re right 🙂

    Personally i have no objections to any words but it would be not funny if this blog will run out.

    Of course. One thing is saying it for the fuck of it, another thing is to abuse it.

  11. lm says:

    To James : John is great , i just hope he will blog again someday. But for now i think twitter is what he need to keep things going. It is our loss not his apparently.

    To Joen:

    i meant here just a kind of analogy with some possibility rather than was trying to say that there is a quote exists on use of certain words.

    If you know what i mean. I think for now i will better sleep on it. 😀 too late now,

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