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.