Code of conduct or not?

Tim O’Reilly just posted the draft of a Blogger’s Code of Conduct that he’s hoping we all adopt. I instantly asked the mob hanging out on Twitter what they thought. Brett Nordquist had this funny thought:

“Something tells me the sites with the ‘Anything Goes’ logo will be more interesting.”

I’m not able to currently sign this, either. First I allow anonymous comments. I do watch for hate speech, though, and delete that when it’s found (pretty rare, actually).

Second, I engage with my trolls. Why? Cause if they show up here I think they deserve an answer and I find they often get me to think deeper about the topic that I’m writing about than if we didn’t engage in a little gutter wrestling.

Third, I’ve broken the “talk privately” plank several times before and I’m not sure I would be able to stay true to that one, either. I blog. I don’t back channel. I don’t beg for links behind your back the way many other sites do (and sometimes even require). If I have a problem with something you wrote on your blog I think we should play it out in public. If I’m wrong, that’ll be part of the public record. I don’t like back room “deals” between bloggers. Makes me wonder what else they are doing in the back room. But I do understand the principle here, and, truth be told, I do value opinions of people who do their homework first. When I haven’t done my homework first it’s hurt me.

So, for now, I guess I’d have to wear the “anything goes” badge.

I do find disquieting the social pressure to get on board with this program. Tim O’Reilly is a guy who really can affect one’s career online (and off, too). I do have to admit that I feel some pressure just to get on board here and that makes me feel very uneasy.

How about you?

UPDATE: this is at the top of TechMeme right now too, with tons of comments coming in.

225 thoughts on “Code of conduct or not?

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  4. Sorry Robert:
    I accidently posted the comment above while it was intended for a completely different discussion on another blog regarding Kevin Burton’s latest “cell phone scandal”:
    http://www.feedblog.org/2007/04/the_ethics_of_v.html

    Anyways, I thought that since it was my error, I at least should fill you in on the story. That way you could figure out if you wanted to take responsibility for my comment. I mean, isn’t that part of the new code of bloggers ethics? :-)

  5. Sorry Robert:
    I accidently posted the comment above while it was intended for a completely different discussion on another blog regarding Kevin Burton’s latest “cell phone scandal”:
    http://www.feedblog.org/2007/04/the_ethics_of_v.html

    Anyways, I thought that since it was my error, I at least should fill you in on the story. That way you could figure out if you wanted to take responsibility for my comment. I mean, isn’t that part of the new code of bloggers ethics? :-)

  6. Kfir:

    I totally agree with you. Who cares?
    Take it offline!
    Or better yet, perhaps we should write up a “cell owners code of conduct?”

    Blonde 2.0

  7. Kfir:

    I totally agree with you. Who cares?
    Take it offline!
    Or better yet, perhaps we should write up a “cell owners code of conduct?”

    Blonde 2.0

  8. As someone who gets the most virulent comments imaginable with the occasional death threat to boot, in a country in which a culture of impunity has overwhelmed the Rule of Law and where human rights are now just a good idea, I can assure you that I am partial to the idea of some sort of framework of civility for comments in blogs.

    However, this has to be determined by the owner / group that runs each blog – not by a higher uber-blogger who determines what civility is for the rest of us.

    See http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2007/04/10/blogging-code-of-conduct-does-one-size-fit-all

  9. As someone who gets the most virulent comments imaginable with the occasional death threat to boot, in a country in which a culture of impunity has overwhelmed the Rule of Law and where human rights are now just a good idea, I can assure you that I am partial to the idea of some sort of framework of civility for comments in blogs.

    However, this has to be determined by the owner / group that runs each blog – not by a higher uber-blogger who determines what civility is for the rest of us.

    See http://ict4peace.wordpress.com/2007/04/10/blogging-code-of-conduct-does-one-size-fit-all

  10. If Tim has that much power to affect the career of bloggers, then something has gone wrong with the promise of the blogosphere.

    I guess I would be more interested in open discussions about intimidation and coercion, than in a code of conduct. Nothing in the proposed code would protect Kathy as far as I can tell, and I think theres more chance of helping humans build psychological defenses against intimidation & coercion, than trying to silence every troll.

    ‘stick and stones’ badge anyone?

  11. If Tim has that much power to affect the career of bloggers, then something has gone wrong with the promise of the blogosphere.

    I guess I would be more interested in open discussions about intimidation and coercion, than in a code of conduct. Nothing in the proposed code would protect Kathy as far as I can tell, and I think theres more chance of helping humans build psychological defenses against intimidation & coercion, than trying to silence every troll.

    ‘stick and stones’ badge anyone?

  12. Any code has to be voluntary, just as it is voluntary to say thank you.

    The culture of the internet will change if large groups of people change their expectations of peoples behaviour. If people do not meet our expectations we treat them the say way we treat a person who is rude in a social setting.

    I think the fundamental problem is that a whole chunk of the community does not think that anything on the internet is serious. Therefore anything goes.

    This is serious, this culture must gain some real credibility to make any ground on these sorts of issues.

  13. Any code has to be voluntary, just as it is voluntary to say thank you.

    The culture of the internet will change if large groups of people change their expectations of peoples behaviour. If people do not meet our expectations we treat them the say way we treat a person who is rude in a social setting.

    I think the fundamental problem is that a whole chunk of the community does not think that anything on the internet is serious. Therefore anything goes.

    This is serious, this culture must gain some real credibility to make any ground on these sorts of issues.

  14. At the end of the day this code of conduct thing is just a way for people with an overly high opinion of their own importance to try and impress everyone with how important they are.

    Those who would take notice of such a code (lets leave the other obvious flaws aside because they’ve been done to death) don’t need such a code. Those who you would most want to abide by it will either remain unaware that it exists or take great delight in playing with its limits. I’m sure you remember how things were in a certain CoffeeHouse, Robert.

    And the badges… maybe they’re an American thing but they seem awfully trite and childish to me. (I mean the concept of badges at all, not the obvious cultural bias in the designs offered)

  15. At the end of the day this code of conduct thing is just a way for people with an overly high opinion of their own importance to try and impress everyone with how important they are.

    Those who would take notice of such a code (lets leave the other obvious flaws aside because they’ve been done to death) don’t need such a code. Those who you would most want to abide by it will either remain unaware that it exists or take great delight in playing with its limits. I’m sure you remember how things were in a certain CoffeeHouse, Robert.

    And the badges… maybe they’re an American thing but they seem awfully trite and childish to me. (I mean the concept of badges at all, not the obvious cultural bias in the designs offered)

  16. One of the nice things about being a beta blogger, a beta geek and not talking at conferences is that I can blithely ignore what anybody thinks up to and including Tim O’Reilly.

  17. One of the nice things about being a beta blogger, a beta geek and not talking at conferences is that I can blithely ignore what anybody thinks up to and including Tim O’Reilly.

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  19. Agreed that CoC isn’t the solution, but then how will “Anything goes” with comment moderation help?

  20. Agreed that CoC isn’t the solution, but then how will “Anything goes” with comment moderation help?

  21. I agree that “code of Conduct” is not a quick fix solution to help prevent abuses/threats online. But in the long run, I guess it will help create a better ecosystem. (not the either-white-or-black CoC as suggested by TO. I guess he’ll modify it to be more flexible and is taking the initial feedback seriously.) Comment moderation is one thing that helps. But that’s one sided effort. When a CoC is published or subscribed to, it lets the reader know/get-educated as to what contents you and your blog entertains. When many top bloggers subscribe to some CoC as guidelines (and not rule), others follow and it helps create a better blogger ecosystem where respectful conversations can take place, as people know what kind of a dialog you expect and what they can expect from you. The idea of having a badge that represents some value-system we subscribe to and showing it at the comments space sounds like an incredible and simple first(though not the only) step to me. Why is it that we are ok/put up with anything online but not so in real world? When meankids site owner _later_ says that “what it later became was not the initial intent of the site”, then why not publish it’s intent? [And it's not just the comments but even the posts on it crossed the line of civility.] Publishing a CoC not only helps stop unwanted content on your blog but also to protect yourself/your blog against being abused as was the case with meadkids site. If all the bloggers of the meankids site had subscribed to that _original-intent_ would it have all those nasty posts? If that _original_intent_ was published, would it have all of those comments?

  22. I agree that “code of Conduct” is not a quick fix solution to help prevent abuses/threats online. But in the long run, I guess it will help create a better ecosystem. (not the either-white-or-black CoC as suggested by TO. I guess he’ll modify it to be more flexible and is taking the initial feedback seriously.) Comment moderation is one thing that helps. But that’s one sided effort. When a CoC is published or subscribed to, it lets the reader know/get-educated as to what contents you and your blog entertains. When many top bloggers subscribe to some CoC as guidelines (and not rule), others follow and it helps create a better blogger ecosystem where respectful conversations can take place, as people know what kind of a dialog you expect and what they can expect from you. The idea of having a badge that represents some value-system we subscribe to and showing it at the comments space sounds like an incredible and simple first(though not the only) step to me. Why is it that we are ok/put up with anything online but not so in real world? When meankids site owner _later_ says that “what it later became was not the initial intent of the site”, then why not publish it’s intent? [And it's not just the comments but even the posts on it crossed the line of civility.] Publishing a CoC not only helps stop unwanted content on your blog but also to protect yourself/your blog against being abused as was the case with meadkids site. If all the bloggers of the meankids site had subscribed to that _original-intent_ would it have all those nasty posts? If that _original_intent_ was published, would it have all of those comments?

  23. See, posts like this are why I read you even though I’m a non-techy.

    I won’t be joining the Code Signees. I do have my own code, and abide by it thoroughly, and don’t think I need anyone else to tell me how to behave on my own blog.

    We all know that the people who inspired this code would never obey it anyway: they INTENDED to be outrageous and offensive.

  24. See, posts like this are why I read you even though I’m a non-techy.

    I won’t be joining the Code Signees. I do have my own code, and abide by it thoroughly, and don’t think I need anyone else to tell me how to behave on my own blog.

    We all know that the people who inspired this code would never obey it anyway: they INTENDED to be outrageous and offensive.

  25. @86. Exactly, Robert. The “code of conduct” is the proverbial lipsitck on a pig. Every blogger has the ability to control the tone of conversation on their blog and they don’t need a “code of conduct” to do so. No one forces a person to read their blog, just like no one forces one to watch something in the movies or TV that they find objectionable. Just like changing the channel, don’t read or subscribe to a blog if you don’t like the “conversation”. The market will decide which ones “win”

  26. @86. Exactly, Robert. The “code of conduct” is the proverbial lipsitck on a pig. Every blogger has the ability to control the tone of conversation on their blog and they don’t need a “code of conduct” to do so. No one forces a person to read their blog, just like no one forces one to watch something in the movies or TV that they find objectionable. Just like changing the channel, don’t read or subscribe to a blog if you don’t like the “conversation”. The market will decide which ones “win”

  27. >At least he’s started a dialogue and getting involved beyond his own little space on the net.

    That he has, I agree there, and said I believe he’s coming from a good place here. Just that by only giving us two choices he’s made it impossible to agree.

    YOU came in here with an attitude of “gotcha.” That didn’t send gestures to me that you’re looking for a dialog, just wanted to smear my nose in some inconsistency.

    If you want real dialog, let’s talk about ways we can make the Internet nicer that actually have a chance of being implemented.

    I didn’t say HOW I would be involved but I never called for a code of conduct.

    So, let’s back up. Why do you think this code of conduct would help in Kathy Sierra’s case (or in the case of Maryam, my wife, who was one of those attacked?)

    I don’t see that it would have kept either thing from happening and I also don’t see enough people signing onto such a code to make it anything more than a club. There’s already enough clubs and tribes on the Internet. That’s part of the problem that caused this all to uproar in the first place.

  28. >At least he’s started a dialogue and getting involved beyond his own little space on the net.

    That he has, I agree there, and said I believe he’s coming from a good place here. Just that by only giving us two choices he’s made it impossible to agree.

    YOU came in here with an attitude of “gotcha.” That didn’t send gestures to me that you’re looking for a dialog, just wanted to smear my nose in some inconsistency.

    If you want real dialog, let’s talk about ways we can make the Internet nicer that actually have a chance of being implemented.

    I didn’t say HOW I would be involved but I never called for a code of conduct.

    So, let’s back up. Why do you think this code of conduct would help in Kathy Sierra’s case (or in the case of Maryam, my wife, who was one of those attacked?)

    I don’t see that it would have kept either thing from happening and I also don’t see enough people signing onto such a code to make it anything more than a club. There’s already enough clubs and tribes on the Internet. That’s part of the problem that caused this all to uproar in the first place.

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