April 9, 2007

The Blogger's Code of Conduct.

What do you think of this code? The trouble with a speech code is... well, I hate speech codes! But aside from that general principle, what I foresee is endless argument about the meaning of the terms in the rules and how the rules apply. These discussions will be tedious and full of self-serving assertions. For example, Rule 6 (as it currently appears in the linked wiki):
We ignore the trolls.

We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel.
When does a vigorous, challenging writer become a "troll"? When is something "nasty," so that we should keep silent (and expect you to understand the meaning of our silence), and when is it "abuse" or "libel" (so that we should respond)? If you say something mean about me and I don't respond -- and I profess to follow The Code -- does that mean I judge you to be a troll and I concede that you have neither abused nor libeled me? Or why don't we have a big discussion about the infinite subtlety of the weasel word "prefer"?

Here's another attempt at a blogging code.

Here's a big write-up on the codification efforts in the NYT:
A subtext of both sets of rules is that bloggers are responsible for everything that appears on their own pages, including comments left by visitors.
This is a terribly damaging idea that would stultify debate. But I do think bloggers need to respond and delete when they are notified about certain things, like threats of violence, clear libel, and the fraudulent appropriation of a person's name.
[The codifiers] say that bloggers should also have the right to delete such comments if they find them profane or abusive.
Should? Obviously, we do have this right! I think the point must be that other people don't have the right to criticize a blogger who deletes something if it's whatever The Code ends up saying is deletable. But that is absurd. If there is a code defining deletability, people will argue about whether the standard of deletability is met and also -- not everyone will subscribe to The Code -- about how deleting is repressive. And, of course, there will be assertions of selective deletion -- that is, people will accuse the blogger of only deleting the profane/abusive comments that go against the blogger's ideology. And these accusations will probably be correct. But we'll have to argue about whether they are correct.

Won't that be fascinating?

ADDED: As you can see from Memeorandum (and as you would predict), a lot of bloggers are writing about the NYT article. Here's Captain Ed:
This is one of those well-intentioned but doomed reform efforts that sound reasonable but will have no chance of changing anything. Before the reform leaves the dock, it has already split into several "standards", which will cause confusion on which logo means what rules and under which circumstances. Bloggers and commenters will have to look for logos, and then will endlessly argue over each individual post or comment as to whether it meets the guidelines....

Most of us came into the blogosphere to get away from editorial restrictions imposed by others. We allow our own judgments and values to guide our publications. That may result in some bruised feelings from time to time, but our readers make the decision as to whether we have met their editorial guidelines, and that should be good enough in a free market.
Ntodd -- who is always saying mean things about me! -- says:
Why do we need any "recommendations" from the leading lights of Web2.0? The whole point of blogging is to bring personal styles and thoughts to bear, not to follow some guidelines that wicked smart people who earn money doing consulting think up.

Oh yeah, sure, they're soliciting comments, like this will be some big Come To Blogger Jesus thing and we'll all talk about our feelings, sing Kumbaya, tearfully hug each other at the end of camp and promise to write each other. Then as soon as Mom and Dad pick up us, we'll promptly go back to our old lives and friends and forget about Tim and Jimmy and the cute girl--you know, whatsername--in Tent #4 and the camp mascot dog, Sadie.
Virgil Libertas calls the NYT "Miss Blog-o-Manners" and tells it to "go piss up a rope."
It is nice to see the Times has its eyes firmly on the important issues of our day, rather than unpleasant shit like Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Darfur....
Now that I think about it, the NYT really has an interest in siding with the blog-o-niceness movement. Bloggers are a threat to the Times in part because we can do so many things that a mainstream newspaper can't. So wouldn't it be great if we were stuck with their standards? Stop being vicious and wild! Write like the NYT, and maybe people will just read the NYT.

Here's Dan Drezner:
I hereby predict it will go nowhere...

The one fascinating thing about [NYT writer Brad] Stone's story is what's not in it. Despite endless complaints about rising partisanship in the blogosphere, no example was given of declining civility in the poliitical [sic] blogosphere. That doesn't mean it's not happening, of course, but it's still surpring [sic] that Stone failed to offer up such an example.
I hope people wake up and notice how the Kathy Sierra story is being leveraged (something I talked about here). A woman received real threats of violence. Those threats are criminal, and Sierra's case is being handled by the police, as well it should be. Nasty, cruel, ugly, unfair, mocking, abusive speech is a completely different matter. Anyone who blends the two subjects is selling out free speech and should be called on it right away. This repressive movement is gaining momentum. Be alarmed now, before it digs in any further.

Anyone who wants to write a nice, well-mannered blog with a kindly, benevolent comments section is welcome to do it. But if they also want to stigmatize cutting, mocking, aggressive speech, I'm going to aggressively cut and mock them. Of course, they have the freedom to try to stigmatize the bloggers like me who don't want to be nice, but all they can really do is be nice, nice, nice themselves. And readers will decide for themselves who they want to read.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mike reminds me: "I thought we had already agreed to have Eric Alterman police the blogosphere." Oh, yeah. How did I forget that! I recently wrote two -- one, two -- blog posts about it and a NYT column!

64 comments:

Jack Wayne said...

I don't read blogs that excercise much censorship. And a code of rules for blogs is just stupid.

Irene Done said...

First, I cringed when I saw the photo of the people proposing this -- only women were pictured. I couldn't help thinking this seemed to convey that women can't handle mean comments and vigorous debate.

And it doesn't make sense to use Sierra's case as a reason for this code. Those threats broke a law -- a real law, not a made-up law with a logo. It's being police by the police.

A code is a bad idea on so many levels.

Pete Fanning said...

My whole thought on this is that the idea and concept of blogging is that it comes and operates from the heart and mind and operates by no code. It is left therefore up to each and every individual author as to how he/she wants to run their own site. Having a code takes away from the "etherical" energy one gets from running a blog site, I think.

In this particular case you site, calling people "trolls" automatically brings down the attempt to author a code anyway.

My two cents.

Bob said...

I think what is needed is less in the way of a blogger's code than federal laws on cyberstalking, so that a person communicating realistic threats in one state can be prosecuted if the victim lives in another state. I think part of the reason Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom has had problems in getting rid of Deborah Frisch is on account of different laws and different jurisdictions. I'm not any sort of lawyer or law professor, though, so I may be clueless as to what laws may already be on the books.

As for bloggers, they should each set their own policy on conduct. It's up to the individual blogger to make commenters aware of what is expected of them; the Anchoress does this, for example.

Internet Ronin said...

And, of course, there will be assertions of selective deletion --that is, people will accuse the blogger of only deleting the profane/abusive comments that go against the blogger's ideology. And these accusations will probably be correct. But we'll have to argue about whether they are correct.

Won't that be fascinating?


No, it won't. It will be dull, repetitive and distracting. At last that has been my experience whenever I have seen it attempted. All conversations end up being about "Why did so-and-so'd comment get deleted?" and endless arguments about the true meaning of the policy and whether or not it should be somehow changed.

Pete Fanning said...

Ugggg....spelling SHOULD be part of an unofficial code :)

site=cite.....never post a comment before caffeine....

hdhouse said...

There used to be a chilling warning when you would post a comment on Yahoo News (discuss - now no longer available). It said, in effect, your IP address is being recorded and Yahoo will cooperate with the government or law enforcement is supplying information based on...yada yada".

the NYTimes had "Abuzz" - wide ranging blog area - that was removed due to the very worst of behavior.

How about "truth" as a determinate. If someone posts something clearly false then that should be removed. My personal opinion is that "truth" is the overall determinate and if there is a good and fair way to work from that, i'm all for it.

kettle said...

This is a new problem and inevitably it is going to require a creative new solution. I don't think that Hammurabi's approach is going to suffice.

bill said...

...proposed guidelines using seals of approval indicated by logos

People who can't be polite won't follow rules. Buncha finger-pointing, rule imposing freaks--so they all just turn into circle jerks for stick up the asses prigs. Which is pretty much the definition of 90% of all blogs (and real-world human interaction); which itself then becomes just another formulation of Sturgeon's Law.

I think I'll I'll start a code of conduct school for public interactions. Maybe hand out stickers or buttons or merit badges that can be sewn to your clothes. Probably have different levels so if the cashier or barber/hairdresser tries to strike up a conversation, you can say "I'm sorry, but you're a Level 3 and I'm a Level 5. If you have a job related question for me I'd be happy to answer it, otherwise I do not converse with those under Level 4." I don't mean that to put down people with service jobs, as I'd probably have to dropout and get a conversational GED, then the lady cutting my hair would refuse to talk to me. And thank God for that, because she's blah blah blah too busy yacking to remember what I told her to do. Then the guy ringing up my groceries trying to guess what I'm cooking for dinner; here's another game we can play--guess what deaf mute I'm pretending to be! The worst was the guy sitting next to me on the plane trying to strike up a conversation even though I was reading a book AND wearing headphones. That's the nice thing about blogs, you can participate or not. There's no reason that every post requires one to vomit out their thoughts.

Maybe ID cards. Someone asks "is it cold enough for you," hand them a card. I'd like that, probably less annoying than the air horn I carry around.

I'm rated for the following:
Politeness: 3
Innuendo: 3
Satire: 3
Foul language: 3
Obscurity: 4
Pretending to care: 1


I have two rules for my blog:
1) stay on topic. 2) every comment must use the secret word. Ignore either and I delete your ass.

And no, that's not a conversation to visit. I'll delete your ass if I think you're just sightseeing.

Paco Wové said...

The most useful piece I've seen written about such matters is this one, by Patricia Nielsen Hayden.
Her first rule is the most important:

"1. There can be no ongoing discourse without some degree of moderation."

Which (I think) is undeniably true; otherwise, any popular site without moderation will, over time, come to be dominated by obnoxious blowhards chanting simplistic bumpers-sticker slogans at each other.

But how that moderation is exercised is the real crux of the biscuit. Done impartially, it can make for a vigorous and engaging site. Done otherwise, and you just end up with a chorus of sycophants.

Unfortunately, doing moderation well requires thought, which means time and effort; and as a site attracts greater and greater numbers of comments, it becomes increasingly difficult.

bill said...

conversation = invitation. I'd delete my ass for screwing that up.

Matt Brown said...

All of this reminds me of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie where Captan Barbossa is talking about the Pirates Code, and he says that the code is "more what you call guidelines than actual rules."

Oligonicella said...

Once you have a code of conduct for behavior in the great world outdoors that everybody lives up to, then I think there will be a chance for this.

Get a grip. Blogging is something someone does for personal reasons. It's their dime, it's their time, it's their thoughts and effort; so my opinion on whether they should delete, limit, curse, lie, etc. does not matter one whit. Neither does anyone else's.

Some blogs specialize in kitty cats, some in baiting and taunting the trolls. And? Blog #2 can't exist now 'cause some thin skinned dumbass doesn't want bloggers feeding trolls? Bull.

From NYT:

"As many female bloggers can attest, women are often targets."

As anyone who crusies blogs can attest, men are often targets. To iterate, and? Yes, I know the next page said "women are not the only".

"Bloggers could then pick a set of principles and post the corresponding badge on their page, to indicate to readers what kind of behavior and dialogue they will engage in and tolerate."

This is what -- spiffier? -- than the blog owner simply telling everyone what they do, what they will and will not tolerate on their own, personal web space?

As Ms. Trott learned by public ridicule of her efforts to impart "good manners" on the public at large, "You can’t force people to be civil, but you can force yourself into a situation where anonymous trolls are not in your life as much".

There you have the crux. Blog or don't. Let AC's in or don't. Jeez. It's like you have your own mind to listen to or something.

"That may sound obvious, but many Internet veterans believe that blogs are part of a larger public sphere, and that deleting a visitor’s comment amounts to an assault on their right to free speech. It is too early to gauge support for the proposal, but some online commentators are resisting."

Internet veterans. That would be me then. Let me say that I wholeheartedly disagree with the concepts, both that Internet "veterans" are more than just people who had computer access early (tending to be geeks like me, by way) and the larger public sphere thing. This comes from the early geeks feeling their territory has been opened up to the unwashed, and that territory is any-damned-where their electrons can reach. They think it's theirs. Don't think they're that far? Cruise Slashdot for a while and look for censureship issues. Internet veterans are arguably the worst people to be listening to. But then, I've been on the internet since '96 or so.


Mr. O’Reilly said the guidelines were not about censorship. "That is one of the mistakes a lot of people make -- believing that uncensored speech is the most free, when in fact, managed civil dialogue is actually the freer speech," he said. "Free speech is enhanced by civility."

Mr. O'Reilly is full of it. Managed? By whom and for what purpose? Managed civil dialogue actually the freer? No. It is by definition restricted. Now, you might find the screamer uncivil, but that screaming tells far more than any of their verbal content, so you'd be restricting their true stripe.

It's your blog, bloggers. Run it any damn way you want. Squelch dissenting opinion, deal with harsh criticism or not, allow AC or not -- whatever. People will read or they won't, as is theirwant.

RogerA said...

I guess some folks just have the urge to regulate. I can think of a few egregious cases of internet behavior: The Fritsch incident, and the threats against Ms. Sierra--I think the legal system operated in the Fritsch incident, and I assume those cretins threatening Ms. Sierra could also be prosecuted.

My bottom line, I guess, is when the behavior is extreme, there are legal remedies; other than that, its up to the blog owner to do their own thing, and the "market place" will sort out which sort of blog the public prefers.

Jennifer said...

hdhouse - The truth as perceived by whom? Take the recent dustup, for example. Valenti et al are absolutely convinced Ann's point revolved around her breasts. Many commenters here are absolutely convinced Ann made a valid criticism of feminist support of Bill Clinton.

So, by your truth standard, on Valenti's site everyone who did not tow her line would be deleted and on Ann's site the same. You'd end up with zero debate.

Peter Palladas said...

Harvey Logan: Guns or Knives?

Butch Cassidy: Neither?

Harvey Logan: Pick.

Butch Cassidy: I don't want to shoot with you Harvey.

Harvey Logan: [Draws a big knife] Anything you say, Butch.

...

Butch Cassidy: No, no, not yet. Not until me and Harvey get the rules straightened out.

Harvey Logan: Rules? In a knife fight? No rules.

Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin

Butch Cassidy: Well, if there aint' going to be any rules, let's get the fight started. Someone count. 1,2,3 go.

Sundance Kid: [quickly] 1,2,3, go.

Butch knocks Harvey out

Flat Nose Curry: I was rooting for you all along, Butch

Butch Cassidy: Well, thank you, Flatnose. That's what sustained me in my time of trouble.


We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that: ...ad-hominem...

I happen to believe that the tobacco industry downplays the risks of smoking. I choose to doubt a plea of innocence from a convicted criminal.

I also retain the right to ask of any politician "Why is that lying bastard lying to me?"

The idiot who wrote that clearly has no idea what 'ad hominem' means;)

Actually they don't. They really don't.

TMink said...

Read the article, strikes me as "everybody do it my way."

Trey

SGT Ted said...

The NYT have been gatekeeping for so long they are now trying to gatekeep blogs.

Palladian said...

"It is nice to see the Times has its eyes firmly on the important issues of our day, rather than unpleasant shit like Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Darfur...."

Yes, the right-wing New York Times never publishes unpleasant "shit" about Iraq or Afghanistan...

Icepick said...

Didn't "we" already try this last year? Anyone remember the Online Integrity Pledge?

I blogged about it here, predicting that it would fail. Not only was I correct in that assessment, it appears that the URLs for the site are no longer valid. (Thus my excuse for shameless blog pimping.) This will fair no better than that did.

Alan Kellogg said...

The answer? Ridicule my dear, ridicule. Anybody says something stupid, mean, nasty, unkind, hostile, rude, or plain dumb in a comment on a post, make fun of the jerk. He wants to take part in the public discourse he can damn well learn how to behave.

And let me remind people; you have the right to your opinion. You have no no right to treat me like a a piece of shit just because you feel like it.

And before you ask, I come down hard on people who've earned the contempt. I don't engage in gratuitous ragging, the victim pays for it.

Engage me in debate and I shall reciprocate in kind. Attack me and I shall come down on your ass. And snicker a lot.

P. Rich said...

There are three basic [short version] guidelines I would employ, and no doubt some would not. (Rules introduces the problem of trying to overcome ambiguity, in this case probably a waste of time.)

The following are not allowed:

1. Ad hominem attacks. (I do not see how it can be rationally argued that personal or group invective furthers the discourse.)

2. Non-factual statements which are or could be injurious to individual or business "good will." ("Blah-blah said...", a favorite media ploy, is not an excuse for introducing such material.)

3. Direct or implied threats of violence.

I would be interested to see arguments as to why any of these would be constructive additions to this blog. And please spare the generalities about freedom of speech if what you really mean is speech anarchy.

And who decides? Why, the Blogmistress of course. Dissenters can vote with the mouse.

Icepick said...

Here's the original post calling for a Blogger Code of Conduct. Here's one of his original points:

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked that is:

...

Infringes upon any copyright, trademark, trade secret or patent of any third party....


Does anyone besides me find it funny that the guy's URL is Radar.Oreilly.com?

Icepick said...

It gets funnier. From the Radar.Oreilly.com About section:

Tim is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc, thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. O'Reilly also publishes online through the O'Reilly Network and hosts conferences on technology topics. Tim is an activist for open source and open standards, and an opponent of software patents and other incursions of new intellectual property laws into the public domain.

So he's both opposed to "infring[ing] upon any copyright, trademark, trade secret or patent of any third party" and a proponent of doing away with same. Dude's got issues....

Paul Zrimsek said...

The big problem is that just anyone can start a blog. You should have to inherit it from your dad.

peter hoh said...

I might accept two rules: no anonymous posting, and no posting under the name of someone else. At the same time, I understand that anonymous posting can be a good thing.

I hate the debates about whether or not particular comments qualify as being against the "rules." There's no surer way to turn off interest in a discussion.

Is there a free market approach? I liked the idea of combatting spam by making senders (or ISPs) pay a small fee for each email sent. Something less than a penny, so that it wouldn't discourage individuals from sending email, but it would discourage those who send out thousands of emails. Ultimately, I hope that there's a better solution to spam, but that solution sounded like a good interim fix.

David said...

Turning an intellectual blogsite like this into a virtual "Deadwood" is part and parcel of those who make it their goal in life to question authority. Calling them trolls is an understatement. They are anarchists who seek to destroy civil discourse if it has the effrontery to debate, or HORRORS, contradict their cherished hallucinations.

Posting on these sites is a privilege not a right. That privilege can, and should, be revoked if the patience, morals, and virtues of the particular site are violated.

Hold the scoundrels, and scoundrelettes, accountable for their actions and dismiss their tired rantings when they step outside the paramaters of appropriate behavior. There is no right to exercising a lack of personal control in civilized society.

Oligonicella said...

icepick:

So he's both opposed to "infring[ing] upon any copyright, trademark, trade secret or patent of any third party" and a proponent of doing away with same. Dude's got issues....

Nope. He's against the idea and lobbying for its elimination. In the meantime he's suggesting the code stay within the law. The dude is clearly compartmentalizing his desired social structure from the current reality.

bill said...

Internet veterans. That would be me then....Internet veterans are arguably the worst people to be listening to. But then, I've been on the internet since '96 or so.

This isn't relevant to the conversation, but I have to disagree (mildly) with your self-labeling. I don't think anyone who first showed up after the creation of Mosaic and WWW can call themselves an "Internet veteran." You can call yourself a Web veteran, which is valid and more accurate. Not saying you don't know what you're doing, just saying there's an historical difference. Kinda like all those AOL people in the early 90s who thought they were "on The Internet." No, they had a membership to a gated community that didn't even allow access to the Internet. Wasn't until 1994 AOL users could even access Usenet and that was a few months of online ugliness that makes this whole conversation seem quaint and pointless--as I try to veer back on topic.

But yeah, veterans of any kind can be annoying when they venture into "back in my day" territory.

Jeff said...

I'm still waiting for the New York Times to follow it's own code of conduct. Something involving accuracy, freedom from bias, yadda yadda...

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

I thought we had already agreed to have Eric Alterman police the blogosphere.

bill said...

A reenvisioning of the whole website idea. Would make blog commenting a bit difficult, but as long as everyone has access to a frig or stove, and camera, it will still be manageable.

peter hoh said...

Oh. I was wondering when appliances would enter this conversation.

daniel said...

Where is my Easter Bonnet?

While some may see the blogosphere and the behavior of its participants as a new phenomenon, it isn't difficult to find an appropriate predecessor model. That model is found on the streets of any metropolitan area and it is called traffic and the prevalence of road rudeness...or in its extreme...road rage.

Granted, personal attacks and snark on the internet are not likely to lead to fatalities, but if computers had wheels, it certainly would.

Read more on the relationship between blog civility and Easter Bonnets...here:

www.thoughttheater.com

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luckyoldson said...

Blogging codes are really "codes" for those who do not agree with the masses.

All anyone has to do is disagree with the "regulars" and you're immediately identified as a "troll."

Free speech includes speech you don't necesarily want to hear.

peter hoh said...

Andrew Sullivan and Ann Althouse, together again.

Christy said...

I blame Al Gore putting all those computers in schools for lowering the level of discourse. All his fault. Yes, indeedy!

reader_iam said...

I never quite get the "no anonymous" commenters thing. I mean, I could say right here and now that my name is Melody Page, and how the hell would you know it's not?

(Well, except for those people who comment here who do know my real name.

Or do they? Maybe my real e-mail address is set up under a fake name. Maybe I lied when I spoke to them via cell-phone, which is registered not under my actual name. So I say. Well, that's true. But then again, how do you know?)

When it gets down to it, even my blogpartner, whom I know in real life and met as a colleague around 20 years ago, can't know for sure it's me blogging under reader_iam. He's never sat next to me and watched me keyboard in a post. For all he knows, I could be a blogobeard for some guy I met at a bar one day.

When I think about it, only two people have ever seen me actually enter and post a post--my husband and one girlfriend (and she's only seen me do it twice; maybe I share a login!). My husband is the only one who's seen me post a comment, and then maybe only three or four times, and in those cases he was involved in helping to compose them.

Which means, right there, that it wasn't just me, and therefore one could argue I was being deceptive.

This crap gets complicated. It's unmanageable. These here internets are too big, too multi-dimensional.

This whole thing is something to blog about, though.

reader_iam said...

Hmmm. Oddly enough, among people who've actually never met me nor spoken with me, Bill--the one who comments here--may be the only one who can independently verify my existence.

That Bill. Subversive. Sharp. Watch out for him. Misses nothing. A dots-connector.

He managed, one day last year, to figure out what local band my husband had to play in, and hence his name (which, by the way, I don't share--but then, how do you know?). Because of how he figured it out, he even knows what DH looks like, or should.

No way, of course, he could prove that's whom I'm married to, but on the other hand, at some point the level of circumstantial evidence really does prove the case, well enough.

Uncontrollable, these internets. Most people aren't as sharp as Bill, dare I say, so there'd never be any way to verify who EVERYBODY is, even if there were enough time in the world, which there isn't. And if you can't do that, the "anonymous" issue is sort of irrelevant, isn't it?

bill said...

For correctedness sake, it's bill. I've seen a few Bills floating around, but I've been around longer than any of them AND I'm lowercase. And Russian, with a peg leg. Not that that makes any difference. At least the Russian part. The peg leg part is just F'ed up. The wood isn't even from a sustainable forest. Isn't even wood, to be honest. Tried carving one from the carcass of a dead christmas tree, but pine is just lousy wood for something like that. I'm sure Sippican would agree. So I had to go Iceland and kill a whale. Stained it look like like a Louisville slugger. Hurts like hell to walk on, but I'm batting cleanup on the company softball.

Kirk said...

"Patricia Nielsen Hayden". Ugh. Some of the most heavy-handed, one-sided, Orwellian moderation I've seen has been on her site. Sorry, please look for a better model.

reader_iam said...

Oh, sorry, bill--if that's your real name!--for my lack of correctedness, and for forgetting to include the adjective "freak" in my description of you.

Oh, and Icepick?--That wasn't really me you've spoken with, just so you know. That was a girlfriend whom I bribed with a six-pack of Schlitz. Cheap thrills are always cheap.

Life on the 'nets.

Icepick said...

Schlitz? You bribed her with SCHLITZ?! Where did you get that, 'cause I can't find it anywhere down here in Florida. (Or is it Florida? Who can tell?)

Icepick said...

I will assert that the picture I use (right about there -->)



is indeed an actual picture of me, although somewhat out of date. I should have a new one sometime in June, hopefully one that shows one less hole in my head.

Andy Johnson said...

How does a blog differ from a classroom, a bar, a restaurant or someone's home? We go where invited and stay where welcome. We have duties and obligations as a guest and as a host. One does not go about trashing another's premises. Wanton destruction and abuse is thuggery. Why does this topic need rise to this level of consideration?

If the blog owner is not responsible for is posted the audience will flee. If the blog owner surrenders to abuse and trash, the audience will flee. If the blog owner chooses to publish abuse and trash, the audience will flee.

The marketplace of ideas like any other marketable commodity will go to those who provide value for expenditure. Abuse and trash are common, ordinary and available almost everywhere. People will not seek it out and will shun places where it grows wild. Those who abuse and trash add no value to the blog, the audience or themelves...

Internet Ronin said...

If that's the case, R_Iam, perhaps I sould confess that I'm really a double-agent planted deep in central China. Or is it Beijing? I can't quite tell. There are a lot of what look like terra cota warriors around here. But is that terra cota or plaster-of-paris?

Ann Althouse said...

Andy: Yes, but you don't need a code to deal with that, and in fact a code may be counterproductive. I delete what seems right to me to delete, and people who read me are ones who like what I write and the level of discussion in the comments. I could delete more or less and I could be more or less explicit about my reasons, but I don't need a damned code.

Seven Machos said...

If these guys were smart, they'd come at their nanny-state-tyranical-censoring-fascist goal via the we must protect the children angle.

I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.

Mike said...

"I don't need a damned code."

Potential masthead material.

hdhouse said...

Jennifer said...
hdhouse - The truth as perceived by whom?"

I think there are a number of areas that are black and white...fact issues for instance...sun rises in the east...(well no the earth rotates and sun stays put..) and lying for lying's sake would be verbodden...

but you are right about subjective appraisals....hmmmmm how about Gooney and Non-Gooney?

Synova said...

Before I go back and read this....

"Troll" is not defined by uncivil behavior.

Think of a bridge troll trolling for fish. If the troll isn't fishing, it's not trolling.

Uncivil argument and personal attacks are not "trolling" they are "flaming."

Or even just "abusing."

A troll has a specific type of purpose and a specific type of destructive behavior. A thread hijacker is a troll. A troll messes with the community. That is why ignoring the troll usually works. They really do just want the attention.

In the context of unmoderated usenet "troll" makes sense, and a sense of voluntary community standards makes sense. Or it did when the medium was heavily populated by libertarian minded sorts.

More and more people are communicating online like this now and more and more of them simply *demand* that someone else control their behavior. A code of conduct doesn't do that because there is no enforcement. If it could work without enforcement it would already be in place.

There does seem to be blogging community standards, just not on language or insult. Sock puppetry is soundly denounced. Changing posts without making a note of it is soundly denounced.

Interesting that those two things are trivially easy to do on blogs.

ElisaC said...

Just want to clarify that it’s Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales, who are working on this code of conduct. They have each used the public community guidelines we have for the BlogHer.org site as a model/foundation, but we are not working with them on this code of conduct effort. Our guidelines apply to our community.

We see a difference between setting transparent guidelines for community participation within our own community vs. trying to come up with a code for the entire blogosphere to theoretically follow or not. That distinction was not drawn very clearly in the article, but you can see more of our thoughts on that distinction at my blog: http://workerbeesblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/theoretically-going-to-be-in-mondays-ny.html, and from Lisa on a BlogHer post (in the comments): http://blogher.org/node/17887#comment-17365

We think every blogger has the right to set their own rules. Those rights cut both ways. What we don’t think is that a single one-size-fits-all code for the blogosphere or internet ever could or should work.

The benefit for your readers in making your policies public is that people can know your criteria for deletion or moderation...an then they can then keep an eye on whether you apply those criteria fairly...and therefore choose whether yours is a site they want to be a part of. Again, rights cut both ways. I have the right to set rules on my blog AND the right not to frequent sites with rules I don't like, for whatever reason.

Thanks.

David said...

Professor Althouse has the right idea:

"CODE? CODE?

I don't need no stinking code...!"

My kinda woman!

bill said...

Reader_iam spewed: Oh, sorry, bill--if that's your real name!--for my lack of correctedness, and for forgetting to include the adjective "freak" in my description of you.

Oh, you are so lucky there isn't a Blogger Committee For Pissing and Moaning because I would so have you brought up on charges for making fun of my monopodness. Just you wait, one night you'll wake to hear: thump, step, thump, step, thump step, thump, step, thump, step, crash stupid manhole covers, thump, step, thump, step, thump step, thump, step, thump, step, and you'll know I've arrived for retribution.

Synova said...

Yet it's usually enough to make a statement, "Keep it family friendly," or "Not safe for work," or some general thing. What good does it do to make it more specific than that?

Our various communities are weakened when they are heavily coded, when there are rules rather than understanding. For example... schools. There isn't room for subjective judgments so in place of any personal responsibility for deciding what events demand action there are dress codes and behavior codes and speech codes, too. And as often as not the students who get "caught" haven't done anything anyone would object to, but because no one accepts responsibility for subjective judgments they get swept up together with the disruptive sorts.

Applying rules to people always works that way. When does it not?

reader_iam said...

lowercase bill:

you'll know I've arrived for retribution.

Oh, yeah? Meted out by you and what icepick?

Good luck with the multiple strides over vintage hard-wood floor, followed by 17 bare, steep steps, and then some more steps over vintage hard-wood floor. You'll be heard a floor away, and either we'll be prepared or will have more than enough time to zip down the hall and the backstairs and out of the house.

Sheesh. Talk about freaky delusions.

reader_iam said...

Synova:

Yes!!!

bill said...

Good luck with the multiple strides over vintage hard-wood floor, followed by 17 bare, steep steps, and then some more steps over vintage hard-wood floor

Note to self: get a rubber ball to add to the bottom off my whale bone peg leg. Might come in handy.

Galvanized said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Galvanized said...

Gosh, a code of conduct is so simple -- just post with propriety, respect, and an actual argument intelligently expressed, however passionately, and moderate one's own site to control enforce acceptable boundaries with regard to libel/slander/threats. What's so hard about that? But conduct in the virtual realm is an individual's responsibility, just like society.
We can all suppose how the blogosphere would ideally operate, but we wouldn't want to stifle the passion in it or muffle the lively commentary, or else it would become the BLAHgosphere.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

Oh come on this is old hat.

We had some MSM morons whining about this last year.

Blogs are a real world instance of spontaneous order - they don't need to be regulated in the same way as the MSM for some very very good reasons, all neatly laid out here.

Old hat.

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