posting code of conduct

Tim O’Reilly has issued a Call for a Blogger’s Code of Conduct. The way I read it, it sounds like a framework for a posting license agreement. There are many blogs that already explicitly state their posting guidelines. Posting to them is subject to their terms. Anyone can offer a posting, but it must meet the guidelines or it will be sent to the bit-bucket. Pretty straight forward. But where it gets interesting is for the blog authors. What are the T&Cs for being a blog author? Currently, there are none. Anyone can start a blog on any topic and say anything, or nothing. That’s great and immensely powerful. But, with great power comes great responsibility. Uncle Ben had it right, and that’s why even though one can say anything, there are some things that are better left unsaid. It’s the responsible thing to do. It takes a certain amount of maturity to see that and exercise the necessary restraint.

So, what should be done? Require a maturity test prior being given a blogging permit? It’s tempting, but unworkable. So is every other type of restriction. The ease of publishing is both the strength and weakness of the blogging milieu. It seems it’s one we are going to have to live with. Will blogs die like usenet did, under the weight of spam and abuse? I don’t think so. The primary difference is a blog has an owner, someone responsible for its content. The vase majority of usenet groups did not. With no one accountable, few were inclined to step up and enforce a posting standard where none had been before. Coordinated feedback mechanisms were subject to the same problem as the usenet groups. With blogs it’s different. There are many blogs where discussions can be held. Those that create a supportive environment for discussion will thrive on the discussion. Those that don’t I expect will vanish under the weight of their own conflict.

But the real reason I think we (collectively) will succeed is because we have come this far. We have built societies on shared values that endure. Those values are now being defended and expected on the web. The more blogs promote them and defend them, the more normal they will appear and the more they will be expected. We can no more eliminate undesirable behaviour on blogs, or the internet in general, than we can in real life. After all, the internet is comprised of people and as such is going to be a reflection of the people who use it. For good or ill. Large communities, like towns and cities reflect their occupants too. So I expect it will be with the internet.
I mentioned above that some blogs already have posting guidelines. This isn’t one of them, yet. I will be adding some soon.

update: there are now posting guidelines.

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2007 at 10:17 pm and is filed under Uncategorized . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There is one comment to this post.
  1. Elesyassoma Says:

    Nothing seems to be easier than seeing someone whom you can help but not helping.
    I suggest we start giving it a try. Give love to the ones that need it.
    God will appreciate it.

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