Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The Blogger Code of Conduct? Get real

You a fan of conformity? All those rules and regulations? No? Well then you'll be as disturbed as I am at the dumb idea doing the rounds to implement a "Blogger code of conduct".

I'm not particularly interested in the reasoning behind all of this but I understand it stems from some blogger getting threats from someone on her site. Now as bad as that is, it seems some nerds have too much time on their hands as they think it would be a swell idea to bring about a code of conduct for bloggers to advise them on what comment policy they should have on their sites. Apparently this is aimed at the Forrest Gumps of the world who don't happen to possess a thing called "common sense", then again common sense seems to be sadly lacking in the loons who came up with this idea.

Blogs are private sites. It's up to the blogger to determine what is and what isn't acceptable. Blogs don't even have to have comments and that might suit people who dislike having to do the odd spot of moderating and dealing with the morons of the world.

What a genius idea!

Twenty Major has been covering the situation and he linked to some ideas put forward by a site called O'Reilly radar. I'm not sure what this site is about but some of the suggestions by Mr Tim O'Reilly make me laugh. There's 7 in all and I thought I'd highlight them and the thought-process (or lack thereof) behind all of them...

1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.

"We don't usually get inflammatory comments on Radar, but in the past, when they've occurred, we've tended not to delete them, lest we be accused of censorship. But in future, we're going to adopt a policy of deleting comments that are ad-hominem, insulting, or threatening to any individual. I'd like to see other bloggers do the same. "

Can you imagine if I deleted all ad hominem comments here on United Irelander? It would probably end up with me talking to myself. Nah, actually it would end up nobody talking full stop. Everyone engages in the odd bit of "ad hominem". Part of being a blogger is being a site moderator too. Telling people to take responsibility for comments is surely stating the obvious? If anyone acts the clown and detracts from an issue then sort it out. It's not rocket science.

2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments..

"Explicit labeling of "danger zones" is probably not going to take off (I can't imagine sites labeling themselves "flaming encouraged"), but the idea of sites posting their code of conduct might gain some traction given some easily deployed badges pointing to a common set of guidelines"

Badges? What is this, the Brownies? Here's a thought Tim - simply deal with the abusive comments.

3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments

"When people are anonymous, they will often let themselves say or do things that they would never do when they are identified. There are important contexts in which anonymity is important, for example, for political speech in repressive regimes. But in most contexts, accountability via identity changes how people behave."

The most recent case I had to deal with of someone acting a wally on UI was from a guy posting under his real name, so there goes that theory. If there's nothing wrong with an anonymous comment why delete it? Seems stupid.

4. Ignore the trolls

"Sometimes you need to stand up to bullies, but at other times, the best thing to do is to ignore them. As one person advised me long ago when I got in a public tussle with a blog bully, "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it."

Whoa, another great point Tim. And who would have thought wrestling with a pig would be a bad idea? I'm learning so much!

5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.

"Written comments in a public forum are a really terrible way to have an emotionally charged discussion!"

You should check out my site someday Tim! But take the conversation offline? Find an intermediary? Yeah I can really see that working. Tea and biscuits anyone?

6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.

Damn Tim, and I thought the previous ideas were stating the obvious. Here's a great quote though:

"if you know someone who has anonymously published comments that could be construed as a threat, you owe it to them, to their victim, and to yourself, not to remain silent. If there is no actual threat, you need to convince the perpetrator to apologize"

Apologize? Is this guy for real?

7. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

So I can't write 'LOL' anymore? But here's the quote of the century right here folks. Get a load of this bad boy...

"The next time you're tempted to vent your anger or frustration online, imagine you're talking to your mother."

Say what?! He seriously expects me to do that? I like to think I have a pretty good imagination but not even I can imagine my mother as a bloody unionist.

Best comment ever though comes from 'thickslab' on big Timmy's thread:

"Could this possibly be any fucking stupider? There are already things called laws that are supposed to prevent death threats and harassment. This is just more stupid navel-gazing by tech-obsessed nerds with little or no connection to the real world."

God help the day when wisdom as exemplified above becomes a bannable offence on blogs!

What do you guys reckon? Should I start a code of conduct here on United Irelander? What would that involve I wonder? I'd be curious to hear your suggestions.

My take on it? To paraphrase a notable sporting quote, blogging is a simple thing made complicated by stupid people.


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