Bloggers Code of Conduct 2: Discuss

So anyway, there’s this chap called O’Reilly — yes, really called O’Reilly — who has come up with a draft code of conduct for bloggers for reasons previously described and has invited people to respond.

Here’s the brief form of it:

  1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog
  2. We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t in person
  3. We connect privately before we respond publicly
  4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action
  5. We do not allow anonymous comments
  6. We ignore the trolls


Well wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute here, you doggone varmint. I don’t think I can agree with much of this at all, and yet I wouldn’t want to put myself in your “Danger: Anything Goes” zone either.

I certainly don’t intend to take responsibility for other people’s comments, or connect to people privately before responding publicly — if someone is having a go at me already, would I really want to give them my email address? I think not.

And I’m not going to ban anonymous comments. I may ignore the trolls, I may delete them but in some cases — particularly when they are contributing to an entertaining debate — I may feed them deliberately.

The blogger’s code goes into great detail about not abusing, harassing or threatening others, not violating confidentiality or privacy and not infringing copyright and so on. While most of the time, I’m perfectly happy with all of this, they may not be appropriate in every case:

What about when I was complaining about the poor service I was receiving from Lothian Buses (now resolved)? While I felt that I was honestly and fairly reporting the situation, they might have felt that I was being abusive or harassing them. What if in a similar situation a company whistleblower knew inside information? That may be confidential, but it’s also in the public interest.

I understand the need for people to be treated with respect online as well as in person, and I’m 100% behind that. But respect does not mean kid gloves; it does not mean they are immune from criticism; it just means you’ve got to be fair in your approach.

So what do I do? Well, this is what I already do, and this is what I’d sign up for (as long as I don’t have to display a Sheriff badge):

  • I’ll take responsibility for my own words
  • I will seek to be fair and honest in what I say
  • If I believe that a comment or a post is offensive, unfair, or in some way breaches legislation, then I’ll change it, remove it, or offer a right of reply as appropriate

Do I really need to add anything else?

If I must, I could maybe add that I reserve the right to delete or refuse to publish any comments for any reason whatsoever. This is primarily to reduce spam commenting which arrives by the bucket load daily, but may result in me removing any comment that also doesn’t appear to be relevant to the post. But I still think those first three points cover what I’m trying to say, spam excepted.

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