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Code of Conduct

I'm sure Tim O'Reilly is a very nice man, and his computer-related manuals are the best ever. But. Due to the Kathy Sierra death threats thing, he's talking about setting up a blogging Code of Conduct. (Link to BBC News.) His draft Code is here, and the wiki to let people discuss it is here. I've read the draft code and some of the comments, and I'm going to go back and read the rest of the comments and the wiki tomorrow.

But first reaction? I hate the idea. It seems to miss the point of what blogging is, at least for blogs where the comments and conversation are an integral part. And he is targeting those - most of the CoC refers to harassment and abuse in the comments. For me, blogging is just...talking to people, really. And I haven't (yet, though I'm sure it's only a matter of time) had to sign anything saying I'll be civil in real life, and stop others from abusing and bullying people in my presence. I just do it, all by myself. Asking bloggers to sign up to a code like this seems pointless, patronising and slightly demeaning. One of the major points is to disallow anonymous comments, which goes against something I think is fairly vital to the freedom of the internet (where nobody knows you're a dog). He does have two levels, though, with little badges - one that says "Civility enforced" for nice tame blogs (and doesn't "Civility enforced" seem like a bit of an oxymoron, in spirit if not literally?) and one that says "Anything goes" for blogs where you can, like, disagree with people and insult them and use "off-color language". Heh. Apparently there's nothing in between these extremes.

Unacceptable content includes, but is not limited to:

- is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
- is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
- infringes upon a copyright or trademark
- violates an obligation of confidentiality
- violates the privacy of others

Hah! That's half of LJ gone right there. Some of these I would agree with, and some of them, enforcing them on your journal would be extreme, unfriendly, and highly detrimental to any attempt at normal communication, like the ban on ad-hominem attacks, or, I guess, the copyright thing if you took it too far. I'm thinking about things like icons here. Also, things like "knowingly false" and "misrepresents another person" require the blog owner to use their own judgement, which means that even more than with the removal of abuse and so on, it comes down to censorship. Which I am against. So I guess I won't be signing up for this.

Also, get well soon to my entire friendslist, who seem to be ill, mostly from the Eastercon Bug.


( 11 comments — Comment )
Apr. 12th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
Most of it sounds like what's been dubbed 'netiquette', the principles of which have been around for quite a while. There are some bits which are just way too specific (like the copyright thing, or the anonymous comments), and the badges thing is simply ridiculous.

It all seems quite pointless to me - it's not like people don't already have the freedom to delete comments they don't think fits the atmosphere of their particular discussion. The one thing I could agree on - for blogs where it's likely to be a problem - is specifying the exact comment editorial policy up front... but many sites do that already in any case.

These kind of things actually make me shy away from the 'blog' terminology - there are too many connotations (and too much drama) attached to the word.
Apr. 12th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Oh, also, I do like this reaction to the proposals...
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:05 am (UTC)
'Civility offsets'! Hahahaha ... brilliant.
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:13 am (UTC)
Hee, that's awesome!
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, I do think it's pointless as well. Like you say, most people are pretty up on netiquette, and there's a sense in which it's just normal etiquette anyway.

I think if you have a specific policy, maybe mention it up front, and I am in several communities where this is the case. But asking everyone to sign up to the same policy, or one of a very few options, is kind of limiting.
Apr. 12th, 2007 09:26 am (UTC)
I don't allow anonymous comments - largely because I like knowing who I'm talking to, and because anonymous commenters have been a pain in the past.

And I do expect a certain level of behaviour from people on my journal. It's been rarely stepped over, but I will ban people if they do so and can't be reasoned with...
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:09 am (UTC)
I store the IP addresses of anonymous comments, so that if they cause trouble I can do something about it, but that's all.

And I'll ban people if they're routinely abusive or whatever, too, though I've never had to from here yet, but I don't think I need a Code of Conduct that says I will.
Apr. 12th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
Yes. I found the O'Reilly proposals a bit "off" but wasn't quite sure why. You're right. It's to do with censorship.
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:11 am (UTC)
Yeah. I'm very much of the mind that there are nasty people out there, but you just deal with it, rather than limiting everyone's freedom in order to try and curtail the abusive people.
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:03 am (UTC)
I've been tutting and rolling my eyes at this CoC idea since it was first muted and generally dismissing it as one of those batty Internet things, but yesterday when I read the bit about anon comments in a BBC news article I suddenly wanted to rail against it at length. (People were saved by the fact that it's the Easter school hols -- whose batty idea were they?)

There is just something that seems very off about that, to me. Any blogging CoC that I wrote would contain protections FOR anon commenting!

Some people get unreasonably snarky at anons -- always amusing from people who have anon commenting enabled, but unfair!

(And I just used my privilege of delete to correct and repost this comment.)
Apr. 12th, 2007 10:12 am (UTC)
Yeah, I had heard about it before but didn't realise it had a Famous Person behind it or that it was Big News.

I only get snarky at anons if they're obviously using the anonymity to hide behind and be abusive. I've got a few friends who read this and don't have LJs, and I like them being able to comment :)
( 11 comments — Comment )


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