Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Blog Code of Conduct?

Kevin and I have been plowing our respective furrows in this small, quiet corner of blogdom for thirteen months now, and from time to time we have a discussion about comments posted here. Should we moderate them? Should we ban anonymous comments?

The answers to these questions have pretty much been "no." Kevin is busy animating and storyboarding. I am business-repping, writing, and spending way more time than I like helping with a certain high-schooler's homework (a story not worth going into.)

So we don't hassle with comments around here much, except to chime in once in a while. But yesterday the New York Times ran a piece on "blogger ethics", and so we wonder:

Is it too late to bring civility to the Web?

The conversational free-for-all on the Internet known as the blogosphere can be a prickly and unpleasant place. Now, a few high-profile figures in high-tech are proposing a blogger code of conduct to clean up the quality of online discourse.

Last week, Tim O’Reilly, a conference promoter and book publisher who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0, began working with Jimmy Wales, creator of the communal online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to create a set of guidelines to shape online discussion and debate.

Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship.

We delete damn few comments (mostly those plugging stuff we don't want to plug). Very occasionally somebody's comment gets a tad too, ah, flame-like. But as for "anonymous" or not-anonymous? I have no idea who Rat Boy or other nicknames are, so I don't see what the big deal with anonymous is. Of course, my opinion could always change.

But as for censoring comments? Only once in a while. As needed. But it's good to know others are so concerned about it. Helps me sleep better at night.


Anonymous said...

Great... just what America needs... another group of narrow-minded, humorless, self-important moral police stepping on what may be the final breath of free speech for the common man (oops! sorry! common "person"... I hope I don't get thrown off the internet for political incorrectness).

As it is, individual blog-owners can choose to moderate their discussions... or not to... yet, naturally, that's just not good enough for some people and they feel the need to poke their nose into other peoples' business.

Make no mistake, folks - "political correctness" IS fascism.

Actually, politically correct movements like the one sited in the article are significantly more dangerous than fascism because they cloak themselves inside a moral dogma claiming to look out for everyone's best interest.

Enjoy your freedoms now, for they are slowly being snuffed from our nation.

Steve Hulett said...

I always wonder about stuff like this. Ann Coulter is a long way from P.C., and the ever-popular Don Imus can say, well, anything he damn well pleases and be slapped on the wrist with a two-week vacation.

Why is it that bloggers should toe some line or other? Nobody else does.

Anonymous said...

I read the article, and what surprised me most was that there would even be a debate about whether or not to screen comments on blogs. Unethical? Our newspapers serve(supposedly)a public trust, yet they certainly reserve a right to edit, delete, publish or ignore letters as they please.
To me it's a no-brainer: whoever owns the blog makes whatever rules they please and should be entitled to control(if they wish)the comments--to the point of not allowing any, as some bloggers choose.
If a commenter doesn't feel "free" to express himself on any blogging forum--he can start his own blog, for free. How can you beat that?

That said, anonymity in commnents is fine imho--until the anonymous person starts getting libelous, offensive, or (I feel this does qualify as a no-no, speaking of esoteric, lol): sock-puppeteering: pretending to be different people to bolster one's own argument.
So far things here have been pretty civil...and in the case of a union blog, it's appreciated that you allow anonymity within reason.

Steve said...

Remember when Howard Stern mattered? It was when he was on the public airwaves, where people who DIDN'T expect to hear him had to deal with his opinion.

He is currently preaching to his choir - and I listen to him occasionally and enjoy him occasionally - but there's no threat of controversy because he can't shock me.

I'm a fan.

Anonymous slams suck, but open dialogue is important... otherwise the web becomes just one more boring, safe place for boring, safe opinions.

RedDiabla said...

I banned anonymous comments on my blog because I started getting some stoopid, snarky stuff. That's my right. Don't like it? Go start your own corner of snarkiness.

On the TAG blog, I can see where anonymous comments have their place, and I'm glad that Steve and Kevin allow for it with minimal editing/deletion. I hope that system continues to work if it spawns something resembling useful dialogue and action.

Steve said...

I think it does.

I also think it spurs things like "I'll own you, asswipe!"

But, in the end, I think the pros out weight the cons.

Can I say asswipe here?

Anonymous said...

Unless it is verifiably untrue, intended to be hurtful or without reason I say leave it. It would be a bit embarrassing for Jeff to have waxed on about freedom of members to spaek their minds on the TAG only to start censoring.

Site Meter