Sunday, March 27, 2005

Jessamyn West on Revised Code of Blogging Ethics

Jessamyn West from Librarian.net offered the following observations regarding the revised version of the code:

I think the idea of blog ethics is sort of odd since blogging is more than anything else, a
MEDIUM not an avocation or even a type of writing. I am not particularly sold on the idea of blog ethics. Some might say it's because I don't have any. I might say it's because bloggers
just use ethics codes to beat people over the head with instead of treating them based on the quality of their writing/arguments. That said, here are my thoughts on what you have written.

Promote Interactivity:

Post to your blog on a regular basis: Seems okay, maybe notify when you won't be posting. we can't all be regular but we can all be consistent

Visit and post on other blogs: yep

Respect blog etiquette: this is RECURSIVE. how about respecting existing netiquette when interacting with others online. this line is pretty extraneous

Attempt to be entertaining, interesting, and/or relevant: NO. I don't like this. Why? If people aren't any of these things, then people just won't read them. It's not my JOB to be interesting and especially not to be entertaining, as I see it. Relevant, maybe. I think this crosses the
line of etiquette and goes into the "what makes a good blog" discussion which should be someplace else entirely.

Promote Free Expression:

Do not restrict access to your blog by specific individuals or groups: but is not having comments at all okay? what about horrible spammers? can I block spammers? What about hate speech people who make fun of me because of my sexual orientation?

Do not self censor by removing posts or comments once they are published: self censor is loaded language, and again, what about removing comments that are hateful, do not contribute or other good reasons? many many ethical bloggers already do this [with a posted caveat that comments may be deleted if they're not in line with the purpose of the site]. Also I notice you don't mention editing, what about editing posts.

Allow and encourage comments on your blog: Again, this is NOT ETHICS, this is "what makes a good blog" and is different. There is nothing ethical or not ethical about commenting features, it's just a choice people make of how to interact with readers. Unless you're claiming that
it's not ethical to interact with readers any other way than with comments, I'd strike this or like to see you defend it better. Personal note: when I had a blog with comments at the DNC I spent as much time reading and writing responses to comments as I did to maintaining my blog. The CMS that I was using was particularly susceptible to comment spam making this duty ten times as hard. I interact with librarian bloggers other places, but I can't both read and write a popular blog.

Strive for Factual Truth:

Never intentionally deceive others: Fine, but sort of a foregone conclusion, don't you think?

Be accountable for what you post: My favorite so far

Be as Transparent as Possible: Reveal you identity as much as possible (name, photo, background info, etc.): NO. there is no reason anyone should feel ethically obligated to
provide a photo. When I had photos more prominent on my web site, people would send me photos of their genitalia in the mail. For women, this is not necessarily a good idea. Again I think you are equating blogging journalists with bloggers. This is a good idea but I think adding photos is over the top.

Reveal your personal affiliations and conflicts on interest: Yes

Cite and link to all sources referenced in each post: Eh, I don't see this as particularly necessary. giving a "via" link is seen as good etiquette but a lot of times a post I have is made up of a combination of reading many sources and my own analysis. Also, may sources aren't
linkable [i.e. mine are often print] what then? bibliography? this is nice in spirit, I'd like to see it work better in practice.

Promote the Human Element in Blogging:

Minimize harm to others when posting information: This is totally buddhist and yet not always able to happen. in many ways, I minimize harm by NOT blogging about things that are potentially awkward or embarrasing to others, so what do I do then? not blog because that is the minimal harm? A lot of hard-hitting blogger journalist types can't realisticallydo this at all

Promote community by linking to other blogs and keeping a blogroll: Blogroll seems to me to be a bit of a trendy nouveau term, but maybe I'm just old.

Build relationships by responding to e-mails and comments regularly: As i said, on popular sites, often this is just not possible and, honestly, popular journalists don't do this either. It's a good idea to try to be responsive in some way, but answering comments and/or emails may just not be within the time parameters of what someone has to give for their "non day job" blog. I try to reply to email, I don't have comments because I can't reply to them. You may also want to include IM on this because a LOT more people I know use IM or skype for interaction lately.

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