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Code of Conduct – Your Say

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of April 2007 Pro Blogging News 68

One of the stories that’s been appearing throughout the blogosphere this past couple of weeks is the ‘Code of Conduct’ discussion that was started by Tim O’Reilly.

As I’ve been traveling (we’re heading home tonight) I’ve not been in a position to read the full range of discussions that took place as a result of his post – so to help me catch up – I’d be interested to hear readers thoughts on it.

  • Do you think bloggers need a code of conduct?
  • What do you think of Tim’s draft one?
  • What would you add or subtract?

My personal thoughts (and I’ve given this very little thought): The idea of a code of conduct don’t sit well with me. While I find some of what Tim suggests resonates with my own personal approach to blogging (not all of it) one of the things I love about blogging the most is the diversity of approaches that people bring to it.

While I wish and hope for a blogosphere that is constructive, respectful and positive in nature – I don’t think any centralized list of do’s and don’ts will really fix anything.

Ultimately these types of decisions on how bloggers will or won’t behave need to come from individual bloggers after examining their own personal values, style and goals.

But then again – that’s just me. What do you think?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. I think the only line that needs to be drawn when it comes to blogging is it can’t be illegal.

    The beauty of a blog is you can be as creative/offensive/crude/articulate/fill in adjective as you want. Your conduct will either be embraced or ignored. Offensive and crude should be ignored, although it may not be.

    Spamming from other sites? Moderate your comments, its your blog.

    Libel and negativism-I’ve posted comments from one site that gave me the “Idiot of the Day” award which I wear proudly, mostly because I had to consider the source. If an idiot calls you an idiot, you don’t have much to worry about. When in doubt consider the source.

    Then again, I don’t make my living blogging, so again, consider the source even when considering this ‘idiot’s’ POV.

  2. I think the idea has potential but it needs serious fleshing out.

  3. I have say that bloggers do need a code of conduct. I am not saying take away the freedoms a blogger has but bloggers do need to have some sort of code.

  4. Like you I haven’t read too much about this code of conduct thing, mainly because I think it’s a load of crap. If individuals or community blogs want to have a code of conduct for their blogs then good for them. But a universal code of conduct I don’t think will work because as people have mentioned above it would be like preaching to the converted for those people who actually followed it.

    Blogs should be about freedom of speech and if anyone finds others speech offensive, then don’t read it. Similarly if someone comments offensively on your blog, delete it.

  5. Yuga alluded to the 10 Commandments, and I guess as a moral compass, a code of conduct is relatively unobjectionable. The concern is that it eventually turns into something enforcable. And seriously, some if his draft codes are pretty ridiculous. Like, we won’t publish or *link to* anything that “infringes upon a copyright or trademark.” I mean, I won’t take credit for somebody else’s writing, but I’m not going to not link to a Washington Post story or reprint it on my blog.

    If there’s going to some sort of moral guideline for blogging, it has got to be way general. More like a golden rule, rather than a penal code.

  6. I find this really interesting. Almost like blogging begins to grow up, or perhaps beginning to deal with blogging puberty.

    All of a sudden, through a very public and poor act of character from a very few people we are challenged to look at ourselves and at least think through what the future might look like.

    This is normal and I think a healthy thing. The easiest way is to manage it, lay down rules, enforce a code of behaviour. They rarely work and, really how can it be enforced on something like the web?

    No, what we will get will be independent actions like sanctioning, refusing to deal with offenders in the normal course of business and groups taking sides and lobbying for their view to be the ‘right’ one.

    It’s what happened all through history and, if this type of behaviour continues, it’s what we’ll see in the blogosphere.

    Mandates, rules, codes of conduct? Good luck. Give a list of Dos and Don’ts to a teenager and see what they do with it!!

    I’ll watch this with interest.

  7. 2 words against it … herding cats
    2 words instead of it … common sense
    2 words about it … link bait
    2 words for it … not likely
    2 words for each of us … be yourself
    And 2 words that have nothing to do with any of this … I’m hungry

  8. The thing that makes blogging so great is that there are no real rules that are governed by a higher power. We do see stories of certain bloggers getting punished by their government (Egypt etc) but normally it is not the case.

    I think a code of conduct would ruin and limit the greatness and freedom of blogging. We cannot allow one or two people ruin the whole thing for the rest of us.

    I will tell you what and that is that I wont be using the blogging code of conduct as the only code of conduct is the users and owners conscience and guilt.

  9. Jeez, it’s common sense ideas that I already do. Why do I have to turn to the self-appointed web 2.0 guru to get his ok about what badge I can put on my blog to get his or anyone’s ok.

    The bigger issue is taking responsibility for my site. If someone posts a nasty comment than I damn well will be taking it down. Paraphrasing Barry Ritholtz, I don’t let people put graffiti on my house I live in, why should I let people put graffiti on my website.

  10. Darren, since you asked what we would substract from this code of conduct, i think i’d simply flush it, and start over, and just write one simple word: respect. That’s all and everything the blogosphere needs really. I must say that Tims’ post is a little “out of place”. I mean, any great man, historically speaking, or just well-known, or with great ideas, has no rights to dictate and tell others how they should act… my thoughts… but i guess that even bad press is good press.

  11. I do not think that there should be any written code of conduct. We all know how to behave and if someone does not, we just need to ignore him/her.

  12. Honestly, I don’t think there should be written codes that people need to follow. I think they need to follow their life ethics and keep those in mind in general online or off.

  13. I haven’t read the “code of conduct” yet, but it seems kind of ridiculous to me. Is it going to stop comment spam? Is it going to stop people from calling you names?

    Blogging seems like such a great medium for people to exercise their right to freedom of speech, does this really allow for that?

    While I personally only allow family friendly comments on my blog. I edit out curse words, etc. I don’t want or need to impose my standards on the rest of the net. We can all feel free to choose to read and/or not read what we want to.

    I echo the concern of many other commentors, “Who is going to enforce this code?”

    It just seems a bit silly to me…

  14. Just an example: I’ve pretty much given up on reading comments on Digg because so many of the commenters are complete jerks. I don’t participate, which, it seems to me, was the purpose of Digg…lots of participation.

    So, from the point of view of the site owners, this is not a good result. Same thing with bloggers. If you allow the jerks to control your content, you’ll be blogging to yourself.

    Having said that, I mostly don’t have a problem with comments. Not that many comments. Not that much traffic. But still, it’s my blog. If anything offensive appears on it, I press the delete key. I don’t give a damn about so-called freedom of speech. It’s my blog, and my freedom of speech. I’m the “owner” and editor, and that means I get to edit. If I break the law by slandering someone, that’s my responsibility too.

    And again. It’s my blog. I don’t have to let anyone spew on it if I don’t want to.

  15. The whole concept is utterly ridiculous, not to mention severely lacking on so many levels. For example, such a concept could never be universally enforced, if it could be enforced at all.

    In fact, it’s so brainlessly shortsighted, in my opinion, that I posted a “Fight Club” version of it on my blog. Heck, it was either make a joke of it or blow my top stewing over its unending stupidity. :P

    Shine on,

  16. Hi Darren,

    I don’t think the code of conduct will work. Basically because the blogosphere has a strong level of rejection for rules and laws. I believe that if you decide to not read and participate in abusive blogs, you will go a long way to making the blogosphere a friendly type of sphere.

    I wrote about this in my blog:

  17. Brillliant and avant-garde idea. Not.

    As one born and alive in a (now allmost ex)-comunist country, I can smell the retrench / censorship attempts on this idea.

    Mister O`Reilly, if you, by fortune, reach this page, pay attention :

    Once upon the time, in America, was a guy named Henry Thoreau …

    All the respects, Darren.


  18. I don’t think a code of conduct is a good idea. I take full responsibility for what I publish and I moderate comments on my blog (since I’m publishing their content). If a comment doesn’t follow the guidlines I’ve established or is objectionable to me, it gets deleted. I agree with what Meg said above, the only rules we follow are the ones we accept for ourselves. Bloggers need to compose their own code of conduct for their blog and post it for readers to see.

    I do however think a code of ethics, especially for niche blogs such as those that pertain to health, is a good idea, not for bloggers but for readers. Such a code would help readers identify those sources that they can trust for credible advice and/or information. Indeed, one of the motivations for creating my blog was the lack of citation for medical information presented at many blogs and websites.

    I wrote an article about this recently:


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