Monday, April 9 2007

“Blogger Code of Conduct”

Lots of folks are piling on Tim O’Reilly for his efforts to create a kinder, gentler blogger. While my initial reaction consisted of three words, ending in “yourself”, I thought I’d actually read it and see if he says anything new or interesting on the subject. Short version: “can’t we all just get along?”.

1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.

Too wimpy. I take ownership of my words, and control over whether anyone else can say anything at all here. They’re responsible for what they say; I just decide if it annoys me enough to hit the delete button.

We are committed to the “Civility Enforced” standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we’ll delete comments that contain it.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:
- 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

As much as I might agree with the individual points, I wouldn’t describe them all as “uncivil”. Some are unethical, some are criminal, but there’s a whole lot more to being “civil” than refraining from crimes and misdemeanors. Perhaps a section on “not redefining commonly-understood words” should be appended to this Code.

2. We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person.

I will, and I’m not even one of the many bloggers who obscures their identity to avoid some form of retaliation. There are things I’ll say here that I won’t say on the street, and things I won’t say here that I’ll cheerfully say to someone standing next to me at the local adult bookstore. Different places, different audience, different speech.

3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.

Once upon a time, I followed the ancient Usenet maxim “take it to email”. But that was long ago and far away, and besides, the wench is dead. Despite the common requirement for a valid email address on most comment forms, these days most people neither want nor expect an email response to a public comment or blog posting. And to be quite blunt, I often don’t want to talk privately to someone who’s being an ass.

There is one and only one person who’s been banned from commenting on this blog, and he was such a persistent nuisance that I simply blocked all of his university’s public labs in my firewall rules, completely cutting off everyone who used them from my words and pictures. I had no interest in discussing this with him; I made one public statement on the matter and he didn’t change his behavior, so I quietly erased him from my universe.

4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.

They’re adults, let them deal with their own problems. If I don’t have any interest in either party, it’s none of my damn business.

5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

I do. I’m not fond of falsely-attributed comments, however, and reserve the right to decide whether or not you’re who you claim to be. Actually, I reserve all rights; it’s my site, after all.

6. We ignore the trolls.

[I disbelieve]

My favorite part is the two “certifiably something-or-other” graphics, which I’ll cheerfully swipe and snicker at:

There's a new sheriff in townFree Speech Zone

I think these images are misleading and, frankly, silly. I think they should more openly reflect the desired audience by replacing the badge with a ballgag and the dynamite with goatse.