And I thought I was joking...

...when I commented on this blog on how there's soon going to be a "blogger code" and a badge people can show on their blogs so that they can feel superior.

Turns out O'Reilly and folks are making one.

I predict the next thing we're going to see is a "Censorship enforced" -badge, and a counter-movement to the freedom of expression. Not to mention about two dozen, short-lived, anonymous blogs which will proudly scream their heads off on how dumb an idea the "blogger code" is.

And, of course, none of this is going to amount to a gnat's shit in clearing up the blogosphere from morons.

Update: Michael Arrington says: "The code of conduct and the mass of bloggers lining up behind it scares me a lot more than the hate comments and death threats I’ve received in the past."

Update: Jeff Jarvis tears the whole thing apart. Quoting: "These pledges are all the more dangerous because big-media people think they are ethical and we’re not because they have pledges and we don’t."


Todellakin, siitä se lähtee. Seriffintähti rintaan ja kylille, niin tietävät että tässä tulee sellainen tyyppi joka ei sylje kasvoihin, tallaa varpeille eikä anna kiusata kaveria.

--Tuija, 09-Apr-2007

I don't see how this has anything to do with feelings of superiority nor do I see any reason to cry "Censorship!". I see here a possibility for a tool not quite unlike CC-licenses: a ready made referable set of rules of conduct for my personal public space that I can choose to subscribe to - or not.

O'Reilly's first draft is perhaps a bit too verbose an lyrical for this purpose. What I'd really like to see is a more modular code based on some simple multiple choice questions, like "How do feel about anonymous comments?", "Do you reserve the right to post moderate comments?", etc.

--Jere Majava, 10-Apr-2007

Heck, you are already choosing what the rules of your personal public space are. What would you need a checklist for - except to display on your web site saying how righteous and valiant you are.

--JanneJalkanen, 10-Apr-2007

A checklist could be nice to communicate the rules for potential commentators. The opinions of people differ in some respects: Do they approve of anonymous comments? Do the appreciate off-topic comments? What they think constitutes an ad hominem fallacy? What is normal rough-and-frank argumentation and what is a personal insult? And so on... There has been occasions where I would have appreciated such a list in someone else's blog to see in advance if the comment I was about to write was welcome.

--AnonymousCoward, 10-Apr-2007

And, pray tell, how exactly would a checklist say when someone (and not just the author of the website) considers something an ad hominem fallacy?

The trouble with lists is that you need to be consistent. And, as Jeff Jarvis pointed out, that would mean that you might actually be liable in a court of law for what other people say, because you are assuming responsibility for them. So, if someone says something that someone else than you finds offensive, but you don't, you might actually be sued on the grounds that you have agreed to keep the comments clean. You might end up deleting comments which are completely fine, if it happens to hurt someone else.

Really. Look at any web board with a "we will not let people hurt each other" -policy, and see far down the slippery slope they already have gone. You can start with Ihan Itse (if you read Finnish). They have a very tight user and message policy, which has caused some grief among their users - even to the point of people abandoning the site completely. Not because they were abusive, but because they broke some non-transparent criticism rules unwittingly and got censored. Their constructive criticism was seen as an attempt to "sow the seeds of dissent". The rules have been laid out in the clear, but their interpretation differs from person to person, and therefore these kinds of conflicts become unavoidable. Unfortunately so :-(

--JanneJalkanen, 11-Apr-2007

Janne said: "Heck, you are already choosing what the rules of your personal public space are. What would you need a checklist for?"

Yes, and I can also define how the content on my site can be reused myself, but with CC It's much easier. With the package comes also a somewhat established consensus of what these rules (like non commercial use) actually mean.

Defining rules of conduct doesn't automatically mean that those rules are necessary becoming more restricting: they're just made public, so that they can be discussed, agreed upon or rejected. Existence of rules don't have to and should not mean that the rules themselves can't be discussed.

If a administration keeps the leash too tight for the community, it's shooting itself to the leg and the community can decide to move elsewhere. For a DIY community like Ihan Itse strict codes are just stupid. On the other hand, some forums or sites deal with subjects that are more prone to flame wars and trolling. There clear and consistently followed rules are simply a necessity. When the rules are there, it's easier to point out why a particular post or comment was moderated.

--Jere Majava, 11-Apr-2007

Ah, but the difference is that CC is a legally binding document, designed by professional lawyers in a well-defined area, whereas this "badge of honour" is a vague pledge in an equally vague area of freedom of expression. Unless you mean it to be a legal document, in which case this whole thing becomes a lot more convoluted.

In fact, the key difference is that CC is designed to give you more rights, whereas this "badge of honour" is there to take some of your rights away - as a commenter and reader. Where CC is saying "hey, we like you so much that we think you should be able to reuse this", this badge is saying "we think you are a moron, and therefore we have to spell it out to you." Which, I think, is the real reason people are getting nervous about this. On the level of intention, this sounds an awful lot like the rhetoric that internet censors and entertainment industry are using as the argument for stronger control of the internet. Of course, we're talking about individual web sites and not the whole net, but still there's something very... incumbent behaviourish in all this.

Now, I don't mind people saying what their policy on their website is. It's a very good thing that people have thought about it and are saying it loud. But it is a slippery slope, and people adopting this may suddenly realize they're in it far deeper than what they intended.

--JanneJalkanen, 11-Apr-2007

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