Blogging code of conduct

I’ve heard this term being tossed around in light of the Kathy Sierra situation. For those not in the know, trackback to what Scoble wrote about taking the week off because of the personal attacks towards his wife and the effects of threats on Sierra has had on him. That saves me time explaining it, but the basic lowdown is that bloggers are finding themselves in the line of fire. Thus, a “blogging code of conduct” has been mentioned to help the situation.

To me, this already exist, but on a very unspoken level. There are some things that you do and don’t do if you want your online presence to be respectable. For some, having that level of respect is the last thing they want, and this is not about respect in terms of popularity. It’s about not being an ass, plain and simple.

Death threats, defamation, slander, and everything else negative that is going on in relation to the already mentioned situation is simple human behavior. It’s an elementary school playground.

As kids, we defame each other all the time. Call each other names, make fun of the kid who peed himself during lunchtime, and brag to the other kickball team to the point of tears because your team won the game at recess.

As adults, this is supposed to change, but it’s not that far off from being of the same thing. The way it happens does. The way we act and feel changes as well, but as a grown-up, in which we’re all trained and aiming to be as a kid, the world is larger from that of the world you knew at the age of about eight.

I’m not saying that what has been done isn’t right, nor am I supporting it. However, making a code of conduct or law to the way things are done in the world of blogging is something that I am not a supporter of. Why? It’s not going to solve a whole lot. You can argue the ethics of doing so all you want, but will it fix anything? I doubt it.

Matthew Good is another blogger in the midst of affairs much like this. While no death threats have been lofted in this round of events (but he’s had his fair share from his openly public views on political issues), there is a matter of concern for one’s public image. The thing is, he’s a long time recording artist, and these same issues happen outside of just blogging. Musicians, politicians, movie stars, and authors face these exact problems every single day, and truly it is nothing new.

When you put yourself into the realm of the public, or in this case the world, you have to be prepared for what you are doing. Blogging, a professional website for your business, newspapers, radio, TV, or whatever it is, there is something that can always trigger someone to say, “I don’t like you.” Making laws prohibiting someone from saying that puts us in the thralls of an Orwellian society[wiki], in terms of controlling conduct, and no one wants that.

The greatest asset we have in the community known as bloggers is the networks of support. It’s like journalistic integrity on steroids. When something happens, we can turn to others for verification. We can loft it out there for discussion, and if you are valid in what you promote, the community can rally in support to tackle the problem. And in the matter of threats or defamation, there are laws in place that can be used, especially to protect your personal safety.

Adam Curry spoke about this on a recent episode of the Daily Source Code, and I have to agree with what he concluded. We really have no clue as to what it is that we are doing with this mass of new communication tools, aka the Internet. We like to call ourselves experts and say we understand it all, but the truth is that we don’t. And before anything gets better, it’s only bound to get worse.

Scary thought, but the saving grace is that you maintain a good face when you are out there. Opinions are opinions, and we all have them. When you cross that line to the point of doing something truly unethical, such as making threats or just flat out doing something that is insanely dumb, be prepared.

It’s what my dad always told me. You can do anything you want in life, but the consequences, short or long term, is what you have to deal with in the end. I’m sure that those people involved with making the threats against Kathy Sierra will have that cloud following them for a long time to come. Or at least as the community that we are, we have the ability to hold those people accountable.

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