Tim O’Reilly, an author, online publisher and conference producer, was quoted in a BBC article about “Blogger’s Code of Conduct “in reply to a sequence of disturbing comments which appeared to come from cyber-bullying weblogs. A week later O’Reilly decided to put forward a draft to which people could subscribe to. Finally, the lecturer came through, with a summary of the main points of the discussion.
In regard to his very first intervention, after discussing about this matter, lecturers came up with some ideas about what a code of conduct should include.
First of all they talked about the fact of taking responsibility not just for each one’s own words, but for the comments we allow in our blogs. This is not about promoting censorship but about distinguishing acceptable and unacceptable content, and behaving responsibly on any blog we participate.
Apart from that we find the idea of labeling our tolerance for abusive comments, by suggesting every blogger to specify their level of discourse in advance, in order to avoid as many offensive comments as possible.
The next step, would be considering the fact of eliminating anonymous comments, as there is a huge number of people who say things that they would never dare to say when they are identified. Related to this, we have the rule based on ignoring trolls and avoiding controversy as some times those people don’t even deserve to stand up to them. In addition to this, taking the conversation offline, and talking directly or finding an intermediary would be a great solution, so as to solve confrontations or misunderstood. We should bear in mind, that writing comments in a public forum is a horrible way to have a discussion full of emotions.
It would not be a bad idea either, telling badly behaved people, about their nasty attitude towards someone else and therefore not remaining silent. Last but not least, we cannot forget about not saying things we wouldn’t say in person. We should simply have to control our anger and frustration, in order not to see us in the duty of having to apologize for our disastrous attitude.
In regard to “Draft Blogger’s Code of Conduct”, Tim mentions six principles which should be carried out, with the purpose of encouraging both personal expression and constructive conversation.
He insists on taking responsibility for our own words, not saying anything online that we wouldn’t say in person, connecting privately before doing it publicly, taking action when we believe something is unfair, not allowing anonymous comments and ignoring the trolls.
To finish, O’Reilly summarizes all on his “Lessons Learned so Far”, dividing it into 6 points. The first one is based on the poor choice of “badges”, it’s important to put as much attention to images as to texts, as these can also contribute to a negative reaction by many people.
Secondly, he affirms, that the “code of conduct” needs to be much more modular, it is not just about the image transmitted, but the assertions and associated images, which actually led to express values, that a site would not like to express.
Thirdly, he suggests some moderation mechanisms instead of policies, to promote or demote comments, and therefore make a difference between valuable and invaluable comments.
Fourthly, he affirms that anonymity has certainly a place, but that place will necessarily need to be designed carefully. After this, he insists on the fact that a code of conduct should be revised by lawyers.
And finally, he remembers, that civility still matters. He emphasizes that even if we love intense and passionate discussion, we should not give space to insulting or no substance comments.
- O´Reilly, T. (2007). Code of Conduct: Lessons Learned So Far. Retrieved from http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/04/code-of-conduct-lessons-learne.html
- O´Reilly, T. (2007). Draft Blogger’s Code of Conduct. Retrieved from http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/04/draft-bloggers-code-of-conduct.html
- O´Reilly, T. (2007). Call for a Blogger’s Code of Conduct. Retrieved from http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/03/call-for-a-bloggers-code-of-co.html
- Brad Stone (2007.04.09) A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs. In the New York Times retrieved 2012.11.12 from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/09/technology/09blog.html?pagewanted=all
- Brad Sugars (2009.08.26) Anonymity and Ethics. In Aboutbradsugars.com retrieved 2012.11.12 http://www.aboutbradsugars.com/anonymity-and-ethics