Bloggers Code of Conduct

Cross-posted from the OC Report:

Tim O’Reilly has called for and drafted a Bloggers code of conduct, mostly in response to the over-the-top harassment that Kathy Sierra received a few weeks ago.

From the O’Reilly Radar blog:

We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation. But frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. We present this Blogger Code of Conduct in hopes that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation.

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

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

3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.

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

5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

6. We ignore the trolls.

I think Tim’s request is well-intentioned. As someone who was on the receiving end of a very nasty round of harassment on a personal blog a few years ago, I can empathize with the emotions Kathy probably felt. I can also understand the motivation Tim has to address the “civility problem”, via the proposed code.

The reality is, the best written code in the world is not going to effect the behavior of mean-spirited people who wish to annoy and harass others online. This has been an issue, more or less, since humans started communicating with one another. We can put policy, laws, and technical barriers in place, but if someone wants to be a jerk, especially online, they will be a jerk.

I applaud Tim for starting the conversation, and I feel for Kathy, and folks like Kathy, who have the courage to speak their mind and honestly express their feelings regularly on their blogs. I’m just not sure a “code of conduct” is going to help anything when civility online is really a matter of basic common sense and human decency.

What do you think?

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