Dan SilkstoneTHEY are calling them the blog cops —Thu Apr 12, 2007 16:09
Online sheriff sought - bloggers unimpressed
April 11, 2007
THEY are calling them the blog cops — two internet bigwigs who want to clean out the potty-mouths of 70 million bloggers and civilise the virtual Wild West of online publishing. Boy, have they picked a fight.
Concerned by recent high-profile cases of online bullying and worried about a general degeneration of civility on the internet, Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales have proposed a code of conduct for all bloggers to adopt.
O'Reilly is a long-time blogger who coined the term "Web 2.0" to describe the booming world of citizen media. Wales is the founder of the online, citizen-edited reference project Wikipedia.
On the internet, a bastion of rough language and anything-goes libertarianism, many have responded angrily (not to mention abusively) and joined a raging debate about what limits can and should be placed on free speech, particularly when that speech is bullying, hateful or offensive.
"Code of Crap" complains American tech-blog Scobleizer. "The new Gestapo" screams another blog, Burningbird.
O'Reilly and Wales have posted a draft seven-point code to deal with burgeoning abuse in the blogosphere, while still preserving the free spirit of the medium.
Point one requires bloggers to remove unacceptable comments from their sites. Unacceptable content is defined as that which abuses, harasses, stalks or threatens others; is libellous or misrepresentative; or infringes copyright, confidentiality or privacy.
Under the draft code, anonymous postings, a regular feature of virtually all blogs, would also be banned. Every commenter would need to include a recognised email address.
"Setting standards for acceptable behaviour in a forum you control is conducive to free speech, not damaging to it," O'Reilly said on his blog. "There's no reason why we should tolerate conversations online that we wouldn't tolerate in our living room."
Those subscribing to the code would display a "civility enforced" symbol (it looks like a sheriff's badge). Those who do not will be badged "anything goes".
The code, which is open for consultation and revision, is the first serious attempt to impose an official etiquette on a rapidly growing, largely unregulated world of more than 70 million blogs.
It also encourages bloggers to turn a virtual other cheek to those making nasty and provocative comments. "Never wrestle with a pig," it advises. "You both get dirty, but the pig likes it."
The debate over online manners follows the recent abuse heaped on popular US blogger Kathy Sierra, who revealed last month that she was afraid to leave her home after receiving threats and abuse on her
blog. Another recipient of abuse was Age gardening editor Denise Gadd, who blogs for a small but loyal readership. Most of her entries receive just a handful of comments, but when she blogged about the frustrations of gardening under water restrictions in late February all hell broke loose.
After 17,000 hits and more than 200 comments, the post was closed as debate flared into vitriolic abuse. One man compared her to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. A third said: "We'd be better off if you were dead."
"The comments were just so personal and so incredibly rude," she said. "People are really emboldened by their anonymity and they are nasty just for the sake of it." She supports a code of conduct, believing it is essential that there be consequences for online abuse — or at least sites where harassment-free blogging can be guaranteed.
As always, opinions varied in cyberspace yesterday. On popular site 901am, Australian Duncan Riley described the idea as "hippie sh--". "Those who think that a blogging code of conduct is the antidote to death threats and misogyny have about as much hope of success as I've got of space walking on Jupiter next year," he said.
But on Australian left-leaning blog Larvatus Prodeo, support was high for a code of conduct, and many posters slammed those using free speech as a justification for hateful comment.
"The attraction of an online persona is you can be a big man online when you're nothing offline," one poster, Minotaur, said.
THE CODE OF CONDUCT
■We will not post unacceptable content.
■We won't say anything online that we wouldn't say in person.
■When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation, we make every effort to talk directly to the person(s) involved before we publish.
■When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we act.
■No anonymous comments.
■We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us, as long as they aren't abusive or libellous.
Record of Iraq War Lies to Air April 25 on PBS
Submitted by davidswanson on Thu, 2007-04-12 05:10. Evidence | Media
By David Swanson
Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I've watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you'll never watch television news again – not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.
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