Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A blogger code of conduct

Several prominent bloggers have started work on a Blogger Code of Conduct, partly in response to the online bullying experienced by tech blogger and author Kathy Sierra last month. Sierra cancelled a scheduled public speaking engagement and then stopped blogging altogether after comments on and about her blog denigrated to death threats.

The Code of Conduct has been posted to a site called Wikia, so any and all bloggers can contribute to the discussion about the development of the Code. The Code itself calls for a fairly basic set of civil behaviours including taking responsiblity for one's own words, defending others when they are unfairly attacked and not allowing commenters to post anonymously.

While there are many who support the Code, others question the validity of something that is ultimately unenforceable, and complain that it infringes on the right to free speech.

I was personally horrified at the cyber-bullying that happened to Kathy Sierra, and while I've seen some vitriolic comments in the blogosphere, I've never seen anything even remotely that hateful. And while I think the Code is a well-intentioned concept, I don't think it will have any practical or measurable effect on the blogosphere. I expect it will remain largely ignored by the people who most need to heed it.