O’Reilly trademarks “Ethics 2.0”

Tim O’Reilly issued a Draft Blogger’s Code of Conduct yesterday, in response to the blogging ethics questions raised by death threats and other nastiness in comments at Kathy Sierra’s blog. Excerpts:

  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.

Tim even crafted a badge for your blog. And another one if your motto is “anything goes”.

Naturally, the blogosphere erupted. Bloggers like being told how to run their blogs almost as much as they enjoy DMCA take-down notices. Andy Beal points out flaws in most of the above commandments, especially the parts where the blogger must assume responsibility for content posted by others. Shelley makes a good point about the subterranean communication channels proposed in #3, “If what I write offends, the person offended can tell me so to my face” (i.e. out on the open blog). Seth asks, “who enforces it?” And Valleywagquips:

While we’re at it, how about an ombudsman, required ethics courses at J-school, and regulation by the FCC? Because that’s worked so well for America’s breathtakingly turgid daily newspapers, and bland network news.

To try to craft any code of conduct that applies to all bloggers completely misses one of the most important characteristics of blogging: freedom of individual expression and diversity. So rules of conduct must be left to the individual — but how do we deal with unacceptable content? Kent Newsome’s idea might be a good place to start.

What rules do you impose on yourself and your readers when you blog? Is it “anything goes”, or “play nicely with others”?




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